Blogging is a dynamic medium. That means you can think it, write it and post it all within a few minutes time. This is great in terms of communicating from the heart and the moment. It is not so great regarding grammar, spelling and sentence construction. Or writer’s regret – i.e. writing something in the heat of the moment you’ll regret later. I am not stickler for anal-retentive punctuation. Some of my favorite bloggers intentionally don’t use capitalization – or they creatively punctuate for emphasis. And I believe if you are going to write something, please feel free to write substantively or emotionally. All that being said however:
10. Check grammar, punctuation and sentence structure before posting. Many people who read your work don’t know you personally – and their first impression will be the neatness of your work. It is sort of like when you invite a friend to your house but neglect to clean the foyer. It doesn’t inspire confidence in the homeowner.
11. Learn to write clearly understood sentences. I was a former high school science teacher, which meant I graded a lot of science project reports. One of my favorites informed me that “90% of all people were satisfied with the results of their autopsy.” Really? Something in that sentence didn’t flow right, did it? Feel free to be creative. Short, long, wordy, sparse, rhyming, whimsical, comedic, ironic, poetic, matter-of-fact…Use whatever style suits you. (Hint – I think some of the best writers manage to write exactly how they talk.) But I would suggest that whatever style you use, construct sentences that say what you mean and say it clearly. Don’t make your readers work too hard to follow your point.
12. Read up on how to write well. It should come as no surprise to my regular readers, that if I am interested in it, I have probably read on the topic. This includes writing. Below are two of my favorite writing books and definitely recommended for anyone wanting to improve as a writer.
Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott. Author and writing instructor Anne Lamott nails it here. While the second half of the book focuses on fiction writing (not my territory, but interesting nonetheless), the first half is solid gold in terms of learning to find your style, getting over writer’s block, identifying what it is you really want to say, the writer’s journey (those of you who are compelled to write will understand this), etc. Plus, it is very, very well written and laugh out loud funny in places, making it a pleasure to read.
Word Magic For Writers by Cindy Rogers This book is an amazing summary of how to write well. It is covers a lot of grammar (in a very engaging, easy to follow and even entertaining way – really:), but it is also about effective communication. All who aspire to be good writers should read and refer to this book often!
13. Please be aware of the cringe factor. I’ve read some blogs and thought to myself, “TMI!” (too much information). I cringe because I know they’ve gone beyond the boundaries of appropriate sharing and know they will probably regret posting this later. (More on this in a later post.) Please, before you hit the publish button and put your thoughts out there for the world to read, think about whether you will regret it later. Or whether your readers will regret it. The tension of course is that many writers want to connect authentically with their readers. Sharing on a personal level can certainly be a part of it. But usually we know when the line has been crossed. Figure out where your line is and try to stay on the safe side.
14. Wait at least a week from the end of the writing process to pushing the publish button. Not everyone needs to follow this. Personally however, I’ve found that I need the time to sit with a topic before I’m ready to release it. I might want to edit it. To think about whether it is too personal or how it might affect another’s perception of me. (I don’t write to please others, but I do need to guard my platform and respectability – or I will lose any influence and audience I might have.) Because I am a spiritual writer, it gives me time to engage my Jesus on what I write, making sure it is true, human, accurate and beneficial. I will often bounce my topics off of other people, to see how it lands with them. This is very valuable feedback. The in-between time, from when I first write until when I publish, is often my favorite part of the whole process. It can feel like an ongoing conversation with the idea I am trying to communicate, like an ongoing conversation with Jesus about the idea He is stirring within me. This process of waiting also ensures that what makes it to the light of day is my best work.