I always thought I had an excellent grasp of the English language and was able to articulate my thoughts and feelings in an accurate, mature and smooth way. I never imagined blogging would improve my writing skills like it has.
Through writing daily and reading hundreds of blogs a month, I quickly found the way in which I wrote blog posts change and develop. There were some skills I learnt from others and some were naturally occurring.
I feel like I’ve changed from a scatty, erratic blogger to one that can put clear ideas forward in an organised way, while still letting that silly side of me shine through.
I’d like to share with you the first things few rules I discovered.
The first draft of everything is shit. -Ernest Hemingway
1. Keep it short.
If you can say it in less words, do it.
Writing a blog post isn’t the same as writing a school report, you may be tempted to bulk up the word count by adding fancy words and descriptions – RESIST, MY FRIEND!
The tip with blog posts is to say as much as you can with the least amount of words possible.
This is because people browsing online generally have a short attention span and want information fast.
2. Keep it simple.
Just as the tip above, there is no need to use posh, complicated words!
You want your readers to find it easy to read your blog, not be put off by hard to understand words! You don’t want to come across as pretentious.
Example: If you can use ‘use‘, don’t use ‘utilise‘. Or use ‘helpful‘ in place of ‘advantageous‘.
3. Stick to the same perspective and tense.
Ensure you’re consistent throughout the post, whether that’s talking in the first person or not.
We, you, I, me, they – don’t get muddled up and change throughout!
This goes for tense too, it can be easy to switch between past and present without realising.
4. Talk as if you’re writing to a friend.
Finding your own writing style can be hard. I’ve heard that most writers go through three phases of finding their own style:
- Imitation of someone’s writing style.
- Mastery of their own.
Let your personality shine through and don’t be afraid to sound informal. Add jokes in when appropriate. And just be you.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – there are thousands of blogs out there all reviewing the same things, doing the same tags, aspiring to be like the same big bloggers – the only thing making your blog different is: there is only one you. Don’t stifle yourself in an attempt to be like others, or to fit a mould of what you think other people would like.
Sometimes I find myself writing in a way that feels lifeless. It doesn’t feel like my usual writing and if I’m not in the right frame of mind, then I find it difficult. But you have to put your running shoes on and run like fuck until you can catch that inspiration, rather than sit and wait for it to happen.
5. Read it out loud.
Reading your post out loud can give you a real sense of how well it flows. I’ve rearranged many sentences because once said aloud, it sounds awkward!
This also helps to discover any spelling or grammar mistakes. If you find you’re still missing them, try reading your post backwards. That way, you focus on each word separately and are less likely to miss a pesky mistake.
6. Stay clear of useless words.
There are some words that you just don’t need to use. Like just, for example. I could have taken the word out and the sentence would not have lost any meaning.
Some other words I avoid are very, which and really.
There are others to steer away from which I’ll write about in the future, but the above is a good starting point.
Are there any writing rules that you live by?