WRITING

writing

There are so many subjects I would like to write about.

I have wild ideas all the time. When one idea is promising I even draft a first essay in my head.

The non-writing part is so easy!

The writing is the hard part of course.

So over the past months I have read quite a few tutorials and books on the subject.

I find it fascinating! The writing world can be so rich. I am also a passionate reader and I appreciate to get an insight of the mechanism at play behind my favorite blogs or books.

Did the reading about writing actually help me to write better?

Well, no… At least not directly.

I would say it has raised my awareness on how I want to write and what works for me and doesn’t when writing blog posts (for example):

  • Write like you talk.This is much easier to say than to apply. Additionally, I’d like to add: but only if you know how to talk… As a parallel goal to improving my writing,  I also wish to become a better speaker and would like to join a toastmaster club soon.  
  • Get to the point immediately. For me it is a struggle because this is not how I communicate orally. Especially on complex issues or stories, I don’t like to be too direct. I’d rather approach the subject laterally and give people ‘impression’ rather than direct opinion on what’s right or wrong. I also won’t ever just tell someone:

‘I almost had a one-night stand last night but at the last minutes the guy refused to use a condom’.

To be honest I am not sure the way I posted about it was optimal (it was fun to write though!). When and if I tell this story to my friends, I unfold it slowly, building up the suspense with spicy details, going sometimes off track, referring to previous experiences in order to show how this one experience was unique, and what was my state of mind.

  • Stay focus and on topic. I guess this goes together with the previous point. However I find it much easier to follow. I f I see myself referring to another topic, I will just start a new draft where I will jolt down all what came into my mind. And move on.
  • Share a personal story. But why would you care about my own experience? It’s nothing special, I can assure you. Besides I don’t want to be vulnerable or worse seem pretentious…
  • The single function of the headline is to get people to read the first sentence. I found astonishing how hard it is to find an fitted headline to a blog post. I also understand that when you write you should keep the reader in mind. And what you’d like the reader to do is to spend some of his precious time on your writing: it all start with the headline! But also:

  • The purpose of the first sentence is to get you to read the second sentence. Nothing more, nothing less.

Each sentence is so short and easy to read that your reader starts to read your copy almost as if being sucked into it. Think about the analogy of a locomotive. When the locomotive starts to chug from a standing start, it really works hard. The amount of commitment and energy that the train must exert is monumental. But once the train starts to move, the next few feet become easier and the next few even easier. ~ Joe Sugerman

    I just love this insight. I think it is also a good tactic when writing. That is, when I start a blog post, I try to start with a few short sentences – isolated and if possible ON TOPIC!

  • Use a balance of ‘I’ and ‘you’. Simple to implement and very pertinent I think, even though I haven’t started doing that consciously yet.  It is particularly true for personal development blogs or expert (?) blogs on finance or writing for example.
  • List posts are one of the best format to get viral. In particular, bullet points can be very useful in any blog posts to make the reader stop if he’s skimming and get him to focus on a bite-sized, result-driven component of your content. Readers also like to receive short and clear instruction on a topic rather than a lengthy dissertation. Using bullet points can serve just this purpose.
  • At the end of your post,  make the reader take action. One of the advantages of the blogging format is that you can engage with your audience. I hadn’t paid attention to it at first but most blog posts finish with a call to action. Even one as simple as ‘Please leave a comment’. You might think to leave it out but apparently we, humans, like to receive clear instruction with regard to what is expected of us.
  • Editing is a big part of writing. Depending on the day I found this exciting or boring. It’s exciting because it feels like you are sculpting your thoughts. You strip them from the superficiality and dress them with profound insight you didn’t even know you had when first starting to write. It’s also boring because sometimes when you have a text out of your system you just wish to move out to the next promising topic.

I could go on with this list for another 500+ words, I think, as the skeleton of writing is one with many bones (also one good advice is to avoid cheesy clichés…) . But I can’t help wondering:

So is it really the right formula to be truly memorable?

Once you know what you are looking for, you find this writing frame everywhere.

It has become so standard, I, for example read the first paragraph to get a good feel on what the blog post is about. I then skip to the bullet points. If I have time, I will read what’s after the parts in bold, knowing it will most probably be one example taken from the writer’s own experience. Otherwise I will just skim through it.

So at the end, there is very little chance I will remember this particular post as it is so similar to thousands of others!

This has become a central question throughout my own writing as I am still looking for my true voice.

I will most probably revisit the subject in a few month to see where I stand with regard to the above points and how I try to achieve writing EPIC SHIT.

Corollary:

It took me three days to write this post.

It made me feel good very good to finally put down my thought on writing. It was like the words had to get out.

However I am conscious that the rendition is not that great.

  • There are a lot of repetitions (same words, unnecessary clarification, etc.).
  •  The topic isn’t focused enough.
  • The list could be 10 times reworked and reworded.
  • I really wanted to touch the subject on being memorable but I am not sure I tackled it the right way? Maybe I should just have written another post about it?
  • Also I think it is quite clumsy to try to engage my audience like I did… (See below)

Well at the end of the day (at the end of this day!) my goal isn’t to write EPIC SHIT but just to write. Not to optimize all of the contents but to produce as much as possible.

This I did. EPICALLY WELL.

What about you?

What are the tips on writing you found most insightful? What is a good strategy for a blog post to be memorable?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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