Blogging. How hard can it be? Writing is writing, right?
For the most part, I think yes, writing is writing. But is it?
In a novel or story, you focus on the arc and the character’s evolution. You also keep an eye on the pace, labor over crisp and realistic dialogue, show and not tell. You want the reader to turn the page again and again until reaching the end. I could go on, but you know the drill. Blogging is another beast altogether. It’s speed dating and not a long-term romance.
The title of your post will seduce a reader to follow the link to your blog, but after that, it’s the content that will keep them from bouncing. How to hold the reader engaged once they’ve made the journey past hundreds of hundreds of thousands of other Blogs, finally landing on yours is your writer’s challenge and nightmare.
I’ve been blogging for a few years and still consider myself a Blogger on training wheels. My challenge is the content. I have stories aplenty, but I am never certain which posts will resonate with my readers. It’s a gamble. As a writer I am expected to be open and honest, share tidbits from my life, invite the reader into my virtual home. But if I hesitate to confess the number of lovers that I’ve had to my best friend, you can imagine my reluctance disclosing the size of my bum or my feelings on tofu on the virtual page. Publishing a post week after week requires moxie, fearlessness, and a willingness to experiment. My bum is way bigger than I want it to be.
I like blogging because it gives the writer in me exceptional latitude. It’s not like the novel where I am a slave to the daily world count. The blogger isn’t expected to write a novella or even a short story. A writer, however, is expected to limit the word count, entertain and inform. Sometimes, blab at length on our passion and the tricks of the trade we’ve customized to work specifically for our unique process. We’re prone to confessing our sins at the slightest interest, even over sharing our insecurities (we’re nervous when it comes to professing our doubts but sometimes it helps to rid ourselves of the darkness) and known to wax poetically on writing.
It’s the how and what that challenges the writer living inside the blogger. The weekly post can freeze the fingers of even most prolific writer hovering over the keyboard. Following a cheat sheet of sorts can help. Mine is modeled from one Ann Handley created.
- What is the goal or aim of your post? Why would anyone care?
- Is the content of your post something your reader wants to read?
- Do you have examples or relatable anecdotes, something your reader can relate to? This is the time to share your dark moments and how you overcame the doubt, conquered something.
- Think through the content, try listing out what you want to cover in your post. Organize and reorder the list until you can see the words taking shape on the page.
- When possible, walk away for a while before writing the draft.
- Write your draft.
- Rewrite it.
- Name it.
- EDIT (If you have a copy editor living with you, that’s a plus.) I’m not so lucky and have to read my post aloud a few dozen times. A text to voice app is helpful.
- A final read. Are the paragraphs short? Are lists bulleted and numbered. Are your words honest and identifiable with your voice? Is your content lively and heartfelt? Keep it real.
Finally, you’re ready to publish.
Blogging showed me that writing is writing. It uses a different creative muscle. I’ve also realized the secret to the art of writing is to show up every day at the appointed time. Keep the date with the blank page and never stop pounding. For the weekly blog post, keep it fresh. Brave the unknown, experiment, give yourself permission to have fun. Take risks.