Writing is often perceived as something of an enigma by many people as attaining a mastery over the subject is somewhat of an illusion, as there is always a thing or more to learn in honing one’s creative writing skills. Writing comes in different shapes and sizes and there are no fixed set of rules to fit them all. But as this article was primarily aimed for bloggers to improve their writing and attract more readers, we will just stick to it. Unlike the long form writers for op-eds, novels/short stories and other print formats, blog writing it is an entirely different agenda. What blog writing is all about is how well you convey your message in the shortest and memorable way possible.
For writers of the print and long format, what they will tell you are that writing should be detailed and not brief or comprehensive. They will tell you to engrave emotions into your writing to grab the attention of the readers and make them stick to you. But the thing is what works for the long form and print writers will not necessarily work for blog writing. Blog writing is an entirely different game and having your blog articles embellished in emotions is an unnecessary vanity. Whenever I think about writing, I remember of Ernest Hemmingway’s words:
“No subject is bad if the story is true, the prose clean and honest, and it affirms courage and grace under pressure”.
7 Rock Solid Tips to improve your Blog writing
We will be looking at a few of the fundamental ways to improve your blog writing considerably in a short span of time with a little persistence and effort on your end. Having been dabbled between different forms of writing, one thing I can assure with certainty is that blog writing can be fun and could open new horizons for you, landing a gig here or there.
Become an avid reader
Stephen King simply puts in his ‘On Writing‘ book: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that”. Reading whatever that you can get your hands on is one sure-fire way to improve your writing by three-folds.
I was taught during my creative writing course that it is the human tendency to draw out inspiration from others previous works, and it is completely alright as long as you don’t rip off them.
“Substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, daily used by the garnered with a pride and satisfaction, born of the superstition that he originated them.”
During that creative writing course, there were some authors who were afraid that if they read works from their own genre, they tend to unconsciously extend their own writing to include what they just read. So these people were advised to read from different genres apart from the one which they wrote to know more about writing styles and perspectives. Getting inspiration from the written works by the authors and bloggers you adore the most is a great way to improve your writing. Don’t be dreaded that you might end up being a rip-off of someone else’s work, instead try and find your voice in all the already available works, and put them out in your best possible way.
Get your basics right
I won’t have to mention the significance of this part. Every avid reader hates typos and grammatical errors, and what are even more frustrating is the repeated grammatical errors in a single blog post. This shows your lack of basic grasp of English grammar, and your negligence to work on it. This will serious hinder and aspiring writer’s career and see to it that your basic grammar skills are brushed up before you start your blogging. This doesn’t imply that you ought to open up your high school English books and again skim through all them, all you need are some good resources to get through this part.
I’ve heard it from many native English language writers shun the need for brushing up their grammar basics and end up framing sentences that aren’t concise. There is no need for knowing the difference between a conjunction and a preposition while reading, but when it comes to writing, you wouldn’t want your articles to end up conveying a wrong implication by a misplaced comma. Here are some most recommended resources for brushing up your basic grammar understanding:
- “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White
- TalkEnglish’s Basics of English Grammar
- GrammarBook English Rules
Outlines are your friend
Another most important thing you’ll learn if you ever happen to take a course in creative writing is the importance of creating outlines while writing. Writers usually end up with their writing by either of the two ways – ‘The go with the flow’ way and the outlining way. It depends more on the personal preference of sticking to outlining or writing as it comes to one, when considered about writing for the print. But when it comes to blog writing, it is even better to follow outlining to end up with a well structured article.
Starting working on an article with a ready outline is a great way to know where you’ll end up at the finish of the article. If you happen to include plot twists in your articles, having an understanding of the entire article flow from the beginning itself will save you both time and energy. When you sit down to write without anything solid in your mind, an outline is your best bet then. You can start by creating a few titles and sub-titles and the rest takes from there easily. Keeping this outline flexible and tweaking it while you are writing is also a must. Many authors follow the outline method and it helps them get organized and in control of the entire plot.
Must read: 4 Ways to hone your writing skills
Less is more
Okay, people should practice what they preach, but when it comes to me I end up writing more than I thought to when I set out writing. But when it comes to blog writing, you don’t need to pop up a few words here and then unnecessarily just to increase the word count and seem like a sage! If you can say the same three line phrase thing in a line, say it. People don’t have the patience and most of them tend to skim through most of the content just to see what’s in it. Unless there is a need for expanding your views on the thing, don’t be compelled to write hundreds of paragraphs and pages after pages in a single blog post, you can break them up into shorter pieces and save it for later.
If you ever happen to end up with a comparatively longer article, break it up into parts and you can also keep your readers interested and in suspense and they’ll be excited for learning when the next parts hits the web. Know that your readers might be just visiting your article for a piece of information and make sure it is readily available to them. Readers who hate long form of writing will definitely not be impressed your habit of weaving your most important information carefully between convoluted paragraphs. Remember the rule of ‘Less is more’ and cut through everything that seems of less value to your readers, such things shouldn’t be in your writing.
Use active language
Never make the mistake of using passive language while writing your blog posts. Passive writing is bland and deserves hate and criticism from your readers. Active voice writing is, “Joe designs websites and apps”, and is sounds completely normal and easy to read. Passive writing is, “The apps and websites are designed by Joe”, and this sentence seems superfluous and makes the reader reach the tip off point and stops reading the article.
Stories, articles – both of the long and short form are always encouraged to be written in the active language and there would be very rare instances when people are advised to use passive language. Passive writing is often difficult to comprehend for the average reader and tends to break the flow of the entire article, it seems ‘backwards’ and hinders the process of reading further.
As Ernest Hemmingway puts it about editing: “Write drunk, edit sober“, “The first draft of anything is shit.” You can see the impetus given to editing what you’ve written. Editing is considered more important than the writing itself in the first place. While good writing allows you to put your thoughts precisely on paper, editing decides what needs to be still on paper, and what not. Be ruthless when it comes to editing and kill off the words and sentences that don’t fit into the big picture of what you’re aiming for with the writing.
You can just start writing everything and anything that comes into your mind when you begin writing on a topic, but make sure you are diligent when it comes to re-writing and editing the content you’ve written. Never publish anything without proof-reading, re-writing or editing what you’ve written. A blank page is dreadful and that is the reason it is often encouraged even in creative writing courses to start writing about just whatever you can think of, once something’s on paper, you can clear up the mess that’s just created.
Follow your Instincts
Want my advice on improving your blog writing? Follow your instincts. You know what you want to write, to whom you want to address the content; once you know that follow your instinct. Writing, and art in general, is something that comes out of excess emotions – great terror, great fear, great urge for informing people, great loneliness and great instability.
Anais Nin puts in her diary:
“You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness.”
Accept everything that comes your way, be open to fullness and once you are rich inside, you’ll find that writing is a best outlet to put forth your ideas and thoughts out to the world. Writing what you love the most will help you in the long run and will annihilate your idea of giving up early in the game.
What helps you improve your blog writing skills? Shout out your thoughts and comments below.