So, is everyone feeling creatively inspired in their blog writing? We’ve embraced the power of story – and seen some lovely blog posts. I shared the joy of conversation – yay, for a good chat! But today I’m going to introduce the dreaded D word. Discipline.
The above is a proofreading mark. If a writer sees this in the margin of their text, it means ‘delete and close up’. Less is more, and this is particularly true for blog writing. Here are a few reasons why:
- People are reading on screens and their eyes get tired.
- People are reading on small screens – increasingly on their phones or other portable devices.
- People are reading on small screens in weird places – on packed trains, in airports, during an ad break, sat on the loo (yes, they do, why do you think the waterproof phone has been invented?). Their attention span is being challenged all the time.
- People have approximately one gazillion other blog posts they could be reading. If you don’t capture their attention quickly and make it easy for them to continue giving you attention, they’ll move on.
So, that all sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it? But there are other good reasons to learn the art of discipline in your writing. It will make it easier and quicker to write blog posts. You’ll be flexing a muscle that makes you a stronger writer. Readers’ faith in you will grow, as will your faith in yourself. Hey, you might discover a real love of writing and enter a short story writing competition or something crazy! It’s all good, people.
Here are some tips for discipline:
Keep paragraphs short. A long, rambling paragraph is heavy on the eye.
Keep sentences short for the same reasons.
Really keep an eye on adverbs and adjectives. These can become clutter.
Here is one of my favourite self-editing techniques: before hitting ‘publish’ re-read your blog post and ask, What can I lose without losing the essence of my story? This is a brilliant way of cutting. I always do this. I’ll give you an example. As I wrote my opening paragraph to this blog post I said, ‘But today I’m going to turn all school ma’am and introduce the dreaded D word.’ I decided to lose the school ma’am analogy. Yeah, it was cute but it wasn’t really adding anything. Delete!
Here’s another tip I really like: imagine you are writing for an audience of 8-year-old children. If a child can understand, we can all understand. If not, you need to cut back and clarify. People often make the mistake of thinking that clarity can come if you just explain a bit more, add another sentence, really lay it on thick, underline what you’re saying… Hey, what was I saying?
Here is today’s PRACTICAL EXERCISE. Write a blog post that is between 300-1000 words long. No more. There shan’t be a paragraph that is longer than six lines and there shouldn’t be a sentence that carries over more than three lines. My recent blog post on thread came in at a paltry 264 words, yet it received nearly 40 comments. Learn that skill and you get great engagement without having to slave blood, sweat and tears composing a dissertation every time you write a blog post.
Less is more, people, less is…
You’re a Steinbeck, not a Tartt!