Better Blogging: Learn from the experts

qualityLearn from the experts is excellent advice and when it comes to famous writers their advice abounds. I have compiled a small collection of such advice that’s most useful to me. Please free to read the quotes and share any additional expert advice you find useful in comments at the end of the post.

“Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.” – Stephen King

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” ―  Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” – Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing

“People who think well, write well. Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.” – 10 Tips on Writing from David Ogilvy

“Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.” – Henry Miller’s 11 Commandments of Writing & Daily Creative Routine

“Use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English–it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in.” – Mark Twain

“Paragraphs are almost always as important for how they look as for what they say; they are maps of intent.” – Stephen King

“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.” – Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Great Story

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Two kinds of writers. Those who think this life is all there is, and want to describe everything: the fall, the battle, the accouchement, the horse-race. That is, Tolstoy. And those who think this life is a kind of testing-ground (for what we don’t know — to see how much pleasure + pain we can bear or what pleasure + pain are?) and want to describe only the essentials. That is, Dostoyevsky. The two alternatives. How can one write like T. after D.? The task is to be as good as D. — as serious spiritually, + then go on from there.” – Susan Sontag on Writing

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”  – Hilary Mantel

“One that works for me every time is to focus on the positive intention behind my writing. What is it that I want to communicate, express, convey? By focusing on that, by getting into the state that I’m trying to express, I find that I stop worrying about the words – just let them tumble out of their own accord.

It’s a great strategy for beating writer’s block, or overcoming anxiety about a particular piece of writing, whether that’s composing a formal business letter, writing a piece from the heart, or guest blogging somewhere ‘big’…” – Joanna Young

“There’s a sureness to good writing even when what’s being written about doesn’t make all that much sense. It’s the sureness of the so-called seat of an accomplished horseback rider or a sailor coming about in a strong wind. The words have both muscle and grace, familiarity and surprise.” – Anne Bernays

“If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.” – Six Tips on Writing from John Steinbeck

“Both running and writing are highly addictive activities; both are, for me, inextricably bound up with consciousness. I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t running, and I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t writing.” – Joyce Carol Oates

“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

“I don’t care how many friends you have on Facebook or how many followers you have on Twitter. Those are not actual friends or truly followers. I care about how many people will miss you if you’re not back here again tomorrow. The opportunity is not in being momentarily popular with the anonymous masses. It’s in being missed when you’re gone, in doing work that matters to the tribe you choose. The rest of the world isn’t nearly as important as the few who are here.” - Seth Godin

Discussion

Time flies and making enough time to blog is not always easy as I blog only as a hobby. I am a contracted writer who prefers to do most of my paid writing in the morning and editing at the end of the day.  I schedule my writing time in advance, work on a computer that’s has no internet connection, set my intention and I write.

Sometimes what I write gets published and sometimes it doesn’t. But I know from experience that writing begets writing and in my case writing is connected to a pay check, so my only rule is write almost every day. In addition, I schedule time to blog twice weekly but I do allow myself to take time off when I need to. How about you?

8 Tips for Effective Blogging

  1. Create a writing schedule and stick to it.
  2. Take some time to decide what you want each post to accomplish and who your audience is.
  3. Focus on clarity and brevity.
  4. Don’t be afraid to use power words. “You”, “your”, “yours” create a direct connection between you, the blogger and your readers. By using them you can encourage reader feedback.
  5. Create an effective title that tells readers what to expect, and place a keyword or keyword phrase as close to the start of the title as possible.
  6. Use your opening to provide general information and context.
  7. Use a structure that delivers the message in as few words as possible.
  8. Conclude by summarizing and inviting questions.

Related posts found in this blog:

Blogging, Bean Counting and Social Networking
Targeted Blog Post Titles Draw Traffic
Tips for Organized Blogging
6 Traits of Successful Bloggers
10 Guidelines for Writing Engaging Posts
Writing a Blog Post

52 thoughts on “Better Blogging: Learn from the experts

  1. Oh how carefully I step across those stepping stones sometimes, but i remember as a child flying across them barefoot and never falling.. loved that quote.. so true.. c

  2. Love your collection of quotes! I especially like the one about Twitter and Facebook followers aren’t really friends, so pay attention to the tribe that will miss you if you don’t show up.

  3. Those were great quotes and I loved them. I pinned them so I can find them again (you had a Pinterest button there):

    Nancy

  4. Amazing series of quotes for writing in general. I’m going to have to share this with my colleagues in my creative writing program! The Lamott quote is hilarious and profound at the same time.

    • If you haven’t Lamott’s read Bird by Bird – do so. I’m so glad Judy reminded me of it and amazed I didn’t include one of Anne’s quotes on the first go around. I have read Bird by Bird twice and I’ll be reading it again.

    • I included one Stephen King quote but could have included many others. If you had to select just one of his which one would it be?

      Oh my! I cannot believe it. I did not include my favorite Anne Lamott Bird by Bird quote. I’m off to edit it in now. Thanks so much for tweaking my memory.

      • Glad you added Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” – that book was so inspirational to me. Your Stephen King quote is good. From his book “On Writing,” there are so many great tips. Here’s one I like:
        “Let’s get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of the Buried Bestsellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

        • Hi Judy,
          Thanks for another Stephen King quote. I included it too. Here’s another one I had tucked away in my journal: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

  5. Reading this, for me, was almost like eating a slice of the most fabulous cake. I mean, one person after another quoted, and all of them rich in succinct wisdom. A feast. Thank you for preparing it

    • What a great analogy. I collect quotes and aphorisms and though I rarely refer to them in my public blogs my private journal burgeons with them. I quietly nibble on them most days and some days I devour a banquet. If you have a favorite quote on writers and writing please feel free to comment again and share it.

  6. Awesome post, If you want to be the best you must learn from the best! We actually just started a new series on that premise which is dedicated to studying the top bloggers/writers/communicators and finding what makes them so great. We just finished a two part case study on Seth Godin if anyone’s interested http://wp.me/p3vvow-5H. Sorry for spamming your comments, it was just too on topic!

  7. Gosh, you must have spent some time just finding and selecting the aphorisms and quotes.

    While writing begets writing, it may be useful to consider writing well begets good writing. :D

    Write not for just yourself but write for the audience. Otherwise, there’s no point publishing your written works for others.

    • Hi Jean,
      I have many aphorisms and quotes squirreled away in my private journal. However, they aren’t in any way shape or form organized so I had to do a lot of searching to select the ones I wanted to feature in this summer post.

      “While writing begets writing, it may be useful to consider writing well begets good writing. :D”

      Well said. However, I have started with some very trashy drafts and worked with the little good seed they contained, watered, fertilized and created a garden. ;)

      I my private journal I write for myself but that’s not the case in my public blogs. I always have target audience in mind for each post I create and publish.

  8. “She was going to write herself into her future” – Jordan River – Amouage Fate Woman Review on TheFragrantMan.com
    Look like you have achieved this Time Thief. Write On.

  9. Many blogs I followed in the (now defunct) Google Reader were really good – interesting and well written. But the writers decided to stop. Or perhaps they didn’t decide, but just that they didn’t have the passion to continue.

    I couldn’t help but notice Anne Bernays’ last name. I googled her and see that she is the daughter of Edward Bernays, the father of public relations persuasion and the author of ‘Propaganda’.

  10. One thing I’d add, tt – write for yourself. You cannot possibly write to please an audience which is a completely unknown quantity. So assuming that you’re literate and competent, write to please yourself. If you’re happy, your readers will be too.

    • Hi Ron,
      When it comes to creative writing I agree with your advice. When it comes to informative writing which is what I do in this blog I disagree. Those who write to inform need to know who their target audience is for each post they write.

          • Hugs always appreciated but not really serious about being chastened ;)

            By the way, apropos of nothing much, I was taken to task recently for using approbation instead of appreciation, because the person didn’t know what it meant. I think it’s indicative of the problems we have with literacy these days that they’d moan at me rather than add a new word to their personal lexicon.

          • If you are, and I’m not convinced, then I don’t doubt that you have the intelligence to look up an unfamiliar word, not complain because it IS unfamiliar.

            It’s what I was taught to do almost 60 years ago, and I still do – the learning process never stops.

  11. Dear TiTi,
    This is such a useful post. I love all the blogging tips and inspiration here. Such great quotes here too. I especially love #3. Thank you for putting this together.
    Lots of love to you,
    Z~

    p.s. I have been looking for css code to remove tags and categories from the yoko theme, that I just changed to after almost one and a half year. I cant seem to find anything. Could you help or point me in the direction where I can find this code. I appreciate you and all that you do so much….

    • Dear Zeenat
      I love the theme change to Yoko. It displays well in all devices.

      re: hiding the categories and tags
      I searched the CSS threads for you and the question has not been asked and answered previously so
      you will have to post to the CSS support forums for help. http://en.forums.wordpress.com/forum/css-customization#postform

      May I say a word or two about categories and tags on your posts?
      Hiding categories and tags does not hide them from search engines. It only means visitors cannot click the links in your blog and find all posts in the blog under the same categories and tags. Before you do the CSS editing please read this post of mine as I think you will want to do some bulk editing.See > http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2013/03/15/quick-blog-post-tagging-tips/

      Love always

      • HI Titi,
        Thank you so much for the links. I have posted a question in the forums already.
        I have also read your post on the cats and tags. So I do remain well informed thanks to you. I only want to remove the tags and cats from the homepage and not the posts itself.
        I await the response to my forum css code query :)
        Much Love,
        Z~

        • Hi again,
          I understand what you want to do. I was trying to get you to read my post because you are inadvertently spamdexing (tag spamming). You are using more than a combined total of 15 categories and tags. Please read my post because if you read it carefully I think you may want to do some editing before you do the CSS editing.

          Love always

  12. So interesting! Different views on any subject can make you see things from another angle you may not have considered. Even though my blog topic may not be as serious as some, I still won’t post unless it feels good in my gut! If it doesn’t I just can’t press publish!!

    • Who says the subject matter in your blog isn’t serious? The human eye seeks beauty and harmony. The environment we dwell in influences our moods and our mental set. Our pocketbooks are slim and the landfills are overfilled. I think what you rescue, renew and share is both practical and beautiful. I also think you are right about gut instinct. I always listen to my intuition.

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