Fourteen Blog Writing Tips for the Dedicated Non-conformist


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Content. Today we indiscriminately slap that label on almost anything that gets communicated. “What’s your content strategy?” Ugh! Tepid water conjures more excitement, but somehow content got elevated to a strategic perch. Are Soviet agents still trying to undermine our economy by driving us to insanity?

Content strategy involves content creation, and fortunately, we have software tools to perform much of the heavy lifting. A helpful suggestion from one I tried reads, “Use a Term at least five times to create a Focus Term and increase your score significantly . . . Please note that singular and plural versions of the same term are treated differently. For example California vacation is not the same as California vacations.

How would this perverse machinery corrupt great literature like Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which began from a 1970 Ebony magazine article? “We suggest using Focus Terms sub-optimized opportunity and systemic racism.” I’m grateful that the beauty of her prose was not lost to SEO, or to her publisher’s infatuation with Tweetability.

To those who eschew assigning the word content to a well-constructed essay, who don’t cave to the blandifying demands of SEO, who stubbornly adhere to high standards for the craft of writing, I celebrate your non-conformity, and offer these tips:

#1 Read obsessively. You knew that already.
#2 “Collect string.” When a topic moves you, collect quotes, articles, and URL’s about the subject.
#3 Begin with a dramatic opening.
#4 Don’t fizzle out – “stick the landing” at the end.
#5 Unlearn what Mrs. McFarland, your high school English teacher, taught you about essay writing. She beat the stuffing out of your creativity, and now you must bring it back.
#6 But give her credit for being a stickler about proper grammar and spelling.
#7 Tweak, tweak, tweak until you have expressed your thought exactly right.
#8 Don’t be shy about writing from the heart. Your first visceral reaction might be the best one to run with.
#9 This is a secret I might reveal later.
#10 If your idea needs a word that’s not in the dictionary, coin a new one.
#11 Champion your professional errors and shortcomings. Readers find your mistakes way more fascinating than your perfection and infallibility (Full disclosure: outside of its use in a winking emoticon, I still can’t explain the purpose of a semicolon).
#12 Trust a few people to provide candid opinions about your writing.
#13 Don’t continually torment them with your own concerns and misgivings—unless you want them to stop offering opinions.
#14 Finally, as Mark Slouka said in The New York Times, (Don’t Ask Me What I’m Writing) “Shut up and write.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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