Today we will be discussing the mistakes I did with my blog posts.
I started (seriously) writing blogs a year back. A few of my posts got a pretty nice response. The praise put me in seventh heaven. I thought I was a fairly good blogger.But after almost a year of writing, one day I chanced upon one of my older posts and reading it sent me crashing down to earth.
There was huge list of mistakes I made
The post was a perfect example of TLDR. I previously used to judge a post based on quantity. The larger the number of words, the better! (Typical lawyer mentality!)
The title and the lead paragraph were vague.
The sentences were long (far too long).
There were plenty grammatical mistakes.
I lost the flow of thought, broke the logical chain in many places.
The measures I took to solve my problem
I was upset. I stopped writing for a month or so.
After the depressed, dispirited phase was over, I got back up, dusted myself off and tried to find out ways to make be a better writer.
Talks, books, blogs:
I searched for talks, writings, books on “how to write good blog posts” and started reading, and watching videos. I tried to follow those while writing my posts.
Earlier I used to take a lot of time (a week) to write each post. I used to flit from sentence to new sentence. I used to do that so I do not forget the latest idea or next thought that popped into my head.
But that caused two major problems:
First, the long writing time also meant long breaks. The interval broke my chain of thought anyway. I had to start again from the beginning. That resulted in confusing views and non-related sentences.
Secondly, it also caused the huge length of the posts.
Now I dedicate limited time, a few hours, for each post, depending on the idea.
And I strictly adhere to those hours. I use Tomato Timer to keep a check on the time. During that time I do not go to my web browser, check my phone, do any household activity and of course, ignore my husband completely.
But one thing I am not being able to avoid is, “Mamma no working. Let's play” situation. :)
I focus on the sentence I am writing. I do not jump between sentences. I’ve made peace with the fear of losing one thought and I do not disturb the one I am working on. This keeps my ideas clear.
To finish my work within the stipulated time
- I write during quieter hours, especially in the morning, - I plan what to write the day before, - am caffeinated while writing
Sometimes I can not finish it in one go. Then before starting the next day I read what I wrote previously, aloud.
Previously after I finished writing, I used to correct only the red underlines. Now I take time and follow four steps before publishing a post:
- correct the underlined places,
- check grammar,
- I read the post aloud at least twice. This helps me to hear my own words and correct my own mistakes.
- I have some friends to check my post before publishing. An extra human eye to correct errors.
Respect the readers
This single piece of advice has changed my posts for better.
Respect the reader.
Don’t give them any false hopes or expectations.
With that in mind, I have altered the following two things in my blog:
I always thought out of the box, and figured that sarcastic titles would showcase my intelligence. A off hand, humourous title is good. How utterly wrong I was.
People search by asking relevant question on the topic.
Like for hardware () project with esp8266 using micropython people may search with
- “esp8266 projects” - “projects with micropython” - “fun hardware projects” etc. But no one will search with “mybunny uncle” (it might remind you of your kindly uncle, but definitely not a hardware project in any sense of the term).
People find your blogs by RSS feed or searching in any search engine.
So be as direct as possible. Give a title that describes core of the content. In the words of Cory Doctorow write your headlines as if you are a Wired service writer.
Vague Lead paragraph
Lead paragraph; the opening paragraph of your post must be explanatory of what follows. Many times, the lead paragraph is the part of the search result.
Avoid conjunctions and past participles
I attempt not to use any conjunction, connecting clauses or past participle tense. These make a sentence complicated to read.
Use simple words
I use simple, easy words in contrast to hard, heavy and huge words. It was so difficult to make the lawyer (inside me) understand that - “simple is better than complicated”.
The one thing which is still difficult for me is - to let go. To accept the fact all of my posts will not be great/good.
There will be faults in them, which is fine.
Instead of putting one’s effort to make a single piece better, I’d move on and work on other topics.