Tag Archives: Writing

Writing Your First Blog Post

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you the same thing — the beginning is always the hardest part of any written piece. You may have the most detailed picture of what you want to say in your head but putting down those first words on paper (or on MS Word) could be like pulling teeth. The problem is only compounded with the short, encapsulated nature of blog posts. What do you really write about on your first post in your blog?

Fortunately, there are some good suggestions and ideas that you can glean from the blogs of other people. The most common start would be to just a small greeting or introduction. This probably one of the most popular ways of starting a blog. A simple “hi, this is my blog!” post is one of the most common you’ll see on the internet. It’s a no-nonsense way of kicking off a blog. But some bloggers may not want to start off their blogs in this manner. Fortunately, there are also “fancier” ways of starting a blog.

You can start a blog by introducing yourself. Since most blogs are personal in nature, giving a backgrounder on yourself will give your readers a fair idea of why you have a particular perspective about certain topics that you’ll eventually discuss in your blog. You don’t need an exhaustive biography, just touch on the important facts that will help readers get to know you more.

You can also decide to give the raison d’etre of your blog. Write about why you started it, and what motivated you to do so. Personally, I think this is the best way of starting a blog. It gives the readers the lay of the land, so to speak. They’ll already know beforehand what to expect from your blog, which could pull in more like-minded readers. For example, if you say that your blog will be about your perspective as non-US citizen on the Obama Administration’s policies, it will surely attract people who are looking to read about what your thoughts will be on future issues.

An ingenious way of starting a blog is picking out one of those memes that are all over the net. Try to find a meme that is related to the topic of your blog, this will be a great way of giving a bird’s eye view of your views and also what to expect in future blog posts.

Why Write Anonymously or Under a Pseudonym

As a writer do you write anonymously? Or would you like to? What are the reasons for writing under another name or anonymously?

First, The author might want the public not to who he was. This might be because of the content or because of the time. There was a time when women had to use the name of a man just to publish their work. There are also male authors who use female names to mask who they are – for example when writ8ing Romance Literature.

There are of course other circumstances that fall under this league.

If it is a confession article or post that reveals what is happening in a company, within a group or inside a government agency then the reason the author remaining unknown is obvious: he does not want his cover blown or compromomise his safety. Although not a writer – the now famous Deep Throat of Woodward and Bernstein comes to mind.

The author might just want to keep his privacy.

Second, The author might want to distance himself from work. It could be different genres or it could be a test balloon when submitting works.

Third, Some do it as a precaution when they start to criticize or even attack an issue or even a person. There is a certain shield of protection when writing under a pseudonym. It emboldens the writer to write or say things he or she would normally write about. The repercussions are somewhat not felt.

But not anymore as can be seen in the case of Google, the model and the anonynmous blogger.

What do you write?

We are all familiar with the different types of fiction: The different genres has and has been talked about but what about non-fiction. What do we publishers write when we write non-fiction. What are different forms of non-fiction writing? Well it would help to briefly describe them –

Reporting

The reportage: The report: The News. Just simply saying what has happened. This could range from Aunt Mildred’s wedding to George or the Marriage of the Queen of Buggyland to the Prince of Salami. It could be anything as long as it happened. This usually falls under the five wise men of Rudyard Kipling’s five wise men name: (i) who, (ii) what, (iii) when, (iv) where, and (v) how?

How-To-Do-It

These articles range from how to prepare an omelet to how make your own nuclear bomb – a writer actually did several years ago and he was immediately hired by a government agency upon discovery of his thesis. Articles/posts such as these gives the reader step-by-step instructions on how to prepare and assemble/or cook a specific dish or object. Note that there will also be articles/posts that will fall under sub-form of How-To-Do-It – the advise piece or the question & answer piece.

The Narrative

A more detailed and personal account of an event in past and the present. A tad bit longer and more meandering a narrative not only gives you the facts of what has happened but it also gives you an inkling of the emotion of the moment as things happened – although more often it is a very personal account of what has happened.

The Confession

This type of article/post deals with revelations. Most oftem personal revelation of what one did or what one felt like doing during a given time. It could also be an article or post that leads one to the writer or blogger’s realization usually after something has happened our occurred.

Interviews

This type of post/article is a question and answer piece – usually but not limited to one person. It may focus on one aspect of a person’s life; a person’s career or only subject of interest.

Reviews

A critical discussion or commentary of a book, play, film, gadget, and service. As such you should have a book review; a review of a play; a film review; a review of a gadget and even a restaurant review. Does the reviewer think this bad or good? A good review will often tell why they think something is good or bad.

Argumentative:Opinion: the lead: the editorial

This type of article/post argues for or against an issue or a cause. This type of article is used to dissuade or encourage the reader. In some instances, ir can also be used to challenge the reader to action.

Analysis

An analysis, whether post or article, aims to provide the reader a thorough discussion of a subject. It starts with an introduction, a brief description of the topic, the issues involved; the pros and cons of an issue; A summary and a conclusion or a non-conclusion.

You will probably find that a number of non-fiction writing you have done will fall into one or two or three or even four of the types. There maybe even more.

And so my friend what do you write?

Why do you write?

George Orwell once wrote an essay on the reasons for writing. It is probably one of my favorite essays on writing that I have read. Another one would be Edgar Allan Poes’ composition.

Reading it now and also looking at the large expanse of the writers unniverse on the web I can say that Orwell did not touch on everything. Most if not all reasons he mentioned centered on non-monetary reasons for writing.

People write for a living. I do. I try to. I aspire to.

But there are other reasons for writing and Orwell, who was also a prolific writer and wrote as a means to earn income wrote that these were:

First, To record and to report things that happen.

Second, To point out to the reader an d to the world an object, animal, person, event, and phenomena of (i) beauty; (ii) interest; (iii) uniqueness.

Third, To move the reader to act to a certain way. Mark Anthony’s speech before the Romans who were looking at the body of the assassinated Caesar along with his assasins is a classic example of moving people. Even the use of honorable men was used so effectively that at the end of the speech. These honorable men were then veiewed as anything else but that.

Fourth, To satisfy an aesthetic sense of proportion. To see beauty in the written word. People who read aloud poems and stories would know this. The play and use of words to paint and give voice to our worlds is such an example.

Fifth, To satisy the ego: To satisfy us: A sense of pride and fulfillment when one finishes a work is a reward. Applause or acclaim for one’s work is a form of reward and a reason to write.

To sum it all up in a neat list George Orwell or Eric Blair wrote that he wrote because of the following reasons:

  • To record
  • To point out
  • To move people
  • To satisfy an aesthetic need
  • And to satisfy the ego
  • These reasons have been mentioned is what Orwell said were the reasons he wrote. Of course there are more reasons for writing.

      What is yours?

    Organizing a Blog Post

    So many people have a hard time hashing out blog posts in a consistent and efficient manner, and so I wanted to take a minute to talk a bit more about my own system which I have found can decrease the time between starting a post and publishing it.

    The Idea

    The first part of posting is to come up with ideas. I sometimes find it necessary to just start writing down words related to my industry and working outwards from there. After coming up with a few different ideas, I bring certain main points together as a single post and I have a fully conceptualized idea.

    It can also help to see what other people are writing about. Do you have an opinion? Look back and see what was interesting to people a year ago, two years ago. Have things changed or are they still the same? Some of my favourite posts by authors are the ones where they compare/contrast two different products or two different time periods.

    The Questions

    Everyone knows about who, what, where, when, why and how, and these questions are infinitely more important when getting ready to post on a blog. They are especially useful when you don’t know everything, and can come up with things you’ll want to research to include in the post.

    For example, if you are doing an article about a car company you could easily add information about who designed their main cars? When did they perform the best? How well has the public received their cars? Why are they producing cars with bigger engines than another company? What do you see them dealing with over the next few years?

    The Research

    Don’t take too much time researching, or you can get bogged down in what others have said. For longer articles, you shouldn’t be spending more than an hour researching for a post. This can be one of the longest time sinks in creating an article. Don’t spend time writing the post as you research, or you can get sidetracked, and unable to create proper flow in your article.

    For any niche you should be able to, over a period of time, pick out a few resources that are consistently useful for research, and that will save you massive amounts of time. Try not to stray from these main resources too often, unless you aren’t finding the answers you need. Too much variety, and you can land into information overload world, where nothing productive ever happens.

    The Post

    The amount of time you need to write an article always depends on its length, but now that you’ve come up with an idea, answered some questions, and completed your research, the words should flow from you. Don’t worry about what you are writing, as you can come back after you are done and edit. The hardest thing I ever learned was not to self edit as I was writing.

    As paragraphs are written, your mind will come up with other things to say, and usually, if you are properly prepared, the article will flow together nicely.

    You should easily be able to tell how long your article is going to be by this point, and don’t try to push it too far beyond that point, or you’ll find yourself adding useless filler. Brevity can be just as important as details, but with the attention span of most people dwindling, shorter is most likely better.

    The Call to Action

    After you have written, and edited the post, I always suggest going back and adding in a call to action. It might be a question at the end of the post, links to further reading, or just a simple request to have people comment. You are much more likely to have people act upon what they read, if you ask them to.

    I enjoy asking people to comment. I want them to know that I’d love to see them participate if they have any thoughts on what I’ve written. Some bloggers put in affiliate links, strange questions, or a list of other articles they have written along the same lines. These can all be important to increasing the longevity of an article online.

    The Pretty Additions

    Now you are ready to add in links, images, proper text formatting of headings and whatnot. This doesn’t have to be perfect, but it will add some pizazz to your article. Don’t give it too much time. You can edit articles after they have been published, but no one can see the content until it is published. Far too many people play with formatting for so long that the information that they wanted to share becomes stale.

    I take the time to set proper headings, bold certain lines of text, italicize what I think would work best, work on the coding for my lists, and insert block quotes at this point.

    The Publishing and Promotion

    Once everything else is complete, publish. Your articles don’t do you any good unpublished. Get them out into the world. Feel free to edit them after the fact, or to write whole new articles giving more details, or adding onto your original points.

    Don’t forget to let the world know about what you’ve written. Don’t be shy. People are hungry for new content, new ideas, and new perspectives, so find a way to get your work to them. The best thing a writer can receive is constructive criticism on how to improve, so open yourself up to that.

    Conclusion

    If you are trying to merge all of these steps into one, you might find your articles taking forever to craft and it is fairly easy to see why. There are so many areas between crafting the idea and publishing that breaking it down is really the only way to remain consistent and efficient.

    Post inspired by Tom Leroux, check out his blog Leroux.ca.