Digital strategy and communications


I’m in the process of updating some training on blog writing and so asked my Twitter followers for their top tips and how they approach writing a post.

Here’s what they came up with:

  • Think about using The Pomodoro Technique® (structured time keeping for activities) here’s an example post using it. – @abigailH
  • ‘Think about where else it might get re-produced write with a specific audience in mind.’ – @AdamVincenzini
  • ‘Use a local/offline editor — on the Mac, MarsEdit is king.’ – @nevali
  • ‘If I can nail the title, the rest of the post just writes itself. The title describes “what?” and the post fulfils “so what?”‘ – @helenduffett
  • ‘Don’t be afraid to amend or add to a blog post after it has been published as a story evolves or new facts emerge .’ – @jonworth
  • ‘Do it somewhere different from other work. I often write posts with my laptop on the kitchen counter (with coffee).’ – @stray_and_ruby
  • ‘Really, really keep most posts under 300 words. Always look at the word count, so you know how much you write.’ – @gregorymarler
  • ‘People love reading about themselves, so write about people.My concert reviews of visiting USchoirs are widely read.’ – @timothywriting
  • ‘Find your voice.’ – @dickyadams

And mine?

I try to think about what might be useful or entertaining to others and I occasionally use this blog to think aloud. Presuming that you’ve already decided roughly on a topic or have an idea these tips might also help:

  • Write your post as an email to yourself
  • Explain your idea for a post to someone else, thinking about the main thing you’re trying to say, then write it down
  • Don’t worry about writing from the top, start in the middle and then fill in as you go
  • Think about how you would explain something to someone else
  • Just go for it, then edit
  • Have a person in mind that you’re writing to

UPDATE 20.45, 16/06/2011
I think I’ve been caught out…
Nicholas Toller Tweets
Nicholas Toller second Tweet
;-)

4 Responses to “Overcoming blog writers block: top tips from other bloggers”

  1. Stefan

    Some good thoughts here – a couple to add, and one perhaps to take away.

    Don’t feel driven to write to somebody else’s rhythm: if you have something to write, write it. If you don’t, do something else instead. The best writing comes from having something burning to say, not from a vague sense of guilt about not having written anything for a while (and if you never have anything burning to say, that’s fine too – but you don’t need a blog)

    Don’t feel driven to write to somebody else’s sense of what a blog ought to be. Blogs have no more or less in common with one another than books or any other publishing medium. Criticising a children’s picture book for not being an academic treatise makes no sense, even though they are both books. Your blog can do what you want it to do.

    And the one to take away: arbitrary rules such as limiting posts to 300 words are just misguided. Some of the blogs I most look forward to reading are consistently well beyond that limit; others rarely approach it. Brevity suits some writers (and some readers), but it doesn’t suit everybody.

  2. Kathryn

    Thanks so much Stefan, great additions.

    I’m definitely a believer in ‘only post if you have something to write’, as the frequency of posts on this blog sometimes testifies only too well (although sometimes the lack of frequency is also just due to too many ideas and not enough time!).

    Whilst I’m with you on the word count, personally, I think everyone has different ways of blogging, and sometimes setting a word limit can prevent obfuscation and Dickensian type quantity over quality. It can also help to motivate.

    Keeping the reader in mind and also the purpose of why your blog (for pleasure, gaining business, sharing knowledge etc), can be used as a way to figure out whether a long post is the right way forward, or whether the post is in reality two or three good shorter posts – which is sometimes the case.

  3. Janet E Davis

    I would just add to Stefan’s advice:
    1) Sometimes, changing from lengthy and well-considered, structured argument to short, sweet and quirky can be refreshing. The people I read most change their rhythm, sometimes using different blogs for different approaches.
    2) I often start with a picture. Occasionally, I spend so long searching for an appropriate commons/creative commons image that I do not finish writing the post before the appropriate moment has passed.

    • Kathryn

      Thanks Janet!
      Certainly had that image problem at times, which is why this blog was so disappointed when Picapp changed it’s business model, as at the time it offered a way to embed high quality news and illustrative photographs from the likes of Getty for free fully syndicated under a proper license. What’s interesting to note, is that there still doesn’t seem to be a good alternative solution, where embedding rather than copying is the norm, ensuring that the photographer gets appropriate credit and their rights as a creator are upheld (be it copyleft, copyright or paid-for content).

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