I sometimes wonder if there are specific skills to writing a blog than writing, say a news article, or a PDF, or an email? They are all (mostly) read online and they all involve structure, planning, and the writing of the very words.
WHAT SPECIFIC SKILLS ARE NEEDED FOR BLOG WRITING?
As someone who writes a lot of blogs every week, it is one of those things that I don’t so much think about because it has become natural. I apply everything I’ve learned studying journalism at university (see Mum, I am using my degree!), and what I know about people, story-telling and SEO. To me, these are all writing skills. Or rather they are skills I have developed over the years and now seem like common sense.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot because my son is reaching that special SATs age where he has to learn a whole load of nonsense about the English language which is of no use at all unless he wants to go and teach English in schools. As I keep reminding him, I write for a living and still had to Google what an expanded noun phrase was. No wonder people have no confidence in their writing.
First of all, you don’t need to worry about all of these fancy pants names for sentence structure. You just need to write.
WRITE AND WRITE OFTEN
If you want to get good at writing blogs, then you need to get good at writing. Fortunately, you have all the tools you need at your disposal already. Brain, eyes, hands, laptop, pencil and paper. Actually, you probably don’t even need the laptop. A scrap of paper and a sharpened pencil will do just fine.
Now here’s the secret…
To get good at writing, you need to write.
I think that is the sound of everyone’s minds being blown. That really is it. You make time every day to do some writing. And then over time, you will find that the words will flow a bit better, a bit easier and a bit more in the right order.
I love journaling. It sets out my intentions for the day and clears my mind of its cluttering thoughts. If something is worrying me or I am stressed, then I write it out until I figure out what’s bugging me and how I can fix it.
Every morning I aim to make writing my first thing. The whole teenager ‘Dear Diary’ writing in my journal. Sometimes I write complete and utter bollocks. Navel-gazing, woe is me, rubbish. Sometimes I do a few creative writing exercises. Mostly I write about what is going on around me, what I think about things and the first things that pop into my head.
I don’t think about it. I just write.
Some days (weeks, months), I don’t find time to journal. Just like some weeks, I don’t find time to do my runs or clean the bathroom. But writing my journal has allowed me to accept that there is not enough time for everything. If I hadn’t sorted those thoughts out in my head through writing them down I might still be trying to do all the things.
Once you’ve got into the habit of writing every day, you’ll probably want to know where to go next with the blog-writing skills.
Wait for it…
If you want to get better at writing then you’re going to need to do a lot of reading. Reading everything. Absorb all the words that your eyes come across.
Lucky for you there is a wealth of great reading out there to be done. And don’t stick to one format. Don’t think that because you want to get better at writing blogs then you should concentrate on reading all the blogs. Imagine doing that? You’d be bored within a day.
Read the news, magazines, fiction books, newsletters, stories. Start reading anything and everything that interests you. And then ask yourself: ‘why did I stop to read this? What drew me in?’
The best advice I’ve ever had about writing came from my A-Level English teacher:
READ LIKE A WRITER, WRITE LIKE A READER.
Think about it. If you read everything like a writer, questioning along the way, then you are going to start apply those answers to your own writing. Likewise, if you write like a reader then you are going to be putting your reader first. Before anything that you want to write. Put the bits that you want to write in your journal. Not on your blog.
Developing blog writing skills, like any skill, takes time and practice. The more you do it, the better you will become.