48: How to write a blog a day

Can you write something every single day? Yes, you can. It might not be good, it’s very unlikely to be great,  but what does it matter? Here are a few tips on how to do it:

  1. Keep it short. 150 words is good. When Stuff White People Like hit its stride, earning its authors a book deal and moolah, its average post was very short, often around 300 words. Click here for a great example. 
  2. Stay on topic. This may sound tough, but it is harder to open the gates and write about anything. If your blog has a theme, enrich it. Dig into some minute detail. It might surprise you.
  3. Who is your audience? Are you writing for your friends and family back home? Write anything you like as though you are chatting over coffee, all while keeping a prudent eye on your script, because if you write something nasty about Aunt Agatha, it could be in the copy-and-paste evidence folder for years to come. Are you writing a public blog for anyone? Think about whether they need to know what you’re about to tap out.
  4. Surf news sites. If you’re writing a guide on travel, carpentry, faith, politics, home decor, gardening, dog-training, keep up-to-date on your topic.
  5. Blog site lite. There are many high-quality blogs out there, but who wants to eat off someone else’s plate? Don’t spend too much time on blog sites. Generate your own goods.
  6. Go for a walk.  There’s a lot of good raw data out on the street. About 90 per cent of my blog topics come from what I see around me in Switzerland, the rest come from checking out Swiss news and government websites.
  7. Write garbage. If you’re stuck, just start writing. Don’t worry about the quality, just get at it. What you’ll find is that after ejecting the first few paragraphs of nonsense, the real stuff you want to write about will float to the top.
  8. Edit. Read The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk. Do not be intimidated. This thin little volume dating back to 1918 is the professional writer’s Bible. If you write and edit with this book as a guide, you cannot go wrong. Read it, then go look at some of your old blog posts and see where you could do better. And yes, you can always do better.
  9. Chill. Nothing kills creativity like stress. Do something else for a while to let your brain unknot.
  10. Stress. Chill and Stress are not polar opposites. They are two halves of a perfect whole. After you have let your brain relax, pummel it back into shape with a good workout. Many a fine piece of writing was wrung out under deadline pressure.

Note: The above applies best to public blogs. Private blogs that are letters to friends and family have few rules. In these, you are writing to people who already adore you, already think you’re clever and want to know how your day is going. Private blogs I have hooked on to include

  • Personal News Blogs: A friend chronicling her and her husband’s journey through his health crisis. By clicking on that, I could keep track of how they were doing without pestering her with my notes of concern. When a person is sick, sometimes the spouse/close-relative/caregiver can be swamped with answering phone calls and emails from concerned friends and family. This blog spared her that.
  • Wedding Blogs: Weddings generate lots of chatter as well, and the bridal couple has enough to do. My kids’ wedding blogs served as great communication tools. They provide practical information (such as listing hotels close to the wedding venue) and stuff that families just like to know, like mini-biographies of the wedding party or family members.
  • Travel/life-experience Blogs: Friends who went on a mission trip that turned somewhat catastrophic wrote a gripping blog about their misadventures. It was reading that could not be missed, all the more so for knowing it was taking place on the other side of the globe and no one knew the eventual outcome. Scary stuff, but it was good to know what our friends were going through.
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