Things to Shun When Writing a Blog Post

Here’s a short list of common blog-writing contrivances I beseech you to avoid. I write this because I believe your ideas and opinions are clever and intriguing, why muddy them with commonly used hackneyed practices.

Don’t squeeze your resumé into the opening paragraph. For example: “As a writer of many articles and a few books I found the best writing software...” Blech.

If you write clearly, confidently, and passionately, your authority on a subject will naturally come through. There’s no need to be pompous.

Here’s an alternate: “It was a journey of a five apps, all of them good, but one felt positively liberating...” It’s slightly syrupy, sure, but at least it’s on the right track. A few more edits and it could be engaging.

Don’t start by stating the obvious. For example: “As we all know questions are how we learn more about someone or something...” Treating your readers like children only reveals you to be one.

Don’t tell your readers you were thinking about something. For example: “The other day I was thinking about the state of the internet...” The other day, every sentient being on the planet was thinking about something too. Thinking does not make you special, stop pretending it does.

Don’t denigrate others, like celebrities, to illustrate a point. A book I read that had nothing to do with acting, filmmaking, or Hollywood, opened a chapter with a statement that something was as bad as Ryan Philippe’s acting. The metaphor seemed like it was written for the sole purpose of taking a stab at the actor. All it did was reveal the author to be an ass.

There is a subtle but crucial difference between criticizing a person, and person’s work or actions. The former is unsophisticated and boorish, the latter is a subject looking for interesting opinion.

Don’t write about workflow. Unless you’ve decided to be a workflow specialist, like Federico Viticci at MacStories, or, you’ve discovered something truly revolutionary, keep your workflow to yourself. If you reflect deeply, you’ll often find that workflow exposition is a form of self-validation to justify a financial or time expenditure.

Don’t pontificate. Dogmatic opining is meant for narcissists, that’s not you. You’re the type of intelligent individual who wants to talk about your expertise, or ignite a robust conversation, or tell a story.

Don’t post to fill the imaginary vacuum. There are many who would debate me on this point. Nevertheless, I’m of the opinion that fewer, well written posts, versus many mediocre ones—a product of phantom pressure because of the zeitgeist of constant, almost manic engagement with one’s readers—is a better blog.

Don’t be afraid to slash and burn. This comes under the “kill your darlings” doctrine, but I’d like to draw your attention to opening paragraphs.

Even if you write daily, it takes a few syllables to find a stride with any new piece. As you get to the meat of your post don’t panic if your opening words seem sub-par and worthy of the ax. Any performance, from stage to sports requires a warm up, writing is no different.

Don’t be afraid to pause before posting. In the absence of a copy editor, your work will be better served by leaving the first draft to stew for a few hours, or even overnight. As a rule, first drafts are dreadful. Revisiting your piece after walking away for a bit is incredibly revelatory, almost magical. It also serves to imbue confidence which will make your next piece even better.