May 06, 2010

Be A Better Blogger- Writing Tools

I like to write with reckless abandon. With great ferocity and an appetite for destruction. I sit down at the keyboard and start pounding out the paragraphs. Sometimes it produces works of great beauty and other times it is...less beautiful.

That is part of the beauty of blogging- the freedom that it provides to practice so that when I have to produce the words come when I call upon them. I write about writing on a regular basis. It is not always for the purpose of trying to find more work or to build a portfolio that I can use to solicit new business.

I write about writing because I like to make a conscious effort to think about what I am doing and why. I like to dissect and pull it apart so that I can find ways to improve. Really, I write for me first and for you afterwards. It has always been this way and I suspect that it always will be. Writing is where I empty out the closets and shake loose the dust that accumulate inside. Mental spring cleaning.

If you want to be a better blogger than you need to engage in exercises that help you improve your writing. You need to do the things that help you compose compelling content. Practice is a giant part of that, but it is not the sole thing that you should do.

Great writing is produced from passion. Pick a topic that makes your heart sing or your blood boil. It doesn't matter to me which you choose as long as you find a way to tap into the feelings that lie just beneath the surface. Sometimes you can do that by looking at pictures and or listening to music.

Music is one of my favorite tools. My iTunes library has about 4,000 songs in it. It is filled with playlists that I have created to help set a tone and or create a mood. Dancing In The Fire, Words on a Page- these stories wouldn't exist without music. They have mental soundtracks that play inside my head and help me find my way. Sometimes when things fall into place the way I want those same songs help the reader to better understand and or relate to the story I am trying to tell.

But you should bear in mind that while music can be one of your greatest assets it can also distract the reader. Words set to music resonate and rock. It is a dual edged sword that you need to wield carefully.

One of the more obvious but overlooked tools is your vocabulary. The stronger and broader your vocabulary is the better served you will be. Words are powerful and the only way to effectively unleash that power is to do everything you can to build a mental warehouse that you can pull from as needed.

I tend to visualize it as being like a Costco or Home Depot like facility. It is a huge space filled with shelves that have pallets stacked from floor to ceiling. The shelves are organized, but they are also filled full of the words that I use.

Building a bigger vocabulary is quite simple. There are endless numbers of books that have been written whose sole purpose is to help you increase your command of the language. A word of caution. Good writing can be killed by improper use of words. Don't try to spice up your posts with language that you are unfamiliar with. Integrate it slowly so that it feels natural. Otherwise you risk you sounding ridiculous.

And don't forget to read, read, read and then read some more. It is another simple tool that you can use to help improve your own writing. Watch and learn how others craft their thoughts and ideas and you'll find little tricks that you can adapt to your own purposes.

I would also add that it never hurts to read so that you can further your own education. A broad base of knowledge is always useful or so I have found it to be.

If you are interested in reading more posts about writing you might want to check out some or all of the following posts. It is not a complete list but it should suffice for now.

My Best Writing
Be a Better Blogger- Write More Frequently
The Greatest Blog Post Never Written
My Best Posts Are Often Heartwrenching
If I Was a Professional Blogger
What I Dream About


Clark Kent's Lunchbox said...

"Great writing is produced from passion." Excellent point. If you cater to an audience people will see right through it. Readers are drawn to other people's passion.

On the matter of better vocabulary... the most challenging way I've ever done this was to read a Micheal Chabon book - holy crap that guy uses stuff I didn't know was invented.

Good advice

Erica M. said...

I am a writer by passion and, unfortunately, by cubicle. One of my favorite tools is Searching for just the right word will take you to the coolest new ideas. Great post.

WomanHonorThyself said...

could always use more tips Jack..ty!

Brooke@KnowYourStory said...

Great read and reminder! I am trying to practice what I preach for each day of May at the moment (organize 10 photos a day and then post/upload photos), and even though I have trouble getting to things that I said I would do, once I do them, my head is filled with ideas that I want to talk about. I've noticed that if I don't go right to the computer and start my post, I have a hard time keeping that passion going and getting the feeling to come across in my writing. Especially if I'm crunched for time. Unfortunately that has been the case for each day so far and it's so disappointing to me to have so many thoughts that I want to share, and to only to remember a few things because I'm rushing.

GPNut said...

I am thrilled to discover you.. I am now a fan... how is the heart? read your The heart wants what the heart wants... very moving

Jack said...

Chabon and dictionary go hand in hand. ;)

You are right. It is hard to cater to an audience for any real length of time.


I don't think that I have seen I need to go check that out.


Always happy to help. ;)

Hi Brooke,

I understand. Sometimes I get sidetracked too. It is not always easy to maintain that energy level unless you get on top of it.


The heart is what it is. ;) Welcome to the blog.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Great points Jack. I like to read a well written post that uses a powerful vocabulary to get its point across, but don't want to just hear big words for thier own sake.

Jack said...

but don't want to just hear big words for thier own sake.

That is an easy way to make yourself look foolish.

shavuatov said...

Great post, once more, in the Year of Jack (and Rachel).

I find that blogging is the best way to hone my writing skills also - becuase when I blog, I am writing about an issue that evokes passions, of whatever sort. I also find that my (as yet few and far-between) book reviews help me hone both my reading and my writing skills. If I know I intend to review the book at a later date, I read it in a different frame of mind - in short, I pay more attention and the storyline tends to stick a bit more.

Shabbat Shalom, Jack, be well.


Jack said...

Hi Rachel,

I hadn't thought of book reviews in this context but your example makes a lot of sense. I would do the same. Good Shabbos.