I thought I’d share some of the things I keep in mind when writing my posts. These are lessons I’ve learned through trial and error in the 18 months I’ve been blogging, and that I wish I’d been told when I started out.
- Write little and often. I find that I’m most productive at the beginning and the end of a session of writing: in the middle, it’s easy to lose steam and spend a long time doing very little. So I now generally write in regular short bursts (20 minutes or so). Each post will take as many bursts as it needs to be finished, which is usually 2 or 3, but sometimes more.
- Keep it brief. Two short posts are better than one long one, because a lot of people (e.g. me) just don’t read long posts. At the moment, I aim for about 500 words per post with a maximum limit of 1,000 words. If that’s not enough space, I’ll split the ideas over multiple posts. This is easier to read, and I find it makes it easier to write too, once you get into the swing of it. Some might worry that this makes it impossible to express complex ideas, but I really don’t think it does. You just need to express them clearly.
- Think, then write. You should know what you’re going to write about before you start typing: it’s hard to write and think at the same time. This is easier said than done, and often you’ll think of new ideas while writing, so it’s not an absolute rule. But you should know the major points you’ll be making before writing.
- Don’t start at the beginning. Don’t write the first sentence first, spending ages reworking it until it’s perfect, and only then move on to the second sentence. Write the basic skeleton first, no matter how badly it reads, and then tidy it up afterwards. It’s a lot easier to do the tidying up once you know how it all fits together.
- If in doubt, leave it out. Some people would disagree with this, and it’s ultimately a matter of personal style, but this is my rule: if I’m not sure how confident I am in something, or if I’m not sure it’s interesting enough to bother with, I won’t post it. If I’m not sure a paragraph is a good addition to a post, I’ll cut it.
417 words… I’m done.