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How to become a better blog writer?

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Reading books

Read.

If you want to become a better writer you need to read writers better than you, even if you never reach their heights you’ll absorb new words, new ways of phrasing ideas and how to pace and plot a piece.

Just like interesting people usually have lots of experiences to draw from as a great writer you need a vast library to pull motifs from. To be able to take existing forms and chop them up and remake them in your own unique way, to do that you must read.

If you take nothing else from this just go and read the great works of fiction out there - poetry too to learn how to phrase ideas in as concise and as beautiful a manner as possible, because even if you’re just a blog writer you need to be able to tell a story because stories are powerful, they allow our minds to fall into the body of the writer and feel and think how he or she feels or thinks and therefore we’re more empathetic to their point of view, whatever that is.

It’s called the theory of the mind ‘the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own’.

The point of your business’ blog is to get the reader to empathise with you and get your point across and therefore win their trust and potentially land a sale. So you need to be able to write a compelling narrative but you have to start with reading fiction.

One of the best examples of this by the way is from Groove. They did an experiment testing this explicitly. They wrote about the same thing but one blog post had a narrative, a story arc whilst the other was an indifferent reading off of the same facts. By including storytelling they increased their blog’s engagement by 300%, and their blog has been their biggest driver of growth to blowing away their goal of reaching a $100k a month in recurring revenue. Storytelling and compelling writing are powerful and should not be ignored.

Be concise and make your points sharp

What the hell does that mean?

It means having a clear idea of what you’re trying to write about and make the necessary points as easy to understand as possible, the point should hit you like a sharp jab. It shouldn’t take a lot of hard work and cause reading fatigue in the reader.

Let’s compare Salman Rushdie and William Shakespeare (this is not a fair comparison).

Salman:

Unless, of course, there’s no such thing as chance;…in which case, we should either-optimistically-get up and cheer, because if everything is planned in advance, then we all have a meaning and are spared the terror of knowing ourselves to be random, without a why; or else, of course, we might-as pessimists-give up right here and now, understanding the futility of thought decision action, since nothing we think makes any difference anyway, things will be as they will. Where, then, is optimism? In fate or in chaos?

Shakespeare:

For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

This concept does not exist and this is the consequence for me.

Look how succinctly Shakespeare phrases his point and how aesthetically pleasing it is compared with Salman. The point just hits you and so you can spend more time bouncing it around your head whilst with Salman you’re still trying to reach the end of his point which he’s adding nothing to, just repeating himself really.

Be prudent with words, no more than is necessary to make the point so that it is understandable, some leeway can be given to make what you’re saying more aesthetically pleasing but often brevity is better than blabbering on.

But, again you need to have an idea of what you’re talking about. You wouldn’t get in a car and have no idea of how to get to point B, you can’t paint something without having an idea of what it is you want to represent on the canvas in the first place. Unless of course you’re a Jackson Pollock in which case you are simply a symptom of the decline of Western Art - don’t be that!

This is probably the hardest bit, it’s where procrastination wraps its lethargic arms around you and you simply sink into lethargy, see once you’ve got an idea of what you want to write about and a basic outline its all about painting in the space between. Sure when you first start off you’ll be kind of terrible but with practise and further writing you’ll get better. But most get discouraged here and then give up without ever attempting to improve.

Know your space

Whether you’re writing about entrepreneurship or how to bake cakes you’re probably not the first person to write about that topic.

In addition to reading great works of fiction you should read what others in your area are writing so that you can pick up on certain phrases and ideas that are common in your area, things you can reference that your target audience will understand.

Maybe, there’s a certain type of voice they expect - now that does not mean you do away with your true self and emulate another. Never do this because why go for an inferior copy when I can have the unsullied original? But you should be aware of what your audience is expecting.

When it comes to your voice it should be your voice but with the knowledge of the space you inhabit you can figure out how to put your own spin on things and how the content you’re producing fits in.

It’ll take time to find your voice because at first we’re all nervous and closed off, afraid to be judged for an opinion so we play it safe but as you write more your confidence will grow, and you’ll learn that not everyone will like what you have to say and that’s OK. If everyone agreed with you all the time then you probably were never saying anything interesting in the first place.

Set out the time to do it

There’s going to be a ton of reasons not to write. You have to deal with clients or other problems come out of the woodwork, what you need to do is block off time to write and throughout your work week jot down ideas in notes on your phone.

Meaning once they’re in there you won’t be sitting in front of a blank screen scratching your head as to what to write about. Your notes will provide the big idea and the beats you need to hit. It’ll make writing so much easier.

In Summary

A lot of people give up or never try because they feel they’re not good enough.

Gaius Julius Caesar was captured by Cilician pirates and once freed raised a small army then captured those same pirates and crucified them, he conquered Gaul, he smashed the armies of Pompey and won the Roman civil war and went onto intervene in and end the civil war in Egypt putting Cleopatra on the throne whom he also took as his mistress.

He also wept at a statue of Alexander the Great because he felt like he had achieved nothing compared with great Macedonian conqueror.

It’s OK. You shouldn’t concern yourself too much with such thoughts, everyone has them. But read, keep writing and make it a regular part of your schedule and you will improve and if you’re promoting your work you’ll soon have an audience that value what you have to say.

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