I have been blogging forever, it seems. Somehow, I manage to grind out one post a week, week after week. Some of them are gems. Some are trash, and some are just ok. But as I said, week after week. Imagine me patting myself on the back right now.
So, someone asked: how do you go about writing a blog post, anyway? What makes a good one? How do you come up with ideas? What about writer’s block?
Well, I answer, there are some guidelines. I established them early on, and I use them to guide me each time I sit down to write. Well, duh. They are guidelines. I am happy to share them with you.
Don’t write about anybody else, unless it is a celebrity or your spouse. The neighbors won’t like having their foibles exposed. But for some reason, people really enjoy reading about how often you get gas, the times that your husband embarrasses you, or the fact that you can’t resist buying Worcestershire sauce with fancy labels, even if you already have the regular kind in the pantry. And, of course, celebrities are fair game. Because nobody really likes Gywneth Paltrow, anyway.
When picking a blog topic, always choose one that you have a lot to say about. No matter how funny a topic is, if all you have in your head to write about it is one measly but hilarious paragraph, it won’t be much of a post. I always tote up in my head the number of paragraphs one topic might suggest. There must be at least three paragraphs worth. You see, so far so good on this one, but if I can’t come up with at least two more guidelines, I am sunk here.
Is it something topical? Good. But if it is too topical, skip it. For instance, Justin Bieber.
Can people identify with it? I once wrote a blog post about my fear of becoming boring. But most people think that they are fascinating. Nobody would relate. Additionally, the post itself was boring. So I scrapped it.
Does it pass the “find yourself hilarious” test? My best posts have been the ones that made me snort while writing. This is a true litmus test. If you can barely stand how funny it is, the post is probably going to be at least amusing to one or two of your readers. So far, however, I have not chortled at this post. But give me time.
Are you making a point? People look for meaningful posts. They like to be reminded to smell the roses or live life to the fullest. However, if you are a humorist, making fun of rose smelling and inspirational ideas is a better bet. Sarcasm is good. Satire is good. Rhetorical questions are good. But if you are fond of being rhetorical, take the comments off your blog, because they will just infuriate you. Aren’t answers to rhetorical questions just idiotic? See, that one was rhetorical.
Finally, keep it short. Whenever I click on someone’s post, with great hope and anticipation, if I have to scroll down more than once, I become exhausted. Lots of paragraphs look kind of like eternity to me. So if you want folks to read your entire post, stop at five hundred words or less. Brevity is the soul of wit. (that guy was a genius)
There you have it. Advice from the front lines. Pun intended, but maybe not such a good idea. Do you want to start a blog? Don’t bother. Just read mine. Ugh–This one was 600 words. Oops.