Tech Tips for Writers is a weekly post on overcoming Tech Dread. I’ll cover issues friends have shared. Feel free to post a comment about yours. I’ll cover it in a future Tip.
The most oft-repeated tip for writers is Write. You might think that means a novel or short story or poetry, but it just as likely refers to simple written communication. Though most of us no longer write those beautiful letters so common in the early eighteen hundreds, we have another form of writing that shares our thoughts, opinions, desires, draws readers into our world, much like the letters of yesteryear.
All writers should have a blog.
But wait, you say, my book isn’t ready. Isn’t that when I’m supposed to open my blog–to market my book?
Well, actually you should have that up and going well before the mss is finished, but that’s a different issue. A writer’s blog isn’t as much about selling your book as two other goals:
- you show the world what type of writer you are
- you hone your skills as a writer.
I’m somewhat embarrassed when I look back at my early posts (I hope everyone isn’t jumping to All Posts and checking those first few. I’ll know who did and I’ll track you down). I didn’t take time to make sure they presented my best face to future readers. I was just happy to get words on virtual paper and push send. It was all so new, everything was difficult. I’d delete them, but somehow that seems disingenuous.
Truth told, I think I’m a much better writer today than I used to be and blogging is part of the reason. Here’s why:
- You have to be concise in a blog. People don’t want a novel. They want something that will help them in, say, a minute (that’s the average time people spend on a post)
- You have to be pithy. People don’t want to waste even sixty seconds. They may get tricked the first time by a snazzy title, but not a second time. So, you have to put your thoughts together in a cogent and concise arrangement of words.
- There are so many bloggers out there, you have to get the idea across that you know your topic and are smart enough to discuss it. How do you do that? Pick a topic you know about. If it’s an opinion, pick something you have ideas about. Don’t tear down the other guy’s opinion as a way to promote your own. This sort of mean-spiritedness turns people off.
- Take time to check grammar and spelling. Don’t think it’s OK because blogs are informal writing. People draw conclusions about you based on spelling and grammar, and once they’ve judged you it’s hard to get unjudged.
- You need a strong title, a brief phrase to summarize an entire post. It must be exciting enough to draw readers in without being hyperbole that kicks them out.
Do those skills sound familiar, maybe what you need for query letters, synopses, first paragraphs of your book? I assure you, if you can conquer blogging, you’ve taken a big step toward introducing your mss to agents and editors.