A while back Marlous from Last Days of Spring asked her Twitter followers what was important for an aspiring blogger.
I said: “Learn to write. Learn about structure, grammar, spelling, and style. Be critical of your own writing. Adapt when necessary.”
That’s what I said. What I actually wanted to say, was “For fuck’s sake learn to write before you rent out a corner on the Internet and expose people to the piles of word garbage you call articles”
I know that’s not very nice. Nor helpful. But I love writing more than I love yoga, bacon, Tony Chocolonely and life itself. I find bad writing offensive. It makes me want to snap at you.
Below are my two cents on how you can become a better writer, and consequently a better blogger. Warning, I get mean.
NOT throwing shade at the How To Blog series. Yes, totally thought about it. Throwing ALL the shade. But the bloggers who write it know what they’re doing, and apparently there is a demand for it. So okay. Fine.
But man, do people put the ‘blagh’ in blahging, right guys?
So fucking busy trying to make themselves happen instead of making something out of themselves.
Sharing their own shitty articles 4 times a day, trying to establish contact with anyone who might be useful to them, borderlining on stalking. Writing dime-a-dozen articles and expecting fame and fortune. Obsessing over visitor stats and followers. Click-bait links, obnoxious attempts for engagement.
I guess some social media experts somewhere are convinced you’re doing it right. I personally want to get an extra glass of water just thinking about it. The thirst is so real.
Sure, do whatever you want. I mean, I’m not taking away anyone’s right to be a shithead online.
But did you know? You CAN have a blog without resorting to cheap ploys, self promotional bullshit and treating readers like they’re imbeciles? Amazing.
Read my 4 Golden Blog Rules below.
Please note: This is how I do it. This works for me and my website. I am not trying to make you do it like me.
I am just offering a different perspective, sharing a different way of blogging to counterweigh the continuous message that a blog has to be a company/money maker or that you have to self promote yourself until you’re blue in the face.
24 hours after putting up the notice, Self Help Summer School was sold out. Dude. I’m really not trying to fake humility here (because sometimes I’m just really full of myself) but I would have been happy with 3 people taking me up on my offer. Instead I booked a full class, with the majority Dutch but also three Belgian girls, one Canadian, one English rose and an all-American sweetheart! How cool is that?!
So the last week and a half have pretty much been all about writing content for them. I’ve also been Skyping, going through people’s “homework” and sending coaching e-mails. My favorite part is that I’ve also been having real-life meetings: I had lunch with one student on Wednesday in Rotterdam and on Saturday, 3 hours flew by as I was surrounded by 5 curious and excited women who had come to The Hague to meet me. Can’t tell you what that’s like; people actually traveling to come meet you and talk to you. I was very humbled.
We had a great time. I talked a lot (in my defense: only when provoked) but also listened a lot of the time. The girls were helping each other out wonderfully as well by sharing personal experiences and tips. I’ve always known you learn a great deal from your students while you’re teaching and this was no exception.
I’m very happy I chose to do this. Because whether it’s in a big or a small way, whether it’s a huge metamorphosis or just a few tiny changes in their lives, I have a positive effect on these women. The things I write for them, tell them and say to them; it has a positive influence. That’s such a kick-ass feeling.
I would have done it for 3, but I’m glad I got the chance to do it for a full house. Oh, and of course you can take a peek at the course material if you want:
I love to write. As Gloria Steinem says in this article: “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” I feel like that. One day, I hope to have someone bring me food and occasionally brush my hair so I can write as interruptedly throughout the entire day as possible. But writing, as another writer so beautifully put it is really “sitting in front of a blank page until drops of blood form on your forehead.” Sometimes, getting the words out is freaking hard and sometimes you get stuck.
Over the former 10 of trying to write fiction* (only to find out I have no knack for it!), the past 6 years of blogging in English, and the last year of trying to write non-fiction, this is what I found out about writing and how to make it easier for yourself.
- Writing is rewriting. No text drops out of your head from your fingers onto the page in its most excellent state. I re-edit my posts at least 4 times: spelling, weird sentences, off tone, less jokes, more jokes, less adjectives (you never add more. You hear that, Stephenie Meyer?).
- If you don’t write down what you already have stuck in your head and just leave it in there for too long, it will never come out as brilliantly as you had it at first. Write it down. Now. Whether you use it now or later, write it down. That way it can’t rot in your head.
- Writer’s Block? I visualize/meditate on having access to the Universal Database, where every excellent idea ever and all good material comes from. Then I go do something mindless like exercise or cleaning and ideas usually start to pop up.
- Did I mention that when you don’t write down what you already have in your head, you won’t have any room for new ideas? Write everything down. Now.
- Turn off the Internet. For Fuck’s sake, turn off the Internet. Do you have any idea how many writers get lost procrastinating on the Internet forever? Turn it off. Write for a few hours, and then go dick around on Tumblr or 9Gag.
- Pay attention to what people love about your writing: Not because the reader rules the writer, but because information is power. But pay attention to what readers love about your writing: It is loved for a reason. That information can guide you towards the golden tone, your most passionate subjects and a style that’s most you.
- DON’T pay attention to those who steal your work. Whenever I see my old content pop up on someone else’s website, it’s either one of two things: One, someone genuinely likes my stuff, credits me and gives a lovely, unique personal touch on it. That’s great. I love it when that happens. But I do not love it when someone pretend they’ve come up with it themselves without so much as a hiccup they know I exist. Repeatedly. Took me a while to let go of my indignation but now I am relatively relaxed about it. People who can’t come up with their own original content really aren’t worth the frustration.
- Write as much as you can and use different materials. Anytime, anywhere. Always carry something to write on. Switch up your paper notebook with your phone, tablet, laptop, old college notebook, napkins even. Write on anything and everything at all times: It keeps your head limber and switching it up will generate new ideas.
- Accept the wonderful truth that what goes for anything in life (but especially for writing): If you keep doing it, preferably daily, you’re going to get better and better and better.