By Kath Walters
You can write a blog in 20 minutes. D’you want to know how? Start 20 minutes before the deadline.
We give ourselves way too much leeway with blogging. We are convinced that every word has to be right before we show the world. This is perfectly understandable.
Blogging, like every form of creativity, makes us feel vulnerable.
Putting our ideas our there is tough. We expose ourselves to criticism of them and of our expression of them. And what if there is a typo or a mistake?
What is more important than writing prowess?
Before I started in journalism, I thought it was all about the writing. If you were a good writer, you would succeed.
Later, I would tell the cadets that I mentored the secret I had learned: actually the most important aspect of journalism is the deadline. If you don’t have the story written by the deadline, it won’t be published. So who cares if you wrote it beautifully because no one will ever know.
That goes for blogging too. You could be brilliant, your ideas could be world-changing and your writing elegant, but we will never know if you don’t set a deadline to publish them.
Set deadlines and stick to them. As much as humanly possible, never miss a deadline. Posting a regular blog and sending a regular email communicates important brand values even before anyone reads a word. It screams: reliable, well-organised, responsible, hard-working.
Also more important than writing
The next most important element of journalistic success, and that of your blogging, is your ideas.
Although we are horribly ruthless as readers, especially as we try to stay afloat in the information tsunami, we will always read a fascinating story, a great idea, or a different perspective.
Spend longer working on your ideas than on writing your blog. Note your ideas down – they evaporate fast if you don’t. Percolate them. Invite others to challenge them. Test them out in friendly company. A good idea often has its own story behind it. You won’t have to scratch around for ways of expressing yourself – a good idea is more likely to flow out of you.
Great ideas excite us and that makes our writing exciting. Great ideas fascinate us, and that makes our writing fascinating. They arouse our passions and make our words full of energy.
The writer’s secret: a hidden hand
Every good writer is supported by a hidden hand – a subeditor who will read your blog and make sure all the spelling and grammar are correct, check that the whole blog makes sense, and look for any obvious errors of fact.
Subeditors cannot correct your specialist knowledge, but they usually have good general knowledge. Not every journalist can write well, but if their ideas are good and they meet the deadline, a ‘sub’ will tidy up their work and make it publishable.
Now for the writing
If you want to write a blog post in 20 minutes, here’s how:
Pick a theme: Writing.
Pick an angle: How to write fast and well.
Write down three points you want to make about it:
- Deadlines are more important than how well you write.
- Ideas are more important that how well your write.
- Pay someone to tidy up your words before you publish.
Write a paragraph about each point.