Here is my late Saturday night confession, I tend to dislike most “how to” posts because they are the low hanging fruit of the Internet. So many are poorly written, but we’ll dig into more about that a little bit further down.
Perfection Doesn’t Exist In Writing
I never worry about writing the perfect blog post because perfection in writing is subjective which means it doesn’t now and never will exist.
My son hates chocolate and is just as dumbfounded about why people like it as those who can’t understand why he doesn’t.
People are people and as an old teacher of mine used to say, some people have taste and others don’t.
Chase Perfection And Catch Excellence
The pace at which things move in the digital space and a 24 hour news cycle have had a significant impact on writing too. You can’t drag your feet on producing content because the space is so crowded that those who don’t consistently produce will be drowned out by those who do.
It also means that you have to consistently strive for a certain level of quality or your readers won’t come back anyway. So the question is what do you do about it.
I say follow Vince Lombardi’s advice.
“Gentlemen, we will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.”
It is an understanding to always strive for the best effort but to not fail to perform/produce when you don’t attain it. In other words don’t let yourself or your business suffer from analysis of paralysis.
If you spend all your time worrying about whether the work could be better you might as well close up shop now.
Let’s not forget that the same authors our school teachers said were amazing had their critics.
I haven’t any right to criticise books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticise Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.
– Letter to Joseph Twichell, 13 September 1898
Do you think Mark Twain could dislike Jane Austen any more? I didn’t include the lines where he said he hates all of her characters and wonders why she was allowed to die a natural death.
How To Write A Good/Excellent Blog Post
Remember how I said that I tend to hate the “how to” posts because they are the low hanging fruit of the Internet?
Well, part of the reason they are written is because they tend to be well read and they bring in traffic, but that doesn’t mean that some of them don’t make me want to use Jane Austen’s shin bone as a cudgel upon some author’s skulls.
But since the definition of good/great writing is subjective I’ll share what I am looking for with you.
If I am reading a “how to” post I want to see substance. I want to see the steps laid out in an easy to understand fashion with some sort of picture or video with it.
And I want to see some personality and passion in what I am reading. Readers can always tell when the author is bored by the topic, so don’t let that happen to you.
Find an angle that is of interest or if it is impossible than show some personality.
Don’t forget your beginning, middle and end.
Have fun with it. Remember two lines above when I said we can tell if the author is bored, well that point is so important we came back to it. Have fun because if you are bored so are we.
Don’t Be Afraid To Take Chances
Remember that crowded and cluttered Internet we talked about earlier? Well, in the two minutes it takes to read this it has gotten more crowded and more cluttered so you need to find a way to break through that.
Don’t fear change and don’t fear taking chances. It is part of how you learn how to distinguish and separate yourself from the competition.
What about you? What do you have to say/think about all this?