Least You Forget, Blogging is About Writing

Filed as Features on April 16, 2007 5:57 am

I recently wrote Blogging Is About Writing as a guest blogger on Darren Rowse’s Problogger. It covered some basic tips on blog writing, but its purpose was to remind us that blogging is about writing.

In “Saying YES and/or NO to life…”, Subcorpus Blog reminded me of the importance of words and their usage in a lesson in English about a billboard near the beach of Male’ near Majeedhi Magu.

The sign says… in bold red letters…
“Say yes to life OR no to drugs”…
Well… I know I don’t have a degree in English…
Nor do I know much about advertising…
But I’m guessing… this is not what they wanted to say…
I think it would have been better if they say said…
“Say yes to life AND no to drugs”…
But hey… that’s only me saying… I might be wrong…

While teaching English in the Middle East, my student, a brilliant Russian pediatric surgeon, was learning to get directions when lost. He stood in my living room, map of the city in his hand, ready to get my attention as I walked past him on the imaginary street corner.

“Excuse me, if you would be so kind as to please to help me as I have become lost…”

I stopped him. “You have to get my attention immediately. I’m four blocks down the street before you finish your first sentence. Let’s come up with something short and to the point.”

He fussed over it, battling with the politeness that infuses his native language, and came up with “Excuse me, would you please help me?”

We took our positions to replay the stranger-stopping-a-passerby as my student practiced how to say it fast, like an “‘mericahn” would. “Excuse me, would you please help me? Excuse me, would you please help me?” He recited it over and over, faster and faster. Finally he was ready and I “passed” by.

“Excuse me, would you please me?”

I don’t know how long I was on the floor laughing. Every time I went to stand up, I’d see his puzzled face, not understanding, and realize that I now had to tell him the difference between “would you please help me” and “would you please me”, a task I wasn’t up to.

All it takes is one word to totally change the entire context.

Chinglish - If you would like to join us, rubbish will never be homeless

As we write our blog posts, how often do you stop to pay attention to what you’ve written? Do you pause and examine the words, making sure it really says what you want it to say? Or do you just rant and rave and hope everyone will forgive you for missed spellings, bad grammar, and mind-reading writing? Do you fix the errors later, or just let them go, on to the next blog post? Are the words you use to express yourself important enough to get them right before hitting the publish button?

I believe editing is the most important part of writing. Many bloggers just type their thoughts directly to their blogs. I would hate to rummage around inside your head to try to figure out what you were thinking, so why should your blog posts resemble a download straight from your brain?

Once we have the idea down on paper, it’s up to the smarter part of ourselves to edit it, making the words make sense, grouping them into collected bits of data to form ideas and cohesive thoughts so others can follow along with us.

It’s easy to let your mind race ahead of what you are typing. Your eagerness to get your words out can leave some behind or scramble what does make it to the published page. Take time to edit, evaluating each word on the page before you hit publish. It’s harder to fix it later.

Remember, all it takes is one word to change the entire meaning.


Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on .

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  1. By Liz Strauss posted on April 16, 2007 at 1:51 pm
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    Lorelle,
    I know you wrote this for every blogger — I just hear what somone else once said, “Oh god! You don’t know how glad that I am I don’t have to live inside your head!”

    Don’t I just have that urge to give it a “promise”? And don’t I embarrass myself every time I do? Walking slowly doesn’t come easily, but it sure has its value.

    Liz

  2. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on April 16, 2007 at 2:55 pm
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    Well said, Liz.

    We live in a world that is rush, rush, rush, be first, race race, which makes it easy to overlook the smallest detail. When your blog is your most important voice, it helps to let it speak well for you by taking the time to make it right.

  3. By David Poindexter posted on April 18, 2007 at 8:07 am
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    On your note that editing is the most important element of writing, I certainly agree with you; however with a caveat: It’s hard to write and edit at the same time. They are two completely different tasks. In fact, I would argue it’s nearly impossible to perform both tasks well at the same time.

    While I can’t speak for anyone else, I have a general routine to separate the tasks, and it’s based on a cup of coffee. I will get a fresh cup of coffee, and start writing posts. I use ecto for publishing, and I’m able to save drafts locally on my machine. So I just bang out a couple of posts.

    Then, once the cup is empty, I stop, go refill it, and come back to what I’ve just written. Now is the editing part. This is important. You must take some kind of break, no matter how short, completely away from your monitor to get a fresh perspective on the writing.

    Of course, the length of the break is directly proportional to the complexity of the writing. For a standard blog post, this short coffee refill is long enough. For an academic research paper, I may take a week (or more) off the writing before starting the editing.

    If you attempt to edit at the same time as write, all you will do is obsess over minute details, and it will be difficult to capture the real thoughts as they flow onto the screen (or paper if you’re nostalgic).

    Also, feel free to replace coffee with your morning drink of choice (remember, no alcohol before noon!).

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  5. By JohnC posted on April 22, 2007 at 11:27 pm
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    It honestly depends on the blogger. Not all blogs are meant to be; or are considered later; works of writing. Many are used as chronological logs, with a readership meant for just one, few, or many.

    There’s a difference between e-zines, blogsites, and sites that cross the two realms. It’s funny how many people use weblog hosts or scripted packages when doing creative writing, as well as ezine sites using content management systems to deliver…whose content writers keep saying they’re blogs.

    Maybe someone’ll get a definition in time for Web 2.1. :) Whatever, at least they both have RSS feeds.

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