Every piece of writing . . . starts from what I call a grit . . . a sight or sound, a sentence or happening that does not pass away . . . but quite inexplicably lodges in the mind.
Along the Pacific Coast of California is Pebble Beach. While a beach of rounded stones, it also hosts some of the most amazing stone structures and creatures created by the interaction of the sand, rocks, and stones.
A bit of grit would catch into a crevice in the soft stone along the beach’s edge. Waves come up and swirl around in the crevice, sweeping the grit round and round with it. In time, with the coming and the going of the tide, the swirling grit acts like a drill bit, grinding a circle into the stone. In time, more grit, sand, and small rocks are swept into the hole with the tidal and storm waves, strengthening the grind.
The holes carved into the beach edge create ghostly figures, one like an owl, though some claim it’s Darth Vader, others like birds, monsters, and other creatures and structures our mind struggles to identify along the unusual beach.
A good piece of writing does much the same thing. It crawls into the cracks in your mind and spins around as you consider its meaning. In time, it carves out a hole into which new thoughts and ideas, and even changes in perception, flow, changing the way you think.
I’ve written a lot about creating linkable content on your blog, but this concept of what is “good” versus “great” and memorable writing is one difficult to define.
I believe the difference comes with a piece of writing that changes your world. It makes you think. It makes you consider. It makes you want to tell people, challenging them as well as asking them to help you understand better what has been said. You analyze it. Consider it. Ponder the words. It stays with you hours, days, weeks, maybe even years. Over time, it keeps widening the crevices in your narrow and tight mind, opening it up in ways you never could have predicted nor imagined.
In Are You Writing Well for the Living Web, I discussed Mark Bernstein of A List Apart and his article, “10 Tips on Writing the Living Web”. He explains that “living sites” are only as good as their latest updated edit.
If the words are dull, nobody will read them, and nobody will come back. If the words are wrong, people will be misled, disappointed, infuriated. If the words aren’t there, people will shake their heads and lament your untimely demise.
People infer a lot from your blog content. So what message are you sending? And are you writing for the living, long-term web, digging into your reader’s brains and making them think about what you wrote?