Do you struggle to write the first draft of your blog posts? Do you have the urge to skip the editing and revision process? What are some ways you can get started, and what are some tips to help with revising your blog posts?
In my last post, I talked about the importance of gathering and organizing your information before you write your first draft. Now, let’s talk about some targeted techniques that can help that draft come together, and some practical tips to look for when revising your posts.
In order to write a better blog post, it might help you get started to picture a reader. You can picture a typical, average person, or someone you know. Then imagine yourself sitting down with them and telling them the story.
There are two approaches to writing a blog post – or really, writing anything. The first approach is to write the post or story all the way through, not caring about correcting mistakes. Then you go back and correct errors when you revise.
The second approach is to revise and correct mistakes as you go, pausing to reread what you’ve just written for errors, word choice and clarity. Even with this approach, you still want to go back and proofread your post when it’s finished.
I personally use the second approach. I think it’s because I was a copy editor as well as a writer, so I can’t stand leaving mistakes. I also did most of my writing for newspapers, where I didn’t have the luxury of laboring over draft after draft. At best, I had a day or two to write a story, in between other duties.
Neither approach is any more correct than the other. It depends on whatever suits you and how you work best. As long as you turn out a polished post that’s as error-free as possible in the end, it doesn’t matter how you get there.
I usually tell writers to start with the lead first, because it’s the first part your audience will read. But if the lead is just not coming to mind and you’re getting frustrated before you even start, here’s another approach I’ve used.
If you’ve gathered all of your information and interviews, and you still have no idea where to start, what your lead is going to be, or how best to organize the story, just start at the beginning of your notes and start putting stuff in, however you come to it. Leave gaps and spaces in your draft, and as you go, you will start to see the pattern emerge. Then you can organize.
The key to this approach is that you don’t have to write the lead first. It’s best if you can, but it doesn’t always happen. I’ve had many occasions where I either had no idea what I wanted my lead to be, or I had two or three possibilities and I wasn’t sure which one would be best. In those cases, it’s okay to start writing the body of the story first. Often, the lead will show itself, then you can go back and add it to the top of the story.
Once you have your draft written, it’s time to revise your blog post and find all the errors you possibly can. Here are six practical tips you can check for:
- Read your post out loud. This helps you pay attention to the clarity of your sentences and any missing words.
- Check your transitions. Are they strong? Is there adequate flow from one topic to the next? Will the reader be confused?
- Check your grammar. Do nouns and verbs agree? Are any modifiers misplaced? Have you used words such as your and you’re; their, there and they’re; and its and it’s correctly?
- Check your punctuation. Have you used commas properly? Have you used apostrophes only for contractions or possession, and not to form plurals? Have you used periods and question marks properly?
- Check your wording. Are your verbs active? Are nouns strong and descriptive? Are adjectives strong? Are there any clichés that need to be eliminated?
- Check the flow of the post. Does it have good rhythm? Are any parts dull, weak or wordy?
The tips in this post will help you with the editing and revision process. The more you hone these techniques, the more your writing will improve.
The more you carefully think about and craft your blog posts, the more professional they will be. If you’re trying to make a name for yourself and make money blogging, you want your posts to be as sophisticated as you can make them.
Readers, what helps you with the writing process? What do you check for when revising your blog posts? Let us know in the comments.