This is a post from contributing writer, Kimberly of The Corner of Birch and Divine.
This is Part One of a two-part series.
Being a writer is difficult, isn’t it?
I think writing for a living has such a glamorous reputation. So many people dream of sitting down at a dusty desk in a pretty attic and penning the next great novel in 36 hours with a wild burst of inspiration.
A romantic notion, indeed, but entirely inaccurate.
Today, many writers are bloggers like you and me. Whether it’s a small family blog or a large site with a targeted audience, there is pressure to produce good writing for your readers. You want to sound intelligent and polished, even if you’re just writing about your child’s latest diaper fiasco – because if your writing is difficult to follow or just plain boring, only grandma will remain a loyal reader.
One key element to keeping your readers coming back for more (and to gaining new ones!) is fresh and varied writing. If every post has the same beginning, the same format, the same content and the same ending, your readers will get bored. But if you make even slight adjustments to the writing in each post, your readers will be intrigued and delighted by your blog.
Not sure what to change or how to change it? You’ve come to the right place! I have six basic tips that will help you keep your writing fresh. The first three tips are below; be sure to stay tuned for the last three tips in another post!
Vary your beginnings.
Let’s say you have a cooking blog. If every post you write begins with, “Folks, this is the best <insert food> dish I have ever made,” your readers will already be yawning by your second sentence. But if you vary your introduction, your writing will be more interesting. Some methods (of many) to beginning your posts:
- Share a short story or anecdote. Tell your readers about how you spilled flour all over the floor making this recipe or how you were up to your elbows in batter when you realized you used salt instead of sugar.
- Cite a statistic. “One in every three caesar dressings contains raw eggs.” (I made that up, so please don’t use that quote!) Be sure to give credit to the source!
- Use a famous quotation. “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” (James Beard) Again, give credit to the source.
- Make an abrupt statement that begs for more information. “There is a very good reason for my dislike of olives.” Your readers will immediately wonder what that reason is. Be sure to tell them!
- Describe something small in great detail. Discuss bread dough; the way it feels in your hands, what it looks like, and how it smells. Wax poetic about the attributes of the perfect pizza.
- Ask a question. One that can be answered or a rhetorical question – the sky’s the limit. Refer to the beginning of this post for an example.
Find your voice.
While it’s important to vary the introductions to your posts, you don’t want to do the same thing with your voice. Your voice is what makes your writing yours. It’s what allows your readers to feel as though they know you. You may not know it, but there are certain characteristics to the way you write (and talk) that belong uniquely to you. Embrace those you-isms. The worst thing you can do for your writing is try to imitate another writer’s voice. Learn to recognize yours, and then run with it.
Change up the structure.
Perhaps your posts don’t always begin the same way, but they might always be structured the same way. Maybe you only put your photos at the very beginning of your posts. Maybe your paragraphs are always 5-7 sentences each. Maybe the climax of your story always occurs at the very end of your post. This can get tiresome for your readers, so stimulate their eyes and minds by moving that photo somewhere else, varying the length of your paragraphs (some can be as short as one sentence!) and moving that climactic event to the middle of your post.
In some cases, I do think having a generic, loose (but consistent) structure in certain categories of posts is great. Using our cooking blog example again, a consistent format would be good with your recipe posts, so your readers know where to find the instructions every time. For example, you could vary your introduction, discuss aspects of your recipe in the body of the post, and conclude with the formal recipe.
Yes, being a writer can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Hopefully these tips will help you keep those creative wheels turning! Don’t forget to stay tuned for Part Two of this series, with even more helpful tips.
What methods do you use to keep your writing fresh?
Have a question? Leave Kimberly a comment, she’s happy to provide some insight!