I’ve been tagged for this “Roar for powerful words” meme (it originated from here) and what’s more I’ve been tagged by a really good writer, and this seems to have led to something of a mental block because it has taken me forever to respond.
So finally, one month later and I’m all meme-ed up and ready to go. In accordance with the meme, what three tips do I have to offer for powerful blog writing?
1. Pick a topic others can relate to, that they can also feel riled up about or moved by, but add a personal perspective, and weave both these threads together in your post. The bloggers who are really good at this write fascinating posts that keep the reader engaged and empathetic. I also just really like the personal is political, I think it’s a very powerful form of thinking.
Try not to get pompous or too hip though (ie. some blogisms become irritating to read once everyone is doing them, although it must be said that I’ve stuck with some, like I still r.e.a.l.l.y like that particular ‘full-stopping’ one). Blogisms are cute the first few times you read them, but they soon get too cute. When you start seeing them used over and over on people’s blog they’ve become naff and distracting.
2. Get angry but stay oh so rational. Angry rants can be very powerful but don’t let them meander endlessly, keep them tight. When I first started blogging I was probably a little daunted about provoking arguments and I had a tendency to write “I think…”, “I feel that…”, “Maybe …” and now I try and curb that. I write as if my opinion is the correct opinion, which means that I write opinions as statements. I don’t intentionally write untruths but I see my truth as valid. So when it comes to viewpoints I write them more as statements.
Worried about seeming domineering? Don’t be. Because hey it’s your blog, you’re allowed to be opinionated on your own blog. Cutting out the genteel, non-confrontational caveat words instantly made my posts sound stronger.
3. If you want to write a big opinionated angry rant test your opinion out on a few smart friends first in conversation. Any obvious holes or weaknesses or missing points of view in your argument? And saying your thoughts out loud makes it easier to construct them later into good prose. Another benefit of speaking your words out loud first is that you might find yourself writing in a more conversational style – this has the potential to be an incredibly powerful stylistic tool because it is both intimate and animated.
Finally, a bonus tip. In general, once you get to the end of writing your post, be ruthless as an editor.
I try and write regularly, daily even in order to develop my voice outside my professional writing and therefore I end up skipping a lot of editing (you can’t half tell hey?). So this is definitely a do as I say and not as I do tip. And then of course you have some writers like Kate Harding, who plain admit to being long-winded and yet manage to be very powerful writers. We can either conclude that rules are meant to be broken OR that Kate actually does edit her work and man you should have seen how long her posts were before she edited them. (See? Watch me practice what I preach).
In the tradition of memes I need to nominate ‘powerful others’ and so I bestow this one on Garden Variety (she does a beautiful job of combining personal and universal themes into absorbing and touching posts); Outside the Toybox (really good stuff here in the archives but why, why did she have to stop writing?); Audrey and the Bad Apples (both a very compelling and whimsical writer, how does she do it?); Echidne of the Snakes (when she gets going her posts are the very model of powerful); and Crimitism (did I mention the power of humour? because he is brutaly funny).