How To Blog

On a mailing list I’m on, a person recently spoke about the challenges she experiences writing and asked for ideas on books or classes to help her improve her writing. The following is the message I sent to the list, and it seems like a good blog post reflecting my views on how to be a good blogger.

I've always wanted to be a writer when I grow up, maybe a Great American Novelist or a Poet Laureate. After decades of struggling with my writing, I’m settling for being an Internet Raconteur. I do not know any good classes or books on how to write better, but I’ll toss out a few different thoughts.

First, read. Read anything and everything. I’ve been in discussions with other bloggers where it was asked who everyone’s blog mentor was. I typically respond E.B. White. His essays for the New Yorker and for Harper’s back in the 40s, are perhaps the best example I can find of good writing the way I think bloggers should write today. I also like to mix it up with Virginia Woolf, James Joyce and Hunter S. Thompson.

Second, experience some deep emotional difficulty, or find some other experience that leads you to work with a good therapist to figure out who you really are, what makes you tick, and helps you learn to be more open an honest. Authenticity is a great virtue in writing and therapy is a great way to work towards it.

Third, read some more. Read philosophers and theorists. Find a framework to put your thoughts and feelings into. It can help organize your thoughts if you don’t let it become stifling.

Finally, write. Write as much as you can. Spend time reviewing and editing, but know that at some point, you need to let it go and simply post it online. Know that you’re going to write some really horrid stuff, but you’ll also write some gems. Balance being open and authentic with a strong enough defense to ignore criticism that stings and thwarts you, but still try to find nuggets of truth in the criticism.

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