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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Anniversary Week - Writing Lessons from the First Year of Blogging

I’m a heavy-handed editor – ask anyone who works with me. At least I go through many rounds of editing my own stuff also (Exhibit A is at the right). Writing so much for the blog, however, has forced a more structured approach with specific editing rounds. Here are steps I’ve learned that may help you be a faster writer:

  • Keep something around to capture ideas – don’t let even remotely good possibilities evaporate.

  • Mine, combine, dissect, twist, and edit ideas into a first draft. Get a complete version down irrespective of whether the sentences are complete.

  • People want shorter material so start with a word limit. Five hundred words used to be my maximum. Based on reader preferences, I cut it to 300, with many under 200.

  • Edit to tighten the prose on the next pass. Also consider rearranging elements to make it work better. Surprising how often an article’s conclusion becomes its new intro following this editing round.

  • Run a spelling / grammar check to check the word count and help catch typos. Print it, read it aloud, read it backwards – anything to see it with fresher eyes since you’ve been through it several times.

  • Shorten it even more – reduce the word count by 10 to 20% on the final edit. It may seem challenging, but the result is invariably stronger.

Now you’re set to start your own blog and crank out 60,000 words by next year!

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