I’ve been writing for over 20 years.
And, like children pick up beautiful shells on the beach, I’ve collected little bits of wisdom.
Some of them come from the sunny Creative Writing classroom at Denver School of the Arts, others from the cozy library at Smith College, and still others from sitting in Stellas Coffeehaus in Denver, with my laptop and cup of steaming coffee. Here are 50 of them, in no specific order.
1. Use specific nouns and verbs. Don’t write dog, write goldendoodle. Don’t write walked, write hobbled.
2. Pepper adjectives throughout your writing.
3. Play with metaphors, similes, and alliteration.
4. Bring readers into the moment with the 5 senses.
5. Write from a dog’s eye view. Show what is happening on the ground level by zooming into the details.
6. Vary your sentence structure. Write short sentences, followed by longer ones, and don’t always start with the same word.
7. Keep your paragraphs short.
8. Combine different ideas. Like knitting and business, for example.
9. Read your writing out loud to see how it sounds.
10. Proofread before you press publish.
11. Figure out what you want your voice to sound like and keep it consistent throughout your blog.
12. Write for emotion. Know what you want your audience to feel and write to accomplish that.
13. Be honest. If you don’t know about something, don’t pretend you do.
14. Be vulnerable. Share what’s real for you. That’s how other people will connect with your story.
15. Share your writing with others for the purpose of getting constructive feedback.
16. Don’t be afraid to suck in the beginning. The only way you’ll get better is by practicing.
17. When something resonates with your audience, ask yourself why. Learn from your successes.
18. Play with different types of posts. Write a list post, then a narrative post. If you are brave enough, you can even write a poem or two.
19. Widen your field of vision by reading stuff outside your niche.
20. When you have a great idea for a post, see who else has written on that topic. If you can’t do better than what’s already out there, figure out how to approach it differently. Or don’t write the post.
21. If something doesn’t add to your post, delete it.
22. Know your purpose for writing. If you know why you care, your readers will know why they should care, too.
23. Your blog is a world you weave with words. Keep that in mind when you write your posts. What kind of place do you want your blog to be?
24. Be courageous. If something feels scary to write about, that’s the best thing to write.
25. Read like a writer. When you read a blog post you like, deconstruct it. What worked so well? Can you incorporate that into your writing?
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26. Ask yourself What level of knowledge does my reader have on this topic? Knowing that will help you fill in any gaps.
27. If you are writing a tutorial, make sure to summarize at the end and repeat the steps. This will help your reader take action.
28. Write better headlines using this tool.
29. Don’t write to go viral – write to contribute something to the world.
30. If a post falls flat, analyze why. Is it the writing? See if you can go back in and improve it by adding details. Is it the headline? Rewrite it, reshare it, and see what happens.
31. Make it about your readers. How can you empower them?
32. Add depth whenever possible. For example, if you’re writing a recipe post, share some of your personal story about the recipe.
33. Understand emotional triggers, like trust, scarcity, mystery, and surprise. For more on this, buy this book. Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation
34. Know the rules of great blogging, but don’t be afraid to throw them out.
35. Don’t try to write like someone else. Most successful bloggers have achieved their success through persistence, trial and error, and knowing their audience. Instead of copying their style, copy their persistence.
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36. Don’t use gratuitous cuss words. Only include them if they really add something to your writing. Otherwise, it seems like you’re trying too hard.
37. Know your strengths and embrace them. If you are amazing at injecting humor into your writing, do it more. If your talent is raw honesty, be even honest-er.
38. Some of the best ideas come when you’re not in front of your computer. So get out of the house.
39. Stop worrying about being unique by changing your topic or narrowing your audience. Instead, focus on your approach. That’s what will make you stand out.
40. Weave storytelling into your writing, no matter what the topic is.
41. Start with a single, transformational moment.
42. Write stories that reveal how you’ve grown or how your perspective has shifted.
43. End stories with intention. Focus on a single, vivid detail; include a surprising twist, or reveal what you learned.
44. Hook your readers with questions, quotations, and statistics.
45. Practice writing for the purpose of getting better, but don’t publish posts just to have something out there.
46. Use the rules of writing practice.
47. Write in active voice whenever possible.
48. Include internal and external details. What happened? And how did you feel about it?
49. Keep writing.
50. End with a call to action. But just one.