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Advice from Famous Authors a Blog Writer Could Use Today

This guest post is by Colin Olson of Fresh Essays.

Every high-school superstar longs to follow in his sport hero’s footsteps. Small business owners idolize those on the Fortune 500 list. Likewise, blog writers can hope for the greatness of past literary giants.

While many of the world’s most famous authors are long gone, their words of wisdom still resonate today. Listen to the advice these famous authors have left for blog writers.

“What I try to do is write… And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’ ”—Maya Angelou

When writing an article, just let the thoughts flow. Constantly stopping and starting will break your train of thought. Don’t stop to correct typos, grammar errors or punctuation mistakes. All the editing can be done later. Don’t pause while writing to go looking for facts and statistics. Do all the fact-checking at once.

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”—Elmore Leonard

One of the most unique features of a blog is the laid-back, conversational tone that can be implemented. Blogging is a chance for customers to see the person behind the brand.

Don’t be stuffy, pompous, or too formal. Engage readers in a conversation.

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”—Isaac Asimov

A great way to earn loyal readers is to provide content no one else is willing to discuss. 

Sit down and make a list of all the controversial topics, hard-to-answer questions, and pressing issues that are related to your industry.  Then, write content to address each item on the list. 

Be the first one to talk about the touchy subjects, and readers will come to trust and appreciate what you have to offer.

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”—Elmore Leonard

Blog readers tend to be skimmers. They like grabbing bits and pieces of information. So make that process easier for them.

Use headings, bullets and lists.  Keep paragraphs to a few sentences; big chunks of text can be intimidating.

“A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.”—Edgar Allen Poe

When writing blog posts, be concise.  Choose one topic and stick to it.  Wander too far off on a tangent and readers will be lost.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”—Ernest Hemingway

Write about topics that are interesting. If you wouldn’t want to read it, no one else will either. And make sure blog posts have genuinely helpful information. Readers who are subjected to constant product pitches won’t stick around for long.

Write about topics people are passionate about—topics that they hold dear to their hearts.

“Quantity produces quality.  If you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”—Ray Bradbury

Nothing says, “I don’t care,” like a dormant blog. At the very least, bloggers need to post once a week. Readers who always find the same old posts won’t bother to come back again.

Also, try to be consistent about when your posts appear. Use the site’s analytics to determine when readers stop by. Then, post on that day(s). If posts appear sporadically, readers won’t know what to expect.

Don’t be afraid to tell readers when a post is coming, too.  Make a simple announcement on your social networks.

“Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”—George Orwell

Blog writing is different from just about any other type of writing for one very simple reason—it is global. Loyal readers can come from any corner of the world, and for many, English is a second language.

Make blogs post simple to read. Avoid clichés—not everyone will understand them. Even posts that are translated into a native tongue will benefit from clear, concise, accurate language.

Check out these two great resources to learn more about passive and active voice and commonly misused English words.

“Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia”.—Kurt Vonnegut

Have a target audience, and write for that audience. 

For a business blogger, the target audience is not the bigwigs with corner offices who sign the paychecks. Writing to please them is a big no-no. And a target audience of “women,” isn’t specific enough.

Narrow down the target audience until it seems there could only be one possible person in the world who fits that description.

“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible….Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why…”—Kurt Vonnegut

Get to the point quickly. Readers shouldn’t have to wade through half the article before coming to the main point. Tell the readers what they’ll get from the article within the first few sentences.

“Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald

After writing a post, go back and proofread it. Not only do spelling errors and grammar mistakes need to be caught, punctuation blunders should be noted too.

Overuse of comas can be distracting. Long, ugly sentences that would benefit from semicolons are annoying too. Consider consulting the AP Stylebook. At the very least, note AP style calls for only one space after a period or colon. Numbers ten and under should be spelled out (with the exception of age: a 5-year-old boy).

“Read, read, read. Read everything—trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read!  You’ll absorb it. Then, write.”—William Faulkner

Reading the content of other industry leaders can provide useful information. First, insight will be gained as to what the competitors are up to. Second, inspiration can be found on other sites. Lastly, valuable lessons can be learned about what not to do!

There is no better way to end this article than by sharing G.K. Chesterton’s words: “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”

This post was written by Colin Olson. He is a content writer and editor at Fresh Essays – an online writing services provider. He likes to write essays on history and education related topics.

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Comments

  1. Jungo says:

    Enjoyed reading this post. A lof of the quotes used are of value – I will be saving them on my desktop’s sticky notes. On another note, great piece!

  2. Whoa! Great blog post idea! You instantly grabbed my attention with your title.

    I like what you said to supplement Elmore Leonard’s quote, and that’s one of the main reason why I’m even commenting on this post. This post does a great job of splitting up a lot of content into a very digestible, easy read. I like how you can go through and easily pick out famous authors without having to dig for a while.

    Again, great blog post idea. I’m jealous that I didn’t think of it myself. ;)

    • Colin Olson says:

      Thanks Zach,

      Personally I like advices from Hemingway, and there are many more from Ray Bradbury, James Patterson, Stephen King and others – Google has all the answers :)

  3. The quote from “Isaac Asimov” stands out to me the most. When deadlines loom and I know there’s only a few minutes left, it seems like I find super strength to power through more than I did the entire previous hour. I guess it’s true when they say that your work will take as long as you give yourself to complete it.

  4. muja says:

    wowww!!! i am from malaysia, an English teacher gonna be. now, i know that my target readers are my students in the future. thank you for the suggestions,, i really enjoyed reading this!!! it is so much inspiring :)

  5. Madeline Schwartz says:

    Nicely done! Great read…

  6. Amy Hagerup says:

    “Write to please one person” has really helped me a lot lately. That was a great reminder. When I start to think of one particular person that is representative of my “target” audience, the writing flows better. Thanks.

    • Colin Olson says:

      Yep, Stephen King says he writes for his wife and thinks about how she’ll react to a certain scene. She is his best critic and always gives him honest feedback.

  7. Richard Ng says:

    Oh, like this post a lot! Among all, like the following best:

    There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed – Ernest Hemingway… except now we are doing it on the move in mobile device, laptop or PC!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers!

  8. Tom says:

    Great post! Paying attention to your audience is key.

  9. Clarkmartin says:

    Wonderful! I’ve always like Brenda Ueland’s words… “…you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top,
    but like a child stringing beads…happy, absorbed and quietly putting
    one bead on after another.” …so much, in fact that I pulled my blog title from there. Thanks for a excellent article.

  10. Kingsley Agu says:

    Nice write up!!! Writing for the right audience is the main thing. You can’t be writing for a blog under Web design, when your niche is Sport. Nice write up dear.

  11. flowerpress says:

    Loved this post, made lots of sense.
    Might I point out though that after you finished saying how important it is to proofread the first line following was:
    ‘Overuse of comas can be distracting.’
    lol
    susie

  12. Brain Vick says:

    Thanks for the post and information! I think education is important for us so we must prepare the best education for our generation by sharing such great information with each other!

  13. David Jones says:

    Last few days I was looking for exact this information from here to there & finally its on your blog site. I’m really happy with your blog & will share it with my friend.

  14. Ali zia says:

    Blogging is the best way to enhance your writing skill,Practice can make the man perfect so more you will practice more you will get the better result

  15. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Those are really great advice from authors. I love William Foulkner’s quote because reading is what I love and is what which makes me learn everything, that is why I read ProBlogger.

  16. Larissa says:

    Love this. Sometimes you need to hear it from the greats. Or, at least be reminded by them.

  17. This was a great read, very informative. I know I definitely got some bad habits of editing, checking for statistics and facts while I’m writing. It takes up so much time and it interrupts my creative flow.

    I am definitely going to strive to just write, and do everything else later.

    Great Post Colin!

  18. Ha! This is fabulous content for a blogger who also writes fiction, poetry, etc. I’ve had a feeling in my gut that the two worlds of blogging and all other writing were more connected than they appeared. This post is spot on in revealing how some principles apply to any writing situation.

    • Colin Olson says:

      Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote “The Gambler” to pay off debts. Just try to imagine his writing tips for “writing for money” niche :)

  19. Michael says:

    Very interesting stuff :)

  20. Hi, wonderful advice!Thank you for sharing it.

  21. I bet you. This is one of the greatest and motivational piece I’ve ever come across on PROBLOGGER.

  22. Sravya says:

    Hi
    I am reading the blogs to improve my written communication skills and exactly to know how to comment on a blog.