This guest post is by Kate Toon Copywriter.
I have an admission; I suffer from several deep-rooted blog-writing afflictions.
For years I thought it was just me, that I was the only one. Lately, though, I’ve realised that I’m not alone.
Yes, I’ve read all those “15 rules of blog writing” posts, but I just keep breaking them. I’m not a tween, I’m not a Gen Y; I am a fully (over)grown copywriting female. I have no excuses.
So let me be a voice for all those bloggers who, like me, are ostracised in this cruel grammatically correct, rule-driven world.
I share my story in the hope that it helps other writers.
How it all began
My parents sent me to an arty school—it wasn’t Montessori or Steiner, but we seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time playing music, dancing around with floaty scarves and learning italic handwriting. The teachers took the “enjoyment over correction approach” to reading and writing. So after several years of schooling I still could barely write my name, but when I did, it was in a beautiful mediaeval script.
Of course I loved it at the time; when you’re eight, who gives a jelly snake about conjugating verbs? I was happy enough making a human body (including organs) out of Play-Doh. But now I curse their stupid progressive schooling ways!
Here are some of the issues I’ve been left with:
I make typos
Although I have a rather good English degree from a relatively posh university and have been a copywriter for many years, I still can’t spell.
I struggle with even the easiest words and sometimes get complete “word blindness,” where I’ve written a word so often it just looks wrong. (Lawyer anyone?)
I often Google words before I enter them, just to be extra sure.
Writing a Facebook status update is fraught with panic as I post only to realise seconds later that I’ve spelt “realize” incorrectly.
If you’re in this camp with me, may I suggest the following:
- Don’t write tweets or status updates when you’re in a rush. Take it seriously, or your readers will eat you alive.
- Don’t send a status update from your iPhone as you’re more likely to make a mistake.
- Do write your status updates in a text document first and then cut and paste them into whatever platform you’re using. Then at least the really obvious mistakes will be picked up by spell checker.
- Do write a big batch of status updates at the start of the month and send them off to a proofreader to correct. Then you can safely upload one each day/week.
I know my nouns from my adjectives, and my verbs from my adverbs, but I’m prone to bending the grammar rules, sometimes to breaking point. Fellow sufferers, here are a few grammar basics that I think it’s okay to break (but don’t tell my proofreader):
- Starting sentences with “but” or “and”: Although you don’t want to overdo it, the occasional sentences that begin with “but” or “and” are, in my opinion, no big deal.
- Ending sentences with prepositions: Occasionally it just sounds better to put the preposition slap bang at the end of your sentence. Compare, for example: “They don’t have a leg to stand on” with “They don’t have a leg upon which to stand.” Or as Winston Churchill wrote, “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.”
- Using fragments: As long as your fragment clearly communicates a complete thought, it’s a great tool to create pauses and give your ideas great emphasis.
My English isn’t all that plain
I like using odd and slightly unusual words in my blog posts; perhaps it’s the latent poet in me.
Is this a bad thing? Well, I’d argue a firm “No.”
You see, while I’m all for keeping things short and simple, I also believe that it’s important to inject some personality into your copy now and again. Too much plain English and your writing just sounds, well, plain (and possibly a little bit dull).
I think I’m funny
“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humour but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.”—Nora Ephron
I often try to inject humour into my blog posts, even when they’re about really serious stuff like SEO. I’ve been warned against this time and time again.
“Not everyone will get it!” they cry. “You’re bound to offend someone!” they shriek.
Well, if I offend, I offend.
Not everyone is going to like your blog. But if you inject your own personal taste, humour and style, some people will love it (and, yes, others may well hate it). But I’d rather have 200 avid followers loving what I write than 500 people who were mildly interested.
I use slang
I’m a big fan of slang. In fact, I think it’s awesome.
I know that seeing some teen speak in a grown-up blog can often be the cringeworthy equivalent of seeing your dad drunk dancing at your 17th birthday party.
If you use slang carefully and in a slightly tongue-in-cheek way, it can add a certain je ne sais quoi to your writing.
However, if you intend to use slang regularly I suggest you hire a 13-year-old to read everything you write before you post it.
I get emotional
I like to write about things I’m passionate about. Subjects that annoy me. Websites that are woeful. Clients who are horrible. Things I find amusing.
Sometimes that causes controversy. I’ve been sent hate mail about a poem I once wrote and published online. I’ve been insulted on Twitter by a fellow copywriter who took offence to a blog post. (He thought it was about him—it wasn’t.)
While I never actively seek to offend, insult, or discriminate against anyone, the blog posts on my business website represent my opinions. They’re not a sanitised, client-friendly version of things. Again, what I write might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s my cup of tea and therefore I think my enthusiasm and passion shines through.
So there you go. If you’ve read this post and think you’re suffering from similar symptoms, you too could be a victim of blogrulebreakingitus. Please share your faults with us in the comments. It’s only by working together that we can get through these terrible afflictions. Blog rule breakers of the world unite!
Kate is an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter with over 18 years’ experience. She’s also a well-respected SEO consultant, information architect, strategist, hula hooper and Creme Egg lover based in Sydney, Australia.