Awhile back I came across an article in a national newspaper criticizing bloggers for being sloppy and unfocused. Easy to say with the benefit of a department editor, copy editor, and a fact checker. You can’t be your own newsroom, but a blog post can be professional and engaging with a little self editing. It’s work – and yes, another hat to wear – but these few guidelines will help you craft better stories, ones that get traction.
1. Tighten Up
Give yourself a word count – and stick to it. Magazine editors assign them to writers and that’s that. A good number for a blog is 350 – 500. You’ll be surprised how word constraints makes you a better writer.
2. Let Go
That clever phrase you wrote and love so much may have to go. Editing is ruthless business. I’ve already tossed a great little story and a funny quip writing this. The bin is full of outtakes.
3. Two Sided
Write then edit (this works for some). The theory is that writing and editing are two different jobs, employing different parts of the brain. Write the ideas. Edit them into shape later.
4. Always Settle
Let your work rest a few days or a week before editing. Your relationship to your words will change. The editor in you is less likely to offend the writer in you, which makes point #2 easier.
5. Clear as?
We read what we think we wrote, which isn’t always what’s written. Print your story and read it out loud for glitches and flow. Also, see how it reads on its page, especially if there’s a photo; context can influence meaning. And yes, use spell and grammar checks. They’re essential meat and potato editing tools.
Are you professional and engaging? Press ‘publish’.
Leslie Javorski is a food writer. Her company, Food Words, focuses on customer communications for the grocery and specialty food sectors. She also freelances for trade and consumer magazines.