Online Writing

Tips for Improved Blog Writing

Although blog writing allows one some flexibility from the standards of academic writing, one should never abandon the elements of effective writing. You can have fun with blogging and you don’t have to approach blogging like you do an academic paper. However, no matter what approach you employ as a blogger, you should not neglect the core principles of effective writing. From the beginning of this piece, I want it to be clear that I’m not trying to present myself as the world’s greatest writer. I’m far from the world’s greatest writer, but I’m a very accomplished writer. I’ve had many of my articles posted here at Revolutionary Paideia featured on many sites. I’m a university English Instructor and published scholar. I do, therefore, know a little something about effective writing. The fundamental purpose of this piece is to offer some writing advice to bloggers about how they can ameliorate the quality of the writing in their blog posts.

I’m not a blog expert. I have only been blogging for a little over one year. I’ve been reading blogs for a while now. One thing I have found to be problematic about many of the blogs I have read and/or stumbled upon is the writing does not reflect that the authors have fully given themselves an opportunity to be benefit from the complete writing process. As an English Instructor, one of my primary goals for my students is to have them to buy into the notion of writing as a process. While you can see that many bloggers have thought about what they want to write about, many of them are not engaging in the editing and proofreading stages of the writing process.

One the easiest ways for a blogger to give his or her readers a negative dominant impression about his or her blog and writing is to post pieces on his or her blog that have not been carefully edited and proofread. Some bloggers feel like they have to maintain a certain kind of schedule, and this leads them to feel like they have to just get the piece posted—with little to no editing and proofreading. Never let your self-created blog posting schedule interfere with you posting pieces that have been carefully edited and proofread. Bad writing is just as unattractive as a funky mouth. Why would you rush to post a piece that no one can understand?

Good writing is not boring writing. Don’t try to justify your bad writing with the trite excuse that you don’t write that well on your blog because you’re trying have fun and not bore your reader. I hate to tell you but bad writing is boring. It’s the kind of thing that will cause the reader to move on to the next blog.

One thing you can do to improve the quality of the writing on your blog is to have someone who you know who’s a good editor to review your work before you to publish it on your blog. Even for good writers or people who perceive themselves to be good writers, you can benefit from letting someone review a draft of your post before you promulgate it on your blog. The feedback you receive from a good editor can help to improve your public online image. With the power of Google, you don’t want a potential employer to perform a Google search on you and discover your poor writing.

The grammar error I see most often on blogs, even from many of the better written blogs I read, is noun-pronoun antecedent disagreement. The pronoun you use to refer back to the noun with has to agree in both number and case. Here’s an example of the error: “When a person does negative things in public, their public image will suffer greatly.” “Person” and “their” don’t agree. This error may seem obvious to you now that it is being highlighted, but it’s one of the main errors I see too often in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

The following is a list of more writing tips I recommend for bloggers:

1)      Eliminate unnecessary uses of “that” in your sentences. This is something you should check for during your editing process.

2)      Avoid repetition. When you’re editing your work, go back and look for repetitious words. Additionally, look for repetitious beginnings of sentences. Don’t have 4-5 sentences in a row that all begin with “I.”

3)      Don’t create your own words without informing your reader of the definition of your newly coined words.

4)      Use  apostrophes appropriately.

5)      Don’t write sentence fragments, save for when you’re intentionally and appropriately using them.

6)      Make sure your sentences are clear. If you know you’re not the strongest writer, just keep it simple.

In no way am I trying to denigrate any blogger, I just enjoy reading good writing and want many of my fellow Black bloggers to improve their writing.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Social Media and Composition

Social media is providing people with a fun and interactive way to improve their writing without them necessarily being conscious of it. For many people who I have observed using social media, it has made them more conscious about what they are actually writing. Even when many people are on Facebook using all of this slang, Ebonics, and intentional (and unintentional) incorrect use of language, I have found that they are still heavily focused on the content of what it is they want to communicate. One of the reasons I encourage blogging is it’s a form of social media that is a fun way to give people practice with their writing. To ameliorate your writing, you are going to have to practice writing more. Blogging is a way to make yourself vulnerable to the world through your writing and offers you an opportunity to receive feedback on your writing from a global audience.

Facebook has a “Note” function that allows you to pen your thoughts and share them with all of your Facebook friends or those who you “tag.” I encourage more people who use Facebook to use the “Note” function to share your thoughts with your Facebook friends. It’s a great way to share your thoughts that take more words than you are allowed through your Facebook status.

As a university Composition instructor, I have had great success with integrating social media into the Composition classroom. I have engaged my students with blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. Many classroom assignments that I have given have involved the use of social media. What I have discovered is social media makes more students become excited about Composition. Students who are less vocal in class during classroom discussions become more willing to share their thoughts through Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. Twitter forces Composition students to be much more disciplined writers because they have to say something meaningful with only 140 characters available to them. Now, if you have not used Twitter before you may not think that this is not a serious writing challenge, but being limited to only 140 characters can be quite challenging when you have something truly substantive to articulate. I encourage more college professors to integrate social media into your diverse classrooms. I strongly believe that you will find it to be rewarding.

Before I end this piece, I would just like to encourage you to be more conscious about your writing when using various forms of social media. Bad writing is never a good look. Of course, social media allows us all to have more freedom to be less formal than when we’re writing for academic purposes, but always be aware of the type of person you are presenting to the world when you communicate with others through social media. When blogging, I certainly don’t write like I do when I’m writing my academic papers because I want to be able to reach a much more general and global audience, but I do think it’s vital to maintain some formal standards with your social media writing.

One grammatical error that I would love to see more people using social media address is noun-pronoun disagreement. For example, one might write the following: “Most of the time a lawyer has their own best interests in mind.” In this aforementioned sentence, the pronoun (“their”) that refers the reader back to the noun (“lawyer”) does not agree. Of course, I could get really sophisticated with you about this error but, as I stated earlier, I want to be able to reach a more general and global audience.  I just want you to think about it numerically: “Lawyer” is one person, right? “Their” has to be more than just one person, right? Okay, now, let’s eliminate this grammar problem from our writing. Thank you!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison