Blogging: The Proof is in the Prep

It’s Tech Tuesday this third week of September and I’m a guest contributing writer for Julie at Christian Mommy Blogger! Happy to share these tips on blogging best practices to help us all be quality communicators for Christ!

Too little. Too late.

Blog post blunders glare in the wake of too little time spent proofreading the text. Your post flies through the Blogosphere with missing commas, incomplete thoughts, and too many typos to count, not to mention verb tense issues in overly long paragraphs.

 

vintage typewriter

Source: TuckDB

Brilliant writer that you are, your first draft of any written work is always just that. A first draft. Never mistake it for an end product.

I am preaching to myself, here. I’ve hit PUBLISH before proofing more times than I care to admit, rushing so I could get on to my next project.

Carelessness.

Maybe I was so excited to post my masterpiece, I didn’t think I could have muffed up the technical elements when the subject I’d written about was so amazing.

Pride.

Couldn’t I have taken ten minutes to review?

But there it is, published with “out” for “our,” “tee” for “tea,” run-on sentences, and a whole paragraph of fragments making me wonder what I was trying to say in the first place. Distracted by a caller on speaker phone and writing at the same time? What was I thinking?

Foolishness.

Oh! And, the links! I forgot to include all the links! A noteworthy resource didn’t get the nod he deserved.

Just plain wrong.

A good blog post is more than a great topic handled with clever words and impressive thoughts. You lose readers with misspellings and grammatical errors and technical flaws sprinkled throughout your text like salt sprinkled on sugar cookies, simply because you rushed about when grabbing the ingredients from the pantry. Salt is no substitute for sugar when you seek to write sweet words of inspiration and influence.

[Tweet “Salt is no substitute for sugar when you seek to write sweet words of inspiration and influence.”]

When writing to the Glory of God, write worthy of God’s Glory. Use our language correctly and with care. Having taught English composition for many years, I helped students balance their art and their voice as writers with their craft excellence in technical writing skills. Whether you are a seasoned wordsmith professional or a hobbyist enjoying the fellowship of Blogosphere inspirations, hone your writing habits for best post practices. Try these suggestions:

1. Edit Mercilessly
If you layer your writing with nonessential words and ramblings before getting to your point, you will lose your reader. Make those first words, the opening hook, sharp and engaging. As much as possible, without losing your unique voice, edit out repetitive words, redundancies, and content that does not add to your purpose. Keep a Thesaurus handy to choose precise words.
When you repeat a word several times, find an equivalent and edit it into your prose. Stay relevant and meaningful. Avoid the preachy rant. Use words that invite the reader into your prose so they linger over each sentence. Tight editing makes every word count. Quality, not quantity.

2. Order Your Thoughts Logically
Stream of consciousness writing has its place, but it has limitations, too. Keep your thoughts in order so your reader can easily follow where you lead. Know what you’re going to say and get there with as few bunny trails as possible. If you add a bunny trail for artistic flair or poetic effect, place it carefully and point back to the main road and purpose of your post. Make what you write make sense. This is especially important during notable transitions from one thought/setting to another.

3. Use Correct Grammar, Spelling, Punctuation, and Reference Integrity
Proofreading one word at a time, one letter at a time, one punctuation mark at a time may seem time-consuming, but in the long run, it is time well spent. You will clean up a host of problems with your prose when you give this the attention it deserves. Not sure when and how to use “their, there, they’re” or “your, you’re, yore” or other words on the “Most Repeated Grammar Errors List”? Do a toolbar search for the answer. You’ll find a plethora of grammar and writer’s helps to keep you on the straight and narrow and keep the grammar nerds out of therapy! Double check your facts, figures, and especially Scripture references. Include the initials of the Bible translation you use and source links for photos, quotes, and any material borrowed from others.

4. Read Your Drafts Aloud
The most efficient way to find and correct errors in your writing is to read the material aloud. Read each word in the way you want it read by your audience. You will easily find and resolve many of the problems discussed thus far when you read your material aloud. Correct along the way and re-read aloud again to be sure you’ve got it right.
If you become frustrated with your work, thinking destructive thoughts like “delete”– STOP! Walk away. Return later with a clear mind. You’ll be surprised at how good your post looks to you after giving it some space. Renewed in your perspective, you’ll be refreshed in the re-writing process.

5. Be Creative & Be Consistent
As noted above, reading aloud will highlight areas of creativity and consistency that need attention in your work. Where you lack support for a point you make, add a sentence or resource reference to correct the weakness. Inject vigor into your prose using active verbs and picture nouns. Write in the active voice. Use shorter words, sentences, and paragraphs. Sentences of varied lengths add interest to the cadence and flow of written work. Creative scenes that “show” rather than “tell” the concept expressed engage the reader at the heart level.

6. Employ Visual Appeal
Using large clumps of words, with little or no white space for the eye to rest, is one of the fastest ways to prompt a reader to click away from your post. Break up your thoughts with images,memes or quotes connected to your content. Leave a space between one to three sentence paragraphs. Use a readable font, no smaller than 12 point. Varying the color of the text you want to highlight is also a good way to break things up, but be diligent not to overdo with splashy rainbow effects that make your post appear confused.

7. Join a Writer’s Critique Group
Enlist an editor to review your post for errors or recommendations on how to tighten your work. This may not be necessary or achievable for every post you write, but when it comes to the important ones, a writing critique can be invaluable! One of the best resources for editorial critiques can be found within your relationships with peer professionals. Participation in a writing critique group provides craft enhancement and affirmation of your vision and calling as a writer. Submit your work to the second-set-of-eyes editorial process to sharpen your prose while improving your practice of industry standards.

NOTE: I asked a friend, Janice Heck, to evaluate this post before publishing it because the topic was technical writing issues. I wanted to be sure I produced my best work. Janice is a former Christian school administrator and educator with a passion for helping writers fine tune their work. I am blessed to be working with her, serving as co-leaders of the Cumberland County Chapter of the New Jersey Society of Christian Writers. Our first meeting will be towards the end of this month. We’re hoping to build an enthusiastic community of writers who want to serve God through the written word! Janice is launching a brand new blog targeting writers who want to hone their use of grammar within professional industry standards for quality writing. You can find her at Janice Heck Writes: Power Up Your Writing! Build Your Writing Craft. Be sure to subscribe for weekly instruction to make your writing the best it can be!

[Tweet “Good writing is great re-writing.”]

These are just a few ways to enhance the quality of your blog posts. Much more can be said on each of these topics, but if you’ve been struggling in any of these areas, begin where you are and move forward one quality enhancing step at a time. The wise writer knows they will never stop growing in their craft. There is no end to where well-written words can take one willing to write them and read them . . .

All to the glory of God.

blog signature

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Kathryn Ross

About Miss Kathy

"I teach families how to restore their God-given authority as the primary educator in their child’s life through the experience of reading together as a family. Learn how to use literature to create teachable moments, build strong minds, and bind loving hearts."

Kathryn Ross, writer, speaker, and dramatist, ignites a love of literature and learning to equip young and old towards developing a Family Literacy Lifestyle—reading together, learning together, loving together. Her works challenge families to deepen their literacy skills and grow into the greater things God has purposed for them. She’s taught in Christian and homeschool circles, trained in the Principle Approach® through the Foundation for American Christian Education. Miss Kathy owns Pageant Wagon Publishing, producing homeschool enrichment materials, devotional works, study guides, and theatrical dramas for church, school, and community production. She podcasts at TheWritersReverie.com and blogs at PageantWagonPublishing.com.

Comments

  1. Gloria Penwell says:

    Wonderful article/blog. Kathryn, you’re off and running. You have so much to offer. I’m proud of you.

  2. Good Morning, Kathryn. I loved seeing this post published. You have such a clear writing style with a good measure of poetic flair, and your graphics are adorable. They clearly fit your personal style.
    I was so happy to reconnect with you at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference this past July, and now I am excited about restarting and cohosting our old writers’ group, the Cumberland County Chapter of New Jersey Society of Christian Writers. It will be fun to pass on to newer writers what we have learned about writing, blogging, and editing over the past ten years. I am sure they will have something to teach us, too.
    Have a very blessed day.

  3. Kathy, this was just wonderful! Such practical advice, and advice that should be heeded. I know that we are all prone to mistakes, but I agree that we should take the careful time to edit our writing to make it clear, error-free, and fluid. First drafts are great. But so are continuing edits. I find that the thing that helps me the most as I prepare a post is to read it out loud. This is where I pick up the most spelling or grammar errors, and it’s a great way to *check the flow* of the ideas.

    We may never be perfect, but it is God-honoring to strive for excellence!

    GOD BLESS!

    (OK, I do admit that I used improper grammar on my blog post title this week – but it was intentional!! 🙂

  4. Excellent and needful advice for all writers and bloggers. This is a well written, helpful and informative post. I also love your beautiful illustrations. Thank you, Kathryn! 🙂 x

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: