Tag Archives: writing

How to Write a Blog Entry

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Svitlana, one of the 2012 TechWomen, was kind enough to ask me last year how to write a blog entry. This is finally in reply to her question… Of course, this only represents how I write my blog – every writer must find her own voice.

I have been writing a web log since 2005, at the rate of over three entries a week, for a current total of 1,325.* In putting together a blog entry, I focus on three areas, in this order:

  1. Topic
  2. Images
  3. Writing Composition

I consider a single topic for each blog entry, picking a subject that I find of special interest. Within that general requirement, each entry topic must also be one or more of the following:

My family and friends lovingly inform me that I take too many pictures. My generous and patient husband (our family system administrator) is always trying to stay ahead of my photo storage and sorting requirements. There have been 47,674 images posted in our family Flickr archive since 2008. I take pictures not only to illustrate blog entries but also to make a record (as when taking a picture of a business card, or notes on a whiteboard), or because an image seems beautiful to me. This is an extension of the famous William Morris sentiment:

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

A photo often starts me writing a blog entry – expressing what I found of interest in that image. Starting with a photo makes a more interesting story than an formidable wall of plain text. Once I start composing, I work to ensure that not one word is wasted. One friend told me that he has to rest between reading my paragraphs because the text is so dense. I see it as being respectful of my reader’s time and precious attention to be succinct. I write until I have no more to convey. As Lewis Carroll’s Red King said:

Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

I check facts carefully and provide links to references or data sources when available. Even after checking my work, I often have to go back to a published entry to add missing words. Still, I publish as soon as the entry feels complete, in accordance with my motto:

Done is Better then Perfect.

I also go back to much older blog posts and clean them up from time to time – to fix software rot causing broken links and format changes.

7 March 2013 Addition:
Here is some good advice on how to write: Kill Your Darlings: Five Rules for Writers by Rita J. King, EVP Science House, 6 March 2013:

  1. Have Fun
  2. Don’t Have Fun
  3. Kill Your Darlings
  4. Do the Research
  5. Ask Yourself: Why?

29 January 2016 Addition:
On 23 October 2015, I gave a presentation with updated information on this to the TechWomen at Symantec in the Silicon Valley: “How to Blog: Best Practices”.

Image Copyright 2009 by John Plocher
* 2005-2009 on blogs.sun.com/katysblog and 2009-now here at katysblog.wordpress.com. I have also been a guest blogger on other sites.

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Why I Blog

ZapCar . Burning Man Car

Right now, someone is particularly angry at me for not communicating through the means she prefers. She wrote me an email saying that she wants letters on paper and will read email but thinks blogs are impersonal and not worth her time.

So, why write blogs?

  • I work two jobs (for TechWomen and Huawei), each of which is interesting and worthwhile
  • I love a distractingly wonderful husband, two remarkable kids in college, two dogs, a cat, and two birds, each of whom would like and deserves more of my attention
  • Our daughter is getting married in six weeks, with over a hundred guests
  • I am working with my brothers to advise and support two interesting parents (both over 80) whose health is failing
  • I am on several volunteer Boards and I teach a group of twenty adorable kids three hours a week in an after-school program, all of whom have justified expectations of my time and nurturing
  • I have plants that expected better when they came into my garden, and weeds that are much happier than they should be
  • I have a stack of well-written and highly-recommended books that leak guilt at me when I look in their direction

I am over-committed and over-scheduled doing work I love and do well.  When my daughter went to college, she made a wise decision. She could either try to keep in touch with her large circle of friends and relations individually, and do nothing else. Or, she could blog and hope that her admirers would follow her news in a less-direct but more complete way.

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

When I don’t blog, I find that I drop out of touch and actually spend more time communicating to worse effect. I love writing and taking pictures and I think sharing what I see with my readers benefits both. I am frequently contacted by interesting people who ask to use one of my pictures or want to continue a discussion started on my blog.  For example, I was on the local TV news last week because of my blog entries last year about FEMA.  I have included recent pictures of strange local cars and old metal signs for you today – just for fun! Publishing here makes me consider more deeply and starts many of my conversations with my family and friends in the middle of current experience, instead of spending half of each meeting catching each other up.

Orchard Supply Hardware old sign . Western Hotel old sign

Images Copyright 2011 by Katy Dickinson

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