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10 Tips on Writing the Living Web

by Mark Bernstein (used without permission)

Writing for the Living Web is a tremendous challenge. Here are ten tips that can help.

1. Write for a reason

Write for a reason, and know why you write. Whether your daily updates concern your work life, your hobbies, or your innermost feelings, write passionately about things that matter.

2. Write often

If you are writing for the Living Web, you must write consistently. You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often. One afternoon in grad school, I heard B. F. Skinner remark that fifteen minutes a day, every day, adds up to about book every year, which he suggested was as much writing as anyone should indulge. You don’t need to write much, but you must write, and write often.

3. Write tight

Omit unnecessary words.

Read your work. Revise it. Don’t worry about being correct, but take a moment now and then to think about the craft. Can you choose a better word – one that is clearer, richer, more precise? Can you do without a word entirely?

4. Make good friends

Read widely and well, on the web and off, and in your web writing take special care to acknowledge the good work and good ideas of other writers. Show them at their best, pointing with grace and respect to issues where you and they differ. Take special care to be generous to good ideas from those who are less well known, less powerful, and less influential than you.

Weblog writers and other participants in the Living Web gain readers by exchanging links and ideas. Seeking to exchange links without ideas is vulgarly known as blogrolling. Begging high-traffic pages or famous writers to mention you is bothersome and unproductive

5. Find good enemies

Readers love controversy and learn from debate. Disagreement is exciting. Everyone loves a fight, and by witnessing the contest of competing ideas we can better understand what they imply.

6. Let the story unfold

The Living Web unfolds in time, and as we see each daily revelation we experience its growth as a story. Your arguments and rivalries, your ideas and your passions: all of these grow and shift in time, and these changes become the dramatic arc of your website.

7. Stand up, speak out

If you know your facts and have done your homework, you have a right to your opinion. State it clearly. Never waffle, whine, or weasel.

8. Be sexy

You are a sexual being. So are all of your readers (except the Google robot). Sex is interesting. Sex is life, and life is interesting. The more of yourself you put into your writing, the more human and engaging your work will be.

9. Use your archives

When you add something to the Living Web and invite others to link to your ideas, you promise to keep your words available online, in their appointed place, indefinitely. Always provide a permanent location (a “permalink”) where each item can be found. Do your best to ensure that these locations don’t change, breaking links in other people’s websites and disrupting the community of ideas.

10. Relax!

Don’t worry too much about correctness: Find a voice and use it. Most readers will overlook, and nearly all will forgive, errors in punctuation and spelling. Leave Fowler and Roget on the shelf, unless they’re your old friends. Write clearly and simply and write quickly, for if you are to write often you must neither hesitate or quibble.

Don’t worry about the size of your audience. If you write with energy and wit about things that matter, your audience will find you. Do tell people about your writing, through short personal email notes and through postcards and business cards and search engines. Enjoy the audience you have, and don’t try to figure out why some people aren’t reading your work.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Read more indepth article here.

B~

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