Tag Archives: Blogging

Some Holiday Cheer

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Staff Member and Author: Franci Hoffman

Founder & Owner-BrewNSpew

-Millionaire’s Digest Contributor, Inspirational & Motivational Writer

Giving

 The holiday season isn’t the reason

Spreading cheer continues all year Continue reading Some Holiday Cheer

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10 Tips to Get You Started Writing this Month (2 min read)

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As the Ernest Hemingway quote goes, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” The quote illuminates a truth for writers everywhere: Writing a novel is much easier said than done.

That fact is one of the reasons why the founder of National Novel Writing Month launched the NaNoWriMo community in 1999. That led to the month of November being known as NaNoWriMo, which encourages writers to bear down and get serious about writing their next novel.

From November 1 through 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30, participating writers are tasked with penning a 50,000-word novel. If they finish early they are encouraged to keep writing. One of the main points of NaNoWriMo is to set writing goals and reach them, as opposed to shooting for a Pulitzer-winning novel (although aiming to write the book of a generation is an admirable endeavor).

  1. First, sign up for NaNoWriMo and create your profile. You will be able to receive help from esteemed authors and connect with fellow writers. Committing to the program will hold you accountable for your writing.
  2. Decide how you want to plan your novel. Yes, there’s even a step before the big steps. The NaNoWriMo website’s places writers into two categories: a “planner” and a “pantser.” The first believes in solid preparation and will likely have their stories fleshed out before Nov. 1. That means if you’re your reading up on these tips, you’re probably in the latter group of those who let their spontaneity take the reins. The latter also prefers to dive right in and see what unfolds along the way.
  3. Prep your novel! If you don’t have somewhat of a story idea already, it’s time to get going. The NaNo website has published videos and tips on how to properly plan for your story for the month ahead.
  4. Check out the literature the site also publishes on tips for character building, fiction writing, story building and more. Plan ahead, but don’t let the planning process keep you from this next step…
  5. WRITE. There’s no avoiding it. The best thing to do is just write.
  6. Once you’ve started, plan your pace for the month and commit to completing a certain amount of words every day. The goal is to write 50,000 words, so the word count is a tangible goal that needs to be met.
  7. Try to write at the same time every day. This doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but by committing to the same time, you’ll be less likely to push aside the time for socializing or doing chores. Some people prefer writing first thing in the morning, while others prefer the late-night grind. Find your “time” and stick to it.
  8. Reach out to others. The community through NaNoWriMo is meant to help you get the resources and support you need to complete your story. Contrary to popular belief, writing does not just have to be a solitary experience that you share with you and yourself in a cold, damp garret – your writing is meant to be shared. So seek out friends, family members, fellow writers or mentors who might offer you feedback on your writing or even just moral support.
  9. Don’t give up! This might not be the most original tip, but it’s impossible to keep going if you don’t believe in yourself or your story. Keep at it, and keep at it some more. Some days the words will fly, while other days will feel tedious and awful (remember the part about the proverbial “bleeding” – grab those Band-Aids and get back to work).
  10. Have fun. You’re writing a novel, not fighting a war. Have fun and enjoy the process. Nothing beats the beauty of when the human mind and imagination coming together to create something completely original and unique.

So… What are you waiting for? Click here to get started!

7 Editing Rules that Will Totally Transform Your Next Post

1. DON’T PAD YOUR PROSE WITH EMPTY FILLER WORDS

(Or: Avoid Using Grammar Expletives)

Grammar expletives are literary constructions that begin with the words ithere, or therefollowed by a form of the verb to be.

(Expletive comes from the Latin explere, meaning to fill. Think smelly literary landfill).

Common constructions include it is, it was, it won’t, it takes, here is, there is, there will be.

The problem? When ithere, and there refer to nouns later in the sentence or – worse – to something unnamed, they weaken your writing by shifting emphasis away from the true drivers of your sentences. And they usually require other support words such as whothat, and when, which further dilute your writing.

Let’s look at an example:

There are some bloggers who seem to have…

The there are expletive places the sentence’s focus on some nebulous thing called thereinstead of the true focus of the sentence – some bloggers. And the writer must then use another unnecessary word – who – that’s three unnecessary words in one unfocused sentence.

Train yourself to spot instances of therehere, and it followed by a to be verb (such as isarewas, and were) and adjust your sentences to lead with the meat and potatoes of those sentences instead.

(Tip: Use your word processor’s find functionality and search for therehere, and it and determine if you’ve used an expletive).

Other before-and-after examples:

  • It’s fun to edit – Editing is fun
  • It takes time to write – Writing takes time
  • There are many people who write – Many people write
  • There’s nothing better than blogging – Nothing’s better than blogging
  • Here are some things to consider: – Some things to consider are:

Caveat: If you previously described an object using therehere, and it, you’re not guilty of an expletive infraction. For example:

  • I love editing. It’s fun. (This is not an expletive construction since I previously described what it refers to.)

2. DON’T WEAKEN THE ACTION WITH WIMPY WORDS

(Or: Avoid Weak Verbs; Use Visceral and Action Verbs Instead)

Not only does to be conspire with itthere, and here to create nasty grammar expletives, but it’s also responsible for its own class of sentence impairing constructions.

Certain uses of to be in its various forms weaken the words that follow. The solution is to replace these lightweights with more powerful alternatives.

Let’s see some before-and-after examples:

  • She is blogging – She blogs
  • People are in love with him – People love him
  • He is aware that people love him – He knows people love him

Other verbs besides to be verbs can lack strength as well. Use visceral verbs or verbs that express some action. Let’s edit:

  • Give out – Offer
  • Find out – Discover
  • Make it clearer – Clarify
  • I can’t make it to the party – I can’t attend the party
  • He went to Mexico – He traveled to Mexico
  • Think of a blogging strategy – Devise a blogging strategy

3. DON’T CRIPPLE YOUR DESCRIPTIONS WITH FEEBLE PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Weak Adjectives)

Weak adjectives sap the strength from your writing just as nefariously as weak verbs. Use the best adjectives possible when describing nouns and pronouns. And be mindful that certain words, like really and very, usually precede weak adjectives. Take a look:

  • Really bad – Terrible
  • Really good – Great
  • Very big – Huge
  • Very beautiful – Gorgeous

Even if you don’t have a telltale really or very preceding an adjective, you can often give your writing more impact by using stronger alternatives:

  • Dirty – Filthy
  • Tired – Exhausted
  • Scared – Terrified
  • Happy – Thrilled

Even worse than using weak adjectives is using weak adjectives to tell your readers what something isn’t as opposed to telling them what something is:

  • It’s not that good – It’s terrible
  • He’s not a bore – He’s hilarious
  • He’s not very smart – He’s ignorant

4. TRIM FLABBY WORDS AND PHRASES

(Or: Avoid Verbose Colloquialisms)

Today’s readers have limited time and patience for flabby writing. Their cursors hover over the back button, so say what you mean as concisely as possible before your readers vanish:

  • But the fact of the matter is – But (Avoid flabby colloquial expressions when possible)
  • Editing is absolutely essential – Editing is essential (Absolutely is redundant)
  • You’re going to have to edit your work – You’ll have to edit your work or You mustedit your work (Going to and going to have to are flabby expressions)
  • Due to the fact that editing takes time, some people avoid it – Because editing takes time, some people avoid it
  • Every single person should love editing – Every person should love editing (Single is redundant; and shouldn’t married people love editing too? 😉 )

5. DON’T PUSSYFOOT AROUND YOUR VERBS AND ADJECTIVES

(Or: Avoid Nominalization)

Nominalization occurs when a writer uses a weak noun equivalent when a stronger verb or adjective replacement is available. Like expletives, nominals usually introduce other unnecessary words when used.

Count the number of words in the before-and-after examples below, and you will witness how badly nominals weaken your writing:

  • Give your post a proofread – Proofread your post (verb form)
  • Alcohol is the cause of hangovers – Alcohol causes hangovers (verb form)
  • The plane’s approach was met with the scramble of emergency crews – The plane approached and emergency crews scrambled. (verb form)
  • He shows signs of carelessness – He is careless (adjective form)
  • She has a high level of intensity – She is intense (adjective form)

6. THROW OUT THE RULEBOOK ON PUNCTUATION

(Or: Use the Occasional Comma for Clarity)

The rules around punctuation can be complicated, even for the humble comma.

But do you truly need to know the difference between a serial comma, an Oxford comma, and a Harvard comma to write a great blog post? Of course not. (And it’s a trick question – they’re all the same.)

So my philosophy on commas is simple:

Use commas sparingly if you prefer, but if excluding a comma MAKES YOUR READER STOP READING, add another bleepin’ comma – regardless of what any comma police may say.

Let’s look at an example:

You can ignore editing and people reading your post may not notice but your ideas will get lost.

By not including a comma between editing and and, I read this sentence and asked myself, “I can ignore editing and people reading my post? Really?” Of course, readers work out the intended meaning a moment later, but by that time, they’ve already stalled.

So, regardless of what comma rule I may break by adding a comma to this sentence, as long as my readers don’t get confused and stop reading, I don’t care – and neither should you.

Let’s look at another example that needs a comma for clarity:

One day, when you find success you can pull out your golden pen and write me a thank-you letter.

By not including a comma between success and you, I read this sentence and asked myself, “Is success something you can pull out of a golden pen?”

Regardless of your stance on commas, you ultimately want your readers to keep reading. You want them to continue down your slippery slope of powerful content all the way to your call to action – without getting jarred from their trance to contemplate commas with their inner editors or a Google search.

7. BE AS MANIPULATIVE AS POSSIBLE

(Or: Use Noun Modifiers Whenever You Can)

You won’t use this technique often, but at least be mindful of it.

When we use two nouns together with the first noun modifying the second, we are using noun modifiers. I like them because they hack the flab from our writing by shortening our sentences. Let’s review some examples:

  • Tips on editing – Editing tips
  • Great advice on how to boost traffic – Great traffic-boosting advice (Traffic-boosting is a compound noun here)
  • Information regarding registration – Registration information

These sentences have prepositions between the noun sets. Whenever you spot this construction, try to implement this noun-modifying technique.

What’s Your Excuse Now?

These tips are not magical, mystical, or complicated. In fact, you could consider them downright boring, plain, and inconsequential.

But applying smart editing rules is what separates your heroes from the masses, catapults them to success, and makes readers say, “I don’t know what it is about their writing, but it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Look at is this way: You’ve expended a ton of effort on SEO, content marketing, networking, and social media promotion, all in the hopes that more people will notice your blog. So when they arrive, shouldn’t your next post blow their socks off too?

And how about your last post and the one before that? (Yes, you can apply these rules to your old posts too!)

Or are you one of those writers who think they write well enough already? Well, you might be surprised by just how many of these crimes against clarity you’re committing.

Open one of your posts right now and see how many of these editing rules you can apply.

Read each word of your post. Is the word an expletive? Is it a weak verb? A weak adjective? Does it represent nominalization or flab or break any of the other rules mentioned in this post?

Run each word of your post through this process. You will find something to improve. And your writing will be 100% more powerful as a result.

Because the search for perfection never ends.

And your writing is never too good.

Sure, proofreading and editing take time.

And yes, you’re already busy enough.

But your writing heroes edit, and they land the guest posts, book deals, and exposure you only wish you could.

So, take a break from #amwriting and start #amediting right now.

Your success will thank you.

And so will I.

 

Posted by Millionaire’s Digest Staff member and Owner & Founder of A Not So Jaded Life.