How to Wake Up Your Lazy Blog Writing
Turn off the alarm and get your keyboard out of bed.
That was the mantra of one of my old college journalism professors, who detested “lazy writing”.
Dr. Waldrep routinely collected our practice news story assignments, read them aloud to the class and mocked our (lack of) attention to detail.
He didn’t care if his critiques made us squirm in our desks. He was training journalists. And his message was clear – the writing is equally important to the reporting.
For example, Dr. Waldrep detested using two or three words when one would do. “Why would you wear a belt and suspenders?” he would ask wryly, while looking over his reading glasses.
If he were alive today, he would be grumbling about “lazy writing” in blogs scattered about the Internet. He would grouse about untidy sentences. He would eviscerate poor word choice. He would want to know if the author took time to research the meaning of a word found in a Thesaurus.
Here would be his other points:
Get centered on - not around - your sentences
A political blogger wrote: “The presidential debate centered around the national economy.” How can you be centered and around an issue? If you are centered, you are on point - not around it.
Color your words - simply
An automotive blogger noted: “The vintage Ford was blue in color.” What else is “blue”, other than a color? Make it a “blue Ford”.
Expand rather than contract
A non-profit organization blogger declared: “It’s our goal to connect with people who wouldn’t or don’t know about us.” We tend to talk in contractions, a way to make our point a bit quicker. In writing, it’s (sorry, “it is”) a sign of lackadaisicalness. “Contractions belong in the delivery room, not in professional writing,” Oscar Wilde wrote.
Avoid jargon, acronyms and abbreviations ASAP
A business blogger shared: “Companies are right-sizing their operations while focusing on ISO 9001.” In other words, employees are being laid off while the business tries to improve. Words connect authors and readers. If you force your audience to look up an industry-specific phrase, they will not. They will move along.
Pick a style and stick to it
A history blogger penned: “He grew up in Chicago, Illinois, but moved later to Indianapolis, IN.” Blogs should have a consistent style for addresses, capitalization, spelling, numbers and grammar usage. If your website features multiple bloggers, each entry should use the same style. The Associated Press Style Book is the most commonly accepted guide.
Make the topic evergreen
A woodworking blogger advertised: “Information about the best crown molding router settings will be available at an upcoming workshop on June 12, 2012.” That information is not useful for a reader who comes across his blog in 2016. Blogs and news releases serve different purposes. Blog content should be relevant as long as possible.
Less is more
A sports blogger opined: “Let’s turn our attention from baseball to hockey for a moment.” Stick to one topic. Keep it simple. Blog readers are scanners.
As Dr. Waldrep often concluded class when he had enough: “Let us stop there.”
Jeff Owen passed Dr. Waldrep's class, graduated college and became a journalist.