I am not a famous author. I am not really a famous blogger, either; however, I have convinced my neighbors and some people on twitter that I am. Since I have achieved this rarefied celebrity status all by myself, with the help of a laptop computer and Jack Dorsey, Al Gore, Mark Zuckerberg, and several thousand business cards randomly left on restaurant tables and in dental waiting rooms, I feel ready to distill advice to those of you readers out there who want to be just like me, or maybe even better. I can help you do this.
I have been posting my thoughts and feelings into cyberspace on a very regular basis for over three years. This gives me the credibility I need to call myself a writer. Oh yeah, and I have won a writing prize, gotten a job blogging for somebody else, and I am writing a book. So listen up, all you wannabes! I am about to create an incisive and important list of advice to writers that you most likely have never read before. In this list, I will only mention one mark of punctuation. There are far more important things to consider as a writer. I may or may not have listed those things below:
COMING UP WITH IDEAS
- Use your neighbors. They are often hilarious. Just change their names very obviously. “Lauren” will know that she is your next door neighbor, Lori. For Pete’s Sake…you’re a writer! Call her "Lorna!"
- Don’t write about diarrhea in any form. It may be hilarious when it happens to your husband or when it erupts during a wedding reception, but nobody really wants to hear how it came to occur. I have tried this with very poor results and hostile blog comments.
- We all love poetry. Beauty. Itty bitty flowers. Kittens. But don’t write about them unless you are a really good rhymer, or actually a poet.
- Write about what you know. I know a lot about convenience foods, menopause, and Spanx. I have built a career around these subjects. Perhaps you are an expert on Brazilian hair waxing techniques or harmonicas? There is a writing career in that, I feel certain.
COMPOSING THE PIECE
- Remember what you learned in school about paragraphing. I have tried cramming four ideas into one paragraph, with poor results.
- Use periods at the end of sentences. Other punctuation marks may become obscure, but the period is here to stay.
- It’s good to put your thoughts in order. Unless you are James Joyce, in which case it won't matter, and you will become immortal.
- That blog won’t spell check itself!
- We all just love what we write. Each blog I write is like giving birth. You should see my waistline; it’s a mess. But you must be a cruel parent and cut out the crap.
- Cutting the crap out may entail asking another person to read your piece. If that person looks up and says, “Why, this is NICE,” you have a load of crap to remove.
- Let it sit for awhile before you push the “publish” button. Redo it. Ok. Now push the button.
- If anyone has ever told you that they adore long, meandering musings on a blog, these people are congenital liars. Only your mom likes to read your long, detailed reporting of your family vacation.
- I wouldn’t exist as a writer without it. I make as many real connections as possible on social media, just short of posting pictures of my latest batch of brownies or a YouTube video of my husband mowing the lawn. But be pleasant and make as many friends as you can out there!
- Join groups of bloggers in cyberspace. There are twitter groups, Face Book groups, and all sorts of 'writery' websites. Reading books is a good idea for a writer—as long as the books have chapters.
- Reading about writers is fantastic research. Making friends with writers is even better. Hounding writers, however, is frowned upon.
- Be consistent. If you blog every day, don’t skip. If you blog every week, don’t skip. If you blog every month, consider doing something else.
There you have it. Everything I know as a mildly famous writer. I do have an entire dissertation on the comma and the ellipsis, but believe me; you don’t want to read that one. Happy writing! Oh, yes. One more thing. Writers who give advice to other writers? They are either pompous asses, or they have a bad case of “writer’s block.”