The key to good writing is reading. If you’re not out there, scanning every piece of verbiage you can get your hungry little eyes on, your writing will suffer. The goal is to subconsciously emulate other good writers until your own writing kicks significantly more ass.
To that end, to be a better writer, read everything. Read shampoo bottles. Read ads on the Metro. Read the fine print of EULA until you get bored. All writing has merit; whether it be teaching by example or serving as a warning.
I read quite a bit. The majority is of the nonfiction type; news, periodicals, satire, essay. The minority is fiction, TMZ, and most importantly, blog.
Not that I avoid reading blogs as a rule, I’m just very picky about what content I digest. Probably psychological damage from reading one too many bad blogs over the years. Post Traumatic Blog Disorder. Either way, my list of preferred blogs is surprisingly short.
But Ed, over at The Dogs of Beer, is on my “read as soon as it is published” list. I find his posts engaging, entertaining, fresh, and funny. So much so, that I’ve stolen his idea and added a bit of my own flavor.
I have an odd way of building and fostering a writing community.
A Daily Schedule for Writing a Blog Post:
Things you’ll need:
-A computer (and the internet, obvs)
-A partially functional brain
-An understand of a QWERTY keyboard layout
-Beer (Sam Adams Whitewater IPA is a great choice, especially if your wife bought you a 6-pack recently because she is that awesome)
The best ideas come in the shower. All that water washes the glue from your brain, forcing it out of your nose and down the drain. Once cleared, ideas grow. If you’re like me, you’ll have about 50 malformed, awful ideas before that one decent one hits you.
If the shower doesn’t work, try staring blankly at something (like the document you’re supposed to be working on) for a while. If that also doesn’t work, steal an idea from someone else but give them credit.
Ideas are great and all, but the devil is in the details. Brood over your idea on your commute to the office. Feed your newly born thought-baby with all the anger you develop sitting in traffic. Let it run wild and grow wings until your idea is a gelatinous blob of meta-ideas and you can’t really make sense of any of it. You can sort all the rest of that stuff out later.
Drink coffee. Lament living in a country where drinking beer in the morning is socially/professionally/ecumenically unadvisable. As you burn your tongue, think of a great opening line to the blog post you haven’t even titled yet.
Realize you’ve done very little work so far because you’ve been thinking about your blog post and how you can’t taste anything anymore because you’ve seared your tastebuds. Furiously work on something for thirty minutes to catch up. Get distracted midway through reading XKCD and Penny Arcade.
Finally get around to logging into WordPress. Bask over the tens of hits you got since you last logged in. Stare at your “views on your busiest day” number and sigh deeply. Be sad that you’re not fabulously rich and famous.
Create a new post. Spend 40 minutes thinking of a witty title that ends up not being very witty at all.
Title your post. Write down your opening line if you can still remember it.
Lunch. Something with avocado. Talk to some people on Gmail. As you nom-nom-nom down your avocado/provolone/tomato monstrosity of a sandwich, write the opening paragraph of the blog post in your head. Laugh at how funny you have convinced yourself you are.
Try to remember all those funny things you thought of when you were eating. Quietly curse your boss for distracting you with “work”, when you’ve got important blog posts to write.
Wake up from your Excel-induced torpor and realize that your blog post is all of 13 words long at this point. Cry inside. Try to type something, anything, in an attempt to feel productive. Re-read what you’ve written. Think that it’s not so bad. Re-read. Delete. A lot.
Continue brooding over the idea in your head. Yell at traffic. Shake your fist at nearby cars. Make inappropriate eye contact with the people in the adjacent lane. Apologize to your wife for the string of obscenities you just let fly.
Have a sudden flash of energy. Write, write! Let the words pour from your fingers like an IPA into a pint glass. Also pour yourself a beer.
Finish blog post. Stand and cheer triumphantly. Realize you have no picture to go along with the post. Look through your existing pictures for something relevant. Find many pictures of cats, but not much else. Look for your DSL-R. It is probably under the couch. Don’t ask why.
Rush to capture a cool picture in the coming twilight. Keep slightly adjusting your F-Stop as the sun slowly sets. Say, “eh, good enough” after you’ve taken 35 of the same exact picture. Go inside. Put Benadryl Gel on your bug bites.
Upload your pictures. Pour another beer. Don’t rinse the glass, that would take too long. Remind yourself that the smell near your beer fridge won’t go away until you clean the cat litter. Give the cats a stern eyeing and tell them to stop pooping, because it is grossing you out.
Edit your post.
Insert your picture and think of a witty caption. Finish your post, but forget to add tags, select a category, or turn on auto-share. Also forget to hit “Publish.”
Play video games while thinking, “Man, what a good blog post.”
Look at your blog stats. Realize you never published your new post. Hit “Publish.” Hope no one noticed.
Rinse and repeat! J. Carney: Tag, you’re it.