Word of the week: exponential.

The Professor Says . . .


I promised I would try to blog about blogging. The question was, “Does a successful blogger have to be natural writer? My immediate response was NO – because blogging is not about writing so much as it is about sharing; in my case, I am a writer (academically trained and professionally refined) with almost 60 years of experience (if I count winning a contest in high school biology class for my essay on “Why We Should Save Trees”). All three of our children are good writers and need to be for their jobs as professional planners. My parents were good writers – and by that I mean both clear and eloquent – and natural. It must be in our DNA.

Then I said BUT: you should get help if you really have trouble writing. Some people just freeze up when they try to put words down on a page. Others try too hard and get their ideas scrambled so badly the reader has no clue what the writer means. Some of my clients had learning disabilities that prevented them from writing clearly.

If you look up the history of blogging, you will find that it divided at some point into personal and professional categories. “Social networking” then came into vogue and the personal and professional became entwined. Sometimes it’s too personal.

I remember reading a blog early on that was really a journal about a house restoration, posted online so other people considering restoration would learn from it. The author had the right spirit, but it was a slog to get through. He used too many words. Blogging is about connecting, not expounding. Frankly, I have to work on that myself.

My husband is a Professor of English Literature, and he is pleased when students stop by his office for help with their writing. He shows them where their good ideas are buried in a mess of prose porridge. Soon they learn how easy it is to present a “thesis” in one sentence. The Professor now makes a practice of assigning essays of just 200 words, because that is fantastic discipline. (My best training came from writing TV promotions that are 60 or 30 seconds long, and from poetry classes.)

ALL THAT SAID: There are bloggers who aren’t really terrific writers but are effective. One I like is Chris Brogan, who just posted this advice, which takes us to another level:

[Sharing] might not be efficient (as sometimes, people share things that don’t interest us), but it’s very effective to have many people finding interesting stories instead of doing all the work yourself. It’s an ecosystem, a living reef of information, and it’s up to us to find the good stuff…

See www.chrisbrogan.com (June 15, 2010, “Why Sharing Matters”). And if you don’t know what “exponential” means, look it up in a dictionary, preferably the OED.

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