Cover of The Elements of Style
A reader left a comment on my post, Little Known Way to Overcome the Fear of Blogging, that got my attention. She says, “…thinking how good the bloggers here, I lose the zeal to write… you know, sometimes it’s insecurity, or just simply afraid to be incorrect.”
Do you feel the same? Do you sometimes have this suspicion at the back of your mind that you’re not good enough? Or whatever it is you need to say has already been said before and that there’s nothing new and useful that you can add?
Does it stop you?
Guess not. You’re still here updating your blog. You have kept the faith. You realize there maybe nothing new under the sun. But – and here’s the key -you also know it’s your personal stamp that will make the difference in whatever you write about.
You’re lucky. You know precisely how to deal with this. But for those whose self-doubt prevents them from realizing their true potentiality as a blogger this is not a small matter.
First off, let me tell you this. You’re already a unique individual. You don’t need fancy makeovers to be accepted by your peers. Your DNA is so configured that there’s not a living thing on the face of the earth that is your exact match. This makes you unique as a web writer. Dig deep inside you and you will find – if you haven’t already – what sets you apart.
You’re a thoughtful and caring individual in real life. That will show in your writing, believe it or not. So be reflective in your writing. The blogosphere is filled with people forever in a hurry to nowhere and largely living unexamined lives. Be that voice of equanimity. And you will find harassed souls gravitating to hear your unique perspective on life.
You’re impish, outgoing, and funny. These traits will color your posts and how you deal with your readers. Be yourself and astound your readers.
You’re snarky, unpredictable, and sometimes hopelessly morose. That’s still all right. Some blog authors’ rise to prominence have been largely due to this venomous disposition. If you find the right mix – keeping a tight rein on this impulse can set you apart from those who pour bile on their writing day in and day out.
You thought of yourself as bland, not unique enough. Stop right there. Perish that thought. In persuasive writing, the value of ideas takes precedence over less significant considerations. Personal quirks can even get in the way of clear communication. What you mistake for great writing – those unnecessary flourishes and mannerisms are not style – even pulls you back from writing posts that truly pop.
It’s not you who should hog the limelight. It’s your ideas that should take center stage.
Grammar and mastery of the language.
These are fiddling matters – nothing that a disciplined study can remedy. In our writing class years ago, my teacher said a startling observation that I remember to this day, “See those teachers? Yeah, they know their noun-verb agreement. But can they write? You’d be surprised they cannot as well as you do.”
“They’re mere technicians of the language,” she said, “But you – you have ideas. Believe in yourself. Remember that.”
I still do.
1. You’re just writing a post. A little story or anecdote that happened in your way to the market. You are not defending a thesis. We are not here to make hell for you just because you said complement instead of compliment. Or because you thought luxuriant and luxurious both meant the same thing. Your visitors drop by to hear your story, and if time permits, for a little chat.
2. Think about this – you’re on the web where readers peer inside your door, scan what you write, and move on. It’s been said they do this at 60 mph, and that’s the cruising speed, mind you.
But of course you want to improve your writing. You can feel it your bones. You’re aching for it.
So what are your options?
1. Find a mentor
Yesterday, I noticed a spelling error on a friend’s About Me page. I emailed my friend and ever so gently asked if it was a typographical error, confessing that it’s bothering me every time I visit. That it felt like it was taunting me to do something about it. My friend took it well. He even appropriated me as his mentor, which of course means I’d alert him whenever he becomes sloppy with his posts. I agreed to guide him.
The community that you build around your blog is studded with generous people. Seek their help. You’d be surprised a lot of them will be happy to work out with you on your concerns.
2. Self-study. A treasure trove of rich online resources sits on your doorstep. Practically a click away. You’re just sidestepping it in pursuit of more exciting web activities. Make self-study a top priority in your online schedule. You have time to give Easter eggs to your Facebook friends when you’re not wasting hours playing Travian. Give up an hour or two for your study. Keep at it daily.
3. Buy this book – The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E. B. White. I highly recommend it. I swear by it. It’s my bible. It’s only 92 pages long but it’s priceless. Bought it in college – that was eons ago – and I still keep it with me.
Because I consider this as a conversation, I’m asking for your suggestions and writing tips. There are a lot of things I have overlooked, I know. What in your experience have you found useful in dealing with the problem of writer’s insecurity or feeling of inadequacy? What do you recommend?If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!