Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wannabe Writer's Work Is More Blah Than Blog

Dear Tazi:

My life partner recently read that now famous Elf On The Shelf blog that went viral and has decided to start blogging in hopes of hitting it big as a writer. The problem is, she has no experience or training as a writer; and is absolutely awful at it! Her blogs are truly abysmal (I have included the web address so you can see for yourself). Her sentence structure is downright pitiful; her spelling is so bad that even spell check can't correct it; and no matter what topic she decides to write about, she rambles on and on without actually making a point.

I want to be supportive of "Joanie's" efforts, and have suggested that she take a few courses at the local community college in order to "polish her craft" but she doesn't take the hint, instead saying that "true writers do not need training; the muse lives inside them". Compounding the situation is the fact that Joanie suffers from issues of low self-worth. Writing this blog has really helped her spirits, so I don't want to crush them by telling Joanie the truth; but every day she checks her "hits" and wonders when her blog is going to go viral. I feel that by not being straight with her I am only adding to the problem. Tazi, do you have any advice on how I should handle the situation? And what kind of training Joanie needs in order to improve as a writer? And on how to make a blog go viral?


Dear J.J.:

I, too, have read the Elf On A Shelf blog and am a follower of the writer, so I am always glad when I can link to her work (which you can connect to here; just remember to come back to my page when you are done!). As for your life partner's work, I am not linking to it for two reasons: the first is to protect your privacy/identity in case she - or someone she knows - happens to read this column; the second reason is because the writing really is as bad as you say and I do not wish to promote it. I read several blog entries in Joanie's blog, and although I like some of her ideas (especially the one about why it is more fun to eat with a spoon than a fork) she took a long and winding road to her point, and the humor was lost along the way.

Editing for content and length are a few keys to successful writing. You could make these suggestions to Joanie, offering them up as constructive criticism, with the emphasis on constructive. This is one way you could help Joanie follow her dream of becoming a successful blogger. Another suggestion I will offer is for Joanie to lose the 'tude. True writers do need training - and a lot of it - in order to become great writers. It takes more than a great idea to be able to successfully write an interesting essay, which is why colleges and universities offer entire degrees in Writing and Rhetoric. Your suggestion to Joanie that she take a few writing courses at the local community college is an excellent one, and I would continue to encourage her to go that route.

If Joanie feels that she does not need to take courses in writing you can suggest a few courses in Communications or even content specific courses like Writing for the Internet or Online Communications. Blogging is very different than writing for a newspaper or a magazine, and these courses will offer plenty of tips on how to succeed - including what elements to include to help a blog go viral.

As for your question on how to make a blog go viral, there is no one answer - it is a combination of things, including readability; relevance of the topic; media outlet; target audience and where to find them; and a dose of pure luck, which is what I wish you!


P.S. What many readers do not realize is that a lot of people who blog semi-professionally are professionally trained as writers. Every letter I receive gets reviewed for spelling, punctuation, grammar, and sentence structure and edited/corrected in order to make them easier for my readers to follow. Some letters - such as yours - need no editing at all; others practically have to be re-written in order to be understood. --T.K.

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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