I like this book because it is written for someone who has a passion for writing. Too many blogging books are focussing on monetizing the sites, but very few of them care about the enthusiasm in writing and sharing something that you really like.
This post is NOT a book review. Instead, I will list down 5 things that I have learned from this book, so I can refer to them whenever I get stuck in writing again. If you are a regular writer (whether it is a blog or not), perhaps you can find some interesting insights/ ideas as well.
1. Writing is a good way to gather your thoughts and learn things
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” ― Anne Frank
I want to become a good writer. When I was young, I sent poems/stories to the school magazine and felt happy when it had been published. As I grew older, I realised that the biggest achievement of writing is being able to think deeply and bring value to people. A good piece of work is not just about writing anything that you believe. A writer should do a lot of research on the specific topic and use it as backups, so the readers (including yourself) can trust the works.
“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.” ― Ann Lamont
A writer should also always be on high alert to what’s going on around them. After I started my blog, I pay more attention to my surroundings so I have topics to write on my blog. It gives opportunities to explore and learn different things.
2. Find your distinctive voice
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ― Toni Morrison
Every blog is a voice. The truth is, there are millions of blogs out there and it is difficult to stand out. Take this as an exercise – share the honest experience, instead of showing off or looking for recognition. The only way to make sure your piece of work hasn’t been written 100 times by different people, is to listen to your own voice and write them down.
3. Every story has a point, including the stories of everyday life
Establishing a focus is not easy as it sounds. It is easy to divert the attention away and write about too many things. Before you sit down to write a post, know what you want to say first. The good writers should tighten the focus of the blog/post and know what they really want the readers to receive by the end of the post. It is embarrassing that when I read back many of my earlier posts, a question popped into my head “so what?”.
In summary, an opinion post should end strong, with a “takeaway”. It should have a clear conclusion and do not leave readers in confusion. Even a small story in the everyday life can allow readers to learn something new/ enforce an idea.
4. Keeping a travel blog doesn’t mean you have to go to everywhere, but to write about a place that you know very well
Again, it is about establishing a focus so I created a standalone section “Live in New Zealand” on my blog. Ironically, I didn’t travel a lot in my home country in Malaysia but I have travelled to many places in New Zealand. And I never stop finding surprises in New Zealand. I realise that it is much easier and more fun to write about something that interests myself.
5. Think from reader’s perspective
A question that I always ask myself in the past: If I write the blog for myself, why should I bother to think from reader’s perspective (especially when I do not have many readers)?
It is like, doing something for your own good and does not care if other people would benefit from it. This is selfish. When you help someone, you are ultimately helping yourself too. When I think from reader’s perspective, I tend to write more prudently and do more research on the topic. By doing so, I am able to learn different things and also see an improvement in expressing my thoughts to someone.