Break Writing Rules: Stop Writing Like Your Teacher Told You

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Most bloggers have no formal writing education other than what they learned in high school, and that’s fine.

A lot of famous novelists had no formal writing education, either.

But those famous novelists will tell you there’s a big difference between writing a term paper for high school and writing a novel that engages your reader.

Writing engaging blog content is like writing an engaging novel: You have to learn to write like your teacher told you not to.

Keep your paragraphs short

In school you’re told to write a topic sentence for your paragraph that includes all the pertinent facts. Then, you write additional sentences that go into greater detail explaining or exploring the topic sentence and you don’t stop until you’re ready to change topics.

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When you’re writing online, that “topic sentence” should be your sub-heading and the “additional sentences” should be short, sweet bullet points.

When paragraphs are necessary, use three to four short, simply-worded sentences.

Use simple language

Complex words are great when used in a term paper. Assuming you spelled the properly and used them in the right context, your teacher thinks, “Man! This guy really did his research!”

But, when used in blog posts, complex words are another story. Reading online is difficult and readers are often rushed. If they can’t understand that 14-syllable word you keep throwing around they’re not going to get your message, and that means they’re going to go somewhere else.

Worse, if they’re misspelled or used improperly you just look silly and pretentious.

Deliver your message at the beginning

In school you’re taught to build you paper and end with an exciting conclusion. Again, online readers don’t have that much time. Put your exciting conclusion at the beginning of your post. Use your first paragraph to let them know you understand their problem and you have a solution. Use your second paragraph to give them the solution. And use the body of your post to flesh out the details.

No summary necessary

I try to avoid writing a summary paragraph at the end of a blog post. If I feel it’s necessary then I take a look at my post. Generally, if I think it’s necessary to summarize the post that means I’ve given the reader too many things to think about or I didn’t explain myself clearly to begin with. Eliminating a summary makes your post shorter and visitors are more likely to read it.

Stick with one topic

I always hated those assignments where you had to explain World War II. How can you completely explain something so complicated in one theme paper – no matter how long it is? Entire books have been written on a single battle.

Drill down until you’re addressing one specific topic, issue or question. This helps keep your posts short and manageable for the readers and it also helps with SEO.

Use ‘You’ and ‘I’

I think the biggest difference is that bloggers should use ‘You‘ and ‘I‘ in their blog posts. It makes you sound more personable. If your readers wanted just the cold, hard facts they’d either open up an encyclopedia or head to Wikipedia.

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