Friday, March 26, 2010

Writers & Blogs: Can You Be Your Own Editor?

In this digital age, writers have a self-publishing option unknown to any prior generation: blogs. Blogs give writers tremendous freedom, but like all forms of self-publishing, blogs require a writer to wear many hats: editor, proofreader, and publisher.

If you’ve seen the movie "How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days," you probably remember that Kate Hudson’s character, Andie, is a writer. She longs to write about politics and news, but she writes for a women’s magazine that wants articles on Botox, diets, and shoes. After tormenting Matthew McConaughey’s character, Andie writes an article that her editor loves. The editor tells Andie that she’s earned the green light to write about whatever she wants. “Wherever the winds blow you,” says her editor.

“Even politics?” Andie asks.

“Well, the wind’s not going to blow you there,” her editor responds.

Keeping blog posts on topic, in the right tone, and in line with readers' expectations can be tough. I know, from my own blog experiences, that even the most well-intentioned posts can fall flat, annoy people, and result in lost readers. In hindsight, if I'd been thinking like an editor instead of a writer, I might have known better. Think about it: if you were the editor of your blog, what would your guidelines be?

Who is your audience? What is the tone of your blog? Can you describe your blog's topic or goal in one sentence? If you want to attract readers, these are questions you must consider. Just as an editor rejects material that isn't a good fit for her publication, you should be critically looking at your own work in the same way. Unless, of course, you don't care about attracting readers, in which case you can let the wind blow you wherever you want.
Photo courtesy of Nic McPhee at: / CC BY-SA 2.0

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