What Writing is About

The craft of writing, especially on the internet, is very obfuscated.

You will learn tricks from all kinds of people; from blogs, 10 tips on the latest craze, or how to focus more or get more ideas. It’s very convoluted, but what I actually think writing on the web is about is only two things:

1. Ideas

Ideas come from all sorts of places and everyone will give you methods to get some, but the essence of ideas is to receive a bunch of information and connect the dots between them and make them your own.

You can do this by reading smart stuff and having conversations with smart people. Then you have to teach your brain to connect the ideas together into cohesive structures and learn to present them, but I think that comes with experience, so it isn’t worth worrying about.

I read a lot of posts that are really crappy that people link to from Twitter, etc. Maybe you think this post is crap, but trust me, those other ones are way worse. Anyway, if you think your post isn’t interesting, very few people will either, and the more you read, the pickier you’ll get, because you’ll develop a “this has been said already” mentality.

Whatever the case, you need to get good ideas, then put them together interestingly. That’s it.

2. Audience

The second part of the equation is audience, obviously, and how to find them. I think we can agree that when we have these two, we have a successful blog, a successful writer, and hopefully the basis of a successful career. It helps if your ideas are good, but even if they aren’t, if your audience is big enough, that’ll carry them. We see that a lot these days.

Audience has to come from somewhere, so the trick is finding effective ways to get people from outside to arrive at your door, and then capturing them for maximum attention. The first part of this means knowing where to go. The second means testing.

I’ve been testing the audience on my personal landing page for a few weeks now and I convert visitors more regularly because of the changes I’ve made. A/B testing is easy and a monkey can do it, so I won’t linger, but the more you do it, the less the traffic you do get will be wasted.

Getting the traffic to actually arrive is another matter entirely. Attention must go to existing content first, which means the content must be “evergreen,” or constantly relevant. The attention must come from elsewhere and be permanent, which means audiences like Twitter are difficult unless your investment in them is steep.

Even despite my experience, the audience part is the one that I find more difficult, and I think most people who write on the web feel the same way. But I am going to crack this one, and I’m going to do it the same way I talked about above.

I am going to read a lot about it, and talk to a lot of smart people. Then I will try what they say, and I will post the results. We’ll all be better for it. Good?





6 responses to “What Writing is About”

  1. DazyDayWriter Avatar

    Enjoyed this, glad you are tackling the subject. Many blogs truly are so-so … seemingly written in absolute haste with no real regard for what is being communicated. How effective can that really be, I wonder. And what about length of a post? I don’t want to read a novella or a fully-developed essay on a blog post, do you?

  2. Tomas Avatar

    I like your post. Well written. Yet personally I see my Art by Tomas a bit differently. To me, writing on line is a way to share what I have with others. I didn’t collect the ideas but share the light I see.
    I understood what you had in mind by saying that you tested your audience. That may look wise, yet I can’t imagine myself doing so. It is the comments I receive time from time that test me and my artworks.
    In any way, I am grateful for the post. It was helpful to check what is what once again.

  3. Mike Monday Avatar

    Thank you for this.

    As a newbie to blogging it’s easy to get downhearted by and tempted to indulge in the mundane.

    This reminds me that I should carry on.

  4. Amanda Pingel Avatar

    I would add “expression” to the list. The craft of writing has to include actually communicating your ideas in a way that reaches and affects your audience. So this category would include basics like spelling, grammar, and punctuation (and deciding whether to use them “properly” or not, based on the effect you want to have), word choice, sentence structure, paragraph & post structure, which ideas work best as list posts, which are best told through stories, etc.

    If you can’t communicate your ideas, it doesn’t matter how awesome they might be.

  5. Han Avatar

    Please post about when you have cracked this particular hard nut. I think besides me, a lot of other people would be most interested in how one finds an audience (and keeps it). Sounds a bit like the Holy Grail of blogging, if you ask me.

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