by Guy Dauncey
Have you ever been invited to write a blog, and felt intimidated? Well don’t. Here’s some advice to get you going. I wrote this for the Yellow Point Ecological Society, which is why it is full of nature references, but the advice applies to all good blogging.
- Choose a topic that is specific and tangible, such as the nuthatch, twinflowers, a specific idea to solve one of our ten thousand ecological problems, or a personal experience.
- Make it intriguing, such as “The Secret Life of the Merganser” or “My Magical Moment in Hemer Park.”
- Do your research. Include material that will be new and interesting to most people. Did you know that Midshipman Fish could sing, and that they breed in Ladysmith Harbour? Google you way to instant professorship.
- Find an unusual hook to get the reader started. “We were amazed to hear four barred owls when we took the children for a night walk at Blue Heron Park last Friday. They were having quite the party.”
- Understand that it is normal to write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite four times before you get it right. The best writers all do it. Leo Tolstoy rewrote War and Peace (587,000 words) seven times, requiring his long-suffering wife Sofia to do the rewriting from his corrections – all by hand.
- Avoid socio-consequential prosaic formulations that use long words and complex ideo-formulaic constructions. You are not writing an academic PhD.
- Have fun. Be playful with your words and phrases. Let your words dance and enjoy themselves – “Oh, you outrageous rollocking racoons!”
- Tell a story. “I was in my bedroom when my father said ‘Come quickly! You’ve got to see this!’. I was eight years old, and always happy to be excited, but never had I expected to see our dog with our new kitten sleeping on top of his head. It was the start of my life-long commitment to the study of animal behaviour.”
- Use links. You can embed them into the text by using Control K to highlight a word or phrase, Control C to copy the link and Control V to paste it in. Two, perhaps five links is good, but not twenty. That’s a bit much.
- Print a copy and read it aloud to yourself or a friend. This will tell you whether it flows like pleasant music or clunks along like a reluctant blog that needs a trip to the repair shop. Ask a friend to read it before you send it off – they may have good suggestions.
- Do’nt be shy to use spelchek. Don’t Use Capitals except for unique names. AND DON’T SHOUT BY WRITING IN CAPITALS! It is unseemly. Don’t use an exclamation mark! Unless one is really, really merited.
- Choose a good image to accompany it. Use Google Image search, click ‘Tools’, then ‘Usage rights’, then ‘Labelled for reuse’. To be creative, drag the image into a Powerpoint page and play around with it to make something creative, using ‘Crop’ and ‘Remove Background’, and mixing images together. Then use Grab or a screen-capture app to turn your composite image into a jpeg.
Once your blog is written and published somewhere (I assume you had this sorted in advance), don’t sit back. Share it on Instagram, Twitter, and any Facebook groups you belong to, using the link, the image and a brief enticing summary. And then celebrate!
PS Here is a printable PDF of this blog.
Guy Dauncey is an anthropological economist who works to develop a positive vision of a sustainable future, and to translate that vision into action. He lives on Vancouver Island. He is founder of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, co-founder of the Victoria Car Share Cooperative, and the author or co-author of ten books, including The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming and Journey to the Future: A Better World Is Possible. He is currently completing his 11th book, titled The Economics of Kindness: A Ten-Year Transition to a Green Cooperative Economy. He is President of the Yellow Point Ecological Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts. His website is www.thepracticalutopian.ca.