Words on a Page Writings about writing

A few links for the end of the week

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On short-short blogging

'Blog' spelled out in blocks, near a pen and some Post-It notes

By short-short blogging, I mean the kinds of posts that Seth Godin and Dave Winer often publish. Short posts, of a few hundred words — around 350 to 400 words at most. Or maybe even just a few dozen words.

While short-short blog posts are sometimes, though not always, link stations, they can be quite powerful. You can’t do much analysis or offer much insight in that limited number of words, but short-short blog posts can be a great way to:

  • Put ideas out there for consideration and comment
  • Make a short comment on a topic of note or interest
  • Write just enough about a topic or an idea to pique the interest of your readers

In some ways, going short-short takes us back to the roots of blogging. To the days before blogging became a long-form way to express yourself on the web. To the days before everyone started obsessing about keywords and SEO and all of the stuff that really does little for a blog.

Good short-short blogging definitely isn’t easy. Writing a short-short post can be more difficult to pull off than a penning a longer one. If you’re planning on doing some short-short blogging, you’ll need to:

  • Zoom in on one key point of a topic or idea
  • Make one key argument or comment. That argument or comment should be an informed one
  • Have a call to action for your readers — for example, them to leave feedback or to post their own take on the topic
  • Include relevant links to back up your argument or comment, and to refer back to what you’re talking about

Give it a try. You never how your readers will react to short-short blog posts until you do.

How to write about something you're not interested in

A man sitting by his computer, distactedly playing with his smartphone

There comes a time in the career of every writer where you need to write about something you’re not interested in. Something you’re not engaged with. Something that has no bearing on your life or your personal and professional passions.

I’ve been in that situation a few times in the past, and it’s made for a rough gig or assignment. Sometimes, very rough. And a gig or assignment that can seem to go on for longer than it actually does.

So, how can you do a professional job of writing about something you’re not interested in? Here are a few tips.

A few links for the end of the week

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5 useful online tools for writers

Some tools on a dusty workbench

Here are five excellent online tools that I think just about every writer, no matter what kind of writing you do, will find useful.

PuppyPaste — Have you ever copied, say, some text from a word processor or a web page or an email into your blog’s editor? And did you notice how different the formatting of what you pasted looks compared to the rest of the text? It’s annoying, and takes a bit of manual work to get around. But PuppyPaste helps you get around that. You just run the text you want to paste into your blog post through PuppyPaste and you get nice, clean Markdown or HTML. You can then change to the code view in your blog editor and paste in nice, clean, well-formatted text.

Word Counter — If you’re writing in a text editor, or even online, you might not always get an accurate word count from your application. Or even get one at all. That’s where Word Counter comes in. It’s easily the most accurate tool of its type that I’ve used, and it goes beyond counting words and characters. Word Counter can also estimate the time it would take to read or speak your document, its reading level, and even track is keyword density.

Zamzar — You never know when you’ll need to convert a file to another format. That could be an image, a document, or even an ebook that you want to sell on Amazon. Instead of installing a dozen different applications on your computer, turn to Zamzar. It converts between hundreds of file formats, is fast, and is free. If you do a lot of conversions or if you want to store your converted files online, you can sign up for an account starting from $9 a month.

Cliché Finder — Who doesn’t want to rid their writing of clichés? The problem is that many of us don’t realize we’re using a cliché until we’re told we are. Paste some text into Cliché Finder and it highlights anything untoward that it finds. Using Cliché Finder can be a sobering experience, but it will help improve your writing.

Unmark — If you’re looking for a slightly different way to save and manage bookmarks, then give Unmark a look. It’s a very visually-pleasing bookmark manager, with useful features like previewing a bookmark, and adding notes and tags to your bookmarks. You can get a paid version, which costs $12 a year, that lets you import and export your bookmarks as well as search them.