My New CPAP Mask And How It Relates To Blogging

As some of you know, I have problems sleeping. Most of the time I don’t have a problem falling asleep; staying asleep is my big issue. The thing that contributes the biggest concern is finding a proper CPAP mask.

CPAP mask and blogging

What’s a CPAP mask? I’ve talked about it before, but the two images on this post will give you a pretty good idea. In essence, those of us diagnosed with sleep apnea have a few ways to try to overcome a problem where we stop breathing while we sleep, and our bodies start jerking to wake us back up. One is to have surgery; another is to take certain types of medication; the last is to have a CPAP mask… which I could call a BiPAP mask since that’s actually the type of machine I have.
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5 Writing And Blog Writing Tips With Explanations

I read a lot of blogs and I write a lot of posts. I’m certainly not perfect when it comes to the articles I write but most of the problems I see on other blogs or websites (especially news and information websites) are things that are easily avoidable… things I don’t tend to do myself.


Since I haven’t talked about writing issues in a long time, I thought it was time to offer some tips and critiques about writing, blog writing in particular, since this is an article on a blog.
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10 More Writing Tips, This Time In Three Minutes

Man, time moves fast. It was almost 2 years ago that I wrote my original post giving 10 Writing Tips In Two Minutes. Whereas I want to try to keep the other article in your mind, it also occurred to me that there are more tips that could help people that, though maybe not fitting within 2 minutes, will fit within 3 minutes. At least that’s all the time it would take me to read them. 🙂

With that said let’s get going.

her hands
Vyacheslav Bondaruk via Compfight

1. Create an outline. Sounds like work but it can really help you keep your focus on whatever you want to write about.

2. If you see a squiggly line underneath certain words, it either means you spelled it wrong or your spell check doesn’t recognize the word. Don’t ignore it; fix it.

3. Always keep a piece of paper or something else you can record on with you so if you have an idea to write about you can note it & come back to it later on.

4. If you have a favorite word you know you always use, after you’ve finished writing go back to see if you’re written it too many times, and if so eliminate some of them.

5. If your writing feels too formal you probably didn’t use any, or many, contractions. Use them; they make you feel real to your audience.

6. If you use large words make sure you’re using them properly. Using them makes you look smart to people who won’t look them up in a dictionary, but if your using them correctly then dabbling in the art of sesquipedalian can be a bit of fun. 🙂

7. Learn how to create paragraphs where the content is related so you’re not putting white space between sentences “just because”. People don’t want to read articles where every sentence is considered a paragraph any more than they want to read paragraphs that go on forever.

8. If you’re describing something, make sure you give enough without going too far. If you write “a guy with brown hair” that could be almost anyone. At the same time, Grisham once wrote 50 pages on how to build a car in the middle of a novel for a one line plot item two chapters later; way too much information.

9. Using things like smiley faces, lol, etc, help people know when you’re not being overly serious. It’s not always easy in short pieces like what shows up on blogs to convey your intent all the time.

10. When you’re done, if you’re not an experienced writer go back, read what you wrote, and verify that you got the proper point across. In an article I wrote for someone else once I wrote 3 words wrong and totally changed the meaning of the entire article. Trust me, it happens to all of us.

So, did it take you only 3 minutes? If it too longer no biggie as long as you got something out of it. Let me know if it helped, or if I need to explain anything further. Enjoy!
 

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More Concepts On Writing

I took a look back and realized that I really don’t write that often about, well, writing. As I get close to 1,500 articles it seems I’ve only written about or mentioned the subject of writing only 45 times. That’s around 3% of all the things I’ve written about on this blog, and I’m someone who believes that the writing is the most important thing on a blog (content that is, although there are some who disagree; but I digress…), email, and pretty much anything else where actual writing is concerned.

Embraced by Words
Creative Commons License Robbert van der
Steeg
via Compfight

What do I mean? Look at what’s below; this is an actual email I got from someone hoping to write for me:

“This is Dan.I am a Digital Marketing Specialist.Currently I provide guest post outreach services to my clients.I’ve seen that ,you are also intetested
in my blogging.So here I am going to offer you high quality guest post services.

i am having more than 500+ sites with high page rank and high domain authority (PR-3 to PR-8{DA-30 to DA-94})

Let me know if you have any requirements.I can dafinately help you out.”

Yes, that’s how it was formatted as well. Now I ask you, is this great writing? Is this even close to being good? Even if you can’t write, I’m betting you’re looking at this and saying “I could do better than that”, and this person’s promoting himself as a professional writer; ugh!

Thus, I’m feeling compelled to give some thoughts about the concepts of writing, but first I want to share previous articles I’ve written on the subject, which you might find helpful. I do this for two reasons. One, it helps with SEO; hey, I’m not too proud to say it. lol Two, because of spam I now limit the commenting period on this blog to 123 days, which obviously means you can’t comment on these articles directly anymore, but you could comment on them in this post since I’m sharing them in this post. Let’s start there:

If you don’t have a lot of time, then this article giving 10 Writing Tips In 2 Minutes is right up your alley;

In 2008 I put together a 7-part series on blogging and writing, and this was the first post, talking about writing concepts. By the way, not sure if you’ve ever noticed this but on this blog, just above every title, you’ll see links to the previous and subsequent articles. If you’re interested in checking out this whole series, in order, you’ll know which one to click on. 🙂

I always say there are 3 reasons to blog, and everything else converges into these 3 things: to inform, to educate, and to entertain. When you’re entertaining someone, knowing the art of storytelling can not only help bring visitors to your site but you’ll keep them for a longer period of time because we all love stories.

After sharing what that guy sent me, I’m betting you believe that editing and grammar is a lot more important than one might believe.

This final article I’m sharing is the one where I hope I don’t directly copy anything I wrote in it, as I talked about things people may not think of when writing. I’m just glad I didn’t use the word “concepts” in it; then I might actually be plagiarizing myself.

Languages
Chris JL via Compfight

Now that I’ve gotten that bit of self promotion out of the way, let’s see what else I have to say about writing.

I’m tired. In my last post I talked about my insomnia issues and now that I’m back home I’m actually sleeping better; there’s no place like home. However, even while being tired, I always have ideas for things to write about. I see and hear from too many people who say they can’t think of anything to write on. I’m of the opinion that if you’re saying this either you’re thinking too finitely about your topic or you’re thinking of things but discarding them because you don’t think they’re all that good.

During those periods of time when I’m writing for other people, there are some topics that I’ve felt I just didn’t have anything to offer because they seemed limited. One of those was forensic loan analysis; I wrote two articles on this topic for someone and then I was tapped. Yet the link I just shared came from someone else who wrote a guest post on my finance blog and he came up with stuff I didn’t.

A topic I was never asked to write about was artificial turf, and I can’t imagine ever trying it. Yet a friend of mine, as part of one of her college courses, actually wrote for a company’s blog where this was their product, and she figured out that talking about facilities around the world using it was a great way to keep the idea fresh in visitor’s minds; she was absolutely correct.

So, ideas are always there, and hopefully you have a way to capture those ideas. I like to use Evernote to track most ideas if I’m not at my computer but if I am at the computer I just create a draft in the blog and title that bad boy and off I go. Often I end up writing the post while I’m there but not all the time. Just an idea for you, but in any case, if you think of it write it down and worry about whether you can actually write on that subject later on.

I figure that for most people what we hear in our heads and what we actually write isn’t always the same thing. Something I do quite a bit these days is type a totally different word than what I’m thinking, even while I’m looking at it. Now that’s freaky, but that’s something new. What’s old is thinking about something, writing it all out, then realizing later on that I left a word out here and there, and that’s something I’ve done most of my life. Our brains are faster than our fingers, and they’ll often make you think you see a word that’s not there; weird right?

YIP Day 70 - More Few
Auntie P via Compfight

However, your words can’t fool your ears. On this blog I use Readspeaker so you can actually listen to a long post if you’re not in the mood to read it. It’s monotone and not all that thrilling, but it gets the job done. When I write a real long post and I want to test it to see if I’ve missed anything I’ll either read the entire thing out loud or I’ll use the Readspeaker (this only works after an article is published by the way, but if you’ve just published it no one has read it so you have time to clean it up) icon, up there in the top left, to listen to it. If you’re competent in any way (and I know any readers of this blog are competent people lol) you’ll hear the errors and omissions. You might not hear capitalization and punctuation issues, but nothing’s perfect.

One of the reasons I wanted to interview our buddy Charles Gulotta is because he’s a very creative writer and storyteller who understands the art of “surprise”. In other words, most of the time you don’t see what’s coming from what seems like an ordinary story. The same goes for our buddy Holly Jahangiri, who’s written a number of children’s books. Doing and saying something different from the norm is a pretty cool thing when it’s done right. Very few writers would survive if every person reading their books knows exactly what’s coming or how things are going to end.

In a way, it’s like this video I’m sharing. These folks were the first to do something different that was captured on video and inspired a whole lot of people to do something different during their weddings after that. Try being the inspiration one day; you might not get as much juice out of it as this did, but you’ll still have a lot of fun doing it and others seeing it will enjoy themselves as well:
 


 

I’ve seen many articles lately lamenting the act of focus in what they’re reading these days. Sometimes it’s the fault of the reader in not understanding the relationship between what’s being said, and sometimes it’s the writer. In the link above, which is on my business blog, I give 6 reasons why focus is important and how it can help you out. I tend to believe that the reason why people are scared of either writing or reading long posts has to do with focus, either not being able to stay alert long enough to read one or not having any idea where one’s writing will go if they do write long.

A truth is that it doesn’t matter if an article is long or short when it comes to focus. I’ve seen 300 word articles there were a mess; now that’s a shame! When writing to educate, you need to focus on the step by step process. When writing to inform, you need to capture a reader’s attention early to give them a reason to stick around for all the details. When writing to entertain, you need to be willing to give the reader a reason to start reading and then be secure enough to tell every detail that can help make the story even more entertaining. Addressing the five senses is a smart way to think about that.

20131017_164629

I’m going to add one more concept about writing, and I’m sure I’ve touched upon this somewhere, but luckily not in that “thoughts” post I linked to above. Whether you’re writing long posts or short posts, no matter the motivation for writing it, there’s nothing saying when an article must be completed. I tend to write fast and I doubt there are a lot of people like me writing their blogs. Some folks take a week or two in putting their thoughts together. Heck, research takes time; even this post, which I’ll probably finish writing in about 20 minutes (that’s long for me) took about 45 minutes of research up front before I started, and I’ve taken hours to research some topics before writing on them.

If you’ve written something well enough and compelling enough and it’s not your first time, your audience will wait for you to submit something new. Now, I’m talking about an article every week or every couple of weeks. If you’re writing something once every 3 months or longer… don’t expect much from any audience, because you’re probably going to lose whomever you had. There does have to be some consistency to keep people interested, but no one is expecting an article a day unless you’re on a multiple writer platform.

There you go, four new things to consider on the topic of writing. And look, I even interspersed images to help you along; I’m so nice that way. 😉 I hope everyone enjoys the holiday season, no matter what it is, and I’ll see you on the flip side.
 

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Does Your Writing Touch People?

You know, last month I did a series of posts that began with the term “blogging tips”. The whole series was done with the intention of giving people some shorter pieces on blogging as opposed to some of my longer pieces on the subject. I’m not sure how much people liked them as opposed to my normal writing but I do know that traffic increased some, though I think it was for the post on Getty Images more than the blogging posts, as it seemed to have touched a nerve.


It may be polluted
but it’s my lake

I’ve always said that when you write a blog you should be aiming for one of three things: to educate, to entertain, or to inform. You can integrate them into each other if you wish, but you should at least achieve one of those three things with each post.

What I also hope to do with each post is touch someone in some fashion, most of the time in a positive way. If I can make a connection with someone that goes beyond “nice post” status, to the point where that person decides what I’ve given them is strong enough that they can use it in some fashion for their lives, then it’s all good.

I write a lot of motivational posts with that goal in mind, but there’s a post I wrote that was titled Know Your Audience Part II that touched a young man (okay, he’s 38, but that’s young to me) named Alan and encouraged him to write a post linking back to it because of some thoughts he’d been having at the time. The post he wrote was called Why Cicero’s 6 Mistakes Of Man Is All You Need. What’s funny about it is it’s the type of post that, had I read it first, it would have inspired me to write something.

I’m going to own up to something here. I’ve been in business 11 years, but the last 3 1/2 have been horrendous. I’m surviving by the skin of my teeth, which is never any fun. Frankly, there are times when I’m ready to chuck it all in and go jump in the lake; then I remember I can’t swim, I don’t want fish touching me, our lake is considered one of the most polluted in the world (yes, I said world) even though I like walking at it, I’m scared of dying, I know bugs would somehow be involved, my mother would blame herself for some reason, and my own mantra that states “Every day is another chance to start again.” I wouldn’t be true to my own mantra if I took myself out, would I?

And, of course, hearing about things like Alan being inspired by something I wrote, a guy I didn’t even know or know anything about until the middle of July, even though he wrote his post in January. And I realize that’s what it’s all about. It’s about having the opportunity to help change someone else’s life by being honest and forthright and calling out bad behavior when it’s exhibited and trying to teach and motivate and, well, sometimes just plain ol’ have fun.

I’m feeling pretty good as I write this; how many times do you get to feel this way when you write a blog post? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could feel it more often? I appreciate all of you; thanks for continuing to stop by and read what I have to say.
 

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