5 Things About Writing That You Might Never Think Of

I’m Mitch Mitchell and I approve this ad. 🙂

Many people think I just started writing when I started writing my blogs back in 2005. Truth be told, I’m a long time writer of all sorts of things.

I started writing my own little journal of things at age 12 because I was feeling lonely here and there. At one point I actually wrote plays, as I had a friend who’d started writing them, and we’d write these plays, more like screen plays, based on Star Trek types of things. I branched out a couple of times into sports, but in general it was science fiction.

Then I wrote poetry for years, back to journaling when I started college, and moved into music and lyric composition. I started trying to write my first book when I was 22, eventually finished my first book when I was 42, and on and on and on.

I have written all sorts of things over my life, and in the last bunch of years I’ve written things for other people. I can honestly say that I’ve got more than 3,000 articles all over the internet, many in my name, many in other people’s names.

When you decide to do writing to help make a living, you have to get to the point where your mind says it’s okay to give up your rights to something you wrote and let someone else put their name on it. After all, we all know that John F. Kennedy didn’t really write Profiles in Courage on his own, right? 🙂

In my mind, this makes me as qualified to talk about the concept of writing as anyone. Over the years I’ve written 42 articles that include writing as a category. Some have been educational, some have been commentary, and some pure frivolity.

This one is a combination of educational and opinion; it’s intention is to make you think differently about the art of writing, if you will. Not necessarily structure; just things that you may or may not have ever really thought much about. And I’m talking only 5 things; otherwise, we could be here until Monday.

It’s possible that I might include something I’ve mentioned before, but I’m sure I’ll be addressing it in a different way. Are you ready for the journey? If so, let’s begin.

06-08-10 And With Heart Shaped Bruises And Late Night Kisses
Βethan via Compfight

1. There’s a major difference between writing for yourself and writing for others. In this instance I’m not talking about writing articles that other people are paying you for, I’m talking about writing things that please you that others might not quite get.

When I write on my blogs, even though every once in awhile (by the way, that can be either one word or two) I’ll toss in a sesquipedalian word that others might not know (big word, direct translation is ‘foot and a half long’ word), in general I want to be understood by the masses because I’m looking for broad appeal. I want visitors, and I want people to comment on what I’ve written. So I make sure that my content is understood; I’m writing for others while I’m also writing for myself.

But there are those who basically write for themselves. They don’t care if you don’t understand what they’re trying to say. They love the words, they love putting a twist into something and showing how creative they can be. Now, they might share it, then wonder why no one is commenting, but truth be told they know why already; they always know.

There’s nothing wrong with this by the way. That’s why we have different styles of music such as pop, rock, dance, rap and country. That’s why we can have people in the same genre, such as classical, and have differences in style between people such as Handel, Beethoven and Schoenberg. But it’s definitely something you have to consider depending on the audience you’re trying to reach, if you’re trying to reach an audience in the first place.

Dia™ via Compfight

2. It’s not writing that’s hard, it’s confidence. So many people say “I can’t write”. So many other people say “I can’t speak in front of others”.

When you think about it everyone writes, and everyone speaks in front of others. I don’t know a single person who made it through school, college or not, without writing something.

In college I knew people who said they weren’t writers that wrote 100 page papers; ouch! The longest paper I wrote in college was 25 pages, and I only did that once. Teachers didn’t care about the length of papers; they wanted to know if you could capture your subject accurately enough and that was that.

For instance, my junior year one of my classmates in music history decided she was going to write her paper on Gregorian Chant. Her paper ended up being 121 pages, and that was in the day when you had to type everything, thus if you made a mistake and didn’t have a correcting cartridge (like I did) you’d have to start a page over.

I wrote my paper on Beethoven’s 6th Symphony, had 14 different references, and it came in at 17 pages. And I got the obligatory “B” that I got on every paper except one in college. She got a B+ on her paper which crushed her, and I knew that was probably the best she could do because her subject was too big; there are tomes on Gregorian Chant, which means it’s something that couldn’t be captured in even a 121 page paper.

This is the problem I see with a lot of blog and article writers. They think they have to write about the moon when they could write a very nice article on Mare Orientale that would get the job done.

In other words, if your subject is really broad, break it into smaller chunks and aspects, for which you’ll probably have enough to write about that ends up being a relatively easy piece to read, and then do the same with other aspects of the same thing and you end up with lots of articles you can space out, thus creating lots of content.

Can you write? Of course you can.

Letter to Santa
Angela Vincent via Compfight

3. The concept of blog post length is overblown. I have written on this topic but not quite in this way.

It’s pretty much recognized that if you don’t have a blog post of at least 200 words your page will quite possibly be ignored by the search engines. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it; just that it might not do for you what you’re hoping it’ll do if you’re hoping to improve your blog’s SEO.

But some people only have images as a blog post with maybe one or two lines and they’re happy with it. That’s just how life goes, and it’s one of the things that people who love Tumblr enjoy, though I’m not necessarily a fan.

How many of you have ever seen the movie Amadeus? There’s a scene in it where Mozart has just finished debuting one of his pieces to his benefactor and is looking for his reaction to it. The man looks at him and says “There seems to be too many notes,” to which Mozart replies “There are only as many notes as I needed.”

Your blog posts are yours, and if you decide to write long posts, then write long posts. If you want to write short posts, then write short posts.

The way I write, I just start writing based on an original idea and when I’m done, I’m done. This is going to be a long article, but when I started, I had no idea if it was going to be a standard blog length post or not. That’s how my mind works; I write as many words as I need.

Some people won’t read it, some will. But if you want to know the truth, take a look at some of the highest ranked blogs and you’ll notice that many of them have relatively long posts. I’m just sayin’…

Rob the Rat came home with Calum... 309/365
Blue Square Thing via Compfight

4. I often say that blogs are for one of three purposes; inform, entertain, or educate. Words are a totally different matter though. Even though the first three are absolutes, words determine whether you’re doing those things in a positive or negative manner, intentional or not.

You know what the biggest lie is that kids are taught? “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” We all know that’s a lie; of course names can hurt you. Words can hurt. People online don’t get bullied by sticks and stones; they get bullied by words and images, but mainly words.

Some people do it intentionally, such as Limbarf (no, I never say his name the real way) and Coulter (I don’t give her the respect of using a first name). Some do it accidentally, and probably all of us at one time or another have written something that someone else has taken wrong or badly.

Intention can be an interesting animal in and of itself. I’m presently listening to a book on tape that started out as a historical book on the history of Harlem. The author, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, told the story of his high school basketball coach, during one game where his team was winning but not playing as well as he felt they should be, uttered the meanest racial epithet at his best player in the huddle, with all the other players around him.

The team ended up beating the other team handily, and the coach had him come to his office after the game and said that he knew if he used that word that it would inspire him to play harder the rest of the game. The problem is that the coach’s intention wasn’t the same as the player’s interpretation, and there’s no way it could be, and it ruined the relationship forever.

This is an example of how one person’s intention can go very wrong, and why I always say that if you want to write in a controversial manner, you need to be ready for the consequences, which you can almost never fully know.

I recently dropped a guy I didn’t know all that well, but whose blog I found after he’d contacted me about something. He’d written a recent blog post that said, not a direct quote, that anyone who had voted for President Obama was obviously stupid and they deserved all bad things that were going to come from it. I wrote him and told him that obviously I was too stupid to work and interact with him and that was that.

There’s nothing wrong with having opinions and there’s nothing wrong with sharing opinions. But there are limits that people who take an opposite position will allow, and if you’re not cognizant of that, no matter what your intentions are it will come back at you. If you’re ready for it great; if not, then either be cautious with your words or don’t use those particular words at all. You know you know better.

5. True writing is a form of self expression. Unless you’re being paid for it, you shouldn’t feel overly self conscious about it, although you will. Sure, I’ve given warnings about being controversial and offending people, but you can’t be something you’re not.

I get bored when I visit blogs that have articles that someone else has written. I’m not talking about guest posts; I’m talking about articles that the author says they’re writing, yet you know you’ve heard those words and seen that same exact advice before; kind of like what I fussed about back in March when commenting on another horrible article I’d read that gave blogging advice.

It was a topic of one of my live Google Hangouts, where one of the participants said that it’s possible a new person is just getting into blogging and hasn’t seen that advice before, so it might be pertinent to them. My argument was that advice might be evergreen but writing the same exact thing someone else wrote, in almost the same exact words, helps no one in the long run; I’d rather link to something and move on, but that’s me.

Here’s some advice that you should definitely take. Just write, finish, and move on. Whether you’re writing a blog, paper, book or shopping list, at some point you have to start it and you have to finish it. You can always go back and add or subtract whatever you wish. Writing is about you and your needs.

If your need is to make money, writing is still about you but you just modify how you’re getting your message across. If your need is to try to promote your business, same thing. But if you just need to get it out of you… write, enjoy, live!

Done and out!

33 thoughts on “5 Things About Writing That You Might Never Think Of”

  1. Great post Mitch, you share a lot of ideas here. I basically approach writing as a goal I want to accomplish.

    I set out to get my ideas on paper (computer). I then proofread to make sure all points are there and I want to make sure it makes sense to the average person.

    I then proofread again for flow and grammatical errors. I had to stop myself from agonizing over every word because I have O.C.D.

    Which is not bad as long as you have it under control. You shared some ideas about writing I never have thought about.

    I guess everyone has their approach to writing. The more I write, the better I get. My first attempts at writing were terrible.

    1. Good stuff Michael, and thanks for sharing it. Truthfully, most of the time I’m a Mozart writer; I write it once and then only look for outright typos. Sometimes I’ll read an article out loud, which points out errors, and I’m finding that as I get older I’m going to need to do it more often because my mind thinks I’ve typed words that I haven’t; ugh. It’s good to have a process.

  2. I’ve started writing poetry at about the age of 12-13 too, but even as a kid I’ve put too much self critics and stopped writing, actually I don’t think that I even keep any of these. Actually at the age of 50, something else have unlocked in me. As every teenagers, I experienced first love disappointment. I’ve wrote a short poem on a napkin, after got very well drunken in one restaurant. Well, I decided to send this one to a major poetry website around the year 1999 an I’ve won 2nd place, wow. So I’ve stated believing in myself and continued with poetry until the age of 18. I was good, actually to be thought by others, the next big poet. I’ve stopped writing after I returned from China and since then I haven’t write a line of poetry. Made two attempts for scenarios, one of these came quite good and a friend of mine is often performing mono theater with it.
    Well, blogging came recently, even a decade in online business, I rarely wrote more than paragraph and make few words in bold. I guess in the past was just going to get things out, also good way of socializing with other people.

    1. Wait; you’re 50 years old Carl? I’d have never guessed it after talking to you on Skype. Actually, the only “writing” award I ever won was placing in the top 600 in a song writing contest, which got me a certificate that I lost a long time ago. I haven’t tried writing either poetry or song lyrics in more than 20 years by now, but I think all the other writing I do takes care of that.

      1. It is funny that you’ve mention it. On poet gatherings the age difference between me and others was about 50 years. Well, actually I got twice awarded 2nd and 3rd place. About song writing, I was approached, but I found my poetry to heavy and refused to do it. Honestly, right now I prefer blogging, it is fun and it makes some money. There were no money in poetry and to make a printed book life takes a lot of money and for poetry usually is sponsored only by author.

  3. After reading this post everyone would get ample confidence to try out writing for himself.

    To be frank Mitch, I’m not a writer or you can say that I never tried it. So now I would give it a try and would try it and see how things goes on.

  4. Love this advice, Mitch – the only way to write is to write. I also like the point you make about the the different audiences and the consequences of your words. Good stuff!

    1. Thanks Sharon. I did that with this post, first deciding which five points I was going to write on and then just wrote. Took a little longer than normal but it was a longer article as well, and I had a lot of fun with it.

  5. Hey Mitch

    I’m fine when I get writing, I just stumble with how I work with the subject of my post to start with.

    Like you, I tend to just write and spot check it when I get to the end. My articles are always as long as I want them to be, generally around the 500-600 word mark. I think that’s just about right for my blog at the moment.

    I hope you have a great week Mitch and thank you for sharing your thoughts on writing!


    1. I thank you for reading it Tim. Often I believe too many people over-think their writing and that can hold people back from wanting to write in the first place. I’m lucky to never have worries about what to write about; I just have to sit down and do it.

  6. Normally when I start writing something it’s a bit rambly. I’ll try to organize my ideas under different headings, but by the time I’m done I’ve probably cut and pasted paragraphs up and down the page 20 times or more.

    I don’t put too much stock in the grammar except to clean up obvious mistakes. If I figure the audience will know what I mean then I’ll just leave it alone. Writing something that I’m going to sell is a different story, though.

    I also try to avoid re-hashing. If I have a different spin or new technique then I’ll write about that and link back to the original article(s) where I found the info. It does get annoying to see the same ideas covered in the generic list-post of the week.

    My posts tend to be longer, and I’ve been trying to edit myself and make shorter, more frequent posts but it just hasn’t happened. Sometimes it’s tough for me to get started because in my mind I have a huge mountain of a post to climb.

    Of course, it never fails that once I get started and get rolling I get it completed in decent time. After all, you can’t finish that epic post if you never start it.

    1. John, I love this line: “You can’t finish that epic post if you never start it.” That’s a keeper! As to the rest, you write long posts because you first start on a topic and then you get into the teaching part. That’s actually when I skip because I have no idea what any of the technical stuff means since I barely take okay pictures with my phone. lol But I love that you’re original and will flesh things out; that’s quality my man.

  7. Mitch, very nice essay. I’m at that point in my life where I know I don’t want to put in the hours to churn out books. I write for pure enjoyment and, if a few people like my silly stories, then I’m happy.

    Still, I do feel that I have to write things, whether they are stories, software symphonies (yeah, code is poetry, actually), or puzzles and games. It’s in my blood.



  8. Hi Mitch, Thanks for the advice. I started writing my first book about 3 years ago and at first it felt like it was writing itself but then I just hit a wall and haven’t really written much since. It’s a haunting tale about a family that move into a rural cottage in England which is right next to an old disused WW2 American bomber base. No one even knows th base exists because it was left in a hurry after the war. The story starts off as a ghost story then moves into being a mystery and concludes as a tear jerker. I have put all the key points down but joining the dots has been a nightmare.

    1. Ashley, at least you’ve got an outline that allows you to get back to it at some point. I have the same kind of thing going with a detective story I’ve been working on some time. Other writing comes up as being more important though these days, but I get to it here and there.

  9. Great post, i love the way you write but in my opinion ( and i might be wrong ) you do write long long long posts what might scare some people off. All in all i did enjoy reading those 5 tips

    1. Thanks for your comment Margus. As I said in the post though, we all should write as long or as short as we need to so we can say whatever we have to say and then move on. This post was longer than normal but it’s not close to the norm. But it does happen for many bloggers that have highly ranked blogs, so it’s something to consider.

  10. Wow that covered a lot Mitch, so much I didn’t read it. Thank you ReadSpeaker. lol I love that thing.

    It’s funny how writing and speaking become very similar lessons at times. Your section on narrowing really broad subjects or breaking them into parts reminded my of some of our videos. That’s exactly the same advice that can be given to public speaking or video creation. I like the collage story with it. Those personal stories are also the trait of great writer. I read that somewhere. lol

    I also wanted to make a point about what many consider ‘true’ writing and people writing because they need to. Some people write with such passion their writing borders with art. Other, like you said, write because they want to, either for themselves or others. Then there are the the rest of us. I write because it’s a tool for what I want to do, which is blog. Some day I might move from writing to video or audio for blog content, but it will still be blogging in my opinion. It’s like the people that insist that ‘true’ reading involves a real book and digital content isn’t the same. The words are the same but the ‘feeling’ isn’t, at least not for everyone.

    1. Great stuff Brian; I like your perspective.

      Thanks for the words about breaking broad subjects into parts. I think that’s the area where a lot of people find that suddenly they’re tired of writing, because they pack so much information into one topic that could easily be multiple posts, and they can spread them out and teach people in chunks instead of all at once. Even with some of my posts being long, I like to think that the majority stick to a premise because, lo and behold, I’ll be coming back with more soon enough.

  11. Hi Mitchell !
    i am a student of literature…. Some times I liked to write and there are lots of stuff I wrote but never shared with any one because I scared to shared it with people might be they would laugh on me….but after reading your blog I found a little bit confidence in me…

  12. I’m pretty much like you Mitch in the respect that I start writing and what comes out comes out. If it’s long it’s long. I don’t plan out what I’m going to write I just know my topic and let the words flow.

    Now I also believe that everyone is a writer. I mean I know for myself I didn’t look at myself or do I still look at myself as a “writer”. What I mean by that is when I think of that term I think of someone who writes for a living. Publishes books, magazine articles, poetry, that sort of thing. Just that label I guess I’ve always given it but that doesn’t mean we can’t express what we’re feeling.

    Great points you’ve made and for the most part I agree. Don’t go controversy if you aren’t willing to deal with all the consequences. Not everyone is going to agree with you and that’s just life. Heck, if we all thought the same this would be a much kinder world. You know, if they thought like us. lol…


    1. Good stuff Adrienne. You know I don’t worry about controversy, but my words aren’t inflammatory and thus I’m not getting anyone all that riled up; at least I don’t expect I am.

      Actually, I know that everyone isn’t a true writer, but I also know that everyone can write something if they care to. That’s what I was hoping to convey, and thus far it looks like I’ve been doing that fairly well.

  13. I must say I really enjoy your articles Mitch you have an easy way with words conveying your thoughts in an understandable manner.
    I do have trouble “padding out” my writing and am often criticised for being too short and to the point. I am scared of being overly wordy and boring my readers with needless information, you know, the short attention span syndrome!
    I’m working on it!

    1. You’ll have to let us see an example of your writing one of these days Sally. There’s nothing wrong with being concise, but of course if you’re blogging you’re going to need at least so many words for SEO purposes.

  14. The history of writing in one sincere article.

    I love it, Mitch.

    The history of YOUR writing, that is.

    I love to see how creative minds work, set things into motion, the parameters they set for themselves and the risks they are willing to take.

    You’ve given some nice insight into the mind of a true writer.

    I love the issue you raise that “it’s not writing that’s hard, it’s confidence”.

    I have this discussion with my wife all the time. She’s a professional psychic and always tells me “everyone’s intuitive,” as I protest. I’ve had a pretty nice run as a professional writer. When she gets stuck, I tell her “everyone can write, they just need to do it.” She strongly disagrees.

    I think everyone is intuitive and everyone is a writer, and as you point out, everyone has had some degree of experience writing, public speaking and many other things, just to get through school.

    But I’ve modified my position some on this topic.

    Everyone is a writer, and everyone is intuitive, but we are all particularly gifted in some skills more than others. I could never get the hang of speaking foreign languages, yet others do it effortlessly.

    I think it’s important to really work hard on our God-given talents, and outsource the rest. I mean, yea, I could learn to translate my ebook into German, but why not focus on what I do best naturally, and let others do things that just come hard to me. I suppose if I planned to live 500 years I’d work more on some of my weaknesses. But given the few years we have here, it seems to be that working with our strengths is more natural and more productive.

    You obviously have a natural talent for writing, Mitch, and I’m glad you use it so well, and make it readily available to your readers.

    1. Wow, what a great comment David; I thank you for that and your kind words.

      You’re right, everyone has their specific strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing, no matter what it is they’re writing. Yet, if they have a blog, or are considering having a blog, it’s going to take writing, or videos or podcasts to get it done; after all, that’s the purpose of a blog right? I like talking about writing as an art, but when we look at art, we realize three things. One, some people are really great at it. Two, everyone has different tastes in what they like, and even some of the greatest works in history have critics. And three, even at our best some of us really stink at art (I’m the worst; I used to be able to do two types of artworks and at this juncture I’d be hard pressed to do one of them sufficiently) but we can still do it, no matter how lousy it works.

      That’s how I kind of view writing. I like to think I’m good and yet even on this post someone commented on how long the post was, even though I mentioned that as a topic in the post. There’s no pleasing everyone, no matter what you do. But if most people had more confidence and decided to have fun with it… I’m betting they could produce works that would please the masses more than they could imagine.

      Great stuff Dave; I hope you stop by again!

  15. I always write with the aim that my readers dont get boored at all and at the same tym they extract maximum from it! Very nice post !! But i wanted to know that if my post is not long enough but it covers the info required, then is it necessary to exaggerate it just for the sake of SEO ?

    1. No it’s not. You need to write naturally and of course with proper grammar and spelling if you’re capable, and if you’re skilled at describing what it is you’re writing about then that should be good enough. I watched a video with Matt Cutts earlier today and he said that very thing.

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