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What IS He Saying?

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

I’m following a bit of a theme this week. Since the point of having a blog is communication, it’s important that the reader can actually understand what the writer is trying to say. The blog Marya Writes has been a real resource for me as I learn the world of blogging.

Borrowing from her again, today I’m writing about clarity. Lets consider the following from her post on Top Tips for Writing Fabulous Blog Posts that Every Blogger should Know about .

If you can’t understand something, don’t blame yourself, blame the writer. Too harsh? Well this is especially true when it comes to writing a blog post. A well written post is only effective when the message is clear. James Chartrand of Mens with Pens has done a fantastic piece on Copyblogger where he says, “Tight, concise, easy-to-read pieces are heaven for readers. Long, complex, convoluted ones are just confusing.”

Unless you are writing an academic essay, stay away from writing to impress. Get rid of long words, pompous sentences and empty padding, says Mem Fox. ‘Aim to express, not to impress.’  – from  Marya Writes

I can recall some of my high school essays, that I  had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. Writing them was a chore. Given a high word count to meet, and usually on a subject that I had little or no interest in, this revelation is hardly surprising. I wonder what went through the teacher’s minds as they attempted to figure out, what if anything I was trying to say. Clarity got  sacrificed to reach the goals set out by the teacher. It’s a wonder that I’m even interested in trying to write given this experience. The lesson here is that you can’t force good writing, and big words can’t hide bad writing.

It’s a thin line we tread when we write for others. While most bloggers will say that they are doing this for themselves, there is a small part of all of us that wants people to read and like what we write. I sometimes wonder if I’m being clever enough, or sound like I know what I’m talking about. There is a real temptation to start writing bigger than you are. Using words that you wouldn’t use in person. I just try to remember that I need to show people the real me.

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  1. January 10, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    It is true that there is a small part of all of us that wants people to read and like what we write. However, by reminding myself that my blog is for me, it keeps me from using the big words. It keeps me showing others the real me. Maybe that’s what I’ll blog about tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I believe that what you wrote, “If you can’t understand something, don’t blame yourself, blame the writer,” is true most of the time. However, there are some things that I just don’t get as a reader. One is symbolism. It just doesn’t click in my brain.

    • bigyellowbus
      January 10, 2011 at 10:38 pm

      You’re welcome Haley.
      As for symbolism, that is a horse of a different colour (color). Poetry always messed me up in school. Trying to figure out what everything meant sometimes was beyond me.
      I remind myself that there are always exceptions to the rule.

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