Around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, I realized that the entry I was planning to post for this morning was pretty awful. Out of my desire to add value and because of my respect for you, my audience, I got up early this morning to scrap that entry to write about the above-cited topic instead. You’re welcome.
What makes a blog entry bad?
The symptoms crept up on me early:
- No passion for my topic (original plan: talking about introversion in the workplace). It’s not that I didn’t care about the topic: I do, to some extent, but not enough to say anything new, exciting, constructive, or even moderately funny. When I’m bored, my audience is bored because there isn’t a lot of flair in the writing.
- No concrete examples. I was summarizing what introverts were, but I wasn’t providing any useful, crunchy details: how does an introvert act? How does that contrast with an extrovert? How would an introvert-directed tech writing product look different from one developed for an extrovert?
- No WIIFM. More importantly than a lack of examples, I wasn’t providing a constructive “What’s In It For Me?” for the audience. You probably would have read the entry and gone, “So what? Was I supposed to get something out of that? This was not one of Leahy’s better efforts–hopefully he’ll have something useful to share next week.” Or worse, you might have thought, “It feels like he’s phoning it in–maybe he doesn’t care any more,” and stopped reading this blog entirely. A writer who doesn’t care about a topic is going to show it in their lackadaisical organization, uninspiring examples, vague messaging, and meandering prose. Trust me–all of those were on display Tuesday night.
- Not believing in my topic. This is not to say that I don’t care about introverts in the workplace or that I don’t believe they exist or have important things to say. What was bothering me enough to get me up from my post-alarm-clock lifestyle was realizing that I didn’t believe in one of the points I was making. Specifically, I don’t believe in writing my content differently for introverts vs. extroverts–unless there’s a good reason for it. I don’t think that way. That’s stereotyping and, quite frankly, unnecessary unless I’m making a useful point, possibly with humor.
I can countenance a few literary sins on this blog, from terrible puns to occasional crudity to sugar-coating the truth once in a while, but I’ve done my level best never to lie to you. But my conscience is a funny animal. Several years ago, I didn’t mind when my job was downsized in a large corporation, partly because I’d had nightmares that I was vomiting chains. I realized that not only did I not believe in what I was saying/writing, but the things I was saying were actually chaining people’s freedom of thought. So I’m weird that way. I’ll tell you a long, silly tale about a customer asking for a rock because there’s some truth behind the yarn, but I won’t share the latest pop-culture theory about how you should write or behave about X in the workplace because, to return to a previous message from my subconscious, I couldn’t swallow it.
What to do with a bad entry
Notice you are NOT reading a post about introverts in the workplace today. Instead, I sat down to write about something I believe in and can share with a certain amount of passion. This not to say you will not see me talking about introversion in the future–that is still possible. However, before I take on that topic again, I will need to have something constructive, specific, useful to say.
So if you’ve got the time to realize that your topic is garbage–preferably not one minute before it’s due–scrap it and try something else. At a loss for what to write about instead? Here’s one example of how to tackle the problem.
Stay true to yourselves, folks. Usually, you won’t regret it.