Can a Bad Writer be a Good Blogger?

July 19, 2010 § 18 Comments

This week’s email from Gotham Writer’s Workshop brought a blurb for a new book – The Accidents of Style, Good Advice on How to Not Write Badly. So far, so good, I think, and start to enter the contest to win a copy. Then I read this “informative excerpt:”

A Note to the Reader
Accident 10: Confusion between your and you’re
Accident 79: Don’t use in my humble opinion
Accident 139: Don’t use unique to mean “unusual,” “special,” or “exceptional”
Accident 309: Avoid the cutesy well
Accident 336: Don’t confuse sensuous and sensual

Note Accident 309: Avoid the cutesy well. Damn. I use the cutesy well a lot in my blogging. So, now I’m wondering if so is also cutesy and if the way people use language in blogging should follow the same rule set as other writing. But this leads me to some uncomfortable possibilities:

1) If we don’t follow these rules, that means blogging should not be confused with real writing and
2) If we follow these rules, using a conversational voice is not good blogging.

I don’t like either of these options. I want to be me, dammit. Wells and all. Tell me, do you use wells and sos and other conversational connectors? And if you don’t, do you find them irritating?


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§ 18 Responses to Can a Bad Writer be a Good Blogger?

  • I suppose it depends on what one thinks of as good writing. Lots of people think I’m a terrible writer, others think I’m great. It’s all a matter of preference. Either which way it would seem I’m pretty good at blogging. But again…what is good? Popular?

    My favorite personal writing story is this. Jeff (my hubby) and I wrote a book called Skeletons Don’t Sleep. In the early stages we posted it on a site called Authonomy. It’s a networking/contest site by Harper Collins. The top five books every month get a review by a HC editor. We posted five chapters. We got tons of feedback. Most was amazing but needs editing. As we climbed the ranks and got into the top 50 or so some of the critics started getting really harsh, lots of attacks on the writing.

    *an editor will never even look at this because it needs so much work*

    *don’t even think about trying to get published at this stage*

    etc etc.

    Within two months our book had made it up to the top 20 and we were contacted by one of the editors at Harper Collins. She requested everything we had so far. She told us our writing was *exceptional* among other compliments. Nothing about anything at all needing edits. Nothing. She said what she liked was the story and the writing.

    We even got a phone call from London. It was all really cool. She said they were interested in the book but wanted us to write it under a pseudonym because the privacy/liability laws in the UK were more strict. We declined and published it ourselves.

    But it gave us a good boost to finish what we were doing and to realize it only matters as much as you let it what other people think…because they are just people…just like you….and SO much of it is preference and the rest of it is ego.


  • Blogging is a genre of writing all its own. There isn’t haiku in technical writing nor is there concern for iambic pentameter in contract writing.

    I took writing classes at Gotham Writers’ Workshop and at New York University in the early 1990s. Novel writing is different from short story writing and they’re both different than writing screenplays. I studied the first two and took a one-day intensive course of screenplay writing.

    You’re writing to a different audience in blogs than in other writing genres.

  • A.M.M. says:

    Style is so subjective I don’t think there can be rules. Even the rules of grammar are made to be broken by people who know how to wield it. Everything else can only come as suggestions, and while there are some that one should really listen to (and I say this with fiction — genre fiction in particular — in mind) there’s nothing you have to do or have to avoid, which is what makes style such a fun study. As long as you’re reaching readers in a productive manner you can do anything. (Also what’s fun about poetry.)

  • Danelle Witte says:

    In the words of Samantha Stephens (remember Bewitched?) Weeeeeeelllll…
    I’d like to know who made the author of that book the cutesy police? “Well” is a part of our common, everyday language and whether you are writing blogs or dialogues, we use the vernacular of the day. Seems to me labeling something “cutesy” is a more a matter of opinion rather than sticking to actual grammatical errors.

    Write well, y’all

    • Hey, Danelle, thanks for reading and commenting. Of course, you’re right about opinion and it’s irritating when opinion is stated as fact. I’m liking all of the facts here much better.

  • Tricia says:

    The only thing I find irritating is my own voice. My real one. Not my writing one. I wish I could write my conversations just to avoid hearing it. So, um, well, a, like, there you have it.

  • Abby says:

    I feel as if blog posting is more conversational in style, sometimes. That’s not necessarily the mark of a bad writer, though.

    I was just thinking about this, today, whether bad writers can be good bloggers. I have friends who don’t write a lot of words, but just post lots of pictures in their blogs, and they get lots and lots of readers. Oh well.

    • Wow, Abby, I hadn’t thought about photo and other kinds of blogs when I wrote this. You’re so right. We all have different ways in which we express who we are and what we are trying to communicate.

      Good point.

  • shoutabyss says:

    Thanks, Linda. I really enjoyed that link.

  • Yes, I use the cutesy well and so and anything else that comes naturally. I try not to make egregious grammar errors, but my blogging voice is much more casual than my writing voice. However, it’s not my “at home” voice either. Hmmm, sounds like I’m edging toward true multiple personalities, doesn’t it? :-)

    • Linda, I have multiple personalities in my writing voice/style too. Even in my poetry. Sometimes it worries me, and other times, not. But we all have different personas, right?

  • G says:

    My blogging voice is incredibly different than my writing voice. I use my blog not only to practice my writing but to entertain and unleash the uniqueness that is me.

    Therefore, I don’t follow grammar rules or style very well, if at all.

    I find joy in the english language and love expirementing and playing with different components. It’s a blast and more importantly, its fun.

    And in the end, isn’t that what blogging should be all about?

    Remember, not everyone speaks good grammar and more than a few people say, “I are ready.”

    • G, thinking about it, I have many different voices. Some I don’t know where they come from – sometimes when I read my poetry, I don’t recognise it. I agree with the fun part you spoke of – if it isn’t fun to me how can it be fun to the readers?

  • shoutabyss says:

    What is this “cutesy well” and can I throw coins in it while making a wish? :)

    Well, does it have anything to do with starting a sentence with the word “well” or something else?

    So, yeah, if that’s it, then I’m guilty as charged.

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