Pearls From Her Pocket

Several days ago, while researching Squarespace’s competition, I happened on a most informative read.

If any of you have ever been to Rebecca’s Pocket you know that it’s author, Rebecca Blood, consistently puts out thoughtful commentary on her weblog there. Wanting to know more about the history of blogging, I saw her name come up frequently in my searches, so reasonably assumed she was among the net’s foremost commentators on the subject. Doing a little investigating turned up a terrific article written by her, on the origins and evolution of weblogs, and verified my guess that, after all, she was a recognized authority of the medium. She’s also the author of The Weblog Handbook.

So you can see why I’d think it would be really special to receive an email from her.Turns out, not only did I get a thank you note for the compliments I sent her but, along with it, some very useful advice for budding writers/bloggers, that she’s going to let me pass on to you. So, on with the good stuff. Here is what the widely acclaimed Rebbecca Blood — many more praises to her name — has to say about successful blogging:

1.) Read Strunk & White, “The Elements of Style.” Read it at least once a year. Strunk’s portion is here:

2.) Read the best writers you can find. EB White and James Thurber are two that spring to mind. Rebecca Mead and Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker are two more. There are thousands, from all eras.

3.) Write in your weblog. Write every day or several times a week. It doesn’t matter what you write about, but every time you update your site, include one link to an article or another website, and summarize it in one sentence. you may add one sentence of opinion if you like, but it’s not necessary. Writing short is hard, and this practice is probably the one that improved my writing the most, the fastest.

4.) If you’re having trouble updating your weblog every day, think about refocusing your site on something you’re more interested in. See if the library has my book “the weblog handbook” for a consideration of some possible approaches.

5.) Learn to think critically. The Elements of Reasoning (2nd ed) by Edward PJ Corbett and Rosa A. Eberly is an excellent starting point. The essence of critical thinking is the willingness to be wrong. It requires the ability to genuinely consider ideas you know are wrong, and to question ideas you know are right, both very difficult practices. Remember, if you don’t care about the truth, it’s easy both to form opinions and be persuasive. Figuring out what’s really going on takes more work.

6.) Make time to pursue the things that genuinely interest you.

7.) Always be reading something - something that really interests you. This can be a novel, history, science fiction, a cookbook, comics, anything, just something you look forward to picking up every day. If you get bored, put it down and pick up something else. Live by these rules. Even if you are busy, try to set aside at least half an hour every day or several times a week.

8.) Always be learning to do something, something that really interests you. Whatever: fixing cars, baking bread, perl, swimming, tying knots, how to make the perfect stir-fry, a language anything at all, whatever you want to know. Allow yourself to learn slowly—if an hour a week is all you have, enjoy your hour every week.

Thanks for your nice note. good luck!

best regards,

Thank you Rebecca. I for one intend to start integrating your ideas into my writing life at once, even if #3 gives me some trouble.