5 Common Blog Writing Mistakes

Catching a person’s attention with the written word is becoming increasingly difficult in a world filled with visual, easy to access content. The competitive world of vlogging has flooded the space where writers once dominated in their preferred format.

But fear not. Craft your articles carefully and audiences will engage. Just be sure to avoid these five pesky mistakes that turn readers off and apply some of these rules.

EASILY CONFUSed WORDS

This is perhaps somewhat obvious to most, and seasoned writers wonder why those who mix the “Its” with the “It’s” continue to write—but you have to start somewhere.

Even for those who have written and published near on a decade or two, the occasional slip up occurs late at night.

The solution? Proofread and edit – after you’ve walked away from the piece. Give yourself a breather, go for lunch, take a nap, or indulge in some exercise before returning to the laptop to look for the obvious ones:

Its is the possessive of “it.”

It’s means it is.

There refers to location.

Their refers to possession.

They’re means they are.

Your is the possessive of “you.”

You’re means you are.

Effect (noun) means the effect experienced by an action.

Affect (verb) means the action that caused the effect experienced.

MISPLACING THE COMMA

To comma or not to comma, that is the question. When do we use it? Do we overuse it? Do we forget to use it? Do we ignore it?

Here are a few basic rules to keep your commas in place:

Rule 1: Use commas before “and”, “but”, “yet”, “so” and “or.”

The interior of a modern car is relatively quiet, but it is not soundproof.
Human existence depends on food and companionship, and these two factors are closely inter-related.

Rule 2: Always use a comma after an introductory phrase.

By 1803, Sydney had a regular produce market.

Rule 3: Use commas to set off phrases without changing the meaning.

Being a fast reader, she completed the test in the allotted time.

Rule 4: Use the comma between 2 or more coordinate adjectives.

The helicopter, with its spotlight, circled above.

Rule 5: Use the Oxford comma before the coordinating conjunction in a series of three or more items where there is a relation between words or groups of words.

Gerry is a handsome, brave, and kind man.

Mixing Tenses

Check the tense used in your work and ensure it’s consistent throughout. Using passive voice contributes to these problems.

Past tense: Lost, stole, threw, worn, won, written.  

Present tense: Losing, stealing, throwing, wear, win, write.

LACK OF ORGANIZATION

Writing is about pinning ideas down in a logical and well-connected format. The audience shouldn’t require a degree to unravel your thoughts, no matter the subject. Make it concise by using these basic rules while keeping word economy in mind:

Have you:

Introduced the topic?

Clarified the paragraph’s intention?

Checked for transitions?

Employed word economy?

Create an Outline: List, question, and map out the chosen topic. Have a firm introduction, body and conclusion.

List each paragraph’s intention: Map out where you want to take the paragraph. Stick to one topic per paragraph and treat it as its own story.

Check for transitions: Does each paragraph flow logically to the next one? Check for topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs, construct your thesis, and employ an overall ease of transition.

Word economy: Cluttered, lengthy sentences tend to lose the reader and engage in passive voice. Try a minimal approach. Use one word where you’ve used three, and keep it simple. No one likes a showoff.

PASSIVE VOICE

Every writer has an Achilles heel and the passive voice used to be mine.

Active voice: A passing yacht rescued the survivors.

Passive voice: The survivors were rescued by a passing yacht.

Past and present tense plays a huge role in how passive voice plays out, but it can be sneaky too.  Worthy of an entire book, here are a few rules to avoid passive voice.

Eliminate “to be” and avoid lengthy, inflated sentences.

Use active verbs like must deliver verses the passive must be delivered, or he writes versus he had written.

The active voice does something, while the passive voice indicates the subject undergoing an action.

Chances are, if you’ve blundered on these mistakes more than once in an article, a savvy reader will unlikely return.


This article is a free and open source. You have permission to republish (5 Common Blog Writing Mistakes) under a Creative Commons license with attribution to TS Books

7 Tips for Millennials Who Want to Write a Book

Every generation faces unique challenges, especially now in the publishing space.

(Written by Remso W. Martinez)

I know many people who want to write a book, and that’s where it ends. They want to write a book, but they either don’t put in the work to turn this dream into a reality, or they give up somewhere along the process. This is a constant problem in the publishing world, but millennials are uniquely advantaged to become the generation that publishes more books than any other in human history.

The ability to research, the tools to write, and the resources to publish and build a brand are more accessible now than at any other point in history. So what is in our way? What unique obstacles will potential writers encounter that can either harm them or help them?

study from 2016 tells us what we already know: Millennials are distracted by their phones. They are distracted in the classroom, behind the wheel, and are even replacing face-to-face communication with a screen out of pure convenience. I’m not here to bash phones—ultimately, humans are choosing to enable these behaviors, and phones are just the outlets.

If you want to commit to something as hefty as writing a book, you need to place limits on yourself and build some personal discipline.

Trust me, your phone won’t walk off, and the world won’t end if you ignore Facebook and Twitter for at least an hour.

This means putting the phone away, disconnecting from the internet on your laptop if you have to, and dedicating a consistent block of time to writing your draft. Your only thoughts and focus should be on your manuscript.

Trust me, your phone won’t walk off, and the world won’t end if you ignore Facebook and Twitter for at least an hour.

The internet is a beautiful monstrosity and a terrifying masterpiece, and we are the first generation to be completely fluent in it. From online masterclasses to YouTube tutorials, writing cooperatives, and tools to help you while you are actively writing, there is no question or challenge you could face that someone hasn’t encountered—and overcome—that hasn’t already been addressed.

Also, for non-fiction works and even research, the ability to contact subject matter experts, witnesses, and other key people necessary for you to get the full picture is as easy as a click of a button. Your ability to craft a well-rounded, thorough book isn’t just possible—it’s real, it’s easy, and it’s as accessible as making a quick search on your phone.

Having a body of existing work isn’t just needed to convince publishers you are serious; it’s also necessary in order to convince your readers you are actually someone worth listening to. You don’t need much to earn some credibility; you just need to show readers that you were contributing to your field prior to writing this book. There are plenty of blogs, outlets, and opportunities for even “Letters to the Editor” where you can get published. Even if you have to start your own blog, podcast, or website, anything is better than nothing.

The same principles apply to fiction, too. Have you published fan fiction on a forum? Have you entered a short story contest? Do you blog about a television show or a comic book series? Everything adds up and is necessary for long term success. This will help you when you need to find an audience to market your book, too.

Don’t write like you text or talk to your friends. Period.

I hear from professors and editors all the time that well-intentioned people will use shortcuts as they write. “JK” and “LOL” don’t have a place in your book unless you’re writing dialogue. Discussions of new websites, apps, and technology are always going to be alien to some people despite their age. When writing, even for a targeted audience that might understand your professional vernacular, you have to assume your reader knows nothing.

Using discretion, you might need to explain what TikTok is. (I’m 24, and I still don’t understand TikTok, so do me a favor and explain it.)

This isn’t a problem just for millennials; all generations talk a different “jive” so to speak, so keep this in mind regardless of whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction.

The broke millennial stereotype isn’t even that; it’s a part of reality for many of us. Specifically, if you are self-publishing, you’re going to have to pay for editing (multiple times), copyright, cover art, marketing, and all the other random expenses that always seem to take more cash from your wallet.

Your readers and customers don’t care about your life circumstances. They want a quality book, just like you would expect if you were buying one.

I worked as a mall cop just so I could funnel that money back into my book, so you can easily drive for Uber or even curb your spending. Besides, if you hustle, you could potentially make that money back and eventually walk away with a profit.

Understand that age discrimination is a real thing, and being in your twenties and writing a book looks more like an unrealistic passion project than something that will result in a final project. Now is your time to prove this perception wrong.

There are plenty of outlets and organizations that want to boast about having the next intelligent, fresh face who can be the future of their field. Sometimes it may be patronizing, but as anyone in business or even Hollywood will tell you, if you got it, work it.

Don’t do anything you’ll regret years from now just to make a quick but or get five minutes of attention, though this is easier said than done in hindsight. Seek counsel, look to others in your field, and remember that once you publish a book, you are a public figure. How you push your product reflects on you, and how you carry yourself reflects on your product, too.


Published under Creative Commons. Attributed to Foundation for Economic Freedom.

A Beautiful Mess

The world of words is a scary place when laid on a platter for everyone to feast upon. Not only that, it’s unglamorous, lonely, and equates to a low level of pay for the rate of hours put in. Too much coffee is consumed, marriages end in divorce, and your kids end up in a strange haze of detesting you as they honestly sing your praises.

Sitting here at my desk, late at night, a single kind of co-parent – the kids are in bed and I’ve just hit the 31 thousand word limit I’ve set for myself this month – I’m contemplating a crossroad.

I’m surrounded in a chaos of books, strewn papers and incense; I love what I see. There’s a world map angled on the wall, two cats curled by the fire, and the candlelight flickers as I write. For two months I have confined myself to my desk, tasting for the first time the life of an uninterrupted writer. It is bliss.

In around 56 hours that two-month bliss will abruptly end. I am to return to the mundane; and although I can afford to live off my writing alone, I choose for the moment to return. I’ve never been good with uncertainty – growing up in poverty has that effect – but really, if I’m honest, it’s only in the last two weeks, you see, that I’ve accepted myself as a writer.

For three years I have been a paid writer, and technically if you count my first royalty cheque from Amazon, that takes me back seven years. But it’s only now that I can accept it as truth. And I ask why?

At the newly hit age of 40, maybe I’m having a midlife crisis. Or maybe I’ve just realised that if I’m on a good wicket, judging by maternal genetics, I’m already halfway through my ‘young’ life. That I’ve only realised it’s okay to be a ‘paid’ writer may have something to do with me opting for the misery that is ‘real’ and stressful work.

I’ve given myself a set deadline to resign from the ‘other’ soul-draining job. I think by then I can come to terms with the fact that no matter how much I beg myself, I will always . . . be . . . a writer.

Copyright © 2019

Diary of a Dystopian Writer

Dear Diary,

We’re strange creatures. We lock ourselves away, isolated from the real world, yet go a million miles per hour, delving into the pretend one. Rarely does the wordsmith receive understanding from the outside; only acceptance, tolerance . . . and the obligatory: but they’re a writer, as though it explains the obvious.

Writers, I think, are inherently hyperactive. Hyperactive with a splash of the neurotics. Those who aren’t writers will disagree. We resemble that of a sloth in the mornings, hunting out our first caffeine hit with the grace of a moss-covered creature. We then retreat to our cave, slowly experiencing the ritual metamorphosis, until we resemble something closer to a primate. By nightfall, the writer is a standoffish human form – a sight to behold; it’s a remarkable transformation—or so I’ve been told.

Let’s face it: writing, as a career, is one of the more mentally dystopian, draining, contemptuous acts a single person will ever embark on. It isn’t an easy career, and by all means not an easy choice. Much like our fellow tortured artists—painters, musicians, photographers—we’re outsiders looking into a world, desperate to understand the cogs and wheels turning beneath the madness. We clutch at what we know, with it sometimes slipping through our fingers. (Notebook, anyone?)

From this desperation we search every corner and every nook of our mind, trying to determine what it is to be human. Facial expressions, traits, environmental settings, secrets, how one speaks, mannerisms, stressors and reactions, suffering, misery, pain, excruciating death . . . to write is to be human. To create is divine.

And then the lone writer will constantly haggle with their inner being, nag at, doubt, accuse, and often hold such ridicule for oneself: Are we good enough? Are our thoughts worthy? Do we matter? The furball-so-called-writing companion on the desk is staring at me again . . . Am I talking out loud?! Am I paranoid? You examine the pros and cons, ins and outs of the world and then you doubt yourself even more.

And then there are those writers who routinely sit for 8 hours, produce their word count and sip iced water . . . really? [enter crickets chirping]

Then you edit, you censor, you rewrite—only to decide the original is more fitting—you pace your study, you publish, you retract, you publish again; you drink more coffee, pat the cat, and go to bed.

But you don’t sleep. Your mind wanders to your characters, your writing, your words, your day, and whether Good Charlotte will break up when they’re in their 70s? What moisturiser does Gerard Butler use and can I have some? Incessant randoms continue to haunt your Z’s until the alarm clock yells ‘Wake Up!’ only for the writer to start their day again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

A lot of writers are divorced, are hermits or have married other writers (or musicians—a strange co-existence in itself). Their children usually go on to other artistic ventures, only because they were forced in childhood to befriend their make believe worlds out of loneliness; rejected for the wordcount. That, or they practice accounting.

It is what it is, folks. But before you poke fun at the writer next time, spare a thought for their poor soul. The writer didn’t choose this wretched path. It chose them.

Now, do I hit publish or pat the cat instead?

Copyright © 2019