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Time to Re-Focus on Quality Over Quantity

My Desktop 5-25-13This post does not have anything to do with running or health and fitness – it is strictly about the quality of my blog posts and a couple of strategies that I am going to use to improve them.

Over the past month I have been re-reading a lot of my posts while attempting to figure out my training mistakes and how I got injured. Unfortunately, while re-reading what I have posted, I am disappointed in the quality of my writing!

To be blunt – I saw that I have been sloppy, lazy and very undisciplined in my writing, editing and what I am publishing on A Veteran Runnah.
I also know that I am going back and making major revisions and corrections to what I have initially published far too often. As a former English teacher and technical writer in other jobs that I have had, this is unacceptable and I know that I should be doing a better job and take more pride in what I am publishing.

So I have to do something about it!

The first step was to identify what my expectations are – I have gone through and updated an old writing guide that I used when I was an English teacher, to meet my needs now as a blogger.

Also I made this document the background on my computer’s desktop (as you can see by the above photo) as a constant reminder for me to look at. I know that I will read it much more often on my computer’s background, than if I just file it away after updating it and say I will open it every time I start to write a new post or article – I know me and I won’t.

These two components are parts of my commitment to improve the quality of my posts and will help get me back in the habit of thinking about what I am doing when I am writing, instead of simply putting words on the screen and hitting publish.

Desktop 5-28-13

Here is my writing guide in a more readable format that I am using as my computer’s background:

1. WHY ARE YOU WRITING?

A. When is it due? How much time do you have before you have to submit?

B. Define your purpose and focus

(1) Who are you writing about?

(2) What are you actually writing about?
Be bold – say what you mean, mean what you say!

(3) Where does/did it take place?

(4) When does/did it take place?

(5) Why share this, what is the benefit?

(6) How does writing this help the reader or you?

C. Identify your Audience

(1) Who are you writing this for?
(2) What writing style are you using – personal story, narrative, how to, etc.2. PRE-WRITING

A. Gather Ideas

(1) Research, Reading and taking Notes
(2) Observations
(3) Brainstorming
(4) Interviewing/Asking questions
(5) Personal Experience

B. Organize Ideas

(1) Mind Map
(2) Outline
(3) Lists

2. FIRST DRAFT

A. Go full screen, turn off notifications and TV, video or podcasts
B. Just write – do not judge or think about it – just write
C. No editing, adding photos, formatting, etc.

3. EDIT AND REVISE

A. Does the title grab the reader or is it boring?
B. Strong Introduction? What is your Hook? Does it work?
C. Is the writing focused on one idea or theme and supports what you meant to say.
D. If multiple or unrelated ideas/themes are written about, are there clear transition points?
E. Does writing communicate clearly what you intended to your audience?
F. Is what you have written well organized? Remember writing a blog post is different from writing a formal paper. Shorter paragraphs (get in – get out).
G. Strong Conclusion? Do you have one? Does it tie the writing together?
H. Proofread – use Spellcheck after every revision

(1) Check for errors in grammar
(2) Check for errors in spelling
(3) Check for errors in capitalization and punctuation
(4) Meets editor style requirements
(5) Meets Word Count limits

4. REPEAT STEP 3 AS MANY TIMES AS NEEDED, BUT AT LEAST TWICE

A. Do something else after each revision for at least 30 minutes (if you have time).6. Final Copy

A couple of things that I forgot to include and will in future revisions to my writing guide:

  • Be Concise! I tend to be overly wordy.
  • Have links back to other posts that are related.
  • Check all links to make sure that they work correctly and that the if box is checked after publishing, if necessary.

I believe that by going through this process of revising my old class writing will help me improve the quality of my blog posts. Doing this forced me to really look at what I need to do, to write higher quality posts.

It is better to take my time and do it right the first time, instead of having to go back and make corrections repeatedly to posts I have published in my rush to get them on my blog. Will I make mistakes – yes, but there will be far fewer of them then there have been lately.
I know that I will be doing a better job of thinking about what I am writing, editing it and the quality, before I hit that publish button.

Did I miss anything that I really need to add to my writing guide?

How about you, what do you do when you think your writing is becoming undisciplined or you are not taking the time to publish quality posts?

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