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Judith Halliday

Thoughts about Blogging

It's a whole new experience ...

Posted on: 12/10/2011   By: Judith Halliday

This is my fourth blog and I'm getting used to it now but I still go through a feeling that has become less and less familiar over the past few years (OK, the past 25!). The staring-at-the-blank-sheet-of-paper feeling, or the back deleting when you realise that first paragraph is not only not going to work, it's actually utter tosh ...

even experienced journalists sometimes have difficulty finding inspiration

even experienced journalists sometimes have difficulty finding inspiration

For me, this feeling takes me back to Gateshead in the late 1980s, when I first sat down in front of a big, clattering typewriter to spend three hours labouring over a 50-word news-in-brief article for my first paper. It was a weekly paper and when they saw how fast I worked, I think they thanked their lucky stars that it was.

Part of it is fear. The knowledge that when you've carefully composed those 50 words about a jumble sale next weekend someone else is going to read it. Will they think it's good, will they laugh out loud, will they give it back and tell you to start again?

The fact that someone is going to read what you write would appear to be a given. Otherwise, what exactly is the point? But it is nerve-racking, putting together a news story, blog post, press release or newsletter that other people are going to read. What will interest them? Will it make sense? Are there any mistakes in it?

So I feel for businesses out there who have given themselves the task of producing a weekly blog post or monthly newsletter to send to their clients. That blank screen is a harsh judge. Running your business is second nature; you're good at it and you know exactly what you're doing. Then you sit down and try to write 300 words and you're lost.

So, for those embarking on regular writing - there are things to remember:

  • Jot down all the ideas you want to include then look at each of those in turn and decide what it is you want to say.

  • Think of your audience and consider what they will want to know. What is important to your customers and clients may not be the same as what is important to you, but it's their attention you need to catch.

  • Write as clearly and plainly as you can. Getting the message across is far more important than fancy words or silly puns.

  • Don't put too much in there, email newsletters are a great means of communicating but there are only so many hours in the day. Readers will switch off after a certain time, not because you're boring them, but because they are busy.

  • And most importantly of all, remember that there's no blank-screen fear if someone else is writing it for you. For the sake of a 10-minute phone call or putting down bullet points in an email, it can all be done for you.

Having something professionally written will take the pressure off you, enhance your marketing material and make sure you get your message across. You have my number!

Until next time ...


More about Judith Halliday ...

My writing career began under the bright lights of Gateshead in 1986 - who wouldn't love a job that offered the chance to listen to Gateshead Borough Council's Public Waste Committee debate the introduction of wheelie bins for three hours? It was the start of a working life that taught me what makes a good story and how to tell it and, although I don't have a news editor lurking ready to throw things at me any more, or so much of an interest in wheelie bins, my love of writing and a fascination with talking to people and telling their stories is as strong as ever.

Today I work for Business Times in Northampton and the Northants Evening Telegraph as well as providing copywriting services and press releases for a number of local companies.

When I'm not doing that, I indulge in the things I love most, which include, in no particular order: my teenage children, Sunderland football club, my husband, chocolate, QI, Chinese noodles, my closest friends, Test Match Special, red wine, reading in bed, The Sound of Music and growing vegetables.


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