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Don't write for the rec list.


It distorts your voice. Think of your little slice of Daily Kos as your own blog. kos's explicit intention with the current DK4 platform was for users to treat it as their regular personal blogging venue. The extra readership that comes from the rec list is just bonus. I'm glad to have posted something like this series, even though it was a ton of work and didn't get many hits, because the idea would've forever haunted my brain otherwise. If the post doesn't make it to "recommended" or "rescued," there's a fair chance that a good number of people will read it; you just never know. And then, write again. Maybe even set aside a regular writing time each week or the like, though don't let that impede any spontaneous bursts of inspiration. Write often enough, and you just might develop a following. Let the recs come to you. If you know of some users or a group who may be interested in your post, message 'em.

Be pro.


Of course it's nice to be read. When you do make it, act like you've been there before. (Actually, maybe not everyone cares about that. But just sayin'.)

Just get it out there.


Spit it out, damn it! Copy that insightful comment you just stuck 200-deep in someone else's story, paste, and post. You too, lurkers. I'm sure if anything's amiss with it, someone will be right there to tell you so. Hell, even when nothing's amiss with it, but them's the breaks... Don't let amorphous doubts, even these very suggestions, paralyze you into refraining from getting something the least bit significant to "publish."

Draw a line on how much you whore yourself out with the headline.


If you're using an ironic headline, and the twist isn't palm-to-the-forehead obvious, think about including the punch line in that headline. (Example: I should have tacked "Good" to the end of this headline.) But don't step on quality humor if you've got it, ha.

Link to original sources whenever possible.


With so many aggregators out there as well as traditional press outlets that don't deign to give attribution to mere bloggers, this can mean work. Keep at it. Click, click, click all the way through. Try a few searches. Is the Wikipedia entry really the best thing on the web to illustrate what you're trying to say? That said, if it's a news piece citing Fox News reporting, I'd be reticent to use the original too. Maybe another source did some reporting on the same story? And please don't link to The Daily Mail unless you're really, really desperate.

Put yourself into it as much as is actually relevant.


I I me me I me me I... That's great if it's a first-person narrative post, and don't cut yourself out of your own writing unless you mean to, but look at how other people will see it. (Maybe I'm imagining it, but David Sirota, excellent commentator and reporter that he is, might've fared better here had he worked on this one.) Consider writing without first-person language while simultaneously not using the passive voice.

Write what you know. But also push at the edges of your comfort zone.


Challenge yourself to do some research. If you're speculating in order to elicit responses, say so. Try a personal piece, some citizen reporting, satirical fiction, a critical review, a limerick. Take something you read elsewhere that struck you and emulate the form in your own post. Old car racing adage: if you ain't breaking stuff, you ain't driving fast enough.

Don't apologize for yourself.


I didn't see anyone else post on this, and if someone does I'll take it down, but... Thbbbt. Hogwash. You're just as deserving a human being as anyone else. It's just painful to see someone write that. Also, that "already diaried" bit is dead and gone with the advent of DK4. Your post is super short, but meaningful? Publish! Embrace the free-for-all.

If you're putting a significant amount of effort into a draft, copy and paste it into a text file on your computer every so often.


Website crashes, accidental window close commands or back button presses, they happen. This applies especially late at night, when once in a while the administrators might take the site down for maintenance. As a bare minimum, select all and copy, so that you can paste it back in if things go south. Do it before you hit "Save & Preview;" you never know.

Take a moment to consider why you're blogging.


This website is a tool, one of a multitude available to you, online and in real life. What's it for, for you? Public persuasion, a personal journal, organizing activism, conversation...? If it's primarily some form of exhibitionism, I'd hope you'd think seriously about being more considerate of the readership. If something about it is counterproductive, cut it out. (Hi, I'm Simplify, and I'm a Kosaholic.) What emotions are driving you, and are they constructive? Have you never written a comment or post and then hit "cancel?" How might you best take advantage of the site's strengths and avoid aggravating its weaknesses: the diverse but self-selected user base, the wider non-user readership including social media sharers, trolls, sensationalism's popularity, rapid crowdsourced feedback? It's "new media"—can you do something even newer with it? Have you ever thought, "Why, somebody oughta..." and then realized you just volunteered yourself? Be the change you want to see.

Of course, first, work on the basics.


Preview/revise before posting (usually several times), and make the format readable.* (Please don't use two spaces after a period. I used to, but then I found out it was an anachronism, left over from monospace typewriters.) (Also, consider editing down habitual tics, like the overuse of parentheses.) It'll clarify your writing.

* The latter will get much more accessible when DK5 rolls out with what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) post drafting, in the manner of Microsoft Word etc., which will replace the programming-style HTML-"lite" coding that we have now.

Loads more helpful advice: Welcome New Users

Originally posted to Simplify on Mon Mar 10, 2014 at 02:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Welcome New Users, New Diarists, Community Help Desk, and Walking on Eggshells.

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