I learned to write stories from my mother. She would write down what I said on top of cartoons I drew when I was just four years old.
Already at that young age, I wanted to be a cartoonist and went to classes on weekends at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY to learn how to draw from college students who taught classes. Again, I was only four!
In one class, I drew an astronaut helmet with a face in pastels.
“What’s the name of that thing?” I asked one of the college students watching us children during the class.
She couldn’t figure out what I was talking about. I wanted to spell NASA on top of the helmet, but I couldn’t think of the word, so I put another word on the helmet like “SPACE” or something along those lines. I’m sure it didn’t do the drawing justice, though, and I wish I could’ve remembered the proper term, “NASA,” instead.
That was me at four making cartoons.
Home is where the writing is
When at home, my mother would ask me questions about what I was drawing on the paper at the kitchen table.
“Spiderman is buying his wife a fur coat,” I said drawing this with crayons and colored pencils.
Then she would write what I said down on the picture for me with a felt-tip pen. She was helping me make comics, basically.
My mother would also try to teach me things when she had my attention like she did. She would say something like, “A.E.I.O.U. and sometimes Y.” or “I before E, except after C.”
Teaching me things would always go horribly wrong. I didn’t want to learn “stuff” at 4 years old from my mother at home and I remember getting very upset when she did that.
Cartooning vs. Writing
Later on in my childhood I won a contest in the 6th grade.
The assignment was to write a letter to “future students.” The best ones were to be put in a time capsule to be buried on the school grounds of the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn Heights, NY and not to be opened until well after the year 2000.
I was chosen to read my letter in front of the whole school, on stage, in the auditorium before it was put into the time capsule with winners from other grades.
It was a hint of things to come and I kept writing stories throughout my elementary, high school and college days. Then I put in some serious, hardcore, mad skill work getting my postgraduate degree, a MFA in Creative Writing at Naropa University.
When it comes to cartooning, now, I’ve been known to draw awful pix-elated designs in Microsoft Paint, like the header picture of a lightening bolt. At least my friend tells me they’re awful. He owns all the Adobe software and is a bit of a design snob, but he’s taught me a thing so maybe soon we’ll both learn how to draw better cartoons.
Blog Post? Done!
What I’ve been doing up to this point is telling you a personal story.
What’s the significance of doing that? What does it have to do with making a better blog post?
Well, it has a lot to do with it.
A personal story
Personal stories are powerful, emotional and really interest people because all of a sudden they can relate to you in your writing. You might as well “spill it” if you want people to read your blog posts.
When reading popular bloggers you’ll see that the best ones do this like James Altucher for example.
Sometimes it’s scary, but you can edit your blog post before you hit “publish” on Medium, so take advantage of that “space” to think about what you want to say on the “internets.”
The challenge is getting words down on the page… period
How do you vomit up words? Do you stick your finger down your throat? I write for magazines and the only way I can ever write an article is to just start typing words. Eventually, I’ll have 500–1500 words and my article will be practically done. But if I just stare at the screen and don’t type, no stories will be coming — that’s for sure!
Don’t forget to proofread your work
In a sense, my own mother was my first editor, but as I’ve continued to learn to write I’ve realized there is never a good story or blog post without editing.
You can’t get away from it. In fact, if you plan to be a serious writer be sure to get used to remembering the word edit.
Haven’t you ever heard about the screenwriter who writes a story and by the time all the producers and actors look at it, it’s no longer what the screenwriter originally wrote?
It sounds unfair, but that is the editing process and it is why most people will tell you to write a book first instead of a screenplay, because if it becomes a movie you won’t recognize the original story you wrote in the first place. Just look up Steven King to find out about that.
I’m editing this post right now…
This blog post I’m writing right now will probably get edited two dozen times before I hit the publish button on Medium. I showed it to my weekly writers group, then a complete stranger in a cafe. You name it, I did it, just to make this post the best that it can be.
You really need to get used to this idea of editing if you want to be any good at this thing called writing.
First draft? Don’t worry about it!
Honestly you should try very hard not to worry about writing your first draft because you’re not going to show that one to anyone anyway. Maybe your fifth or sixth and etc. But not your first, dig?
It’s kind of confusing because I’m telling you to free write and not worry about it in the beginning, but after you have the pages written, that’s when the work comes and you will edit to make the blog post well written!
You can do it!
These thoughts should give you a clearer idea on how much work it takes to tell a good story or to just write a short, readable blog post.
It’s a tough business, no doubt. You could join a writers group and humble yourself listening to their feedback on your work. Some people can’t possibly imagine letting a stranger read their writing and critique it, but that separates the professionals from the amateurs.
So get over it and make your blog post better!
Now that you’ve read my blog post would you like to buy my e-book for 99 cents? Click here to read my short story collection on Amazon!
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