They're just words. Edit your blog posts ruthlessly.

They're just words. Edit your blog posts ruthlessly.

It's tough when you're writing a blog post and you've been working on it a long time, and you suddenly realize that what you've been writing is garbage. Maybe it's not the whole post. Maybe it's just a paragraph or two. But it stinks. What do you do? Do you leave it in and hope no one else notices? Do you try to massage the words a bit? Do you forget the entire article and go watch a movie instead?

Writing can be hard work. And a lot of writers have no greater critic than themselves. If you're writing regularly and have multiple articles in progress like I do, you might have a few that you haven't touched in a while because you didn't like how they were turning out. Or maybe you're still struggling to get that first post finished because you think it's not good enough.

First, be careful not to be too hard on yourself. Part of this is having enough self-confidence to recognize when you're writing well and when you aren't. If you just aren't sure, don't be afraid to get input and feedback from your peers. Sometimes posts that I've written that I wasn't excited about ended up being extremely well-received.

Second, they're just words. Do not get so personally attached to what you've written that you're unwilling to change a few words or delete an entire sentence or paragraph, if necessary. I know you put time and thought into crafting those words, and there's experience there that can't be taken away, regardless of whether or not you publish it. I have an entire blog post written that I will likely never publish because it's just not good enough. It was a cute idea that didn't pan out, and I would rather leave it unpublished, than disappoint my readers with its drivel.

Third, keep your goal in mind. What are you trying to communicate with this blog post? If you've gone on a tangent about something else, stop and analyze what you've written objectively. Can you realistically pull the reader back into your main story, or have you lost them? Can you spin off what you've written into a new, different blog post, or should you simply cut it and get back to work on the main point?

These are hard choices! I know! But they're choices that need to be made every time you start writing. Your readers have a limited time allotment and attention span. I don't say that to mean - it's just true. If you start rambling in your blog posts, your readers are going to bail.

I often use examples in my writing, but you have no idea how many examples I've cut from my posts because after I get done writing the specific example, and then go back and read what I've written, I find that it doesn't work into the main story as well as I would have wanted. If I can't edit it to make it fit, it's gone. A bad example is worse than no example at all!

As the writing master Mark Twain said, "The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say."

Stop and think about that for a moment. Twain says that you actually don't start writing until you've finished putting all of your thoughts down. I think most of us will admit that we collect and convey our thoughts as we write. I didn't know, when I started this post, how it was going to end. I didn't find that out until I got there (that's part of the mystery and thrill of writing). But only now that I've completed my post can I go back and see how I started it and make sure that everything I've said makes sense and flows together.

I clearly do not have anything against long blog posts, as some of mine have been quite lengthy. But make sure that regardless of the length of the post, you stay on topic and say exactly what you need to say, nothing more, nothing less, in order to perfectly communicate what you want to your reader.

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Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner

Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner - a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse (formerly CMO at SiteSell).

As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.

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