I’m stuck on what to write this week, so I will follow the most basic writing advice and write about what I know – how to write blogs. Maybe my readers will learn how to write stories if they are so inclined! But more important, maybe they will become more discerning readers of such content.
I was a columnist for several years. My stories appeared in regional newspapers throughout the United States. I turned out one story a week that was 750 words in length. It was never 749 words and never 751 because editors needed to know how much room to save for my work. Since word processing programs on computers can easily count words, tallying was easy.
My general recipe was to produce five paragraphs that were 150 words each. There was an introduction to my topic in the first paragraph. Then I needed to have three things to say about the topic. Each became its own 150-word paragraph. Finally, I needed some clever way to sum things up in a last paragraph that was more dynamic than a rehashing of what I had already written.
All of this is a great game plan, but as easy peasy as it is so far, things get tricky quickly.
First things first, you need a subject to write about – duh! As it turns out, though, this is harder than you would think. I recently read a quote for writers that says, “Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”
This statement is true and not true. Sure, there are loads of ideas out there, but do I have three solid bits of wisdom to add to whatever the concept is? And a larger wrinkle for writers is to find a way to make the story relevant to their readers. As of 2023, a third issue exists: How is my story better than one that could be written by an artificial intelligence program? And finally, as the perennial good girl, I always wonder if I will alienate or disenfranchise anyone by writing the story.
As it turns out, I do see story ideas on a regular basis and I write them down on scrip-scraps of paper that I keep in a file folder of ideas. Sometimes I even write a first paragraph before tucking them away. Here are three notes to myself from the folder. Are any of them worthy of 750 words? Hmmm…
Problems with Peanut Butter:
My adventures in stirring natural peanut butter are sometimes comical. Once I tried using a hand mixer with just one blade only to create spin art all over the kitchen counter that was worthy of Jackson Pollock. Beyond learning that one must hold tight to the jar when using this method, I don’t think peanut butter-stirring-tips have broader life lessons. And as far as the stirring tips themselves, couldn’t AI write that story as well as I can?
Fear in the Night:
As my daughter tucked my then four-year-old grandson in for the night, he told her that he feels scared when he’s alone in his room. Naturally, she asked him, “What are you scared of?” Jude responded, “I don’t know. What are my options?” Before Lisa could talk him through this problem, Jude’s eight-year-old brother, Dylan, passed by and offered up a suggestion: “Clowns in the closet!”
A funny story is a great start to a blog, but the only place I can think to go with this topic is to write about how to handle fear in the night. Since I don’t suffer from this problem, I have no tips to offer. Again, AI could come to the rescue, but…
Another problem with this story is that I need to apologize to my eight other non-Jude, non-Dylan grandchildren for not telling adorable stories about them. And of course, to my two other non-Lisa children.
A Quote from Elton John:
In the October, 2021 issue of the AARP Bulletin, Elton John is quoted as saying, “The last time I have to sing ‘Crocodile Rock,’ I will probably throw a party.” This would be a great lead in to a story about doing the things we are sick of doing.
In my case, I hate cooking and I hate my morning routine of exercising, then walking for an hour. But as I write about these things, I talk myself out of hating them. I really only cook when the kids are coming over – which means I get to see the kids! And if I no longer exercised or walked it would mean there was something wrong physically – and I strive to be healthy! This is a great perk of writing, by the way, you sort through your feelings to find your truth.
And speaking of truth, here is a tidbit in closing:
While I hope I have given meaningful insight about writing to both the someday bloggers and the content consumers, I take comfort in knowing that at the very least, I have conveyed one truth with this post: It is important to hold tight to a jar of natural peanut butter when using an electric mixer to stir it.
Whew! I wrote a blog! I wasn’t sure I had it in me this week…
P.S. This story is 931 words long and has more than five paragraphs. It’s a great reminder: Even perennial good girls can break the rules at times.
I’m glad you found my slice-of-life blog and I hope you loved it. If so, did you know I also write a book blog? There are more than 150 reviews there to explore, with more to come. I publish about three dozen reviews a year. Check it out!