How To Get Ahead of the Pack / Blogging – Part 1

December 25, 2007

How long should it take you to write an article in a blog? IMHO, an article should take no more than 20 minutes to write tops. Researching it however is another story and that I believe is where most people run aground. If it takes too much time then it’s just going to cut into your free time – it’s no good. You’re not going to be very productive. You’ve lose the momentum.

What’s the best way of balancing effort with productivity? The key is in getting the basics right.

Rule 1, never follow the crowd and this includes commenting on the MSM, if possible. There is a very good reason why, firstly if you position yourself as just second fiddle, then you’re competiting with everyone out there – too many sound bites chasing too few readers. How the hell are you going to get noticed?

Worst still you just sound really boring like Mr Wang and Mr Brown – what I call grand canyon blogs. Nothing majestic about them, if you think about it, it’s just a giant sink hole and if you shout loud enough, you can even hear your own echo – that is what these blogs usually do, they parrot the news, they never make news and this thrown together with bits and pieces of nanobites and voila, that’s the article of the day. Result: it’s good if you want to induce yourself into a semi-comatose state but be warned it adds absolutely zero to the learning experience.

Strive to be original. Start by keeping your mind open, but don’t be so open minded that your brains spill out. It’s got to be mainstream, yet far out to catch the imagination of the readers. What I usually do is read broadly. I don’t watch TV because I believe it corrodes the brain – so in the course of a week, I can cover quiet a lot of ground and while wading through all that material. I usually keep a note book and log down bits and scraps of information – I am always asking, “Is this or that interesting mmmmmmmh?”

Keeping an open mind is key, don’t buy into the rote mentally of keeping to the yellow brick road – remember keep it loose. Always remember blogging is like Jazz, there’s plenty of room for improvisation. Never ever box yourself in. Besides it’s more fun that way – as even you don’t have any idea where it’s all going to end up. Stands to reason; if you can’t even keep your own interest alive, how do you expect to light the fire of others?

The other thing that I really find useful in coloring articles is by leveraging specifically on the vocational skills of others. One thing I have noticed about blogging regularly is it’s bound to transform one from a talker to a listener – I mean in the course of a normal day – this is probably one thing, I do at least 10 to 15 times a day; I ask alot of questions – what do you think? What’s your take as a [put in the profession]?

I do this wherever I go and it doesn’t matter whether it’s the Ah Pek who runs the local bike shop or when I am having a power lunch with a CEO. The reason is quite simple. I realized pretty early on, if I am going to beat the journalist corp, there’s no way to go head on with them, don’t even stand a chance.

So it makes perfect sense to skirt them, to hit their weakest point. You see, I figured out most journalist don’t have any dialectic training beyond wordsmithing, sentencing and grammar – they’re just word technicians. That’s why if they tell you, they see the whole clearer than the rest of us, it’s just like the pastor who claims Jesus asked him to impersonate Donald Trump. That’s just a crock of shit! That can really only be true if their skill sets for verifying and proofing information is so different to qualify as unique – it isn’t, not by even a long shot. In reality, their skill sets already exist in every manner, form and shape in virtually every vocation; circus acrobats, dog shooters, prostitutes, policemen and even plumbers use basically the same deductive reasoning skills as journalist albeit with a different twist.

leveraging on that “twist” is key, as a mathematician, stock broker, call girl or scientist sees the world in infinitely more interesting terms. For starters they don’t start life expecting to write anything that anyone would even want to read, so when they have something to say, its usually so specialized and unique to their field of interest that all too often it’s 100% free from hype, spin and the marketing manifesto. That sort of authenticity just goes a very long way to offer a very unique and personal perspective to an issue, that you will never get in magazines or newspapers.

If you think about it that’s why reality TV is so big these days, it conveys the ‘real’ amid the ‘fake.’ There is an element of voyeurism to it all, we see how ordinary folk have to struggle with real life issues by learning to use rubber bands, duct tape and super glue just to get through a day.

So here’s a tip, work hard at getting really ‘real.’ Don’t try to be someone who you are not. Just focus on shaping yourself, the rest will just fall happily into place.

Another thing, don’t be afraid of variety and diversity, they’re your friends, not your enemies – (inside peek) for the brotherhood press what we always try to do is match the highest level of difference into one working unit, we try not to put let’s say two dentist together, so if you look at Astro Boy and Scholar Boy. The former is a stock analyst, the latter a strategic planner, result: they gel pretty well, there is always a happy tension in their articles as if the writer is always trying to juggle two opposing thoughts – the key, that makes all this happens is keeping the tension springy all the time. In my opinion you can never have too much of it – so never confine yourself to only Singaporean issues, cast your net wider, embrace the whole world, if possible..

The third rule of thumb is try not to be distracted by fly in the ointment issues such as negative comments, daily visitor count or what other bloggers have to say about what you write – the most important thing is just be true to yourself (but also remember there is a law of defamation and libel, so if you call someone an idiot on-line make sure you have the bullet points to back it up and plug him, if you go to court. Otherwise shad dap!) – one good yardstick that has served me very well is just call a spade a spade – if you dunno, just say, dunno – don’t try to make it up or pretend! You will end up coming across as a ‘real’ idiot.

Being able to insulate yourself from distractions is key if you want to remain effective and productive. That’s really important, if you want to make sure, there are no dead zones in your blog. One of the reasons why the Singapore blog scene is deader than dead is not because there is a shortage of producers, they’re lots of them. The problem: not many of them have managed to buy into the discipline of producing regularly and consistently.

Now if I had to choose let’s say between one really good blogger who occasionally produces stellar writes up’s to let’s say an average blogger who produces every single day – I will opt for the latter, only because quantity is a form of quality

Now you know why I don’t really pay much attention to the daily stat counter, not even if one of my articles scores thousands of hits, which is not uncommon. If you want to retain your level headedness you simply cannot afford to go down that road otherwise you will just end up resting on your laurels. Having said that I do put a lot in analyzing the monthly counter – there is a big difference. They are not the same.

While the former really tells you nothing – the monthly visitor count accounts for the cumulative take, so it’s a more accurate representation of actual reading habits. Generally, the rule of thumb is, your monthly counter shouldn’t go up and up and up, neither should it go up and down either or down all the way – if any of the three is happening, it’s not turning properly and something is definitely out of synch – what you should try to look out for is a moderate upward curve – Remember, be patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day, keep the pace and stay balanced.

As I mentioned earlier, strive to be a consistent producer. IMHO there is no such thing as having no time to blog. If it’s really important then you would probably find some way to weave it into your daily life. I don’t have a problem there; I consider blogging a value added activity, it doesn’t subtract as much as it adds value by clarifying and sharpening one’s sense of understanding to regularly make sense of stuff – it’s a form of mental conditioning like being able to stay really intensely focussed in short burst in Kendo. Or developing the discipline to successfully negotiate the pain barrier in cycling. Blogging compels you to work things out from the inside out. You have to find your way out of the maze. You have to connect all the dots. You have to take a position. You have to draw a line and say, this is what I believe in and supply the reasons along with it. And all this is usually accomplished within the constrains of having to juggle greater work, life and play – so anyone who tells you doing all that regularly doesn’t make you a more versatile, organized and disciplined person simply doesn’t know what he is talking about. He’s a fool!

I am always awe struck by the depth of knowledge that many of the writers in the Brotherhood Press display once they have penned an article. You can just tell from his body language and intonation. The elan, panache and aplomb is unmistakable, yes sir re! He’s like a sportscar who clearly has ample horse power to tear up the road along with the competition – for me, I just cannot imagine a more fun filled way to live, learn and discover a deeper meaning to what life has to offer!

That’s why I am never apologetic about blogging. And I always try to impart a sense of pride to those who regularly blog. If you notice, the people who usually go around slagging blogging are also the same erudite lot who have the most to lose from it. Yes, folks, it all boils down to one word; job security. They have a vested interest, like Count Dracula (You know why they call him the “count” don’t you, you’re a statistic) running the blood bank, either way you cut it, it’s always a deficit. You go and connect the dots on that one! 

I say, blog on!

This is the first part in a 3 part series of how to blog better, stay tune for the next series – meanwhile, may I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones Happy Christmas! Darkness 2007

Read up on this!

How To get Ahead of the Pack / Blogging – Part II

2 Responses to “How To Get Ahead of the Pack / Blogging – Part 1”

  1. dotseng said

    Merry Christmas all and a happy new year.

    Happy Reads!


  2. dotseng said

    Baby Darkness,

    My father has a problem with the gutter will you pls help us to clear it.

    I am cooking your fav tmr – do drop by sometime around lunch and teach me how to make blachan ok.



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