how to write gooder

When you’ve been blogging for ages, like I have – I’m a veteran since July of ’07, the golden age of blogging – you get a fair amount of traffic in and out for links. I got one yesterday, though, that really caught my attention. Hunter Nuttall has a post up mentioning my blog: “The 10 Most Readable Blogs (That I Like)“. What made this an unusual post was that it compared me with a few bloggers you may have heard of … Leo Babuta? Seth Godin? Steve Pavlina? and I came out on top. I love the writing everyone on the list does – look at it and you’ll see why. Being listed #1 made my day.


Now before I get too excited I have to admit that this is just a readability test Hunter did – not a “quality of content” test or anything of that nature. I think it goes without saying that those guys are a lot more influential than I. However, as someone who has dithered around with writing for years, hearing that my writing is “readable” is a comforting and validating compliment, so I appreciate the time Hunter took to consider his blogroll and have me come out on top.

I am a gasbag. If you meet me in person, I’m one of those people who can get on a roll and pontificate on everything from the Jets’ offensive line woes (letting Kendall go caused at least 4 losses this year) to minutiae of Soviet history to investing strategy to ‘passive income‘ to the Pioneer anomaly (which is making me lose sleep these days) …. you get the picture. But at the same time I really like the mental discipline of taking my verbal spew and funneling it into print; it’s a challenge to take my wanderings and tighten them up into a normal train of thought on e-paper.

So thanks to Hunter’s post, I decided to highlight a few of the posts I wrote on writing when I started Brip Blap, before many people were reading or commenting – hopefully at least one of them might be of interest:

I also want to ask if everyone who reads who enjoys writing could recommend one author or one book who has influenced you stylistically. Not someone whose stories you liked – I love Tolkien’s books, for example, but I’m not really trying to copy his style. On the other hand, I’m not really a big horror fan, and other than “The Stand” I’m not a huge fan of his books, but I make a conscious effort to imitate Stephen King’s writing style. Who influences your writing style – or to think of it another way, whose writing would you read regardless of subject? I am open to suggestions!

PS If anyone feels like nominating me for a bloggie, hint, hint, I sure would appreciate it.ย 

10 Replies to “how to write gooder”

  1. Although it wasn’t a “quality of content” test, I’m sure you’d do well in one! But I don’t know if you’ll be winning any grammar awards–I believe the correct phrase is “how to write more goodly.”

  2. No question about it: Garner’s Modern American Usage by Bryan A. Garner has saved me from making an ass of myself more times than I care to reveal.

  3. Not that I post my short stories (yet)…but I think that John Irving has a style I like to emulate. Not in the formal writing sense; but the matter-of-factness of some of my half-rants. Oh, and use of hyphens and semi-colons.

  4. @feministfinance: I haven’t heard of that one, I will have to check it out.
    @t h rive: Interesting choice. I’m not a big fan of Irving, but then again I haven’t given him much of a chance.
    @ERE: Orwell is tremendous. I can’t think of a single thing he wrote that I’ve read that I haven’t enjoyed. He’s more well known for his vision I think – due to 1984 and Animal Farm – but really I appreciate him more for his mastery of the art of writing than for his creativity (which was impressive, too).
    @Hunter: I know. I just didn’t want to show off my smartiness.

  5. This one’s easy: David Foster Wallace. Read A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Againโ€”he makes mundane topics interesting and funny. Plus he’s brilliant.

  6. @WC: OK, not to make me appear any more impulsive than I need to but after I read this quote from the book: “I have seen sucrose beaches and water a very bright blue. I have seen an all-red leisure suit with flared lapels. I have smelled what suntan lotion smells like spread over 21,000 pounds of hot flesh . . ” you had me at hello. I love it, I’m buying it.

  7. Hi Steve,

    I just found your site via (I think) Barbara’s, and from there, Hunter’s — it’s kinda interesting the online degrees of separation out there.

    Anyway, I cannot remember the specific title, but waaay back in high school, when writing certainly was more of a chore than a pleasure, I happened to decide to check out a grammar book from the school library.

    Over the next few days, I devoured it from beginning to end, and for whatever other reason — perhaps I was simply ready — I was able to come away from it with a newfound appreciation for phrases, clauses, commas and semicolons.

    From then on, I had a better comprehension of books, and appreciated things like Richard Lederer’s The Miracle of Language.

    Like I said, it’s been a long time, but that’s a book I’d recommend checking out — not sure if it would help one develop a writing style, but it certainly gives one a new appreciation of language.

  8. @WC: By the way, I just finished reading A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Almost all of the essays were brilliant, but the two on tennis and the one about the cruise were above and beyond. The only stinker was the one on television – it got a bit tedious. Good suggestion!

    @Nez: Glad you stopped by! Yep, feeling comfortable and relaxed with the guidelines and rules of grammar are essential to enjoying writing – and even reading. If you want to form thoughts and phrases using the written word that mirror natural spoken language you do need to understand grammar and punctuation to approximate its pacing and delivery. I’ll put Lederer’s book on my (long and still growing) wishlist!

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