Template Your Way to Blog Greatness

Besides the elementary rules of usage, there are some elementary guidelines of composition, or writing, that can make any blogger better.  If you’re reading this, you probably have a great style and just want to make it better.  Let’s face it though, there are a lot of blogs out there that really need some help.  Ironically, I don’t think they’ll be tuning in :(

This post suggests a template idea that helps me every day.  Just to reiterate, I get the ideas for these posts from Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.”  Just like there are some technical “constants” of good blogs, so there are constants of writing worth looking into.

Create a template and stick to it. I have gone through many templates for my blog posts.  They have all shared one thing is common: links to other posts on my blog and links to external blogs either in my blogroll or ones I have run across and found interesting.  Stumbleupon is an excellent tool for storing these links and then retrieving them later.  I will share my basic template I use when creating blog posts:

Introduction: A catchy sentence(s) that can serve as a stand alone teaser.  About 160 characters because most search engines don’t pick up beyond that.  It should promote what follows.

Body: 1-5 paragraphs.  Each paragraph should be about something distinct.  They should not be too long.  I’d say no more than 4 sentences max.  Blog readers’ eyes get bored fast.

Conclusion: Try to include a question or request for a response.  This stimulates comments.

Links: 3 internal links, 3 external links

This is a very basic outline, but it gets the point across that you should analyze and create a template and then stick to it.  Your readers will notice and read with greater ease and interest.  With daily serious blogging, templates are almost a non-negotiable.

What do you think of choosing a suitable design for posts and sticking to it?

Space of 3 Minutes

Music is a powerful medium on our psyche.  Specifically, pop music is It is a space of 3 minutes (average). It is amazing and I don’t know why scientifically. It might be due to the fact that people allow their minds to open to ideas in a song while they might not through normal conversation. It can be like a whole movie message in the space of three minutes. Just like walking around on a lazy Saturdy in your Dansko shoes, so the right music can utterly relax and inspire you. I have had many favorites through the years, most of which you can find on my last.fm account. My name there is rileycentral. I have been changed in the space of three minutes. Music has been and will continue to be my primary source of inspiration. Make sure you turn on your radio if you are not regularly. You might be absolutely amazed at what can happen in your head and heart in the space of 3 minutes.

A Great Work Means Great Challenges

I used to attend Saddleback Church in Mission Viejo, California in my early twenties.  I remember being single and praying for a wife (happened),  a good career (happened), and several other things that would probably bore you if I elaborated on them.  Nonetheless, if you haven’t heard of that church, it’s the church that a guy named “Rick Warren” started oh probably 20 years ago now.  He has been on Larry King and other major network shows.  I’m not sure, but he may have even been on Oprah.  Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a post about religion.  I just needed to give you that background for the quote to make sense.

Once I heard him say something that has stuck with me to this day and I wanted to share it in the context of 2008.  He was talking about having small “shepherding” type groups in ones home and a few people had complained about how they had to do extra child care when couples were fighting or feed them extra when they were out of work.  I guess they thought bragging to the pastor would make them look more “holy” or something.  that was when he said the quote to them:

No mess, no ministry.

If you aren’t a Christian, you might insert somthing else: ie; family, writing career, connection, etc.  Anything great undergoes formation and that can be painful.  I have a blogger friend, David Masters, who just got married.  As a result, he’s not posting as much.  I was fortunate enough to write a couple guest posts for him that he published and I hope others will volunteer to step up that way because his blog is an AMAZING VISION the likes of which I don’t run across often.  The title is Be Playful and his posts are about getting real and getting creative and getting healthy through that.  Wow.  I am so behind that vision.  The other day I was making a list with my wife of stuff our baby girls needed.  The normal attitude is to go hrmfff and get the basic stuff they need.  The kind of philosophy David is pushing makes you seek out unique baby gifts that will make them smile.

David’s situation is not isolated.  I know at least 2 other bloggers going through a valley, unable to blog and of course I have written here about my dad’s job situation.  Remember if there were no mess, there’d be no ministry.  If someone wasn’t hungry, you couldn’t feed them.  Whatever great work you step up to do, remember that a great work means great challenges.  If you want it bad enough, you can make it through to the side of success.  Never give up.