NBI: Advice From Chandler

No, no, no. Not the one from that TV show.

Yes. The one that wrote all those detective novels.

Critics have been alternatively kind and critical of him over the years, but much of his writing advice is sound, and believe it or not, fits very well within the genre of blog writing. I wanted to share two of those tips with you.

The first is perhaps my favorite quote from a man who was eminently quotable, and is known colloquially as Chandler’s Law:

“When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

Now, of course, you are probably not writing fiction. Though some blog writers like Kirith Kodachi and Rowan are well known for their excellent fan fic, even for them, its not their bread and butter, not their regular post.

But Chandler’s Law is not actually about writing fiction. Its actually a tool for beating writer’s block. And the goal is to force the author to ruminate on what they have just written. That is the part of writing that tends to be hardest for people. We already know what we know, but taking the time to slow down and say it to someone else in a logical and coherent manner is tricky and sometimes time consuming.

By adding/throwing a wrench into the story like that, the story itself becomes unfamiliar territory to the writer. Now, even the guide has to stop and work his way through it.

And the same is true of blogging, because ultimately blogging is about ruminating on the games you are playing. Eleven million (no, wait, nine million) (nope, now like seven million) (I think) people play World of Warcraft. How many of them stopped to ask themselves why Tauren culture looks a lot like the culture of Native Americans? And of those who actually asked themselves the question, how many took the time to really answer it? And of those that really took some time to answer it, how many of them wrote about it and shared their opinion with the world?

If you are a blog writer, you are that person. That doesn’t have to be all you are – see the fiction writing examples above, or the highly biographical writing styles of the likes of Wilhelm or Syp. But everyone, whatever their penchant, does the rumination thing. Don’t believe me? Go look at Wilhelm’s tagline below the name of his blog. Go on, I’ll wait….

See? That is blog writing in a nutshell.

Don’t worry about whether or not its interesting. Don’t worry about how many people will read it. I learned a long time ago, if its good (technically or entertainment value) people will read it, no matter what the subject is.

And for that, I want to leave you with Chandler’s second piece of advice:

“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.”

Just write it baby. And when you are done, read it. Force yourself to. Change whatever you want to change, hit the publish button, and move on.

Blogging is the long game. Longevity is success as much as hits and page counts are. It doesn’t have to be every morning, but throw up into your browser or word processor on a regular basis. Worry about quality later.

In fact, even if you don’t have the answer, sometimes the blog post can just be the question itself. Even that is enough, to ask the question out loud, even if you haven’t yet written the answer.

TL;DR: Ask the question, write an (not the) answer, rinse, repeat.

Good luck!

#blogging, #NBI, #2015