On Jan 27th Russell Deasley posted an article: Top Ten Tips for Bloggers. (See http://theverybesttop10.com/top100-tips-for-bloggers/ ) Here’s another Tip I’d like to add for your consideration.
Cleanliness is Next to Good Blogging
Some years ago I visited the home of a friend to give my sympathies to the recently bereaved family. As she opened the door and invited me in, I couldn’t miss the cute little pup tearing around in the living room, happy to have someone new to inspect.
It didn’t take long to see this pup wasn’t trained: a few lumps of poo on the carpet along the wall in the living room told the tale quite well. A few hours later my friend was dismayed when a fresh puddle appeared and scolded him, but Pup was clueless.
I ended up spending a few days with the family; on the second morning my hostess took a broom and swept the dried remains of dog doo outside. After all, no one wants deposits like that on their carpet when visitors arrive.
In all fairness to my hostess, they were dealing with a tragedy and no one had the physical or emotional energy to undertake training the pup. They tossed him outside occasionally, but it was frigid and he took “outside” as punishment; the minute they put him out he howled and yapped to be in again. I tried putting him out one morning myself, hoping he’d do his business outdoors but he made such a fuss I was afraid he’d wake the whole household.
Would you feel relaxed sitting in a living room where lumps of dog doo decorated the edges?
Cats are normally fastidious creatures, but I’ve observed where one of several cats got confused by an oversized tub of food set out by an owner and thought this was its litter pan. Can you imagine how the other cats felt about having piles of poo in front of their noses when they were eating?
Have I grossed you out yet? Well, to be honest, I detest finding piles of poo in the middle of what I’m reading, too. And some bloggers seem to think it’s quite all right to sprinkle it liberally through their posts.
I’m referring to all those four-letter words some folks like to punctuate their writing with. For me, this renders their work about as appetizing as seeing dog poo on the carpet in the room where I’m visiting or dining.
It speaks to me first of immaturity. Like a ten-year-old boy spouting obscenities to show the world how he can talk dirty. Like spiked green hair and nose piercings. I was young once, too, and I know from experience that someday these young people will grow up and see for themselves how silly it looks. But right now they are making their statements to the world: “LOOK AT ME!”
When I see four-letter words I wonder if the writer just hasn’t matured enough to use accurate, effective English, so wants to gain attention by punctuations of doo-doo and such. I’m guessing most of these writers would probably be totally grossed out if you’d serve them lunch in a room full of it – just as I’m grossed out by having it rubbed in my eyes.
To Write Effectively is to Disappear
If I have something important I want to share with you, I want your focus to be on the message. I don’t want to amble through your mind with spiked green hair, shouting, “Look at MEEEEE” while you’re reading. A skillful writer can disappear and leave his/her work to stand on its own. We don’t need to punctuate it with outlandish exaggerations or bad manners.
Some folks have grown up with bad language and used obscenities themselves from the time they could get away with it. It has become such a part of their verbal landscape they don’t even notice anymore. But others notice. You could get used to living with dirty diapers piled in your corners, too; after awhile you wouldn’t even smell them anymore. But your visitors would find it repulsive. They probably wouldn’t come again.
Do you WANT visitors? WHO do you want to come visit you?
If I visit a blog and see a sprinkling of obscenities, I just never visit again. Am I that unique?
“Avoid Clichés Like the Plague”
Today’s writers are encouraged to cast off all those old clichés and find new ways of expressing themselves. Well, I doubt there are any older clichés in use today than those four-letter words taught to the English by Dutch sailors back in the 1500’s. (See The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil) How about let’s dump them once and for all?
Cleanliness is Next to Courtesy
When you come to visit my blog, you are my guest and I want to serve you good food. Nothing fancy– I’m not a fancy cook –just something nutritious you can chew on. If I respect you, I won’t serve you up a fine beef steak with flies on it.
True, flies would indeed punctuate a fine beef steak. You’d notice them for sure, especially if they’re still kicking.
Flies exist. Flies are attracted to food; if I have them buzzing around my kitchen they’d be very apt to land on your dinner plate. So it may be a sensible explanation to say, “That’s just how it is.” Or “That’s just the kind of cook I am. You shouldn’t fuss if my food doesn’t look the greatest – in your opinion.”
It’s about courtesy, respect for my readers. If I care about you and want you to come and visit, I WILL serve you food that’s as healthy and attractive as I can make it. And this means clean.
Cleanliness is Next to Self-Respect
It’s about self-respect, too. I respect myself as a writer; I want to be an effective one; I want you to think about what I have to say. In order to do that I first have to value myself and my own opinion. If I want to be taken seriously, I have to present a self-respecting appearance.
Because I respect myself and my own privacy, I don’t go around talking about bowel movements, sexual relations, or any of the other splats some folks decorate their writing with nowadays. Sorry, fellow bloggers, but crude language does not tell me you’re worth listening to.
Some folks may be into “the grunge look” but I challenge you to point out one person you know who lives in dirt, never bathes, goes around with greasy, matted hair and dirty clothes, and has a healthy self-respect. In fact, through history we read how the first step toward dehumanizing people has been to crowd them into filthy conditions with no sanitation.
Self-respect is always clean. If I see writing punctuated with four-letter words, it tells me the writer is somewhat lacking in self-respect. So why should I spend my valuable time reading through guck to find out what they want to say?
Learn to Write Well
If you’re a blogger hoping for more LIKES and FOLLOWERS, I’d encourage you to respect yourself, sound sensible and learn to use proper English to get your message across. Make friends with dictionaries. Rub shoulders with a Thesaurus. If you have a worthy message, be willing to disappear behind it and let it have centre stage. Then people will want to read more of what you have to say.