I've been talking with a number of well-known bloggers in connection with a project I'm doing, and I've noticed that there are two bits of advice that they all offer to other bloggers. And they definitely apply to writing books--which should be of no surprise, since several blogs have become books, and at least three books I know of are going to become blogs.
The first bit of advice is that you ought to blog about something for which you have enthusiasm. The other is to avoid imitating others--in content as well as in style.
I feel like I'm always telling would-be writers these things. If you write about something you're interested in (and enthusiastic about) you don't have to do as much research, and the enthusiasm will show in your writing. It seems obvious, but some people miss it when they try to write a book or a blog because it's a "hot topic" and will probably make money. If it's that hot, 9,000 other people have already thought of it. (Of course, if you need the money and someone asks you to write a training manual for a UNIX system admin and you really need the money, this rule is suspended.)
If you try to imitate another writer, you'll usually end up reading like an imitation of that writer. Follow too closely when it comes to content, and you might find yourself plagiarizing--something that happens a lot more often with blogs than books. I think m ore people get caught up in this than write books about stuff they're have no interest in. Most writers are dissatisfied with their writing styles early in their careers, and long to be able to write as well as (insert name of favorite writer here).
The problem with imitating another writer because you don't like your own style is that you almost always end up looking like an imitation of that writer--or worse. That's most likely because you don't know enough about writing to be able to analyze the style of the writer in question. If you did, you wouldn't be worrying about your style; you'd already be there! So, work on your style. (Tip: Instead of trying to write like so-and-so, try rewriting one of her paragraphs in your own style. You'll probably learn something about your stylistic weaknesses, and the strengths of the other writer!)
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks