• http://twitter.com/kumibradshaw Kumi Bradshaw

    Solid post Jason.

    I’d be interested in your follow-up thoughts / perspective about specificity as it relates to subject matter – i.e. keeping blog posts etc. clustered around a singular theme vs. scattered around a number of disparate topics.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason Cohen

      It seems like personal blogs can be more scattered because readers are interested in the person, whereas if you’re trying to educate it can be distracting. Then again I’ve experimented with slightly (or completely) off-topic posts and people said they liked it, but only if they are rare.

  • http://pfoley.com Patrick Foley

    I tend to relate ideas to my own experience to make them specific. It might be more powerful to relate them to the audience’s experience, but that seems presumptuous to me. Do you think one approach is better than the other, Jason?

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason Cohen

      Right personal stories are more specific than general statements.

      It’s probably impossible to relate them to the audience’s experience because each person has different experience! I think all you can do is be detailed about your own feelings and situations and hope that it’s at least entertaining and at best relatable.

      • http://pfoley.com Patrick Foley


  • http://www.ppcsoft.com/blog Atle Iversen

    And don’t forget – you can always use funny pictures/illustrations (but not cute pictures like kittens etc).

    This may be inappropriate – feel free to delete/block this image, but we have just released an update of our product, and this image was just *too* good to let go to waste (guess which high-profile, popular application/service we are having some gentle fun with :-) ).

    You know you’re popular when even the *fashion industry* is inspired by you…hollywood next (oh wait, Facebook has already done that)

  • http://www.brekiri.com/ Greg4

    Ugh, those examples of funny make me cringe. I know people need help with writing, and I think the specificity point is a great one. But I’m going to rupture an optic nerve rolling my eyes the next time I see these randomly tossed into the average post. In contrast, I think your rules post works because it has a theme that lends itself to the humor and gets people to really imagine the scenario.

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason Cohen

      Fair enough! Agreed when sprinkled randomly it’s just noise and not art.

      Then again you said “rupture an optic nerve rolling my eyes,” so… :-)

  • http://www.enterthegroup.com Sal Pellettieri

    Great points. I think you are bang on. People like to hear specific examples and stats are always great. The trick is to integrate those ideas but not make your writing too long or people will get bored. Our attention span is so … bye

  • http://ontechies.com Ricardo

    Thanks for the tips, I’ll try to remember and use some of these tips on my next post. Usually I just start a cycle of writing/reading/editing until I get tired and then I just hit the “Publish” button… the rest is history.

    I like writing because it stimulates the creative side of my brain and at the same time it helps me by relaxing my mind and make the train commute more enjoyable! I am not sure if I follow any rules, but what I do seems to work for me :)

  • Brooks Moses

    There’s only one piece of writing advice that I remember from my 12th-grade English teacher, and that is to make sure that when I write “it” and “that” that it’s very clear and specific what I’m referring to — and, if it isn’t, to make it so.

    “Be specific” was also the critical part of the senior-level “technical writing for mechanical engineers” class I took that changing my writing abilities forever. The crucial piece there was that, if a sentence in your writing is not doing something specific, cut it. “There are several things that…” — no. It’s obvious from the list that you’re about to write that there are several things. “It is easy to…” –no. You don’t need to tell people it’s easy; show them with details. And so on. Much technical writing is full of things like this that pad wordcount without conveying anything at all that the reader cares about.

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  • http://www.GettingMoreAwesome.com Rishi Shah

    this blog post was awesome. My favorite so far!

  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    Unless you’ve spent significant time analyzing well written material to understand why it’s good, writing appears like black magic. As a hyper enthusiastic daily blogger who can’t write enough opinion pieces on web tech, startups, design, and coding, these writing tips are much appreciated.

  • http://eight-acres.blogspot.com/ Liz Beavis

    This is a great post. The annoying part is that most media is now dumbed down to the point where they write very generally. I get so frustrated when I see reports that “experts say this” or “scientists say that” with no attempt to give the credentials of the experts/scientists to say anything that I should take notice of!

    • http://blog.asmartbear.com Jason Cohen

      Right. In fact wikipedia forbids such language for that reason. Sometimes bloggers should adhere to similar principals…

    • http://www.joycegrace.ca Vancouver marketing girl

      Did you see the Yahoo article about “sources” that said Steve Jobs was going to die in four weeks? ….did that ever come true? I didn’t follow up. They lost me at “sources”.

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  • http://www.joycegrace.ca Vancouver marketing girl

    I love this post! I love it, love it, love it! It’s so funny cause me and my brother have this thing we learned from Eban Pagan about not falling into “ambiguity for non-specificity” and we joke about it all the time. Now I read this, I had to share it with him. :)

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