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Practical Blogging Tips: Why Write Reviews?

You’re saying, “my blog isn’t about reviews.” Even still, writing reviews helps you to learn constructive criticism – assuming that you aren’t out to be purely critical. Writing short reviews help you to be more succinct. And it’s not all that hard if you practice.

Over the years, I’ve written many hundreds of reviews, which I believe has helped me be less verbose. (Don’t mistake my long, more detailed posts for verbosity.) To do the same, ask yourself, “could the same thing be said in fewer words?

Here’s one process towards brevity:

  1. Write a constructively critical review of something you almost like – a book, movie, TV show, software. Pick something that’s slightly flawed, in your opinion. Focus on that flaw, and explain it – why there’s a flaw, how it could have been better.
  2. Rewrite the review to be shorter.
  3. Make it shorter still. Can you do it in 150-200 words without losing the gist?
  4. Write more reviews and apply steps 1-3 again. Do a few dozen of these, or if you have the time, a few hundred over time.
  5. Now, when you write something else other than reviews, apply the same process.

Note that you don’t have to publish your reviews, simply write them.

This process is based on advice that William Zinsser quoted in his inspirational book “On Writing Well” (if memory serves). He was quoting a famous writer, who suggested that when you write something, take a pen to it and cross out every other word. If any meaning is lost, selectively add words back. (This applies to both fiction and non-fiction, and quickens the “learning brevity” process.)

This advice was given long before the Internet, even before desktop computers were commonplace. But the advice is still valid today. I recommend working with a printed copy of your first dozen reviews. There’s just something positive about copyediting on print. But if that’s not an option, most good HTML editors have a “strikeout” feature.

When I’m not rushed for time, I apply this advice diligently – though sometimes obsessively. Unfortunately, blogging is such that it often feels like a rushed activity, and I write less well as a blogger than I did in my technical writing or short fiction.

Thoughts? Agree/ disagree with this process?

Author: Raj Dash

8 thoughts on “Practical Blogging Tips: Why Write Reviews?

  1. Writing online has been a great learning tool for writing short. I started in print – where I had to continually stretch articles to 800 words. Writing 200 word ANYTHING can be tough and makes you think about each word used.

    Thanks for this reminder that if you don’t need it – take it out!

  2. Kate: I think maybe I’ve titled my post poorly. The point of this post is to suggest that writing shorter reviews teaches you both constructive criticism and brevity that can serve you well in regular blogging.

  3. I actually wasn’t specifically talking about adding reviews to your blog, but rather writing reviews as practice, to get the benefits mentioned above. However, if you decide to post your reviews and they fit in with your blog, even better

  4. hello,

    i added the ability for users to write their own reviews on one of my sites. it actually works because it is more down-to-earth where more visitors can related to products on a site. Reviews are a great addition to most types of blogs and even some journal blogs. good writeup!

  5. Morning,

    I’ve been thinking about that myself and am starting to implement that on my site. I think having concrete stated opinions really helps define the kind of blogger/entrepreneur you are online….and people learn they can trust your judgements.

    Data points,

    Barbara

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