Blogging’s first rule is fairly intuitive: write.  What’s a blog without words?  Not much.  Even a photo blog is enhanced by a few well-chosen words.

The second rule may be a little more difficult.  It takes a critical eye.  It requires the willingness to cut your precious work to shreds.  It also takes a little time and effort.

Blogging’s second rule?  Edit.


Make sure what you say is worthwhile.  If people read your blog, they think you have something worthwhile to say.  Don’t let them get bogged down in the unnecessary.

5 Unnecessary Items When Writing

What’s unnecessary?

1. Extraneous words.   Many sentences are stuffed with superfluous words.  Which, that, and who are greatly overused.  When you’re editing, try taking them out.  Often—in fact most of the time—your sentence will read just as well without them.

In conversation we tend to use phrases without real meaning.  They flow from the speaker’s mouth into the air and don’t have any impact.  Even if conversational style is your forte, you can eliminate the pointless.

2. Lots of words that end in –ly.  You know—adverbs.  Not all of those –ly words are unnecessary, but I’ll bet you can communicate without them.  (I was going to say, “I’ll bet you can communicate effectively without them,” but I think the sentence is strong without that –ly word.)

3. An overabundance of prepositional phrases.  Remember them from junior high grammar?  They’re the words that tell you where the mouse is in relation to the box.  The mouse is on/in/below/behind/above/of the box.  Of is a tricky one.  It often, but not always, takes a possessive’s place.  If “of” permeates your writing, see if you can change some of those phrases into possessives.  It will streamline your writing.

Remember I said an overabundance.  You need some prepositional phrases.  They exist for a reason.

If you doubt your grammar abilities, check out Grammar Girl; she makes grammar understandable and applicable.

4. Verbs of being often muck up fluid reading.  These are any of the verbs of the am/is/are variety.  We often use them in conjunction with a verb.  For example: She is walking across the street.  That’s fine, but if you get rid of the “is” you have a stronger sentence.  She walks across the street.  Try it.  I think you’ll like it.

Here’s a freebie—has is almost as overused as the being verbs.  See if you can choose something else.

5. Forget 10th grade English.  You don’t need five paragraphs, but please don’t write a plethora of paragraphs containing one sentence.  Three short sentences may pack power. Complex-compound sentences retain a place in writing.  If you like them, make them count.

Remember, you’ve got to know the rules and use them well to break them effectively.  You may chuck some slaved over sentences for the sake of streamlining.  It’s worth it.  You’ll be pleased with your work, and your readers will come back for more.

What’s your favorite tip for pruning your writing?