Blogging / Writing skills

That one big difference between blog writing and feature writing

Much of the way I write my blog and the way I write at work is quite similar – similar in terms of the way I used words. Similar that it’s a more conversational tone to the piece. But I keep having a huge urge to blog. I really want to spend part of my evening writing, even though I’ve been doing it all day at work, and that’s because actually, the way I write at work and the way I can write here is pretty different. Granted.

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I can write a blog post from one thought I’ve had in the day. I can come home and get on my laptop and just start writing – I don’t have to find research or stats or case studies or quotes, I just write what I’m thinking. Sure, a lot of established bloggers will probably find more gravitas for their blog posts, but I’m not at that place. I use it to get down readable, and perhaps thoughtful pieces about my role and career as a journalist and what I’m learning along the way. I can sit and just write for 20 minutes and have a blog post done.

Yes my blog is for an audience, technically. But it’s not a business, it doesn’t have to meet certain standards or really identify with my audience. I write this for myself and getting more and more followers is a massive added bonus. So I do take them into account when I’m writing, but it’s more that I hope what I choose and what I want to say is beneficial and interesting for them.

That’s the bit that changes at work. To some extent, depending on the feature, I could sit and just write but the majority of the time, in the true nature of journalism – you’re not a writer. You’re a journalist. You need reliability, structure, case studies and research. And stats. And a real REASON as to why this feature is worthy enough to be published for your audience. The whole process is different – fun yes, but different.

I won’t sit down at my desk with a list of features to write and then just whittle through them like I’m on fast forward because they take time! I need to find that research and those case studies and get those answers about that question and work out how I’m going to do it. And then once I’ve written it, knowing me, it’s always too long so I’m editing and cutting bits out and thinking which bits do people actually want to read? So in usual form, I will probably write the introduction, then plan the rest of the feature, write my subheadings, email and talk to people, find some stats, wait for some images, get that quote and in reality – it can take up to a week to get that finished. When really, that 600 word article at home would take me an hour if it were a blog post.

Sometimes, I really want to sit and write about nothing and everything that’s in my head. And other times at work I really want to find out and research something to present to our audience in a way that I would really benefit from. And that’s the beauty of it: stripped down to basics, they are both just words, but if you look at the end product and the process that piece of writing goes through to get there, it’s completely different.

There are a lot of bloggers who are journalists too and, if I’m honest, I am more inclined to read their blogs. Mainly because there is more actual content on there, and less photos of their food and lipstick, but also because I know they can write. Blogging is a great way to play around with your writing and writing style,which is probably why do many journalists do it. You can write whatever you want to, within reason.

So for now, I’m happy with that balance. The opportunity to write wherever (currently on a packed northern line tube) and whenever I want on here, with a bit more structure on my writing when I walk in the office.

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