How to cut the clutter when blogging on complex topics
By Thomas J. Bukowski
This blogger has written on a variety of complex topics, from lasers that can be used to excise cancerous tumors, to the many and varied types of snow tires. But with every topic – be it transportation or even radiated light amplification – your job is to humanize it. Always write from the perspective of the reader, and about how the topic relates to them and their lives.
A great mentor of mine recommended that I place myself in the shoes of a random person I saw on my way to work that day before writing about a difficult topic. He told me to answer the following questions in my head as I write: “Does my writing make sense to them?” “Will they even care?” If you can get that person in your corner, he said, you’re more likely to get the thousands of others who will read your writing into your corner, too.
Here are some tips and techniques to humanize your writing on complicated topics.
The useful analogy
Writing on complicated topics for the common reader can be a bit like grating a garlic bulb. The good stuff’s in there, you just need crack it open to get to it – and toss the peel before you’re done.
Translation: Every complex topic has meat to it that your audience will find compelling, you just need to find it – and trim out the details (the peel) that aren’t necessary to your piece of writing.
And that right there is an example of a helpful technique to use when blogging about complicated or highly technical topics: the useful analogy. When attempting to describe a complicated topic to a lay audience, you need to find a way to frame the topic in relatable terms.
Let’s break it down: It’s a pretty fair assumption that most of us have interacted with a garlic bulb or garlic cloves – or at least can imagine what it’s like to peel them. Much of writing for the end-user of a blog or Web site follows a similar series of assumptions and compromises. Since you’re not in the head of every individual reader, you can only do the best you can to assume what they already know and what might be relatable to them.
K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid
If you’re ever taken a journalism writing course, this acronym may be familiar to you! It’s a bit of a cliché, but like many of the phrases this accented French word qualifies, it’s a cliché for a very good reason.
The moment your writing becomes too complicated, you’ve most likely lost your audience. Since most new readers don’t know yet why they care about your blog or Web page to begin with, the moment you make reading your writing feel like a chore – or worse, homework – the quicker they’re jump to more entertaining content on the Web.
Bonus: Make good use of the second-person point-of-view if you can and it’s appropriate for the piece of writing.
Blogging on complex topics takes practice
Is our job difficult? It most certainly is, even if it doesn’t seem like it on the outside. Many people think that anyone can write, and those same people probably post regularly on Facebook, Tweet or have a blog of their own.
But to write well is different altogether, and it requires training, patience and a lot of practice. With the right combination of three, you too can write great blog entries about complicated topics. Just don’t forget to toss the garlic peel.