You cannot tell it today, but one of the first books I bought when I started blogging back in 2003 was “On Writing Well” by William Zinsser.
Zissner died earlier this month at age 92. The New York Times’ Douglas Martin explained in his obituary that Zinsser went far beyond writerly do’s and dont’s in the book. Zissner used his personal experience to immerse readers in the trials and tribulations of authorship.
“Ultimately, the product any writer has to sell is not the subject being written about, but who he or she is,” Mr. Zinsser wrote in “On Writing Well.” He added: “I often find myself reading with interest about a topic I never thought would interest me — some scientific quest, perhaps. What holds me is the enthusiasm of the writer for his field.”
Per Martin, in “Writing About Your Life: A Journey Into the Past” (2004), Mr. Zinsser said he did not find his writer’s voice until he was in his 50s, when he wrote “On Writing Well.”
Now, whatever I write about, I make myself available. No hiding.
Whatever I write, I make myself available. What a line.
What a refreshing concept in this day and age of content marketing, native advertising, SEO and having others write blog copy for you because you cannot make the time.
As a lawyer or other professional, blogging works because of your ability to establish an intimate relationship with the reader. You by making yourself vulnerable and available to help people. The reader by discovering someone with passion, experience and care who can help them.
The product when it comes to legal services is you, the blogger. The product is not the subject being blogged about, it’s who you really are.
You discover new interests and grow as a professional through blogging. As Zinsser tells it, what’ll hold you is “the enthusiasm of the writer for his field”—a field perhaps focused on a niche for which your enthusiasm is unequalled.
People ask me how I find things to blog about. How can you not find things to blog about?
Blogging, as Zinsser might describe it, is “reading with interest about a topic,” sharing what you’ve discovered and offering your take. Blogging is discovery and learning.
Legal blogging, at its finest, is giving of yourself. Rather than providing summaries of the law or the news without any soul, blogging is being authentic. Sharing your thoughts. People will connect with you, not the copy.
Make yourself available in your blogging. No kidding.
h/t Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt)
Image courtesy of Flickr by Sarah Sosiak