I was very honored to speak at the Virtual Lunch with Leaders Zoom call yesterday for the San Diego Paralegal Association, sponsored by Joy Murao and Practice Aligned Resources about writing for legal professionals. We discussed some of my experiences and tips for writing for the attendees. Thanks for Sheila Grela of Procopio for inviting me and coordinating the presentation!
One of the things that I did as part of the presentation is discuss seven “DO’S” and seven “DON’TS” of writing – at least as it pertains to writing blog posts and articles related to legal and legal technology topics from my perspective. For quite a while, I’ve followed these philosophies, but I’ve never formalized them – until now, that is. So, with that in mind, here are seven “DO’S” of writing, with comments about each:
DO read daily – it’s the best way to stay informed and generate ideas for your own writing: If any of you have seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, I’m sure you certainly remember Alec Baldwin’s character dressing down the other salesmen, stating “Always Be Cobbling”, I mean “Closing” (some of you got that joke). Regardless, good writing starts with reading a lot, at least some stories and articles every day, which keeps you well informed, enables you to pick up techniques from other writers out there and gives you topic ideas. Reading articles, blog posts and other resources within the industry has not only made me a better blog writer, it has also made me a more knowledgeable and well-rounded eDiscovery professional, as well.
DO take time for a final review before publishing or presenting: Even for people who don’t write a daily blog like me, there are deadlines from time to time that can be extremely short – especially if you’re busy with other tasks as well. You want to take time to edit your work and help ensure good quality and it’s important to take time for at least one final review for clarity and to correct mistakes. Just don’t overdo it. Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! 😉
DO keep a list of topics you’d like to write about and update it regularly: If you write regularly, it’s a good idea to keep a list of topics you’d like to write about. Some days, you’ll identify several great topics to add to the list, while other days, you may not be able to think of any additional topics to add (and some topics you may later decide you don’t want to cover after all). Regardless, a list of potential topics is great to fall back on when you don’t have any other ideas that day – it certainly has saved me numerous times in identifying a topic for the next day’s blog post.
DO seek feedback on your work: Not only that, but accept it willingly. One reason I ask for comments at the end of each blog post is that I not only encourage thoughts about the topic, but also feedback about my post on it. Several times in the past, readers have pointed out to me when I have made mistakes or provided incorrect information and I have updated the post to correct those problems. So, if you see issues with my posts, please let me know. And, if you write blog posts or articles, willingly accept feedback as well.
DO look for opportunities to reference previous writings: If you write regularly enough, you’ll inevitably reference topics you’ve covered before, so don’t hesitate to link back to them. Even better, actively look for opportunities to link back to your previous writings. That can turn one view of your work into two or three and build loyalty to you as an author even more.
DO put your own personal spin on your writings when appropriate: Personal experiences, humor and pop culture references are regularly relatable. For example, last week I wrote about releasing legal holds for Ipro’s blog and tied it to Kenny Rogers’ song The Gambler, where he sings you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em – only I replaced that second part with release ‘em. Or, if I throw in a comment like “that escalated quickly” or “surely, you can’t be serious”, I’ll find a clip of those quotes from the movies Anchorman or Airplane and link to them. Give readers a brief smile or chuckle when reading about serious topics to make it a little more fun.
DO find as many opportunities to write as possible: It’s the best way to improve! When I look back at my earliest blog posts, many of them almost seem like they were written by someone else. My writing “voice” has certainly evolved over the years and writing regularly and learning what works – from my own observations and from feedback of those who read my work – has enabled me to improve over time.
On Monday, I’ll cover my seven “DON’TS” of writing. DON’T miss it! 😉
So, what do you think? What are some best practices you’ve observed in your writing or in that of others? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.