Thursday, 14 December 2006

Letters to the editor

Some people have inquired of me how long it takes to keep this blog refreshed, thinking it must take most of the day. It doesn't. After twenty years of on-again off-again writing and ten years of editing Libz press releases (a job now gratefully relinquished), most short posts can almost be shaken out of my sleeve. (And the odd guest post doesn't hurt either.)

Polemic writing, of which which writing for blogs is an example, is just like every other skill: it's something that needs practice to perfect. One of the best forms of training for this that I found early on is writing letters to the editor. The discipline of harnessing your thoughts to make a convincing argument in just 200 words is a great one to automatise.

Young bloggers who find they need that discipline -- who perhaps find their thoughts regularly sprawling out beyond any readable or reasonable barrier -- should give serious thought to using the medium of letters-to-the-editor to train themselves. And since newspapers generally use letters to the editor as a gauge of public opinion, the exercise is a worthwhile one in any case, even if your letters aren't regularly published.

I might post later on today a short guide that I prepared a few years back to help in writing press releases. Perhaps some of you might find it useful?



  1. Very useful!

    That would be wonderful Peter.

  2. Indeed, I'd love to read such a guide.

  3. There certainly is, Julian (this is not a setup, by the way - honest): a superb course by Leonard Peikoff called 'Objective Communication,' which has been run here in Auckland a few times, and I'd be more than happy to run here again.

    Oh, and I'll aim to post that guide first thing tomorrow morning. :-)

    PS: Julian: How's Santafé De Bogotá? ;-)

  4. I would be very interested, Peter.

  5. "The discipline of harnessing your thoughts to make a convincing argument in just 200 words is a great one to automatise".

    And nowhere is this more important than on a blog. The use of excessive words dilutes your point considerably.

    Also you need to remember more and more people are reading blogs on mobile devices with small screens. Wordiness needs to be eliminated.

  6. 200 words Peter?

    The Christchurch "Press" only allows 150!

    Trying to make a valid and intelligent point on any topic [say re Hizbollah] in 150 words is certainly the way to focus your thoughts.

  7. PC, Call me a Devil's advocate but I reckon you're being awfully pretentious.

  8. I sense dissension in the ranks.


  9. My favourite scribble here '76 is actually from Julian, he's heard of a lecture about effective communication...but forgot the name of the course.


    The Julian I know would have been studious enough to at least google it :)

  10. Spirit Of 76 said...

    "PC, Call me a Devil's advocate but I reckon you're being awfully pretentious."

    In what way? I didn't see the post that way, so I would be interested in some expanded thoughts on the matter.


  11. Sean; no, nothing major...

    I just thought that some of PC's recent postings relating to Christianity and John Key were, shall we say, acerbic, and out of character.

    (And no; I'm not a pissed off Christian or National voter [ACT I am])

    PC should leave the dogmatic, parochial and wrathful approach to the rest of us :)


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