February 14

by Dorina Lanza · 6 comments

in General

In the 3rd century, Emperor Claudius II was faced with  defending the Roman Empire from the invading Goths. He believed  single men made better soldiers so he temporarily forbade marriage. He also forced the Senate to deify the former Emperor  Gallienus, including him with the Roman gods to be worshiped.

Legend  has it that Valentine was a bishop in Italy who risked the Emperor’s wrath by  refusing to worship idols and for secretly marrying young couples. Saint Valentine was dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and have his head cut  off on FEBRUARY 14, 269AD.

While awaiting execution, it is said he  prayed for the jailers’ sick daughter, who miraculously recovered. He wrote  her a note and signed it, “from your Valentine.”

In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius designated February 14th as “Saint Valentine’s Day.”

The  Greek name for Christ, Î§Ï Î¹ÏƒÏ„ÌÏ‚, begins with the letter “Chi” written as  an “X,” which is why X-mas became an abbreviation for Christmas.

In Medieval times, the “X” was called the Christ’s Cross or Criss-Cross, from whence “crossing one’s heart” was derived, and it was put on documents as a pledge or oath and kissed for sincerity, similar to swearing upon a Bible and saying “so help me God.” Thus Valentines cards are usually signed with X’s and O’s to express a pledge before God sealed with a kiss of  sincerity.

XOXO

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Or, 7 steps to writing killer blog posts in 47 minutes or less – a spiral approach . . .

I don’t know about you, but I have many strengths. Writing is not one of them.  I will do almost anything to avoid it – heck, I even majored in math . . .

Now, I’ve put myself in a position of not being able to avoid it any more. I have finally started a blog. But, I am still stuck.  I have tons of ideas for topics but the actual writing . . . Ack!

Well, the other day, while practicing advanced writing avoidance in my library, the answer jumped out at me.

I was looking through my old math and physics books and, in between “Properties of Gases and Liquids” and “Plasma: The Fourth State of Matter”, sat “The New College Physics: A Spiral Approach” by Alfred Baez [yes Joan's father was a physics professor].

Eureka! Finally!  Enlightenment!  I could use the “Spiral Approach” to make it less painful to write!

OK, so how to do it . . . what’s the premise?

The premise is to tread lightly on each topic and then at each successive pass [aka spiral], you go a little  deeper.  Simple enough.  And, by the time you’re done, you’ll have a nice blog post [Or if you use it to teach physics to non-techies, you will have a kid that understands the topic - LOL!].

Here is what do you do . . . after, of course, you have decided on a topic – I will talk about that in another post.

You only need to take 7 simple steps:

1.  Set a Framework
You picked your topic for a reason.

  • What is it?
  • What are the main 3 to 5 points you want to make about it.  Make sure they all pass the “So what?” test.  If you can’t come up with a good answer – take it out and replace it with something else until you have at least 3 points.
  • In what order do they make the most sense?

Make a list of your 3 to 5 points.  Now you have your framework.  Also, now is the time to pick your title – more on that too in another post.

2.  List All of Your Subpoints
For each of your main points make a list of the subpoints you want to make. Each of your main points will the topic of a paragraph.  Your subpoints will be supporting sentences.  List your subpoints under the appropriate main point.

3.  Put Pen to Paper [or Fingers to Keyboard]
Now is the time to start writing.  Over thinking will make you stuck.  Trust me, I know . . . Start writing.  For each paragraph

  • Write a topic sentence containing your main point.
  • Your subpoints will support your main point – make each a sentence.
  • Add anything you missed.
  • Make your conclusion in your last sentence.

Now is not the time to worry about structure or being concise.  Just write and get it out.  If in doubt, put it in. You will fix and refine later.  Now you have your very rough draft.

4.  Fix the Content and Flow
Does what you wrote flow well?  How is the content?  Have a look at what you wrote.  Reshuffle the order if need be. Take out any repetition. Ask yourself “So what?” to each sentence you have left.  If it doesn’t pass the “So what?” test, take it out.  Now you should have your draft content and you should have it in the proper order.

5.  Make it Easy to Read
Ease of reading is critical.  If you are anything like me, at this point you will have long paragraphs with long sentences – really long paragraphs with really long sentences . . . Don’t pontificate.  Pontification does not facilitate the comprehension of your ruminations. ;-)

You want your reader to be able to read your post and digest its points quickly.  If a sentence is too long, break it up.  If a paragraph is too long, break it up.  The faster your reader can read your post the better they will assimilate it.  Keep it quick and to the point.  Your reader will love you for it!

6.  Use Acceptable “Internet” English
Your punctuation and grammar don’t have to be perfect in the “classic” sense.  If you write like you talk your post will be easier to relate to [see what I mean? ;-) ].  It’s OK to use hyphens and ellipses – and to have dangling prepositions [I am certain that at least one of my English teacher is rolling over in his/her grave as we speak!].

But, do make sure you fix any errors in spelling, usage and other punctuation.  You want to make sure that you leave a good impression.

7.  Dress it Up
Now it’s time to dress up your post. Make it pretty. Add photos and video if they are relevant. Insert useful links. Make it look fun to read.  Now you should have a good looking informative post that is easy to read and gets to the point.

So there you go! The first two steps should take you about 10 to 12 minutes.  The remainder should take another 35 or so.  I hope you have found this useful.  If you have, I’d appreciate it if you would leave a comment and would click on the links to share. Thanks!

Live with vision, passion and inspiration!

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