Reading Blogs is Fundamental (or How to Write a Blog)

Or perhaps… in my corner of the blogosphere, “Why Lawyers Should Read Lawyer Blogs”. (Because they can always improve their skills.)

One of the great things about law blogging is that done correctly, it requires that you read other law blogs. I’ll get to how that potentially helps me as a practicing DWI lawyer in Austin, Texas in a moment, but let me start with the first point.

How do you learn to write a blog? By reading other blogs. Plain and simple, end of story.

This is simply a subset of the well known axiom that the best way to learn to write is to read. And read. And then read some more.

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark recently posted his “10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer,” suggesting the answer was to write, write, write.

The comments section of the post is the most interesting though, because several responders (who understood his basic point) exhorted others to read as well as write.

Blogs are written differently than novels, short stories, biographies, historical fiction, technical writing, etc. Blogs are written differently than anything else. So the best way to learn to blog is to read blogs.

But there’s more to it than that. At least for lawyers. Blogs provide the perfect medium for an exchange of ideas about, say, criminal defense.

Professionals can learn from others in their field, and those whose egos won’t let them become versed in new techniques and fresh ideas are bound to stagnate and lose their edge.

For example, I recently ran across the Lubbock DWI blog, written by DWI lawyers Stephen Hamilton and Nicky Boatwright

They posted about inaccuracies and problems with the Breath Test Machine used in Texas, and started their post with:

Over the years, the machine used to guess at a person’s blood alcohol concentration has changed.

Breath testing is simply trying to guess what a person’s blood alcohol concentration is at the time the test is administered. The current guesser is called the Intoxilyzer 5000.

I’ve practiced DWI defense in Austin for over ten years, so I’m well aware of the potential for disputing breath test results. But I learned something from the post, not about blogging, but about DWI defense, and a new way of arguing a case to a jury:

…the machine used to guess at a person’s blood alcohol concentration…

Beautiful turn of phrase. One that accurately describes the Intoxilyzer 5000. And a quick and easy way to accurately describe the machine to a jury, if necessary. 

So, to recap: reading blogs is the way to learn to write them. But even if you just want to become a better [fill-in-the-blank], don’t be afraid to soak up ideas from other people, and use them in your practice.

One last point: I could have titled this post “Why Lawyers Should Read Other Law Blogs,” or even more generically, “Why Bloggers Should Read Other Blogs”… because the basic point is the same, no matter what section or niche of the blogosphere you inhabit, want to blog? Start by reading other blogs.

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Grant Griffiths - July 30, 2007 11:34 PM

Great post Jamie and you are exactly right. However, we can take it even further. Besides reading them, get involved in the conversation by commenting. Post about the post you read and provide a trackback. The biggest advantage of a blog over a static website and other marketing efforts, i.e. yellow pages, is the conversation that can take place.

markofando - October 2, 2007 1:53 PM

Want to start your private office arms race right now?

I just got my own USB rocket launcher :-) Awsome thing.

Plug into your computer and you got a remote controlled office missile launcher with 360 degrees horizontal and 45 degree vertival rotation with a range of more than 6 meters - which gives you a coverage of 113 square meters round your workplace.
You can get the gadget here: http://tinyurl.com/2qul3c

Check out the video they have on the page.

Cheers

Marko Fando

DotBigglizoge - October 4, 2007 10:24 PM

I've got an Amazon gift certificate burning holes in my pocket,
and I want to get the most bang for my buck.

Enter the Secret Amazon Web Pages:

http://tinyurl.com/38sojf

This is where you're going to find the "latest sales, rebates, and limited-time offers" from
Amazon, and you can score some pretty deep discounts if you're a savvy shopper.

Next, there's the special Sale link. This is open every Friday, and ONLY on Fridays.

You can find the same good discounts here as you would in hidden Deals, although some
Fridays you can really get lucky and make off like an Amazon bandit - I've seen discounts
there as low as 75% off sticker price.

James - October 10, 2007 12:31 PM

Blogs are an essential vehicle for communication. They spurn thought and debate. They also encourage a more informal written format. On my website I tend to scribe more professional prose. However, I let loose when blogging.

Blogs also tend to have interesting topics or ideas to capture user created content like this: DUI online survey.

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