Tag Archives: writing

Small European Country is going dormant

Dear readers,

I thoroughly enjoyed writing for you. At this point, however, I need to concentrate on writing my thesis, rather than blogging. Therefore, this blog about the life of a Small European country is going dormant. I might post something every now and then, if I have anything exceptional to say. Perhaps I will even wake this project up with a kiss at a later stage, or start a new project and let you know about it, but for now – so long and thanks for the fish!

P. S. If you’d like to write a guest post for Small European Country, you’re still mostly welcome to do so – contact me here!

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Filed under Small European things, Work

Papa, Do You Have a Bike Helmet, Too?

As I mentioned in a recent post, I now write for the Bike Citizens Magazine. My first article has been published, here’s a little intro – click on the link below to read the full version.

“Papa, do you have a helmet, too?” my two-year old daughter asked. For a brief moment I did not know what to say. Because while she wears a bike helmet every time I take her on the bike, I am not wearing one myself, not when I’m bringing her to the day-care nor on my commute to work. As parents often do, I rescued myself by telling a half-truth – that I wear a helmet when riding my race bike.

In fact, by not wearing a helmet, I am making a wise, rational, scientifically supported decision. Wonder why? Read my article about it in the Bike Citizens Magazine!

The helmet goes with the rest of the racing gear

The helmet goes with the rest of the racing gear

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So you wanna be a blogger?

So you’ve decided to start a blog. Congratulations. You and a zillion others. Might want to try and make yours attractive to read, otherwise what’s the purpose of writing one? But how to make a readable blog? There are no rules about what a blog should be, that’s part of the fun of blogging. What to do? Well, keep on reading this one, for starters.

While I have some writing experience and training, I am not claiming to be a Master Blogger. I do have a huge amount of reading experience so I am something of a Master Reader. Since its your blog we’re discussing, you’re the one who decides what it looks like, what you write about and how often (unless you maintain a company blog or something similar, in which case its a different story). So I won’t try and tell you what to do. I can, though, give a few tips that might be useful.

Firstly, the opening sentence of your posts needs to be catchy. It is surprising how many bloggers start each post with “So I went to Rome last weekend”, “So this is what I think about the dairy consumption in the Mid-West”, “So here is the final proof there’s life on Mars”. In all these sentences, “so” is absolutely unnecessary. Try reading them without the “so” – the meaning is still there. “So” is just an example of “burden words” people use. When used in speech they can be annoying enough (think about all those times you heard “like, you know”) but there is absolutely no excuse for using them in a written text.

Secondly, the length of your posts should be reasonable. Of course, nobody can tell you how long your blog posts should be. There is some common sense to it though. Personally, I prefer posts that are column-size, 300-800 words, readable in a couple of minutes. Doesn’t mean you can’t write shorter or longer posts, but if you always write a couple of sentences, why not stick to Twitter? And if you write posts of thousands words every other day, are you sure they are meant to be read and enjoyed by others and are not just a form of therapy? A bit of diversity in your post length is fine, but keep the readers (and their attention span) in mind.

Thirdly, you may want some pictures in your blog. Yes, the ones that mean a thousand words. A couple of well-chosen pictures can make a good post excellent. But putting dozens of photos in every post is just unnecessary – its a blog, not Instagram. And if you put up a picture a day with a few words – that’s Twitter stuff! Blogs are primarily reading material, so use pictures to illustrate your writing, not as core material. Unless you blog about photography, of course. Every now and then I submit a photo post myself, but I try not to make a habit out of it.

Fourthly, your blog should have a topic. Writing about whatever comes up in your head is fine, but to attract readers that would come back, its nice if they can follow a theme in your writing. Doesn’t matter what your topic is, as long as you write interestingly enough it can be as narrow as the genetic diversity of moths at the Isle of Skye or as the history of democracy in the Arab world. On the other hand, your topic can be as broad as marine biology or as small European countries. Just write with the (non-specialist) reader in mind, and try to transmit your enthusiasm about the topic!

Fifthly and last – post regularly. Personally, I am rather put off by bloggers that are posting daily. Partly its jealosy of them being able to write so frequently but partly because I don’t believe that one’s topic can be that inspiring day after day. Posting regularly does help gather followers. If I have to wait a month between posts, I lose track (and interest). Once per two weeks is the lowest acceptable frequency I would say. I try to write at least weekly, myself, and would be very happy if I could pull off two posts per week. Reminds readers you’re still alive.

And that’s what I can do for your blog. From now on you’re on your own. Happy blogging and remember:

  1. Don’t start every post with “so”
  2. Be brief, but not too brief
  3. Use pictures wisely
  4. Choose a topic you like
  5. And post regularly!

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Where the civil servants roam

The city hall of Rotterdam has the most charming of patios, with lush roses, palm trees, benches to chill on and even a fountain into the bargain. Whenever I am in the area, I walk through this hidden garden just to make sure its still there. And every now and then I take a few minutes to sit back in this urban piece of paradise and just enjoy the quiet, right in the heart of the hustle and bustle of the big city. Every Rotterdammer has been in the city hall. Almost none of them knows what they’re missing just 20 steps from the entrance. But I do. And now you know, too. However, with knowledge comes responsibility, so please take good care of this charming spot.

Where the civil servants roam free (during lunch breaks)

As of recently, I write about my favourite spots in Rotterdam, like this one, for Spotted by Locals, a mobile and online city guide with up-to-date tips by locals in 43 cities in Europe. Check it out!

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Filed under Small European things