OK, so I’ve set up a blog with a dedicated domain and a paid hosting. The rush of installing WP and themes is complete. Quick learning on how to install web stats and SEO was done while drinking coffee. So that’s it, I’m ready. Oh, but did I mention writing? After blogwalking on several sites and reading various styles of writing by prominent bloggers as well as newbies, I cannot help but think how on earth am I going to become like them? I cannot write poetic-like sentences or academic-style explanation. I’m not a journalist or traveler (well I am, once in a blue moon) and certainly not a book writer. So how can I express my thoughts and feelings in my own style without having to compose thousands of words but still make a statement?!
I used to become an English teacher to a bunch of young adults and one class that I taught was TOEFL. One particular part of the examination is Writing, in which the students must write an essay based on a question or a statement and under certain limitations (e.g. 150-200 words only). This is not just writing what you think; it’s all about composing a structured essay that will answer the question. You can spend long hours preparing for this section before taking the actual test and thousands of books & websites have been devoted to expose the tips & tricks. Now the question is: Is it possible to use TOEFL writing style in a blog post?
The purpose of writing for a TOEFL test is to deliver your key points of opinion in a concise but clear manner. The preset number of 150-200 words is deemed sufficient to answer a question or statement. Having browsed several blogs in a few languages, I’ve come to a conclusion that a long post may not be attractive to readers unless the content is particularly interesting. For me, the first two paragraphs is enough to know whether to proceed reading the rest of the article or not. And if the article is especially long, I tend to skim through it or skip it totally. Therefore writing a blog post using TOEFL approach is one of the solution to deliver a message to the reader with less hassle.
However the style of writing in the TOEFL approach can be “dry” as well. The structure of TOEFL writing is carefully designed to answer to a question or statement without giving much freedom for the writer to express his/her mind. As you know bloggers don’t have such patience to be regulated by structures; they tend to speak their minds openly regardless of how long the post will be. And if you want to tell a story, you certainly want to put it in such a way that readers will follow it with passion. You cannot do that with TOEFL approach.
Writing a blog post requires effort. As for style, it comes down to the writer to decide whether or not he would use a structured pattern or a loose one. TOEFL style writing is useful in helping you explaining some good points to the readers, but it is certainly not everything.
Picture source here
Further reading on TOEFL writing here