Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, would be amused to know that he made me a better blogger.
Still one of the most beloved children’s book authors in the world, Dr. Seuss wrote 4 of the 10 bestselling children’s books of all time.
Generations of kids discovered their own imaginations and learned to read by listening to the rhythm of language in his books.
At first glance, Dr. Seuss would seem to have his feet firmly planted in the garden of children’s literature.
Yet, in our journey as writers and bloggers, what better role model could we have?
Because, as we all know (you did know, didn’t you?), writing for children is the hardest kind of writing to do.
If you can write for children, you can write for anyone.
7 Things Dr. Seuss Taught Me About Fearless Blogging
1. Believe in your ideas.
It’s tempting to call it quits if you feel that no one is listening to you, if no one but your mother wants to read your blog.
Dr. Seuss’s first book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by 29 different publishers before it was finally accepted.
There may be days, weeks, months, when we feel unappreciated. But developing a community of readers takes time.
If we believe in our ideas, as Dr. Seuss did, the readers will show up.
2. Respect your readers.
Geisel said, “Once a writer starts talking down to kids, he’s lost. Kids can pick up on that kind of thing.”
Dr. Seuss taught kids many things in his books—to be responsible, to take care of the environment, to help those without a voice, to experience the joy of language, to be imaginative—but all without making them feel they were being preached to.
Just open up a copy of The Cat in the Hat, or Horton Hears a Who, or Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and you’ll see what I mean.
Dr. Seuss showed me that, though my goal is to teach my readers something in a post, I don’t have to hit them over the head in an “I’m smart-and-you’re-not” sort of way.
3. Make every word count.
Dr. Seuss told amazing stories and held his audiences captive, sometimes using only 50 different words in an entire picture book.
He created The Cat in the Hat, in part, because a publisher said he couldn’t write a complete children’s book in fewer than 250 words. He proved him wrong.
The Cat in the Hat came in at exactly 223 words.
For me, that means that, even if I am in love with a word or phrase, if it doesn’t move my post forward, I pull the scissors out and the snipping begins.
4. Turn your ideas sideways and make that headline pop.
If you see—and write about—the world in a different way, you will wake your readers up.
Dr. Seuss believed that “looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope” let his readers see all the possibilities that can exist in life.
What child wouldn’t be interested in a book with the title, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut? The book was about memorizing as a way to learn words.
But at the very end, Dr. Seuss points out that eyes open is better because, “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
As a blogger, I’m learning to look at ideas in different ways and to challenge the conventional thinking. Because that’s what my readers are looking for.
5. Break the ‘rules.’
The instructors in my Writing for Children Certificate Program, the literary agents and editors at every writers’ conference I went to, said the same thing: “I don’t want to see any picture books written in rhyme.” But look at Dr. Seuss!:
I am Sam.
Sam I am.
I do not like
Green eggs and ham.
Your writing is more memorable when you break the rules now and then.
Now I’m not talking misspelling and typos here. But if it works better to start a sentence with “and” or write a one-word paragraph to emphasize a point, I’ll do it.
The old ‘writerism’ still applies: Learn the rules. Then break one if it makes sense.
6. Touch the heart and the head.
Dr. Seuss was a master at this—in all of his books. Through his stories, kids experience love, joy, fear, sadness and, yes, even anger. And they remember the stories long after they are over because the author connected with their emotions.
Who else but Dr. Seuss could make us mad at the Grinch, only to feel sorry for him later?
The best bloggers are like that. They make you not only think, but feel.
So write about what your readers are afraid of—and propose a solution. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them feel.
7. Write simply, but be specific.
In And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Dr. Seuss writes about:
A zebra pulling a wagon. A Chinese boy with sticks, a big magician doing tricks.
I can picture that, can’t you?
If you are writing an about page for your blog, you could describe yourself by saying:
I love any movie Christopher Guest produces.
Or, you could say:
I own every crazy Christopher Guest movie in existence, from Spinal Tap to Best of Show.
Because it’s the details that pull your readers in. And many times, a good post, or good writing of any kind, is like a good story.
What about you?
Do you apply any of Dr. Seuss’s 7 rules in your blogging?
Are any of them a challenge for you?
Do some of them not apply to your style of blogging?