Every few years, I revisit or reshare the list article. The reason why is simple. I don’t want to lose a reminder of how I got my start in publishing my writing. But there are other formulas for writing.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Power of a Formula

If you start out with a blank page, writing can be hard. But if you’re following a formula, you’re filling in the empty spots with words. When you’re done, you edit and revise until you have something. Would it help to get an example?

An Example: Writing Strategies

One project I am up to my nose in (think quicksand) right now is, “Write something about writing strategies.” What’s my angle? How do you start something like that? For fun, here’s my 10-second outline of what I’m going to write:

  1. Problem statement that captures what the issue is
  2. [Optional: Say, “Before we get into what we can do about that, let’s take a look at the research behind that.” Then you explore research findings, etc.]
  3. Three to Five subheadings, a few words each, that describe the strategy (an aspect of the solution) to the problem
  4. Include an image that captures the essence of each subheading, or a short video clip
  5. Finish with a quick concluding thought or recommendation

Here’s the outline for that blog entry, that I can write on my memo pad that I carry around with me:

  • Problem intro with this statement at the end of Paragraph 1: Let’s explore a few strategies young writers can put to use right away.
  • Research Review: Why Teaching Writing is Important
  • List of Strategies or solutions to the problem: ** Strategy #1: Prepare Teachers To Write with research citation ** Strategy #2: Teach Sentence Structures with research citation ** Strategy #3: Write About Academic Content with research citation ** More Strategies: A collection of strategies that I recommend
  • Wrap It Up

While writing my problem intro, I came up with the title of the piece. Now, if I want to get controversial, or “provocative,” I can take an opposing view on ChatGPT or Artificial Intelligences (AI). 

Writing Formula

It may surprise no one that I follow a formula when writing a blog. Sure, there are a variety of formulas for blog writing. My favorite is one I learned awhile back, the List Article. These days, I write that type of blog entry ALL the time. But it’s not the only formula I follow.

Here are a few formulas, and I don’t claim to be an expert in any of them…no one is beating down my door with a book deal. I suspect it may be my own laziness. But this is a lot of fun, and that’s enough.


Formula #1: The List

  1. Start out with an engaging question, quote, or scenario.
  2. Develop a list of follow-up questions (e.g. frequently asked questions are a good source of these kinds of questions) off the main topic. For maximum effect, you will want to develop an engaging quote, or scenario for each question before offering a short, pithy solution.
  3. Conclude with a short summary or end with the final question that references how you started the article.

If you do a search on Google for “TCEA Responds,” you’ll find a ton of examples. If I wrote it, that’s the formula. Here’s another example, not necessarily my best, but close enough. This second example falls into the list of “Five Steps” or “Five Ways” or “Three Tools” or something along those lines. This is the easiest approach. You can use anything to kick off the article. 

This was the easiest entry point for me, and is what helped me best understand how to write something for publication. Here’s one of my favorite formula examples

Image Source

Formula #2: Inverted Pyramid

Ever since I read, Bruce Grundy’s “So You Want To Be a Journalist,” I have wanted to write more inverted pyramid pieces. Reading my notes, it goes something like this:

  • Put the news, what has happened, the most significant thing up front
  • The least of those, the least important shows up last.

Here’s a quick attempt at inverted pyramid…lots of fun opportunities to write stuff like this example. I wrote it for fun to celebrate that Google finally has an onboard, built-in screen casting alternative to third party apps like Screencastify (a great tool), or any of the zillion other similar tools.

My First Attempt at an Inverted Pyramid

Chromebook users won’t have to pay an annual subscription for a third-party app. Licenses for educators and students can cost thousands of dollars in fees. The Screencast app eliminates those costs. Built into the Chrome OS, the app integrates into the Chromebook like the Chrome browser or Docs.

Google expert Eric Curts says this new tool makes recording a simple matter. It offers users an onboard tool they can use that’s more powerful than what was available before.

“This is an easy way for teachers to create instructional videos, and for students to make recordings to demonstrate their understanding,” he said.

Free Tech For Teachers author, Richard Byrne, said that you can need to update your Chromebook to the latest version of the Chrome OS.

This will make it easier for you to record a screencast on your Chromebook without using any extensions or 3rd party tools.

Your Chromebook will need to run Chrome OS M103 at minimum.

Gee, I hope I don’t get into trouble with Eric and Richard for quoting/paraphrasing them. Well, that was fun. I can definitely see trying to write that as a blog entry for quick dissemination of information.

Formula #3: Visual Storytelling

Want something a little different? Try Visual Storytelling. You can easily adapt something like this:

  • Engage with image/video
  • Be brief, to the point, and inform/entertain
  • Offer a call to action

You can keep it happy or sad, provide information or make it entertaining. 

For fun, I revised this news story and got this…it’s a rewrite and borrows heavily from the original.

If you have advanced prostate cancer, you are less likely to respond well to treatment. The data comes from an American Cancer Society study published in early 2023.  The second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. males, it rose 3% every year from 2014 to 2019. Researchers explain why in  CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. The uptick in cancer deaths is due to increased diagnoses of advanced disease.   Advanced prostate cancer is “extremely difficult to treat,” says the study’s lead author, Rebecca Siegel. She is senior scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society. She goes on to say, “There is no durable cure for those with metastatic disease.”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Or another way to point it out

“Better get your prostate checked every year after 40,” my dad would say. We had just walked out of the doctor’s office. I was seventeen, and had the funny walk every man gets when he’s had a doctor’s finger, wrapped in a rubber glove and jellied, checking his prostate. I vowed to never get my prostate checked again. Fast forward a lifetime, and I remember crying into a towel on the couch. My Dad dropped by to let me know the news.

He’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Allow me to share a few tips you need to keep in mind if you are a man.  Before I share those tips for surviving prostate cancer, let me share some new information that came out in early 2023.

The Skinny on Advanced Prostate

You may know why prostate cancer is so hard to treat if not caught early. One minute, your PSAs are fine. The next, they warrant a visit to the Doc. The doctor calls you in, and gives you the bad news. There’s something wrong. Worse, there’s no cure for advanced prostate cancer that has metastasized, which spreads to multiple sites, all of them hard to reach. From 2014 to 2019, the CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians reported that it became the leading cause of cancer death in males in the United States. That’s a three percent increase for a disease that has, as Rebecca Siegel puts it, “no durable cure.”  How do you avoid getting prostate cancer, or catching it early? You drop your pants and let the proctologist have his way with you. Getting old sucks, doesn’t it? Let’s explore five ways to keep yourself alive and kicking. 

  1. Adopt a Mediterranean Diet. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats. Go for healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and fish.
  2. Drink green tea and eat soy. These can reduce your risk for prostate cancer.
  3. Eat more vegetables and fruit. Broccoli, cauliflower both contain sulforaphane, which may protect against cancer. They may make you gassy, but lower your risk. Cooked or processed tomatoes also slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.
  4. Skip the charred meat. Avoid that charred steak, whether fried or grilled. Charring meat produces a chemical that may increase your risk of cancer (source).
  5. Stay healthy. Get regular exercise, don’t smoke or drink alcohol, and take Vitamin D. Oh, and have lots of sex.

Note to Reader: There’s more ways to get it done, and I’d probably write a bit more about each, but this is a quick summary of info from Hopkins Medicine.

A Final Smoke

My Dad always wished for a final smoke before he died of lung cancer many years later. Yeah, that’s right, my Dad didn’t die of prostate cancer, but cancer got him all the same. Darn those stogies. So, in addition to the five ways to stay alive, try to work some diet, exercise, and fun into your time on earth. Who knows, your prostate may let you live a long life.

Wasn’t that fun? Here are a few more tips I decided to throw in for fun.

Miscellaneous Tips

Some miscellaneous tips:

  • Practice Linktribution, as Alan Levine says it. Be generous in your links to others. In a blog entry, link to lots of other people. Swipe a sentence from their blog entry, put quotes around it, link to it, then head off in a different direction than it suggests. Or argue with it. Don’t be afraid to pick fights with other bloggers' ideas.

  • Run other’s ideas through your mill, and see what happens. If poop comes out, share that. Maybe you don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. Say so. It’s a blog, not an academic journal.

  • Keep it short. Maybe, limit yourself between 500-1000 words. Write a lot of short pieces that are centered around the same theme or topic. Then put them together.

  • Use subheadings. I use subheadings for emails, and they can break up long paragraphs. That’s why list articles are so easy.

  • Try bulleted lists…they are easy to process.

  • Feature Image that engages never hurts…include one!

  • Put images for each major section to provide a visual for an idea.

Entertain yourself with your blogging piece. I had a laugh writing this! Juxtapose ideas or formulas to get creative. Take something serious and mix into a comedy, or vice versa. 

A Fun Exercise

What might be fun is to go back to my original writing strategies blog entry that I’m writing. Then, re-write it using the different formulas. Well, I did that with the prostate thing, throwing in an inverted pyramid and a listicle. I also threw in a funny cat pic. Why not do all three when playing with a blog entry’s content?