Tuesday, September 21

Moving The Cheese: How Post Frames Fail Over Time

When we chose Chris Brogan's post — How To Use A Writing Frame — as a daily fresh content pick (an experiment of sorts), I anticipated having to qualify it in a future weekly recap. Before having the chance, Ike Pigott had already questioned the framing concept.

"I understand WHY Brogan has a recipe for blogging. But it's not really for me. (My purpose is different.) — Pigott

Indeed. Writing frames are not for advanced writers, meaning roughly the top two percent of all writers. Pigott is an advanced writer. He doesn't adhere well to rules. A few of us don't.

Case in point, Valeria Maltoni, also an advanced writer, added a quip after I filled her in on my brief exchange with Pigott.

"PPT has templates... ;)" — Maltoni

Her quip made me chuckle. So I offered to pen a post about a Tweet template. And then, in rethinking it, decided that a Tweet template might work better in 140 characters. So, I offered the following..

"The best tweets have a beginning, middle, end, call to action, link, and plea for RTs."

Some people liked it, even though it was really meant to be a parody of the Brogan post (and advice I read about all the time). Hmmm ... maybe we need to start over.

Why Writing Frames Work.

When we chose the Brogan post, there was a specific intent on a light content day (not many people published, and the value was thin.) The Brogan post stood out because while he was really a conversational reframing of the ADIA (or ADICA) structure, but it is still helpful for novice writers, causal writers, lazy writers, and business writers (people who have to write posts, but don't necessarily have a love for writing).

Basically, a post framework is nothing more than a template. It's your story's outline, pure and simple. And I use similar models in classes because it helps people who will have to write establish a context of what it is they will write. As they get better, we focus on the exact opposite — breaking the rules.

Why Writing Frames Don't Work.

Coincidently, Sean Williams wrote a post yesterday that brushes up against why frameworks don't really work. For people who originally set out to break the rules of communication, social media pros are notorious for creating them. So many posts burn with the promise of ten things that will do this and five things that will do that, it sometimes makes my head hurt (I've added to the madness myself).

But all of us do it sometimes because people are hungry for frameworks. Or, like Williams points out, they want someone to tell them the easiest way to get the cheese. And once someone does get the cheese, they fall into a routine. That's all fine and good, until someone moves the cheese. Then, all those step-by-step experts start to panic. Google Instant is a good example. It sent shock waves through the SEO community, people who have been trying to perfect their routines for years.

And that is why frameworks don't work. When everybody is doing it, it gets boring. And for writers, when every post follows a framework, it becomes monotonous. It could also be the reason, I suppose, few Brogan posts are fresh picks. And Seth Godin has yet to offer up anything better than everybody else.

The Post I Could Have Written.

There is no formula to great writing other than time and sacrifice. By sacrifice, I mean that three-quarters of the way through this post, I thought of a different approach. It could have been a great post, using a Lego analogy. Summed in one sentence, Brogan offered up instructions on how to build what is on the box whereas Pigott and Maltoni are too busy erecting original works that are on display at Legoland.

Of course, in order to write that post, I would have had to sacrifice everything written and start over. But then again, I like this post in that it shares how social media is supposed to work. Brogan presented something, we thought it was valid, Pigott and Maltoni questioned it, I offered clarification, and brought Williams' thoughts into the mix.

Best of all, it also serves up how disagreement nurtures better ideas (for all those who shy away from it) without any drama. Huh. You can't make a framework for that. At least not one that will you get the cheese for any length of time.
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