Monday, August 25, 2008

Blogging Detail 101

Matt Gumm wrote a rather intriguing piece the other day about how he approaches the mechanics of blogging. Since I'm a blogger too, it always interests me how/why other bloggers do what they do and I really enjoyed reading his post (sorry I didn't comment Matt, I'm pretty bad about leaving comments).

Then Matt wrote another post desiring to gain perspective from how other bloggers do what they do. Here's the outline:

1) What blogging tools do you use?
2) How do you post?
3) How do you get your ideas?
4) Who is your target audience?
5) What do you hope to say or accomplish with your blog?

He did say "give me details" so here are mine (as boring as they might be to anyone else).

Blogging Tools

As far as text editors go, I actually use ms notepad (using it right this second, in fact) to compose my thoughts first. For example, right below this line of text is a single line of text that details a topic I really want to write about but haven't had the time yet. It's been sitting there for about a week, and may even sit there much longer, or end up deleted and forgotten. Having a busy life doesn't always translate well to writing about all the things I'd love to write about.

I will often compose an entire post in this notepad file complete with the coding required to make words either italics or bold or hyperlinked. I've been writing html code for so long that it's often easier for me to type it out, rather than go back through the post and edit it the way I wanted it to look, with key emphasis, links, etc. I almost never compose a post in the blogger wysiwyg editor, but once in a while I will, if it's a shorty.

How Do I Post?

I think I pretty much just answered that above, but did leave out the fact that there are some posts in drafts for days before they ever see the light of day. The more important the subject matter, the longer it stays in draft. For me, it's important to make sure I'm as thorough as I know how to be, and that takes more time for me than it might take for someone else. Additionally, once I finish a post and 'save to draft', I can come back later and proofread it again to make sure it's worded well, and all of that good written communication business. Quite often, a few hours spent doing laundry, dishes, mopping the floor, mowing the lawn or cleaning the pool will give one a fresh perspective or additional thoughts that can make a post even more accurate, so I prefer to let it stew until it's just right.

Blog Post Ideas

That one is easy: life. If I post about a wild dream it's because I just had one and that's what is on my mind. Other blog posts might come from a chat with a friend, something I read in the news, an attitude or interaction I might observe while out running errands, or a verse or passage that stands out to me that day. I might read something on someone else's blog and it feels incomplete to me somehow, or like it wasn't addressed from a wife/mom/female perspective, and so I'll take it on that way. I might hear a rather non-spiritual comment and the spiritual parallel is so obvious to me I wonder why everyone didn't get it. Simply put, a blog post just might come from anywhere; including nice folks (sometimes even not so nice folks) who email me and say "what are your thoughts on this, I'd like to see you blog about that". Believe it or not, people actually email me with the assumption that my opinion or perspective on certain topics will be worth reading. I always feel very small when I get those emails, too. Afterall, I'm a nobody and still growing in grace and learning how not to stick my big ole sasquatch foot in my mouth, just like everyone else.

Target Audience

"I don't write for you, I write for me". Have you ever read anyone say that? I have, and it always comes off as rather selfish sounding, even it that's not the intent. I can understanding "writing for me" only in the sense that writing is just one of those things I do and have always done, and would still write even if no one read what I wrote. When I first started blogging, I didn't give that as much refined thought as I have over the last few years. When I first started blogging, almost no one read my blog and it didn't really bother me one way or the other because I wasn't really writing for anyone as much as I was writing because its what I do; in the same sense I could say I would still take pictures even if no one ever saw them.

Before blogging I wrote on forums, and before forums I'd write long articles for my website. Who did I want to read reach with those forum posts and web articles? Anyone who needed encouragement. Anyone who needed a poking and a prodding to not be a spiritual lazy-bones, to be a Berean, and to take their Christian life as serious as it truly is. At the time, I didn't even know "easy believism" was a phrase anyone used, but I knew that at one time I was like that and when things changed I felt compelled to speak up to other believers about it and be an encouragement to them in that area. If ever I had a 'target audience' in those days of writing, that was it.

While that still remains a motivation for me, it's much more refined now. I want to reach other regular moms like me. Moms who struggle with spiritual things like I do, moms who homeschool and sometimes feel like pulling their hair out (yeah, we stress out too), moms who's hearts are broken because their kids have chosen to rebel, and moms who like to laugh at life the way I do. I also like to write for other women who love deep doctrinal pieces and love to read about theological issues even more than they love their chocolate (or chips, or whatever). I connect with other women who love theology as much as I do, and I know they connect with me as well. Its a special thing and I enjoy it very much. Once in a while a brother might come along and benefit from something I've said, so the general disclaimer remains that in no way do I assume myself to be a teacher of spiritual things to men, and if they learn anything from me it's all their fault! :-) (I will also pepper the blog with cat pictures, recipes and sewing projects, which throws the men off guard and they soon realize I shouldn't be taken too seriously as a reformed woman blogger.)

Goal in Blogging

I think for me there are several. I mentioned above that it's about encouragement, but it doesn't stop there. When I first started blogging there was a young man I knew online who'd just become a father. Parenthood being a brand new experience to this very skilled computer geek, he commented that blogging would be a fantastic way to leave an electronic footprint for his son. Its not that we don't have in-depth conversations with our children about everything under the sun already, but blogging to me seems like a great way for our kids to one day open that creaky, old steamer trunk and pull out those dusty old journals to revisit someone they already knew. Maybe they'll laugh, maybe they'll reconsider something they thought they knew, maybe they'll share the stories and the convictions with their children. I know that some bloggers back up their blogs regularly and save the files for printing (not a bad idea, really), and some bloggers have even quite successfully turned their blogs into a book (also a great idea if you do it right). Whichever way you look at it, blogging is a way to share your heart with whoever happens along - friends, family or complete strangers. While I am a wife, mom, sister, daughter and friend, I am also a Christian so the sharing of my heart I hope will most often be colored with the love of serving our Lord Jesus Christ.

So then, for whatever its worth to Matt or anyone else, those are some of the details for this blogger.

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