How Jonathan Merritt Ruined (and Saved) my Blogging Life
Or, Where have I been the past two months?!?
In early April I went to a writing and reading conference, Festival of Faith and Writing, and at that conference I sat in on a workshop by Jonathan Merritt about the secret sauce of Power Blogging.
For just under an hour I sat in the Calvin College Seminary chapel, captivated by quite possibly the most interesting (and energetic) person ever to be in Calvin College’s Seminary chapel. I took more notes at that session than all the others I attended combined. Good blog headlines? Blogging and social media? Blog-killing mistakes? I scribbled it all down. Like…
Blogging is no longer an online diary. It’s a magazine and you’re the only writer and editor in chief.
The worst blog is the schizophrenic one.
Blog at least three times a week. At least. And never take time off. Consistency is key. One week without a post will set you back months, MONTHS!
When I left I wasn’t so much energized and excited by the powerful new insights.
I was tired.
The fatigue followed me home. Post three times a week. When would I eat? Sleep? And more importantly, what would I blog about? What should my blog be about anyway? I was committing the cardinal sin of bloggerdom, I’ve been writing a random and unfocussed bunch of mostly unrelated nonsense. The question of what, the schedule of thrice-weekly tied me up in knots.
It took me a month of failed attempts at brainstorming, hopeless hours of staring at a calendar to realize something vital.
I’m not a power blogger.
I will never be a power blogger.
I don’t want to be a power blogger!
I’m a writer balancing homeschooling most of my six children with writing books and promoting those books. Publishing a blog times a week? I laugh.
After that realization, which came around the end of April, I allowed myself to exhale. I also allowed myself to almost finish a rough draft of a young adult (YA) novel for my critique group, revise a middle grade (MG) manuscript for my agent, get two or maybe three picture book manuscripts completed enough to share with my other critique group and/or agents, re-learned prime factorization and division of decimals, learn about Inuit throat singing, schedule and attend about six million appointments: everything from college visits to doctors to meeting with the health department to get documents signed to start a child in speech therapy. Oh, and vomit. I cleaned up vomit. A lot of it. Which brought me to the end of May.
Now I’m back, and I’m thinking again about the lessons of Jonathan Merritt. The truth singes into my consciousness. This little land of bloggieness I’ve been enjoying for a long, long time is random, unfocussed. I have recipes and essays and crafts and book reviews and complete nonsense… What’s a girl to do? And at what age can I no longer call myself “girl”?? (I vote for never.)
While I sure as anything am not going to be blogging three times a week, I want what I DO post to be valuable or interesting or in some way useful to my readers. Here’s where those of you who subscribe will want to pay attention. Because I decided on a few things I’m *not* going to blog about ever again.
First to go, politics! Yes, I know you come here solely for my acerbic wit on all things political (ahem, right). No longer. I’m going to stay out of the debates and the mire of #hashtagwars. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever blogged about politics. I don’t think so. But just so you know. If you want politics, check out Merritt, because you won’t find it here.
And the other topics I won’t be talking about are, drum roll, non-book-related crafts, and health, and food. There are so so so many amazing food blogs I couldn’t possibly list them all. And there are so many great natural health blogs like my own friend’s Whole New Mom. Want to know what weird ingredient can cure an ear infection? Go there. And believe me, it’s weird.
I’m also putting a hiatus on random, meaningless book reviews. Just so you know. But I’m not going to stop reading or reviewing. More on that in a moment.
Instead I’m using the tagline on my website splash page* as inspiration and focus.
What does that mean? Without politics and food and home remedies for warts, what’s left? Truly? What. Is. Left?
I will blog about Creativity
I’ll share posts with great ideas, things I’ve used in my own homeschool or just in my life that encourage and foster creativity. I might tell you how to write a picture book or how to work creative writing into your and your child’s life.
And if I do review a book, I’ll include some sort of valuable content to help you enjoy the book as well. Crafts with picture books, author interviews, a video. My goal in my writing, my blogging, my life is to inspire and delight. Will it inspire? Will it delight? Then POW! I’m on that like mold on … never mind.
I’ll blog about Chaos
Chaos: Here’s where I’ll share a little of my world. I’m honestly scared about this. But one thing Merritt said that struck a chord with me is that there's a high premium for being real online. So I’ll offer you that rare glimpse into my real world. How does it feel to have a child with Eosinophilic Esophagitis? What did our journey look like, and what does it look like now? What happens when that child becomes a teenager and no longer wants to deal with dietary restrictions? Exactly how many baskets of unfolded laundry can fit on the dining table while still leaving room for a laptop and a cup of coffee? (Three, maybe four.) And how do I continue to create in this mad mess of life?
Maybe my journey can give you a little boost for your own, or maybe you’re walking down the same challenging path and want someone to walk with you. We won’t know unless I share, scary as it is.
I’ll blog to Celebrate
Lastly, I want to Celebrate. Celebrate the chaos and the creativity by celebrating what that chaos and creativity yield: Books. That means you’ll be seeing all my book-promo insanity. Crafts to go with my books? An inside look at the publishing process? Online happy dances for new publishing contracts? You got it.
So all that’s to say, if you subscribe because you’re waiting with baited breath (whatever that means) for me to reveal my deepest thoughts on the current political climate, you’re in for a long wait. But if you don’t subscribe (yet), and some of the above looks interesting to you, then sign up! I’ll be here whenever you are with as much frequency and consistency I can muster, which will not be (I can guarantee this) three times a week.
How does this sound to you? Do you have any driving questions about publishing, writing, creativity? Email me or give me a shout on social media and I’ll answer you, there or right here on this blog.
Thanks for sharing in this crazy story we’re all writing together. Because we’re all works in progress!
(P.S. This post title is totally 100% Merritt's idea.)
*I disabled my splash page. Who wants to have to knock on a website's front door? Come on in, the door is open!