The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned About Blogging

My Most Important Blogging Lesson

We started our Lisses to Lebanon blog while we were fundraising before moving to Lebanon back in 2013. In the past 4 years of blogging I have learned so many things. The most important thing I have learned is not new or creative.

Know Your Audience

Know your audience. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that from English teachers in writing projects in my 30 years of life. I heard it so much I thought I knew what it meant.

Only recently have I realized that I don’t truly follow that wisdom. I don’t have a clearly defined audience to write for, so I often sit down to write and feel stuck.

What Will My Readers Say?

This thought is a plague that eats away at my writing, motivation, and will power. And when my husband says, “Who is “They”?” I just get annoyed. Of course he doesn’t understand, he isn’t trying to whip out 20,000 words a day about everything important in life!

This is a gross exaggeration, and I love my husband very much, but this is what lies do to us.

The lie is that I have thousands of people reading my every blog post and criticizing me as a person.

The truth is I have a smattering of friends and family and a few people brave enough to join the email list who don’t know me personally. These people read the posts that relate to them, just like I do with the blogs I follow.

And if someone doesn’t like a post they rarely criticize. Usually they just stop opening the emails.

The second lie is that I am trying to write so much!

The truth is that I am enjoying a life of being a mother. I am spending great lengths of time with my family, and I believe this is the correct and right thing for me to do.

Now That I’ve Stopped Taking Crazy Pills*

Overthinking what people will think of me keeps me from writing. When I sit down and pray about what God is telling me to write I usually end up with month long series posts or a challenge and my writing goes well.

I was reading through old posts and ran across one that blew me away. What’s Stopping You? This post was written with a joy and exuberance that I have inside of me but rarely share on the blog. I don’t think even my family knows that feeling is inside me most of the time. Don’t I want to share it with the world?

I may not become the next huge blogger. I may not do much more than continue to share my thoughts with you all and gather a small group of people who love me. For me, that would be enough.

*I don’t take pills other than my daily vitamins: C, Fish Oil, B, and Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc/D3.

Community

I am in the process of finding who God wants me to be, to belong in my own skin. And in this quest I am discovering a gaping hole in my life for community. This blog provides small doses of that. Anything I do to grow my audience will be with the goal of growing my community.

I hope you have good things to say in the future, and I hope the changes I make in my blogging life will bless and encourage you. I hope my joy can start to pour out onto the pages, and I hope you can share your own lives with me.

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My Take on BuJo (aka Bullet Journaling)

This is Day 10 of my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It isn’t too late to Join the Challenge!

BuJo aka Bullet Journaling

This year is marking the start of my calling what I do by the name everyone else is calling it. I have been effectively moving toward a bullet journal or using a bullet journal my whole life without calling it that. So, now I have succumbed to the trend, and I am calling what I do a bullet journal as well. Basically, a bullet journal takes the hundreds of journals, planners, calendars, notepads, scratchpads, etc. that I have scattered about and combines them all into one journal. Through a bit of organizational ingenuity I am able to keep everything in one place. I just started my newest bullet journal since finishing up my previous notebook as my practice starter. I took a bit of time to create a new table of contents like index, add in trackers for my goals for the year, book list, weight loss tracker, and a few other pages. I loved the calendar I wrote through the holiday so I am still bringing my previous notebook around opened to that calendar page, but by January 16th I will be fully into this new bullet journal.

Looking Back

There are quite a few pages that I would like to use in blogs, review and analyze, and make use of their ideas from my past notebooks. So one project I am going to be working on is to figure out an index for all my notebooks and sort of digitize the ones I want to have overseas with me. Once I realized I basically already bujo, it is fun to look back at notebooks through that lense and see them not as crazy messed up flittering thoughts, but to see that I can have basically all of who I was at that moment as best I could have written it then. It is quite fun.

Analog Archiving

Since we left my computer in Lebanon with its fried battery, so I can hopefully get a cheap new one for being a mobile student of Rutgers University this coming year (YAY!!! I got accepted this week!!!), I had already been moving to analog. Paper and pens. It is so much fun to sit outside with a notebook and fun, colorful pens and just write. I don’t write as fast I type, of course, but it gives me time to think and process, and see what I am thinking without the easy backspace to erase thoughts I don’t want to admit I have. Bullet journaling is so helpful in analog because I can have it with me whether I have internet or not, whether the electricity is working or not. I think I may need to invest in a booklight so I can write when it is dark, though. When I pin something on Pinterest there is a small chance I will actually go back and look at that pin and then follow through with doing the project. However, to take the time to write something down is a big step toward doing it. Being able to see it more often because it is right there on a page I am looking at repeatedly to reprioritize has also moved me into action. I have spent far less time on internet fluff since focusing in on my bullet journal, and it has allowed me to work out ideas that on a computer screen just seemed to push me into a sterile white corner of confusion.

Passion

Writing with my hands, feeling the muscles get sore, and watching the pen glide across the page has helped reawaken my passion for writing. I am also getting so excited to use the bullet journal to take notes on books that I am reading in my hands (now that I am in the States I am taking advantage of non ebook reading), and I am just really enjoying living out this traditionalism. I hope that this excitement roots itself deep inside me, and I plan to continue growing in my organizational habits as I add university classes to my daily life.

This post is one of a series meant to kickstart a writing habit. I created exclusive prompts which are emailed to those of us signed up for my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. I am posting my responses each day, and I invite you to join me in this writing journey by CLICKING HERE! The only way to receive the prompts is to sign up for the Challenge. The emails will include the prompt for the day as well as directions to kickstart your writing habit for any combination of the following:

  • Personal Journal
  • Prayer Journal
  • Blog
  • Christmas/New Year Letter or Correspondence

Skinnied Sunday

As you have seen, I am working through my very own FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. The only way to get the prompts so you can join is to CLICK HERE!

Sunday is a Skinnied down version of the Challenge, so today I am going to link to some past posts that you may be interested in.

The first post I am linking to is my review of an excellent prayer journal book I read this past year. If you are following the Challenge, or if you are inspired by my own following to start a spiritual journal, read my review of How To Keep A Spiritual Journal.

Secondly, as the New Year comes up and you begin making resolutions, make Bible reading one of those resolutions. CLICK HERE for my own How To Make Your Own Bible Reading Plan.

Finally, let me take you over to my page of resources for creating New Years Resolutions or just lifestyle goals. CLICK HERE to get access to these FREE Resources.

 

FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge 1 Week Away!

Last year I set a goal for my blog to post a regular weekly series as well as two posts per month. This equaled out to a goal of 76 posts. In the year I have posted 82 posts, so I met that goal! However, the consistency was lacking. There were entire months with not a single post, and other months which had so many posts I am sure no one read them all. I want to steadily improve this piece of my blog this year.

The same thing happens with our personal journals, correspondence with family and friends, and our prayers as did with my blog this year. If you are hoping to fix one of those areas in your own writing life, Join my FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge HERE!

For those who join you will receive a prompt in your inbox each day of the FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It will be simple and even include the process and how to transform your words into the medium you desire: letter, journal, or blog post. Join now, this Challenge kicks off December 15th!

FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge Starts in 2 Weeks!

I am committed to improving my communication with my family, friends, and followers using this blog in the coming year. I have come up with a plan to scale from one post per month to one post per week in 2017. In the coming weeks I am going to jumpstart that commitment by offering a FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge for you all to share with me in this commitment.

So many people tell me how they wish they could write more, whether a personal journal, a prayer journal, their own blog, or even letters to friends and family. This challenge will help with all of those goals. If you want to start writing for any reason, even to finish that Christmas Letter you have been putting off, then JOIN HERE for FREE!

For those who join you will receive a prompt in your inbox each day of the FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge. It will be simple and even include the process and how to transform your words into the medium you desire: letter, journal, or blog post. Join now, this Challenge kicks off December 15th!

My Thoughts On How to Keep a Spiritual Journal

Several stand outs from this book are the call to recognize emotion as important. I sometimes feel that I am too emotional. That there are too many emotions to sort out, and I know people who claim they do not have enough emotion. I think that we all have emotions and a journal can be very helpful in reminding ourselves of our reactions, thoughts, and relationships.

Originally I did not think I would enjoy this book.

As I am reading this book I am finding that it has been reopened at the right time for me.

When I first grabbed it, I was already in the habit of journaling, but in the latest transitions I have felt that journaling has slipped out of reach.

In wanting to become a more consistent blogger I want to be able to write about my life without the emotion and drama becoming overwhelming. Ron Klug mentions just that in sharing that some people have trouble keeping a journal because they feel like the events that were journal worthy were too emotional.

“In past years, I sometimes avoided writing in [my journal] because things were either too painful or very wonderful. I now regret that it didn’t seem necessary to record those times.” Pg. 31

This book has been opening my eyes to ways that I can use journaling in my life. For instance, just taking notes as I read books will help form these book review posts because I can keep the notes in the blog post and then edit down as needed. Making goals based on time to write or amount is another helpful piece of advice as I am trying to build my writing habit. While these might not be all new ideas, the framework of doing it out of God’s desires in my life rather than just to do it is helping me reframe my thinking about my writing.

This book is inspiring me to make slight modifications and then to add to those rather than try to change everything at once. The book shares about so many practical steps mixed with the purpose, motivation, and how to see God in it all. I like that.

I think that this book might be changing a lot more than just a few things, but it will be subtle, so beginning with taking notes from the book I want to stop here to give thanks to God for bringing this book to Lebanon and into my hands right now. Some of the things I see that I believe will have a lasting impact are:

Multiple journals. I have been struggling with guilt, but to think of my folders as a journal organized in a particular way was like light being shed on a dark place. It was not new, and it was not novel. It was obvious as soon as I read it. It also opened my eyes to the fact that I can have journals on the computer as well as written, both for their own purposes. It seems so simple now that I have realized it, but I was floundering a little before.

Personal Contract. This part is where my leaning to dogmatism may come into play, but it was a novel idea to me to take the time to write down my goals and purpose along with a contract. I think that I have taken it lightly that God has also called me, but this book has made it evident that in this season, God is asking my to journal, to blog, to write. Commitment. I want to be committed. So, I am doing this.

As I read this book I am continuing to find pieces that I am happy to begin implementing, and because of the simple steps to begin with I am able to experiment with ways of using the ideas right away. I know that this book is guiding my writing in a way that I will forget because the steps I am taking are so intuitive and useful right away. Also, this book is affirming much of what I already have written and that I consistently write while helping me see a way to make it more useful to my life.

This book does not encourage merely writing for the sake of writing, but also returning to the purpose of growth.

Your journal will be of more value to you if you move beyond the level of what happened to record your reactions to what happened…although not great literature, [this addition of reactions] gives more of a feeling of life because it includes some thoughts and observations. It finds some meaning in even a simple event.

As the book shares about journaling and writing I can hear many people asking, but what does this have to do with God? Beginning with that personal contract I made journaling about God. The act of journaling, of writing is for finding out about myself so that I can serve God. God knows me far better than I know myself at times, and so this is something essential to understand in my writing. No matter what idea I have, how profound, it is God’s creation, and God knew it before I thought it. Journaling is truly a humble task, to open myself before my Lord and stop pretending I can hide anything from him.

Title: How to Keep a Spiritual Journal: A Guide to Journal Keeping for Inner Growth and Personal Discovery

Author: Ron Klug

Publisher: Augsburg Books

Publication Date: Revised Edition, January 1, 2002

# Pages: 143

Special Features: Writing, Journal, Spiritual Journey, Healing, Growth, Lifelong Learner

Price: Kindle Price is $8.96, Paperback is from $0.77 used on Amazon I bought this book from MTI, the Missionary Training Institute that Louis and I attended two years ago, so I have it in paperback.

ISBN: 0-8066-4357-9