January 14, 2009

Still Learning to Blog...

As of today, it's been exactly 10 months since I started blogging. Since then, I've ruminated on topics ranging from China to Coldplay, correction tape to capital punishment and consumerism to Calvinism. There's always a lot on my mind, but that's just the problem. Blogging has been a way for me to collect my thoughts long enough in order to make some sense of it all. In addition to organizing my ideas, the goal has been to stretch my creativity, improve my writing and therapeutically reflect on the meaning of life, all at the same time.

Along the way, I've discovered that blogging is a lot harder than it looks at first click. At the Looniverse's dawn, I didn't think I would ever be at a loss for something to say, but these days, it's all I can do to post something three times a month. The art of a good blog post is very difficult skill to master, especially with any regularity. Choosing the topic is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. Should I choose something from the news and give my take on it or would I rather reflect on the words of an old hymn? Do I stick to what I know or explore new ground? Should I strive to offer a balanced sampling of diverse viewpoints or would it be better to just pick a soap box, climb aboard and start ranting from the heart?

One of the most basic rules of effective communication is to show and not tell. I will now proceed to blatantly break this rule by describing my ideal blog post instead of actually writing it. The best blog posts are those that are substantive, but not too long. Perceptive, but not presumptuous. Catchy, but not (too) superficial. Playful, but not careless. Opinionated, but not heavy-handed. Informed, but not lofty. Thoughtful, but not dead serious. Vulnerable, but not soul-baring. There should also be a main point, when possible, but it can't be too obvious. It has to go down smooth and easy, like a firm cube of jello. Preferably green jello.

It's also nice when there's some sort of anecdote or personal angle that draws you in. Don't ask me to give an example because I'm not very good at this part. I'm just telling and not showing, remember? I read my fair share of blogs on a regular basis, sometimes to be entertained, sometimes to be challenged or to simply to stay up to speed on the issues I care most about. My favorite posts are those that are in sync with current events, but not so time-sensitive that they become obsolete within 24 hours. Since I'm only a part-time, on-call, volunteer freelance blogger, I don't post very often, which means I have to bring out the flavor to make each one last. Like a chilled spoonful of jiggly green jello.

Needless to say, I still have a lot to learn about blogging. I would love to someday arrive at the point where my skills are good enough to crank 'em out once a week with the regularity of a newspaper columnist. For now, my posts are too long, too irregular and too topically scattered to be very reader-friendly. Besides an audience, this blog also lacks a clearly defined theme or area of interest: current events? politics? evangelical Christianity? social work? local news? theology? basketball? I sure could use a niche. A snazzy slogan and a slick logo wouldn't hurt either. But let's bring it back to reality. I have a day job, a wife, a toddler, a baby on the way and a master's degree I'm supposed to be working on.

I think I hear them calling me.


becs said...

Wow Loon,
Send more of that jiggly green stuff my way!

Cheryl said...

I think you have a great blog going on and I'm confident that it will only get better with time. Be not so hard on thyself!