My 10 Commandments of Blogging
Writers have it tough. We try to make a living by putting our heart into words, but if people don’t like our words (or our hearts) then they won’t read it. If they don’t read it, we don’t get paid. If we don’t get paid, it’s hardly a living. This catapults us into a maze of uncertain expectations. How do we please the readers (and editors, agents and publishers) without knowing exactly what “works” and without sacrificing ourselves to the consumers? If we do sacrifice ourselves to the consumers, then they won’t want to read us anyway because we’ve “sold out” and lost our heart. It’s a tight rope we walk.
The ironic truth is that the less we cater, the better we write. That doesn’t mean throw out everything you know about good writing or marketing. Just keep it in check.
The situation seems amplified with blogging because everything becomes instantaneous. We publish and immediately expect responses. We can check our stats dozens of times each day. All that can lead to a warped perspective … and a whole lot of undue stress.
In my five-plus years of blogging, I have found that — no matter what the look or focus of my blog — certain attitudes produce the best writing. And certain perspectives nurture those attitudes. Always striving for the best writing (and a semblance of sanity), I’ve created some self-imposed rules.
Here are my 10 Commandments.
1. Find your worth in Christ, not in the approval of men.
2. Remember your calling, why and for Whom you write.
3. Say what you mean.
I reserve the right to always change my mind, but there’s no profit in being stupid. Think through things before writing. Don’t say what you think people what to hear. Say what you mean; mean what you say.
4. Write sober … when necessary.
Sometimes a mood will color my writing snarky. Sometimes that’s fun and actually gets the point across more effectively. Sometimes it blatantly violates Commandment 3.
5. Don’t imitate.
The only thing new under the sun is me. And you. And I can always be a better, stronger me than a version of you.
6. Don’t assume readers are perpetual or long-lived.
Nobody likes feeling left out. Assuming they know the background is rarely a good idea. If I want to reference a previous experience or post, I need to summarize the relevant points and link to the original.
7. Don’t measure success by site stats.
One person authentically drawn to God through my writing is better than thousands who only copy a recipe.
8. Don’t take things personally.
This isn’t about me.
9. Don’t accommodate.
This isn’t about them.
10. Don’t be afraid.
He who called me to this gig will be generous — in strength, in courage, in blessing. He will be faithful to complete what He has begun in me. I need fear nothing when He who is greater is forever with me.
Your Turn: What rules have you created to foster your best work?