Saturday, January 23, 2010

What I'm learning from other bloggers

I am finding so much wisdom and encouragement from a collection of blogs I have been reading lately. For a year now I have enjoyed following Beth Moore's and her daughters' blog and in the past week since the earthquake in Haiti, I have found it a great comfort to share in this online community in praying and agonizing over that situation.

From their blogsite I found a link to another blog that is written by a missionary family in Haiti, Highway to Haiti, and a very realistic discussion of the best way to provide help to Haitians right now: How you can help, which is the way that I directed my money and prayers to help.

With the earthquake happening directly on the heels of my commitment to start "living a better story", in other words, living more purposefully for others, more sacrificially even, I have been feeling primarily like a hypocrite. For us, life continues normally, while hundreds of thousands of lives have been devastated. And then there have been several days when I can't seem to break out of my selfish mode, when the last thing I want to think about is what I can be doing for others or even just for my family because all I want to do is hole up with some chocolate and good book for "escape".

And then I've also had a bit of a spiritual struggle with the whole question of why does God allow these massive natural disasters, like the tsunamis and earthquakes and hurricanes, not to mention man-made atrocities like genocides. From one of the bloggers that participates in the "In Other Words" quote meme I discovered a post where a pastor's wife had taken some considerable time and thought to look up Biblical answers to the questions raised by the earthquake. And the Biblical answers were hard. Very hard. Stuff to really ponder and take to prayer.

On a lighter note, I have started following some writing and publishing advice blogs, like Query Tracker (which is really nice because it summarizes what is going on hundreds of other writing/publishing blogs). Here's a great piece from that site on cutting the fat - in other words, getting down to the meat of your story, something I always struggle with - gee has anyone noticed how wordy and long my blogs are? My fiction is probably just as bad.

Another good one is the Blood Red Pencil - I love that name! and their subtitle: "Kill your darlings" which is about as concise and true of a statement about fiction writing as you can possibily get. About 75% of writing advice on this blog is review for me, which is good - means I have a good grasp of the do's and don'ts - but it is so helpful anyway because I constantly need to be reminded of the do's and don'ts! Here's some great advice on from an editor on most common mistakes.

While blogs like these are very practical, it's the Christian writing sites that are the most encouraging. I just joined which has has a writer's workshop with critiquing. There is the Inkwell, a group blog of members of the Colorado chapter of the American Christian Fiction Writer's association. One of my favorites places lately to visit has been a Christian Romance Writer's Journey - I could really learn from this lady. Her blogs are not long and wordy, but straight to the point, personal and transparent, informative, and almost pulsing with her great love for Christ. I read one this morning Writing inspires prayer that echoed my own struggles with writing. A short excerpt: that I have so very little time to devote to writing, I find myself running from it when I should be embracing those precious moments available for it. Why am I running? I want to be a blessing to others. If my writing is solely for my personal gain, if it will never be published for even one other to gain wisdom from, then what an absolute waste those brain-draining hours of editing and revising are, not to mention how emotionally difficult they are on me. Ahhh, but if it's God desire that I continue on, so be it. Amen.

When you are tempted to give up for various reasons, she writes that you need to pray to know whether it's God's desire for you to focus on other things for a while, or if it's just your weakness calling you over to the dark side to give up.

Not that I am struggling with the temptation to give up - I just struggle with the discipline of it. All these blogs that I read, when I should be writing! (Or paying more attention to my family). I guess I'm just the sort that needs this daily encouragement and advice to keep myself motivated. The biggest motivation though comes from prayer. I am keeping up really close to my weekly goal (1000 words) so far this year... and praying almost daily about my other goals, too, though I need to
pray more about the Jesus and Others goals, as usual I am too focused on the "You" goals for myself ("Joy = Jesus, Others, You" order of priorities).

One last thing I've learned. At another writer's blog I read, the Quiet Quill, the writer almost always starts her blog with a verse, and relates her subject material to that verse in someway. What a great way to structure your blogs to give glory to God. I will try to do that in the future.


  1. Wow. I was reading along and enjoying this post, and then suddenly surprised to see that you mentioned my blog. Thank you. Very kind of you. Your comments, both here and at the Quiet Quill, have been encouraging.

    Your discipline to continue writing is inspiring. The month of January has found me most slack in the area of writing. Thank you for your encouragement.

    Do you write mostly fiction? Are you part of a Christian writers' association?

    I'll come back soon to read more. Blessings to you today.

    Denise Hughes :)

  2. Great post, I'm going to check out a few of the links you've given. Like you, I enjoy reading Eileen's blog.