Why It’s Important to Choose Your Books Wisely—I’m Guest Posting!

Why you should know what your child is reading

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that Kendra Stamy, author of the blog A Proverbs 31 Wife, asked me to write a guest post for her. This was a difficult post to write, because I know some of the things I talk about could potentially be very controversial. At the same time, as Mom kept reminding me, these are the kinds of things that need to be shared. After lots of prayer and writing and rewriting, it’s now live. If you’re interested to hear my thoughts on why it’s important to know what your child reads (or why it’s important to choose wisely yourself!), go here.

Where This Blog is Headed

(To change things up a bit and make it easier for you, I’ll start with the conclusion so you can get the gist of why I’m writing this post—and if you don’t have time for the other 1,000-some words, you’ll still know what’s going on.)

From now on, I’m going to be writing about the stuff that I find interesting. It might be my goals for the week, it might be what we’ve been doing lately, it might be just a random thought from the morning’s Bible study. And, perhaps sometimes, I’ll share a tip or resource I’ve recently found.

I’m not going to try to write for a particular audience. It will end up being mostly applicable to homeschool students/graduates, and maybe Moms at times. I just don’t want to keep writing about something I’m not 100% interested in—there are plenty of other things in my life that I do that I’m not putting my all into, and I don’t want to have to do that with this blog as well.

Where This Blog is Headed

Alright, here’s the reasoning behind this change:

If you haven’t figured this out already, I’ll tell you now: I love to think. Therefore, a lot of what I want to share on my blog is random thoughts I’ve had. And recently while thinking about this blog, I realized something needs to change. I’ve hinted at changes several times (in February’s newsletter, and perhaps once or twice here), but as yet I haven’t come to any conclusive thoughts on the matter.

The purpose of this post today is to sort out all the thoughts I’ve had about this blog, what I don’t like about it and what I want to do in the future. If you don’t want to read it, that’s fine—I just need to process everything somewhere and this seems to be the best place to do it.

Peas

Can’t pull the pea off? Go ahead and eat it while it’s still attached to the vine–it won’t hurt you.

Before I begin, I’d like to go back to when I first started this blog. Back in May and June last year, as I was preparing to launch Learning Resource Directory, I decided I wanted something to go along with the website. Something with fresh content that was updated frequently, as opposed to the almost-static book reviews. Yes, they’re fresh and 5-7 new ones are posted a week, but they aren’t as engaging as a blog. Once posted, they’re basically static content.

I decided a blog would be the best option. Since I was interested in writing, and since writing is very involved with books, and since books are also very involved in homeschool, I decided to have a blog designed to encourage homeschoolers and writers. Purposeful Learning was created.

However, over the past few months I’ve come to realize that I’m not always thinking about or interested in writing or homeschooling. Therefore the posts I posted felt forced—I was writing about the topic of the blog, even though my heart wasn’t in it. Sometimes, there are other things that are much more interesting to me.

Salt Mountains

Mountains of salt at a factory north of us—spotted on a recent family trip.

Then I read a blog post on Noveltea. And the wheels really started turning. (Please, do read that post—I’ll try not to copy Lydia’s thoughts, but I do agree with her on every point!)

There are some things I really don’t like in different people’s blogs…and yet I write the same way myself. There are some popular guidelines that mainstream bloggers give as to how to be a successful blogger. But yet some of those are not appealing to me. From the very beginning, I wanted a way to share my life, my concerns about the world around me, and my random thoughts, in a place that people—even just one or two—could read it, be encouraged, and possibly allow that to change their lives. Or, if I have the wrong idea about something, that they could show me how I’m wrong, and I can change (Matthew 18 in action, to some extent).

Just so I can sum this up in my head, and since I have a thing for numbered lists and bullet points, here are a few things I’ve considered when mulling this topic over.

Some things I don’t like in blogs:

  • Posts that don’t resonate with me or my situation right now. A lot of advice given is to find your niche and write for that niche. However, there are some flaws in that idea—I’ll address them later. Suffice to say for now, if a blog I follow mostly shares posts that I don’t find interesting, I’ll rarely read the blog. The only reason I follow it is because I know the person and/or they sometimes share something that I find very helpful.
  • Posts that are all about the same thing. Also relating to the first point—there are some major downfalls to blogs like this. No, I’m really not interested in your book right now, no matter how much you talk about it. Does your life really completely revolve around that book?
  • Pictures that are used…and reusedI know I’m guilty of this myself, but really—I’ve already seen that picture. Yes, it’s a nice one, but don’t you take new ones on occasion?
  • Blogging just for the sake of gaining attention. I’m highly guilty of this, but I want it to change! Yes, it’s pretty obvious that the only reason you write is because you want to attract big numbers and/or attention from those in the publishing world. Sorry, but I’m not interested in being part of a fanbase like that.
Boating

Big brother taking little sis for a boat ride.

Some things I do like in blogs:

  • Posts sharing ordinary life. Ones that contain the nittie-grittiness of life, such as telling how you failed (again) at completing that goal. Of course, if you’re always failing and never ever get it right, then that can be over-the-top too, but I love hearing how you are failing and then experiencing the win with you. Pictures showing your life also are really fun.
  • Random thoughts. I love getting in other people’s heads, and when they share the random pieces of information they’ve picked up lately, I really enjoy that glimpse into their lives.
  • Goal posts or reading lately/doing lately posts. Kind of the same idea as the first point, but I love seeing what things other people are trying to achieve in their lives, and then following their progress. I also love seeing what they’re reading, listening to, etc. as well.
Split Apple Rock

Split Apple Rock, a beautiful piece of New Zealand coast north of us.

Why I think writing for a niche is faulty:

The reasoning you get is, if you write for a niche, then you’ll attract fans that are especially interested in the things that you’re interested in. People will know what they’ll get when they come to visit, which provides some reason for them to come by. They’ll know when they see your name what you represent, which provides some form of security.

While I can see the logic behind that (that is, if I’m understanding the advice right), and the value in branding yourself, I see one little problem that could potentially be huge:

What about all the other things that we’re interested in, but we can’t share because we’re trying to write for our target audience?

I explored the thought in a comment on Lydia’s post, but basically it boiled down to: We’re all three-dimensional characters. We’re all interested in a lot of different things. And it’s really hard to connect to a one-dimensional person. Maybe I should just quote my comment:

“Having a blog that doesn’t have a particular “niche” means that we share whatever comes to mind at any particular time. To say it in writing terms, our blogs become dynamic, well-rounded characters, instead of being flat one-dimensional characters. Just about everyone has their own wide range of interests, and when that is shown through the blog, we can connect a lot better. Just as we don’t connect very well to one-dimensional characters in books, we also can’t connect as well to one-dimensional blogs.”

In conclusion, I want to be genuinely me, and I think changing is the best way to do it. I’ll be writing about what I find interesting, and hopefully you’ll find interesting as well. So…welcome to my brain!

By the way, if you managed to read all the way to the end—all 1,300+ words, I congratulate you. Great job.

Now go do something worth doing!

Over to you: What kind of blog posts and blogs do you enjoy reading? Do you have any tips for how I (or other people!) could do this whole blogging thing better?