Since this month marks five years of Stuff Fundies Like being in existence, I’m going to take a break from writing strictly about fundamentalism this week and write about something else that is near and dear to my heart and that is: writing itself. The essence of SFL is people telling their stories, comparing notes, and talking to each other — it’s a community full of the flawed, the funny, and the fabulous. I’d love to encourage more of you to strike out and find your own voice, even as I’m afraid that I may not be up to the competition if you all did!
Although SFL started five years ago, I’ve been writing in one form or another for almost a decade now and from time to time people send me questions about how to start a blog, how to create an online community, and how to write in general. I don’t write as many original pieces for SFL anymore, because adding commentary to the pictures, videos, and lectures that fundamentalism itself is producing is about all I have time for at the moment. Life marches on.
I will start by saying that I might very well be the wrong person to be talking about writing or blogging at all. SFL is a very active community but there are blogs that are much larger, much more popular, and far less prone to putting their readers into blinding rages. It’s also worth nothing that I’ve also started several other blogging projects along the way that have more or less starved to death for lack of interest by both the readers and the writer alike. Failure can be a great teacher.
Finally, there is also the danger that once I start pulling back the curtain to look at what makes SFL work that SFL itself won’t stand up well to the scrutiny. So by all means let’s get started as quickly as possible…
Day #1: Write What You Know but Not All That You Know and Only What You Know You Love.
When you set out to write — especially if that writing is a blog — you must be so completely consumed by the topic at hand that you would write about it even if you knew for a fact that only a handful of people would ever read it. This can’t be just a sudden inspiration or passing fancy. It has to be the kind of slow, smoldering burn that perpetually lights up a corner of your soul. Is there something that ALWAYS gets you excited when it comes up in conversation? Some topic that is never quite far from your conscious thought? Start there.
Don’t end there. Take that broader idea and refine it down to its core. There are about ten gajillion (not a made up number) blogs about politics or religion or why moms who don’t breastfeed their vaccinated children are monsters. Once you’ve got a topic try to understand where your story fits into the larger picture and what your voice has to add to the conversation. Find the uniqueness that is your background, your skills, your perspective and craft that into something you can share.
Once you’ve done all that then all that remains is to sit down and write it. And write it. And write it. Then throw all of that away, refine your topic further, find a better hook, and write it some more. Share it with a few trusted friends, then ignore most of their advice and use the frustration you feel at being misunderstood or as fuel to write and write some more.
Have you got a blog, book or newspaper column (do they still do those?) inside of you? I’d love to hear what you’ve tried, what you fear, and what the topics are that light up your world.