– Can you describe your experience with starting up the blog? Why did you make one, how was it, how did it develop? I’ve recently started my own blog and want to remind myself I first and foremost it is for God and me and anyone who stumbles upon it is a blessing, not a goal. If you wanted to take a look yourself and provide any insight I would be extremely star-struck.
– Hello Pastor. 🙂 I just wondered how could you ever find time to update your blog. Like yeah? I bet you’re a person with a busy schedule. But then, have you ever found yourself restless? If so, what do you do to find rest in the Lord? 🙂
Hey dear friends: This post will probably end up being very pretentious and self-centered, so I apologize upfront for tooting my own horn a bit. I’m afraid it will not be terribly interesting unless you enjoy writing. And I’m no expert on blogging either, but I hope even a small part of this testimony can encourage you.
Please allow me to take you way back.
I have always, always, always loved writing. When I was about eight years old, I got my first notepad and walked around the lake behind my father’s business and wrote these elaborate detective stories about the mystery of the murderous ducks. There were these flock of ducks out back that were fodder for my ridiculous imagination. It was the mallards versus the other ducks with the red junk on their face. The mallards were too pretty so I made sure the ugly ducks won. When I was ten, I also wrote a fanfic about an amnesiac Mario (from Super Mario) who wakes up in a public bathroom with blood on his hands and framed for murder. Turns out, the bad guy is Luigi.
I began blogging in my first few years of college. This is before we had the term “blog” and when Geocities was still popular. It was the time of Myspace and Xanga. My friend gave me a website as a gift, a simple text site that didn’t have a comments section. Since I wasn’t quite a Christian then, I would rant about the stupidest things. To my own shame, sometimes I’d call out a person I didn’t like and verbally destroy them. I always deleted these posts later. (That website, joonwritings.com, no longer exists).
In 2004, I tried to send out several novels. One was about a rogue spy who entered North Korea to overthrow the regime, and the other was about a group of Asian kids trying to fit into American culture, so they try out the “hooked up cars” and “white gangsters” and “church culture” until they realize they have no home. At some point, I even combined both these books into one. No agency would take me, but I got several handwritten rejection letters that said, “Your story is weird, but you can write.”
I kept writing. A few years later, I began to take my faith much more seriously. I was still blogging. I started a WordPress in 2008 and a Tumblr in July of 2010. When I wrote this post in 2012 (and on my WordPress here), both my blogs received a little more exposure.
So here are many random things I’ve learned over the years. As always, please feel free to skip around.
– I didn’t start off writing about God. I started off ranting. But God can change even false motives into something incredible for His Kingdom.
– I’ve been blogging for over ten years and I’ve been writing almost my whole life. Most bloggers expect that they’ll promote a new blog to their close friends and then it’ll go “viral.” Unless you’re already famous, I’ve never seen this happen, ever.
– This is obvious but: If your blog is dependent on how many people are reading, you’ll get exhausted and quit. Most people quit their blogs because of “low traffic,” and it only reveals the real reason they started. Half my blogging time was without knowing who read, without a comments or “likes” option, before social media. Foremost, your blog is a journal for you. It’s between you and God. Write just to write. You’re making a snapshot of your short little life on this earth. It is beauty wrapped in expression. Any other motive lacks soul.
– I’ve learned to let go of blog-fame. I’ve stopped obsessing over site stats (and we all do it). It was a struggle at the start, but by God’s grace I just thank Him for even having a voice. If I get a thousand “likes,” praise God. If I get none, of course it feels stinky, but praise God. Being “Tumblr famous” is not even an actual tangible thing. Fame is not real. People can see right through you if you’re just writing to fill the attention-void in your stomach.
– At the same time, promoting yourself isn’t really wrong. If you write things that will encourage, relate, and speak truth, then you want to get it out there. Certainly there’s a trashy type of self-promotion, but anyone who quickly accuses an earnest writer of this is most likely a jealous, misinformed hater.
– Just so you know, I really don’t have that many “followers.” I hate even using that term. I know plenty of bloggers who can (and do) boast about that stuff, but using the term “followers” denotes some kind of dictator mentality that I will never be comfortable with.
– Balancing the time to blog can be tricky. But for me, writing is rest. It’s my time to unwind. It almost never feels like work, and when it does, I take a break from it. You’ll need to find your own rhythm on that. I know some bloggers who only write once a week. I know others who need to slow down and take care of their own stuff first. For me, I need to write everyday or I go crazy inside. My brain won’t stop spinning until I get the words on paper. I also have no less than three notepads where I handwrite my own thoughts, most of which never go public. Here’s one of them that did and another. I also have a Facebook fanpage (again, I dislike the word “fan”) that I update every Sunday night to queue posts for the whole week.
– Having a blog with an ask box doesn’t mean you have to be equally accessible to everyone. You’re not obligated to answer every message. You’re allowed to pick and choose and give yourself space. Maybe someone will call you uppity or something: but you never owed them anything in the first place. Just be gracious about it.
– And to fandoms: If your favorite celebrity has a social media presence, it doesn’t mean you’re their friend or anything else. They don’t have to reply to you. They’re people, with their own friends and schedules and lives and fears and dreams. If they don’t respond, they’re not being uppity. They just don’t know you like that.
– I haven’t gotten much hatemail, but when I do: people online can be savage animals. I’ve also realized they’re quite normal people like you and me, sitting in their boxers with no expression on their face while listening to the same music you enjoy and letting their fingers fly. They’re not evil. In other words: Resist the urge to reply quickly to the criticism. When someone says, “Well what-about-this and you missed the point and you suck” — no one is really looking for a response, unless you fuel that fire. Don’t repeat that stuff in your head.
– Tumblr also saved my life. Seriously.
– Another time I had a completely angry meltdown online, and no one judged me for it.
– A few “always” and “nevers” for this blog: I will never ask for money. I will never bash an individual by name or otherwise. I will always apologize for my mistakes. I will never intentionally belittle anyone. I will always bring it around to God. I will always be honest. I will never send a message that couldn’t also be shown in public.
– Like anything, we can be enslaved to performance-driven paranoia about our blogs. It’s not healthy. I know I’m saying this a lot, but I want to prepare you and protect you from the inner-struggle that happens when you suddenly have a platform. I knew a guy who mapped out the exact time that a blog post would get the most hits. That was a little much (and yes, I used the info). You’ll have to purge all these gross urges to get a pat on the head from your writing, and you’ll need to extract yourself from living off the random praises and criticism of other bloggers. I say this for your health.
– My friends: Praise God for this whole thing. Praise God we even get platforms. Be thankful when even one person is encouraged by what you write. I get moved to tears when someone writes an encouraging message about how I helped their faith. It’s like when someone takes notes while I’m preaching: I just can’t believe the privilege and honor that another human being would write down what I’m saying. It’s really crazy, when you think about it. I’m still overwhelmed and blown away by this, every day. Please don’t ever lose the awe of what you get to do. Don’t miss the God-ness in all of it.