Break

Keep calm and wait … what?

If you hadn’t noticed, things have been quiet around here lately. I didn’t plan to take a break from blogging, but it happened anyway.

And that’s okay.

We need breaks from time to time. We need to relax, to take some deep breaths, and to recharge. We need to try new things, and experience new experiences.

Above all, we need to live.

It’s so easy to get lock into writing. To focus on word counts and deadlines. It’a even easier to get caught up in the business of writing. To spend more time on social media trying to be heard above the din of voices.

We spend so much time on output, we forget about input. Reading a book, taking a walk, singing, or  playing a musical instrument. Talking to our friends, engaging with our partners, or playing with our kids. And then we wonder why the output stops.

No input, no output.

No living, no life.

That’s why we have to take breaks, and that’s why the blog has slowed down and why it will pick up again once I am filled.

Five Minute Friday

And this week, a two-for one (to catch up with both online communities):

Cheerleaders of Faith

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Dear Blogosphere …

19th c gentleman at 21st c laptop

Image: The Art of Manliness

You inspire me every day to be a better writer. Some of you lay your hearts out on the page two or three times a week. I am awed by your honesty, your bravery, and your skill. Many of the best writers I know are fellow bloggers and you awe me regularly. That’s why I set aside a day each week—Monday—to highlight some of the best writing I’ve found. The funny, the sad, the thought-provoking, the beautiful, and the harrowing. I can only take a bottleful out of the ocean each week but I try my best to make it a great one. Thank you for inspiring me and pushing me.

And thanks to those who post interminable lists and click-bait headlines. You’ve taught me what not to do, even if it costs me clicks. I don’t care. I know I’ll never make money off the blog and I’ve given up thinking otherwise. I’m happier and my writing will be better as a result.

Because it’s important as a writer to learn what you want to write and also what you don’t want to write. That’s why you read as much as you can—so you can learn the difference.

So I will continue to make my small contribution to our vast shared community—and the cozy FMF community as well—to continue writing about parenting and life and sharing my experiences as a dad, husband, reader, writer, Girl Scout volunteer, Catholic, and all the other words that describe me.

I know I’m not the only one who cares about these things. I know I can encourage others just as I’ve been encouraged. And I’m going to stick with it.

Thank you for reading. Please come again soon.

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What Can I Give You?

19th c gentleman at 21st c laptop

Image: The Art of Manliness

I’m going through another one of my “what should I blog about?” phases. These come from time to time. I look back at what I’ve written, consider it to be self-indulgent, wonder what I could have done differently, and stop writing until I think of something better. Then after a few months of regular posting, I pause and go through it all over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

A few things are making this latest rut harder to get out of. I’m going through a major shift in my writing. I’m also reading different books—mostly fiction—due to that shift. Anna’s getting older and more independent, making me less and less of an At-Home-Dad than I was when I started this blog. And I’m reading more and more about “the death of blogging” and wondering if I should keep plugging away at this site. What am I gaining from it?

Or maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe my question should be “what are you gaining from it?”

I can write for myself in a notebook or a .doc file. I can be self-indulgent on Facebook like everyone else is. But if I’m going to keep this blog going, I need to provide something for those who read it.

“A stay-at-home dad’s view on parenting and life.” That’s how I describe this blog, and that’s what I’ve tried to make it. The description is intentionally broad on purpose, but now I feel the need to narrow it just a bit based on what you would like to see.

So here’s my question—”what can I give you?”

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P.S. You can call this post a “Six-minute Saturday” if you’d like. 

A New Word

 

SpinDerriFiC!

$127.50 at Letterpress Blocks by (in)courage (New words don’t come cheap!)

What makes a word?

A combination of letters? Yes.

A defined meaning? Yes.

Being in the dictionary? Um … not necessarily.

At some point, every word had to be made up by someone. Shakespeare made up words, so did Lewis Carroll, G.K. Chesterton, Dr. Seuss, and many others. Language is a living, growing organic thing, It mutates and evolves over time as it’s spoken. Dictionaries only report what’s already there (and sometimes they propagandize what someone thinks should be there, but that’s another post).

So why not make up a word? My daughter does it all the time, and if creativity is the essence of play—and I believe it is—why shouldn’t I make up words too?

I did. Last night Without even trying.

Spinderrific: adj. Something so good it makes you want to spin in a circle as fast as you can. A combination of terrific and spin, with a “d” thrown in because it sounded right.

Now I invite you to create your own word and leave it in the comments.

Thanks to Jimmy Edgeworth for inspiring my new word (and this post) at last night’s Mid-Valley Willamette Writers Meeting.

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Tag, I’m It!

Metal "tag" sculpture

Photo via Google Image Search

I have been tagged in my first blog tour post. This is where a blogger comes up with a set of questions, answers them, and then asks three more people to answer the same questions.

I did one of these via email fifteen years ago. It was longer (20 questions) and both more trivial and more personal at the same time (as the Internet always is). Since then, these same “question posts” have run rampant on that bastion of personal triviality called Facebook.

So normally I would ignore such a thing. But this one is about “writing and the writing life,” which is a little less personal and a lot less trivial. My friend and colleague Natalie Trust tagged me, so I’m answering the same four questions that she answered on her blog.

Check out the questions and my answers—and find out which three writers I tagged—at DavidOzab.com!

Maintaining a Schedule

"BLOG!"

The “fantastic” opening screen of the Glove and Boots video blog.

A year ago today, I set a goal for myself to post to this blog more frequently, and I devised a schedule to help make it happen. Now that a year has passed, how have I done? To answer, I need to break the question into two parts.

Am I blogging more frequently? Yes. In the past my blogging frequency has ebbed and flowed. I’ve had very busy months, like December, 2012, with my Online Advent Calendar, and very sparse months, including a string from October, 2011 through February 2012 where I never hit double digits. Since last April, I’ve averaged about twenty posts a month.

Has the schedule helped? I think so. By narrowing each day’s topic to a more specific subject, I have an easier time writing posts. I also have a built-in deadline for each post, which I usually meet.

Having answered those two questions, I have one more left to ask …

Is there anything I can do differently? Yes. This schedule has taken some tweaking to get right and the tweaking isn’t done yet. For example, I’ve struggled with a regular topic for Thursday, and, after a year, I think I may have finally found one. I also need to work more on my time management—a constant struggle for me—to make sure I’m not leaving posts to the last minute.

It’s an ongoing struggle to keep the blog up and running while not neglecting my other writing as well. I’m figuring it out as I go.

How about you? If you have a blog, what helps you blog more frequently? Tell me in the comments. Thanks!

What This Blog is About

Encourage synonyms

Via Google Image Search

I’ve been stuck for days trying to think of something to write in honor of my first 500 posts. Every draft I attempted came off as bragging when I went back and read it. Then I received a prompt word from Lisa-Jo Baker at Five Minute Friday and suddenly it became clear.

Encouragement.

Like all my writing, my blog is at its best when it encourages others. I discover this almost two-and-a half years ago, when I wrote one of my first guest posts for Alise Write! This is how she prefaced my post.

I connected with David on Twitter and he is a great encourager. In a world where people can be most concerned with promoting their own self-interest, it’s a delight to meet someone who encourages others.

I realized the goal of my writing that day, but I constantly need reminding. I get caught up in the details of word count, publishing opportunities,  pitching, and platform. I forget the point of my writing—to reach other people. To communicate at a deeper level. Above all, to encourage.

And then I’m reminded again.

I feel grateful to have connected with David Ozab in the Internet world this year. He has been a great encouragement to me as I launched my book out into the world this October, and I love the way he writes about faith and being a stay-at-home Dad.

Addie Zierman wrote this short introduction to my most recent guest post. And that key word returns. Encouragement.

Thank you, Addie, Alise, Lisa-Jo, and my many other colleagues for the regular reminder as to why I write.

And thank you for the encouragement.

Five Minute Friday