By Caleb Keith –
One year ago, I started writing regularly for The Jagged Word. I was given the Wednesday-afternoon slot, and the main theme of my weekly articles was the intercession of technology and faith. That amazing opportunity has allowed me to get my voice out across the web while I build on my writing skill. One year of weekly writing has taught me a lot about myself and the internet community as a whole. Today, I offer up a short list of important observations that I hope are useful to those who use the internet to communicate.
5) Be kind to one another. One of the biggest mistakes I made writing on the internet was using overly harsh language. One of the biggest temptations as a blogger is to write angrily. The result of writing angrily is typically a blog that has a great point but is ultimately received poorly because the message comes second to the heat of the moment. This doesn’t mean to write without passion. Instead, write passionately and tactfully.
4) Be consistent. The virtue of consistency is one of the hardest but also one of the most rewarding parts of writing online. Being consistent means never missing a blog; commit to a number of blogs a month and stick with it. If you post once a week like I do, it is crucial for your blog to go up on the same day at the same time every week. Pastor Koch does an amazing job of managing the post schedule for The Jagged Word, and it is one of the key reasons readers stick around. By being consistent, readers get into a natural groove, and your audience will continue to grow rather than shrink.
3) Read the whole article. This piece of wisdom applies to writers, readers, and especially commenters. Don’t get caught being the angry guy or gal in the comments section who missed the two most crucial sentences of a blog and ended up misunderstanding the whole thing. If you only have time to skim, then don’t comment until you have time to read the article thoroughly. Also, bloggers, read your work and make sure it says what you’re trying to get across. There have been many times when important information remained in my mind but missed the page.
2) Brevity is key. The hustle and bustle of the modern world lead to most people not finishing the articles they click on. I wrote about this last year, and you can find a more in-depth article at Slate. I try to keep all of my articles under 1000 words with most of them ringing up at about 500. Short blogs don’t require scrolling and typically eliminate the temptation of readers to skim. Being brief is a challenge, but it also teaches you as a writer how to sift through what’s important and what’s filler.
1) Keep things grounded in Christ. The purpose and drive of The Jagged come from the forgiveness of Christ. I try to maintain that purpose every week as I see my main goal as communicating Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. I do not always achieve or succeed in this goal, and that’s why having other great writers around me at The Jagged Word is so valuable. When any one of the writers struggles with delivering Christ, someone else is standing alongside delivering the goods.
Thank you, Jagged Mafia, for stopping by and reading an article or two over the last year. As 2016 goes on, I hope my writing grows and continues to be worth your time.