Well-known Christian blogger, Tim Challies, recently posted his list of favorite blogs by (and for) women. At the end of his list, he noted how many of the blogs had gone cold.
In response to Challies, three women (each of whom I sincerely admire) wrote a response to Challies, explaining the reasons female bloggers tend to publish less consistently than their male counterparts.
Hannah Anderson: “One reason that conservative female bloggers struggle to publish consistently is because we tend to blog outside organized ministry while our male counterparts write from within it. Certainly, not every male theological blogger is employed in ministry, but many do serve as full-time pastors, directors of para-church organizations, seminary professors, and students preparing for a theological career. You don’t find many male engineers, doctors, mathematicians, or police officers blogging in this same niche.
On the other hand, the majority of conservative female bloggers do not blog from a ministry context. Rarely are they employed by a church; they are not even pursuing a “career” in this field. By and large, they are lay women—homemakers, teachers, graphic designers, and writers who simply have an aptitude and interest in theology.”
Courtney Reissig: “Women are confronted with [the constraints of their life seasons] more acutely. So much of our writing in the blogosphere is born out of our life experiences, and though helpful, there are some life experiences that do not afford the time needed to write about them (i.e. small children, pregnancy, caring for aging parents, etc.) . . . There are a myriad of other daily responsibilities that also require their full attention. Even if they are compelled to write out of their experiences, those very experiences keep them from putting the proverbial pen to paper.”
Megan Hill: “Why do women’s blogs go cold? I suspect that sometimes they don’t go cold so much as they go warm—their burners turned down to low, slow-cooker-style, while a thought or an experience bastes in the juices, to emerge tender and flavorful after a time.
But the blogosphere is better suited to value-meal burgers than twelve-hour pot roasts. . . [Its] pace, daunting for the most unencumbered single man, is killing for multi-tasking women trying to balance it all.”
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There is not much to add to what Anderson, Reissig and Hill have already said quite well. But if only to clarify to readers around these parts why I haven’t blogged in an eon (or two), let me list the reasons I’ve been finding it difficult to make time for this aspect of my writing life.
1. I’ve been promoting my book, Teach Us to Want. This year, between April and June, I wrote an enormous amount of material. Little of it showed up here. I created a Bible study for my book, wrote answers for written interviews, and developed essays for various outlets on the subject of desire in the context of faith. I spoke to radio hosts and traveled for (just a few) book signings. This was, and continues to be, a major part of the current writing that I’m doing. As you might imagine, it has crowded out the time needed to develop blog content.
2. I’ve been working at my church. One thing I’ve felt to be important, as I’ve transitioned to more regular, public writing, is continued presence and participation in my local church. When I finished the first draft of the book in August, 2013, my pastors approached me about becoming the Director of Children’s Ministry for our church. I said yes. It’s been enormously rewarding, and I’ve been thrilled to serve alongside our faithful volunteers. But I won’t lie and say that it hasn’t been time-consuming. Only recently have I decided to officially resign my position and create more space – first, for my family, and second, for my writing. I’m glad for the year’s experience. I’m also happy to be settled into a more focused approach to life.
3. I have five kids. This is the terrific reason I’m afforded much grace in my life. I won’t deny that being the mother of a large brood of children handily excuses you from forgetting things (like orthodontist appointments), arriving late, and in this case, blogging too infrequently. The truth is, our lives are always changing around here. The kids are needing me in different ways, and I’m continuing to try to make myself available to them. This takes time, and I can’t see my way around that. I want to be faithful in serving my family.
4. I’m a writer, not a blogger. This is something I’m only more recently coming to understand. Over the last several months, I’ve been prayerfully discerning what need to be my strategic yeses and my faithful nos. The truth is, I really can’t be both a blogger and writer, at least not in the most traditional sense. The best bloggers, as it seems to me, are reliable. You count on them being there. Often they’re pragmatic and practical, and you look to them to be helpful in important ways. And sometimes they’re just incredibly provocative, meaning they’re engaged in what just exploded on Twitter and have a ready response. Their value, in large part, is their ability to say something good and to say it fast.
I don’t say anything good fast. That’s the truth. And I’m not overly eager to implicate myself in the latest controversies in the blogosphere. I want instead to cultivate the necessary time to read, think, pray, meditate and mull. I’m convinced that good writing, at least writing that can live beyond my own generation, will necessarily be slow, and I’m absolutely happy to produce less content, even if it disappoints some readers.
5. I’m lazy. Not unrelated to #4, as a writer, I am serious, slow, deliberated, and careful. As a blogger, I am hurried and sloppy, even lazy at times. I never want to give lots of time to blog posts, at least not the time I once did. When I first started blogging, I was trying to make daily writing a spiritual discipline. It wouldn’t be overstated to say that I felt called to blogging. Three years ago, when I started blogging, it was the only writing I was doing, outside of the devotional writing I’ve long done for Moody. I had the time and attention to give it, not least to mention the will. But now that I’m writing for a number of online and magazine outlets, I’m not able to devote as much care to my blog content. This leads me to conclude that it’s better to write nothing (or very little) here rather than produce content that is sub-standard. We’re all busy, and you don’t need me blathering on about nothing.
6. Finally, I’m a little afraid. The truth is that I’ve just written a really vulnerable book, and now I feel a bit like the insect that wants to scurry out of the light. I have no doubt that the writing I will continue to do (especially in future books) will be confessional and personal because that’s the kind of person I am. I value authenticity. But I simply can’t come to the blog over and over again with the stripped down, vulnerable stories of my everyday life as I once did. It’s simply too much exposure.
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So what will be the future of this blog? To be realistic, I won’t ever return to the blogging schedule I once had. I simply don’t have the time. But I would like to show up here a bit more regularly than I have been. Maybe I’ll update you on articles I’ve written elsewhere. Maybe I’ll round up what I’m reading, both in terms of online content and books. I’m not entirely sure. I do have a series that I started back in May and shamefully never finished. I’ll be returning to it in the upcoming weeks. (Read the first, second, third, and fourth posts to catch up.) My apologies to Joe Dudeck, who’s probably been wondering what I intended to do with the beautiful images he’s allowing me to use for the series.
If this blog goes cold (or colder than readers’ preferences), it will not be because I’ve given up writing. No, I’ve settled firmly that this is what I am meant to do. I hope to have book #2 in the works soon, and I also hope you’ll be reading me where I’ve been regularly writing: Her.meneutics, Gifted for Leadership, InTouch, Today in the Word, Relevant, and Today’s Christian Woman.
And finally, my warmest thanks to those who have written and been reading in the Found Wanting series. Thanks to them, we haven’t had complete radio silence here!
Jesus knew what he was called to do, and the needs around him did not determine the call for the day. And, if the Messiah himself is limited in this way, how much more are we.
We will not be able to [fulfill our vocation] unless we learn to say no. We will not have this privilege unless we come to clarity about who we are and what we are called to do. This requires focus, discipline and courage. But the result is freedom – freedom from ambition, freedom from the pressures and expectations of others, freedom to be who we are before God. It is a freedom to embrace the call of God upon our lives with joy and hope.”
-Courage and Calling, Gordon Smith