I like bananas. Usually, I like them best with something–like cereal or strawberries. But one thing is for sure: I can’t stand unripe bananas. You know what I’m talking about. When they are green and crunchy, and they leave that taste in your mouth that immediately has you reaching for the water pitcher. Yikes! If only I had let that green little piece of fruit sit on the counter for a few more days!
As I read blogs (some of my own past articles included), and even some books–although books are not the main topic of this post–I sometimes think to myself, “I wish they would have let that one sit a little longer.” Some posts are like that unripe banana: they have the potential to be oh so yummy, but for want of patience and the lack of serious reflection, they come out half-ready. They might even have all the basic nutrients, but they sure don’t taste very good.
One of the potential problems with blogging is the ease by which we can publish a post. (Personally, I think we need another word for it–the word ‘publish’ should imply editors and a process that involves the scrutiny of more than just one person. But that’s for another time.) We write. We post. That’s it. There are no real barriers to keep us from carelessly tossing our thoughts into the blogosphere; except, maybe, a Providential computer crash or lock up–something that has happened to me more than once–to keep us from posting something we probably shouldn’t have.
By and large, however, I would venture to say that many of us need to cultivate the discipline of slowing down. We live in a high paced, do-all-you-can-now, unreflective, entertainment saturated, sound-bite-laden society. As a result, we are influenced (often unwittingly) by these thought-killing qualities of our culture and our reading, talking, and writing malfunctions at a fundamental level. We read quickly and without real contemplation of what we read. We talk fast while neglecting serious thought of what we say. And we write with the same tendency. O the need to hear, “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer” (Proverbs 15:28)!
With this in mind, let me offer a few suggestions:
1. Consider Not Posting Right Away. After you write an article, perhaps it would be good to sit on it for 10 minutes, an hour, or maybe even a full day, depending on the content of the article. Doctrinally heavy posts, critical responses to other posts, and entries dealing with complex issues will naturally need more time. We want to make sure what we say is accurate, well-written, based squarely on the facts, and is formed in a way that honors Christ in truth and love (Ephesians 4:15). If you would bear with another food analogy: let your posts simmer in the pot for awhile. Come back to the stove and periodically taste them to see if they need some more ingredients. You get the idea.
2. Pray Over What You Write. This should be obvious, but for many of us, it is probably an aspect of blogging that we largely ignore. Praying for wisdom, guidance, clarity, humility, and a heart that is steadfast in truthfulness will greatly enhance our ability to write posts that are ready for consumption and sweet to the taste.
3. Think About What You Write. This aspect will be greatly helped as we give our posts more time to percolate before making them public, but we should also be subjecting our entries to some kind of intellectual rigor. Questions may be, Does my conclusion necessarily follow my premises? Are my sentences clear? Are my statements substantiated? Does my article flow logically? Do I contradict myself anywhere in this article? Did I write anything that I am not really sure of? And very important: Am I willing to stand behind what I write?
4. Consider Why You Write. This could be, perhaps, the governing factor that will determine the rest. Why are you writing? Let me posit that you are writing for the wrong reasons if you are writing to:
- Make yourself popular
- Get as many hits as you can
- Start a controversy for the sake of controversy
- Make someone else look bad
- Earn God’s favor
- Show off your amazing writing skills
- Be better than someone else
Conversely, let me also say that you are probably writing for the right reasons if you are writing to:
- Make God look good
- Spread the gospel
- Accurately teach Scripture and good theology
- Edify and help others
- Use your gifts for glory of God and the good of others
- Improve your writing ability for the aforementioned reasons
I think we are more likely to post good tasting, well-thought, helpful, high-quality articles if we pursue right motives, slow down, pray, and think over what we write. Let’s write well and avoid producing half-baked goods and unripe bananas.