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Dear Diary

Three women who blog about the joy of online journalling

There have been many famous diarists throughout history, but today the internet enables anyone to share their thoughts with the world. Suzanne Green talks to three women who blog about the appeal of online journalling

“For me it’s about connecting with others”

Sarah Kidd teaches English as a Second Language in South Asia. Her blog (http://whispersonthejourney.wordpress.com) is an expression of what she is learning and thinking about in her life and work.

I started blogging because I’d read that to get a book published you need to “build a platform”. It seems that blogging is one way to get enough attention so that someone will be interested in publishing your book.

But I realised two things soon after I began blogging: I was more than likely not going to get a book deal by blogging – and there was a lot more to blogging than hopes of being published.

My blog’s name is Whispers on the Journey. It’s where I record little snatches of what I’m learning as I walk this crazy road through life as an ex-pat in South Asia. As I started sharing pieces of my life and my journey, it prompted others to do so too. Gradually there was a community of people invested in what I was writing. I often get comments or messages saying, “Me too! What you wrote … Me too!” That’s why I stay with blogging – the connection and encouragement from people scattered around the globe who are all making similar journeys.

Writing is often just my version of thinking out loud. So sometimes I write to process awkward cultural or language moments. Sometimes I write through a current event or something I’ve just read. Often I write about what I’ve been reading, or struggling with in Scripture. Each blog post is essentially me saying, “Here’s what I think I think about this. What do you think?” Also, I’m an introvert, so the occasional post about the inner workings of we strange creatures makes its way into my blog.

Blogging is really about connecting with others who have the same passion or interest as you. I stayed with blogging for the writing, but not all blogs feature writing primarily. There are blogs out there dedicated to recipes and food, to gorgeous or quirky photos, and to explaining how to do handicrafts, or living in a more environmentally-friendly way.

Most of what I write deals directly with Scripture and how life currently is interacting with the truth there. More generally, I want everything I write – random, funny, awkward and amusing stories included – to be God-loving and neighbour-loving.

Sometimes that means I don’t post a story, or talk about a particular person because my attitude towards the situation isn’t right, and that will show in how I write about it. Often that means what I do post is more of a confessional and a reminder to myself (and readers struggling with the same thing) that there is so much grace for this journey.

“It’s led to a new opportunity for me”

Toma Clark Haines lives in Berlin with her husband and her well-travelled cat. Her blog (http://antiquesdiva.com/blog) is her main method of promoting her successful business, which offers antiques buying tours in Europe and the UK.

My husband’s job has taken us around the world – we’ve moved six times in 16 years! I started blogging as a means of promoting a book I was writing: a travel guide for antiques in Europe.

But the recession hit, and my publisher killed my book project. I was devastated. Meanwhile, my blog had begun developing a surprisingly large following. Readers began e-mailing me asking, “Will you take me on tour?” At first, I said, “No, I don’t lead tours.” Then I realised that while one door had closed, another had opened and my company was born. For me, that’s how God always works in my life. He is the master of serendipity!

Five years later, I have 13 employees and we’re conquering Europe, offering antiques buying tours in eight countries.

My main method of promoting my business is still my blog. It’s very personal, detailing where I go, what I do and see, and what my clients buy along the way (as well as a few purchases of my own). It also highlights the to-ing and fro-ing of my antiques diva tour guides, who work with me leading tours.

I often do work-related blogs, giving addresses for antiquing in Europe and the UK, but I also include personal pieces. Last November, we lost everything to a fire in our home. A fellow blogger (Paris Parfait), who had followed my blog from the beginning, e-mailed me after reading about the fire and offered to give me an antique from her own home.

When my husband and I visited her in Amsterdam, she gave us two amazing, antique Napoleon III chairs – we were only the third to own them! So, while the blog does promote my business, it’s still very personal. People who read it know me. I write in a very familiar manner, and as a result it’s a two-way relationship, not just a one-way channel for communicating a message.

Although I am careful not to discuss my faith in my blog, clients have told me after meeting me, “I knew you were a Christian.” They joke that my blog shouldn’t be called The Antiques Diva, but The Down-Home Diva, as I am anything but a diva! I try to be very down-to-earth in my writing and approach to life.

“It helps me to share my faith”

Becky Grosenbach is a writer who lives in Colorado, USA. Her blog (http://miraclesinsmallletters.blogspot.co.uk) provides her with a platform for self-expression and a way to share her faith.

I blog because I love to write. Writing is my best means of self-expression.

Sometimes, I don’t know what I think about a topic or how I feel about something until I’ve written about it. It’s also a way of showing other people how a relationship with Jesus influences my life. I’m a pretty ordinary person, but God makes an extraordinary difference in my life.

I started a weekly e-mail in 2004 as a writing discipline, and switched to a blog in 2009. I’d been home with my children, not doing a lot of work, when a friend challenged me to start a blog as a way of getting back into the habit of writing on a regular basis.

I don’t write as often as I once did – it currently averages about once a month. My blog is very self-centred: it’s all about me, my experiences, my observations. Many of the posts are humorous. Most have some spiritual application.

My faith has a huge influence on the way I write my blog. When I joined Facebook, about four years ago, I started linking to my blog posts. I began to get comments from my non-Christian friends. One of my high school friends told me she went back and read every single blog post I’d ever written. I realised my blog could help me share my faith with these friends.

Now I’m careful not to use ‘Christianese’, but to say things in a way that anyone could understand. I don’t make assumptions about what my reader may, or may not, understand about the Bible and faith. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% successful at that, but it is in my mind as I write.

I use Blogspot, but you can also set up a blog using services such as Wordpress or Blogger. I am not very technical, so if I can do it, I imagine anyone can.

Blogging for beginners

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘blog’, short for ‘weblog’, was coined in 1999. In simple terms, a blog is a website, where you write on a regular basis, and visitors can read and then comment on the things you write about. Some blogs focus on particular topics: politics, business, religion, parenting, crafts and much more; others are simply a personal diary. Basically, a blog can be whatever you want it to be ...

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Do you blog? Tell us about your experiences and the difference blogging makes to your faith

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