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August 17, 2015

On Writing Controversial Posts

Several months ago, I shared about some blogging advice that my husband gave me - You see, he reads my blog every once in awhile, and he said to me, "You are being entirely too cautious. For fear of offending, you are completely avoiding writing about some of the topics that mean the most to you." And you know what? He was exactly right! 

That is exactly what I was doing. I was avoiding certain topics...I wasn't writing a whole lot about being a stay-at-home mom, because I did not want to cast any more fuel on the ever-raging mommy wars. I wasn't writing much about why we have chosen faith-based education our children, because once again...there are so many misunderstandings out there about this topic - especially when it comes to homeschooling. So, I began to address some of the topics that were close to my heart. I wrote about my choice to be fully committed to our family's home life as well as why we passionately reject government schooling for our children

You know what the result was? Sure, there have been ugly comments...rude responses...misunderstandings, but there has also been freedom. I have found freedom in my writing. I have found connection with many like-minded individuals who have been an incredible encouragement to me. For every reader I may have lost, I have gained many more - readers who either embrace my same passion(s) or who simply enjoy a healthy discussion - even if we disagree.

Fellow bloggers, maybe there is a topic on your heart that you would like to write about...but you're afraid. May I encourage you to step out in freedom and make connections with others who share your perspective? After all, isn't that what this online world is all about? 

On Writing Controversial Posts
On Writing Controversial Posts

When stepping out in this way, there are a few things to keep in mind: 

1. Be true to who you are. When readers come to my space, I want them to know that they are going to get a real and honest look at who I am. Do I think carefully before posting? Absolutely. Do I do my best to carefully organize my thoughts before posting? You bet. However, I promise them an authentic piece of my heart, and I want to consistently deliver.

2. Don't be afraid to be different. There are enough bloggers out there saying the same thing...over and over again. Why not share your honest thoughts? Even though they might be different...even though they might not be popular...even though they might challenge your readers. I realize that not everyone is this way, but I don't always want someone to tell me what I want to hear - sometimes I want to have my toes stepped on a bit. You have a unique perspective, and no one can share it quite like you! There is freedom in telling your story in a way that will not only encourage - but at times, challenge - those who follow along with your space.

3. Adjust your comment settings. In this blogging space, anonymous comments are not viewed or published. Harsh or overly critical comments are not published. Kind, respectful comments are always published - Even if the reader wholeheartedly disagrees with me...if they have constructively addressed our differences, I am more than willing to publish their comment.

4. In your posts, include disclaimers. These will not always be 100% effective, but they do give you an opportunity to clarify your thoughts a bit. For example, in my post Can I Afford to Stay Home with My Babies?, I explained that the post was not intended for mothers who have faced great tragedy or devastating loss. I explained that the post was not intended for moms who have chosen full-time careers. I explained that the post was specifically designed to provide guidance for those seeking direction regarding the topic. Who submitted the angry comments? Who sent the harsh e-mails? You guessed it. 

No post has brought more of a response from my readers than: To the Parents Who Let Their Children Play on Their iPad During Church I never dreamed that this post would receive so much attention or end up being so controversial. Once again, I included various disclaimers such as, " is only fair to recognize that some children have special needs that play a role in their ability to handle certain environments. I understand that you know your child...their abilities...their struggles..." While many reached out in agreement regarding my thoughts, who has been most upset by this post? Once again, you guessed it. 

*After a post goes live, you may find yourself feeling as if you need to go back in and adjust your wording, clarify one [or more] of your thoughts, include an additional disclaimer, etc. If so, simply go back in and make your changes. While you may remain confident in your stance on a topic, sometimes you may find it necessary to tweak your post a bit - and that's okay!*

 5. Be prepared. Many of my posts are written weeks/sometimes months in advance and scheduled to go live at a future date. You may do this same thing or write as you go, but either way: be ready. When writing about certain topics, know that you are going to receive a variety of responses - You will connect with those who agree, but you will also connect with those who disagree. You must be able to maintain a thick-skin and not allow the differences to bother you. 

6. Be kind. The goal is never to attack...or confront...or be disrespectful in any way. Readers may misunderstand or misinterpret your post, but make every effort possible to honor their time and their opinions in the same way you have asked them to do for you. If you choose to respond to someone who disagrees with you, do so with grace and humility.

If you are a blogger who chooses to avoid any and all controversy, I completely understand. If you are a blogger who has chosen to keep your blog somewhat undercover - not sharing it with your relatives or personal friends, I can wholeheartedly understand your reasoning. Some writers are not comfortable stepping out in this way, and that is absolutely their call to make! After all, it is their blog...their space to share in whatever way they choose, but if you are someone who finds yourself in the place where I was - holding back out of fear - may I encourage you to let go and make connections? You will begin to appreciate your blogging space in a whole new way.