My 3 Rules of Writing


Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Dear fellow travelers,

After a long stretch of daily posts, the blog went silent for a day.  The reason wasn’t that there was nothing to write about.  Ironically, the reason was that sometimes the topics I most want to write about are the hardest ones to do.  Around the time I launched the blog, I decided each post should meet 3 criteria as a way to keep myself disciplined not just to regular writing, but to the type of content I wanted to post.  It’s my blog, after all.

My objective is that every post should be Compelling, Clear, and Charitable, meaning:

Is it about something that matters eternally, and is written in a way that connects emotionally and is worth reading? (Compelling)
Is it logical and makes sense, or is it likely to be misunderstood? (Clear)
Is it written in love, to build up whoever reads it? (Charitable)

In a way, these criteria are just a modified version of Ephesians 4:15-16, which says:
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:15-16

The compelling and clear parts are the “speaking the truth,” and the charitable part is the “in love” part.  However, the three criteria are not equal.  If I am compelling and clear, I might come across as clever, smart or a good writer, but without charity, “I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).  Without love, I’ve done it wrong, and therefore being compelling and clear should be tools used in service of being charitable.

Love is more important than keeping a daily schedule.  Fortunately, a blog doesn’t have to fill a scheduled hour of airtime in a 24/7 news cycle, where passion and (often faulty) logic dominate.  Yes, I’m not perfect and it happens here too, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try.

Like the old saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  In some cases, charity means silence until I have something else to write, or a better way to write it.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” – Ephesians 4:26-27

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