29. Three Ways to Improve Your Blog

blog 14 image

Blogging is hard.

There. I said it.

Although simple in theory, blogging can be quite challenging. Sometimes it drives me insane, yet other times it clothes me with a blanket of satisfaction.

When I began the Lingering Lamb in October, I assumed blogging would be easy, quick to fill the desire I had for writing.

I can’t say I was completely wrong… or completely right.

The Lingering Lamb is still young; its wool is cushioned with almost 30 articles and nearly 1,500 hits. I never imagined it would do this well in only five months. Of course the success is attributed to my awesome subscribers (both in and out of WordPress); without you guys, my job would NOT be fun.

I know there’s still lots to learn, so I’ve uncovered three aspects I need to improve on as a blogger:

ONE) Consistency

My heavenly Father, family, and school are my number one priorities; blogging/free time come second (or fourth… however you want to interpret it).

Of all my priorities, school drains my time the most. It burns away hours that could be well spent blogging, reading, or playing video games.

With all my homework deadlines, it’s difficult to meet my personal goal of posting every Saturday and Tuesday. But if I push myself to be consistent, I can make my blogging goal work.

TWO) Relaxation

I have this twitching urge to constantly check this blog’s stats. On average, each post gets 50 to 100 views, and I’m always wanting to see if a current post breaks the record for the most views.

If I can somehow learn to prevent from clicking the stats button, I think my focus would be geared more toward the writing than the progress.

THREE) Inspiration

Inspiration is something bloggers yearn for more than anything.

It is also a lie…

Although important, inspiration is not what sustains a blog or book (or anything for that matter). It is a lie because inspiration is not the energy that propels a work forward, rather it is the spark that ignites possibility.

Unless I fuel my inspiration with habit and practice, my blogging/writing dreams will never be realized.

It is habit that gets things done, not inspiration.

I suppose number three can tie in with number one. After all, a great way to develop habit is to be consistent… That is… If you don’t worry about it (hehe…see what I did there?).

When I merge these three weaknesses together, I believe my blogging journey will be much more fulfilling (and your reading experience more enjoyable). If I write on a consistent basis, develop writing habits, and just be “worry free” everything will work out for the better.

So what do you guys think? Are there other things that would make my blogging experience better? And bloggers, are there areas where you need to improve?

^Comments Welcomed  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

28. Five Books that Changed my Life

old-books

Whether you enjoy reading for its academic value or for pleasure, you cannot deny its vital importance. Reading has played a critical role in my personal development, and without it, receiving a college acceptance letter would have been impossible.

Without further ado, here are five books that changed my life:

  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I was 12 years old when I read this book. I remember being thrilled with the action and intrigued by the plot. This was the first book I read since Harry Potter, and I was definitely satisfied.

Although not as good Harry Potter, The Hobbit grasps the concept of modern fantasy better than any other. It is, you could say, the grandfather of modern fantasy. Without it, the genre would not be what it is today.

  • Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington

This one is an autobiography. Washington grew up during the reconstruction period (post-Civil War), an extremely difficult time for black people. In the book, Washington describes his trials growing up, his yearning for an education, and his glorious redemption as a successful man.

I consider Washington a historical hero. He not only helped black people obtain quality educations, but he instilled in the hearts of thousands (including me) that learning never stops.

  • The Giver by Lois Lowry

I primarily read for pleasure and ignore the philosophical or moral messages hidden between its pages. In The Giver, however, I couldn’t help but notice the distinct underlining messages opposing abortion.

There is a scene of Jonas’s (protagonist) father injecting an infant with a killing serum. He treats the procedure normally, unknowingly destroying a life for convenience. The scene mirrors reality. The father represents a people oblivious to their actions, and the dying infant represents the millions of victims slaughtered by a silent holocaust (e.i. abortion). Jonas, who is the only person capable of understanding the concept of death, is broken by the unmindful nature of his father and the community.

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is a great American classic filled with clever animals, idiotic farmers, and a smack in the face to Stalinist Russia.

I originally read Animal Farm for school, but after a few chapters, I read it more for enjoyment. Orwell not only brought animals to life, but he explained through representation why socialism simply can’t work.

  • Wizards of the Game by David Lubar

Of the five, Wizards of the Game has impacted me the most. It’s about an eighth grader named Mercer who is obsessed with a role-playing game called ‘Wizards of the Warrior World.’ Naturally, his game contains fantasy elements (e.i. magic) which causes uneasiness between Mercer and a Christian named Ed.

By the end, Mercer acknowledges Ed’s beliefs, and can adequately differentiate between fantasy magic and biblical sorcery (which by the way are completely different).

I assume the majority of my readers are unfamiliar with Wizards of the Game. It isn’t as popular as Animal Farm or The Hobbit, but it has certainly impacted me the most. Growing up in the church, Harry Potter and Pokémon (or anything magic related) were considered satanic. Wizards of the Game answers the question many Christians ask: How different is fantasy magic from real, biblical witchcraft?

THE END

What do you guys think? If you were to re-create this list, what books would you include? What books have shaped your life?

I encourage comments!

 

 

 

 

 

27. Lego Star Wars, The Force Awakens, and High Anticipation

Lego Star Wars

I distinctly remember playing Lego Star Wars as a kid. I remember playing the GameCube and GAMEBOY versions. AND BEATING THEM BOTH. The concept of collaborating Legos with science fiction’s greatest story simply astounded me.

I am pleased to inform you that Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is almost here!

I watched the movie on Christmas Eve, and I thought it was the best Star Wars yet. It will be interesting to see how the movie adapts into the Lego video game format.

There is something I believe will change, though. Unlike The Complete Saga, The Force Awakens might actually contain character voices. The original Lego games only had mumbles and grunts to simulate dialog. Recent Lego games like Lord of the Rings and Marvel Super Heroes contain character voices; I’m hoping they do the same with The Force Awakens.

A great part about the Lego games is the humor. Without funny cut scenes, the Lego games wouldn’t be as enjoyable. It provides comic relief and sustainable content for an enjoyable video game experience.

I’m definitely looking forward to buying this game.

What do you guys think? What do you guys like about Lego video games? What are some anticipations for Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

Comments are encouraged.

 

 

26. Three TV Shows that Changed my Life

TV is amazing… There’s nothing like relaxing after a long day of work (or school) and watching an episode in your favorite series.

Although the number of shows is many, I must narrow my favorite down to three. These three have sparked countless conversations, and have helped create unlikely friendships.

No. 3: The Walking Dead

the-walking-dead-season-5-trailer.png

I was introduced to The Walking Dead by my gracious neighbor who loaned me the discs. Within two months, my father and I finished the first five seasons.

The Walking Dead is all about survival. In a world dominated by “walkers” (i.e. zombies), staying alive requires salvaging skills, stealth combat, and a complete disregard for human life.

A fascinating aspect of this show is the character development. The characters start out normal, but as the apocalypse hits, they adapt to their dangerous surroundings.

No. 2: Breaking Bad

Breaking+Bad

In between seasons 5 and 6 of The Walking Dead, My father and I decided to watch Breaking BadIt didn’t take long before we were hooked.

In many ways, Breaking Bad did me a huge favor. It gave me an opportunity to spend time with my dad, and it added richness to our conversations. We would literally finish an episode, stare at each other in disbelief, and then discuss how the next episode might resolve.

According to my father, Brian Cranston (Walter White) is the greatest actor alive. But Cranston isn’t the only phenomenal actor in the show; the show has a great cast, giving viewers a list of relatable characters.

No. 1: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar the Last Airbender

In my opinion, there will never be a show quite like Avatar.

I began watching it in 2005, and it remains my all-time favorite. The animation, characters and choreography combine to craft a beautiful story of a 112-year-old boy’s destiny to save the world. It’s packed with fantasy action, love, hate, betrayal, loyalty, and basically everything else.

The biggest reason for this being No. 1 is its fantasy/steam punk elements. Although the story is slightly cliché, the fantasy elements are completely original. The magic system (i.e. bending), for example, it absolutely flawless.

So what are your favorite TV shows? More importantly, what aspects of TV do you enjoy the most? Please comment.   

 

 

 

 

25. My First Magic: the Gathering Tournament

Last night, I participated in my first Magic: the Gathering tournament. For those who don’t know, Magic: the Gathering is a collectible card game. When you collect cards, you can build your own deck and play a strategy game.

130406-F-OP138-007

Magic the Gathering is like a cross between chess and poker (chess in that the cards you use have specific abilities, poker in that you want to hide your cards from your opponent). VERY FUN!

ULAMOG

I didn’t realize so many took Magic: the Gathering seriously. For me, the game is simply a fun activity to do with friends. But at the tournament, it was a lifestyle. Some had been playing between 10 and 15 years! So naturally they knew everything, including the fact that half my deck was illegal.

Despite my vigilant battle efforts (pun intended), I didn’t win a single game. My opponents had too many great cards and too much experience for my amateur abilities. Despite losing everything, though, I still graciously accepted my participation award (1 booster pack/15 random cards).

My take-home from last night was the experience. I was exposed to great players in a beautiful (but geeky) atmosphere. Untamed Worlds was a great host, and for those of you who like comic books, board games, or collectibles, Untamed Worlds is the place to be.

They host weekly Magic: the Gathering tournaments, and I plan to compete in as many as I can.

So what do you guys think? Should I consider Magic: the Gathering only a hobby? Or should I make it a lifestyle?

I encourage comments.

 

 

24. If You’re Bored, Read This…

boredom

Have you ever been stuck somewhere with nothing to do? Has it ever crossed your mind that dying of boredom might actually be possible?

Last weekend, it snowed in my city. By Saturday afternoon, fifteen inches of powdery white fluff glazed our property, and I was forced to remain indoors.

Believe me… I know boredom.

When boredom consumes me, I sometimes fall into limbo. I try to think of things I enjoy, but the boredom sucks the creativity from my mind, leaving me helpless.

Here’s some surprising advice that has helped me a lot: don’t fight it, because boredom is good.

“WWWWWHHHHHAAATTTT?!?!?!?! NO, LOGAN! DON’T SAY THAT!”

“Hmmm… Let me say it again. BOREDOM IS GOOD!

Let’s face it, Lingering Lamb subscribers! Although frustrating at times, boredom can be a tremendous blessing. How would I have developed a love for writing? Or learned to play Magic: The Gathering? Or get the idea to start a video game club? Or even decide to author this blog had in not been for boredom?

When boredom is accompanied by diligent thinking (and a pinch of motivation), it turns into an opportunity to learn something new. And believe me… I have tried MANY new things, and a lot of these things have turned into lasting hobbies.

You obviously know that I love to read, write, and play video games (that much is obvious).

…But did you know that I’m a drummer?

…Did you know that my high school basketball team won the East Coast Championship my junior year?

…Or the fact that my partner and I were ranked second in the USA for beach volleyball?

…Did you know that I can solve a rubix cube in 28 seconds?

Throughout my life, boredom has given me opportunities to experience new things and to meet new people.

So my advice to you is this: Never take a moment of boredom for granted. And when you’re bored, force yourself to do something you don’t like. It may end up being one of the best things you ever do.

So what do you guys think? What are some advantages or disadvantages of boredom? I encourage comments.

 

 

 

23. What is Good Writing? …

BLOG 23 image

Good writing is essential for everyone. Whether news columns, blogs, or fictional stories, authors should always abide by three basic rules to convey vibrant messages.

Rule One: Understand Grammar Concepts.

Regardless of writing style, authors must use correct grammar. Sentences — even entire paragraphs — can easily be misinterpreted when the writer does not execute proper grammar. Commas, semicolons, and periods are critical for separating thoughts and even for emphasizing key points.

Rule Two: Less is More

Many write to impress rather than to accurately inform. Instead of writing a clear, straight forward message, they try to impress readers with long sentences and “fancy” vocabulary. These writers don’t realize that the best way to convey anything is to explain it simply, using few words if possible.

Rule Three: Appeal to the Senses

This rule mostly applies to creative writing. When someone is reading a creative story, he wants to feel involved. It’s the writer’s job to interpret the scene as if he is actually seeing, smelling, and hearing everything.

According to the historical fiction writer, E. L. Doctorow, “good writing should provoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

A beautiful example of appealing to the senses is found in The Great Gatsby, one of America’s most famous novels.

“Gatsby asked me to wait until he was free and I lingered in the garden until the inevitable swimming party had run up, chilled and exalted, from the black beach, until the lights were extinguished in the guest rooms overhead.”

In this passage, Fitzgerald identifies what his protagonist is seeing (gardens/guest rooms) and feeling (chilled). Such writing brings the reader deeper into the story, convincing him of another reality.

To summarize, good writing consists of three main rules: proper grammar, simplicity, and appeal to the senses. Without a firm grip on these basic concepts, writers will struggle to tell their story effectively.

What do you guys think? How important are these rules? How can writers effectively execute them?

I encourage comments below.