Why do we write? All kinds of answers to that question. When I was studying it in school, the answer was, "To get better at writing." To obtain an easy facility. To hone the craft. To develop the tools. You write so that you can actually write. Most people, obviously, can string words together. That'd different than being a really good writer.
I can make macaroni and cheese from a box. I can feed myself. I am not a chef. I am barely qualified to be considered a bad cook.
I'm not sure that's why most people blog. Maybe it's about the same impulse that compels keeping a journal. Not in my case, as I never kept a journal. For me, it really is about finding a nugget of an idea and writing around it. The expression of thoughts in a way so as to convey meaning clearly. It's an exploration. It's art + science. Like poetry, but different.
From Infocult, I got a pointer to a post at Webomatica on "Why blogging sours."
First off... "Why I nearly quit" stories kinda crack me up. When I was smoking, we (smokers) would always talk about how many times we'd tried to stop. So what? You didn't. Shut up. Can I bum one? A long, well thought-out blog post about how you almost quit blogging is like when beautiful people complain about how they used to have damaged hair or skin problems. Look buddy... I got 11 toes the hard way; seven on one foot and four on the other, so shut yer pie hole.
He goes through a litany of his issues. Like, "A front page Digg is awesome, but I admit to a sugar-high let down when I realize all those Diggers just checked out one or two articles and left."
Yeah. You write a post about how you "almost" quit, and include a reference to a previous, front page Digg. Sweet. So all of us out here who are blogging along with a few or a few dozen readers and whose chosen topics make us about as likely to appear in a Paris Hilton video as to get a front page Digg are supposed to feel motivated to... suck on a taxi's tailpipe? Nice motivational style.
He closes with these takeaways:
- Think long term rather than short term.
- Be prepared for the long haul.
- Donâ€™t expect instant success.
- Donâ€™t quit your day job on day one.
- Expect to work hard on quality content and quality networking.
- Blogging in a vacuum sucks.
Correct me if I'm wrong... but those first three say the same thing. And "don't quit your day job on day one." Uh... I know dozens of bloggers personally. None of them blog for a living. Zero. For a very few, blogging is now part of their traditional day job, but I'm not aware of anybody in my circle making their whole nut off the medium.
"Expect to work hard on quality content and quality networking." OK. Yes. If you want to do something well, expect to work hard. That's... very... uh... specific.
And the last bullet isn't a takeaway. It's an observation. I know I'm being snarky here, I just really am kinda tired and getting over a cold and know many writers who struggle with actual writing issues. And a guy who gets 37 comments on a post about how he sometimes doesn't get many comments... well, it's just cracking me up.
So... I read this page and was shaking my head and was going to not post today because it reaallly motivated me to not write. Feh.
Then I checked my WordPress dash for incoming links and found that somebody I'd never met/contacted had added me to his blogroll. As usual in the blogosphere, I have no specific idea why. It's always nice, and (one assumes) it's because the person enjoys your writing. So I checked out his blog, read a few posts (he put up at least one original poem, and that's always good for the universe), and found (through random poking) a very nice piece on his definition of success. It boils down to "have joy without screwing with others' joy." My very loose re-wording, so please forgive me, Mr. Hopkins.
I grok that.
And his piece caromed off my earlier, depressing thoughts about the "sour blogging" post and how to avoid it. In this weird, new world of blogs, YouTube, wikis, email, IM, WoW, SecondLife, etc... you know what? I don't really need to be Dugg. I don't need to make money on my blog. I don't need hundreds of readers. What's my definition of success for this little portion of my life?
When, out of the blue, one quality guy like E.C. Hopkins adds me to his blogroll.
If that's not enough joy to keep you blogging for another six months, hang it up for real.
That's my takeaway.