The Rambler :: blog

Friday, May 28, 2004

Why do we do it? 

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Only just got round to reading this post at silverdollarcircle. Has anyone ever come across a blog about the act of blogging? It would probably be pretty dull, come to think about it, but it would serve a point. And that is to demonstrate exactly what Simon's talking about. There has been, recently, some sort of crisis in confidence around this corner of the net, and it certainly seems true to say that these things come in waves. Permit me to don my white coat, and I'll explain why I think this is. And if you could just lie on that couch over there. Splendid.

Two things: firstly, if one major/influential/well-regarded blogger starts to express his doubts about what he's doing, that's bound to make a lot of his readers exmine themselves in a similar fashion. That seems self-evident. The second point is that with blogging there seems to be a pretty well-defined pattern of development which, for the almost-one year I've been doing this, I've certainly followed, and plenty of others have more-or-less followed too. It goes a little something like this (if I knew about flow diagrams I would probably introduce one at this point):

1) Start blog. Lots of enthusiasm, some good opening posts. After all, you've been thinking about doing this for a couple of weeks now, so there are some good ideas stored up waiting to get out.

2) Bit of a lull once the initial ideas run out. A few fall by the wayside at this point.

3) Crisis of confidence passes. Decide some sort of coherent agenda might be required, or at least a broad reason for writing the darn thing.

4) Start to build up a decent audience

5) Another minor crisis as responsibility to your readers begins. Referral stats take on a sick fascination. Maybe have to start scheduling blog time.

6) Blog starts to take over life. As someone once observed, "you start to think of every event in your life as a potential post". Some call it a day at this point too.

7) Have a redesign

8) Minor crisis of confidence.

9) Remember why you started in the first place, and what you wanted to achieve, plough on

10) Sitemeter and Technorati become your life

11) Have a redesign

[repeat 8-11, to rhythm of deep breaths ...]

Personally speaking, while it's saddening to see anyone I enjoy reading stop writing, I almost always appreciate the reasons why. I set this thing up so that I had a reason to write something almost every day, to exorcise a whole bunch of thoughts that couldn't usefully be turned anywhere else, to sharpen up my ideas, and maybe - just maybe - do something I'm proud of. Most of those are ongoing projects anyway, so although I frequently think of giving it up, I don't imagine that I actually will any time soon. I am proud of what I've done here (it'll be on my next CV when the time comes for one), but I still have the ideas, and I still have the desire to write them down. I think at some point in that cycle I've described above, there comes a point when you stop being self-conscious about what you're doing, and you're able to break through that wall and have pure confidence in what you write. That, for me, is one of the most useful lessons I've learnt from blogging - the inevitable disposability of writing. You have to let it out there, and let it go, otherwise it's not writing, it's just electric pulses in your head. All the best blogs I read appreciate this, and the really good ones got it very quickly. One day, I hope, so will this one. In the meantime, it remains a very enjoyable and rewarding (for me, anyway) means to an end. Once it stops being so, have no fear I'll be off.

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