Steve H. at Hog on Ice writes that he is cutting back on his blogging, and about the differences between writing and blogging. Steve, like so few bloggers, is a writer. He writes a lot, he writes often, he writes well. His site is a veritable clinic on writing.
He recognizes all the ways that blogging actually interferes with writing, which it most definitely does. It’s a great post, and there are lots of good comments from smart readers, many of them bloggers themselves.
I came to the same conclusion back in May of last year, and fired myself (I used to blog at another site). I had struggled with the same issues, and more, for a couple of years.
The danger of blogging, at least for me, was that I let it take control of my life, chasing traffic and comments and pingbacks. But at what cost?
I have a wife and 3 kids. Spending hours in front of a computer, treating it as a porthole through which to view the rest of the world, just to gain the transitory pleasure of luring eyeballs to my site, now makes no sense to me. Who cares? It was tearing me down, not building me up.
When I get old, lying on my death bed, and look back at my life, am I going to wish I’d spent more time blogging, or more time with my kids? Just the act of asking the question provides the self-evident answer.
I’m more interested in being a writer. I use blogging, like Steve and numerous others, to polish my writing skills. I won’t put the time into doing it unless I can look back on things I wrote months ago and say to myself “this is good”. This requires a certain focus on my part, such as resisting the urge to blog about minor news of the day — unless it’s funny, of course. Funny is always fair game.
So I’ve finally arrived at a forumula that can work for me: I write when I feel like it, about things I like to write about. My blog exists primarily for me, instead of primarily for some random group of 100 or 10,000 readers that may happen upon it someday.
If you want to write, you have to be thinking about crafting a cohesive and compelling piece of writing when you sit down at the computer. Whether you post it to a blog, or email it, or save it to a Word doc, it is still a piece of writing that exists independently of the way it is saved in pixels or on paper.
You simply can’t sit down to write while thinking about traffic, comments, and pingbacks. Or at least, I can’t.