BLOGGING: Can Blogging Become Addictive?
NOTE: This was posted this weekend on Dean’s World as well.
La Shawn Barber is working on a research/writing project and wants to find out from people who have weblogs whether blogging is addictive.
She’s posting four key questions:
1)How long have you been blogging?
2) Do you believe you’re addicted to blogging? Please explain, and be honest.
3) Have you ever taken a hiatus? If so, for what reason and how long?
4) Have you ever thought of giving up your blog? Why or why not?
She’s inviting comments on this topic on her site, posts, and via email. And this topic is indeed fascinating enough to warrent a bit of a biographical reply.
In fact, I consider the issue so fascinating that I will post this same, exact post on my own blog with a general link to Dean’s World on Monday morning. Why? Because I do have my own story…and my own insights…insights that her questions nudged out of my tiny brain. Answers to her precise questions:
#1 HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN BLOGGING?
I started my blog The Moderate Voice in "beta" form around Dec. 27, 2003. Only 15 people got email notices on it. I sent them the link saying, "I found this and this guy makes a lot of sense (HE did to me), what do you think?" It didn’t have my name or logo on it but was a Blogspot blog by an anonymous entertainer (me). They loved it.
I started a blog at the urging of entertainer friends Jim and Chris Calhoun (Jim now has a blog). They knew I was a former fulltime journalist and an absolute news junkie. They suggested it one day, then about a month after that I had a dream about doing a weblog…and the next morning they brought the subject up again without my raising it and urged me to start one. I felt it was time.
My blog was officially started with my name on it (when I let people know I was doing it and sought a blogroll) on January 1, 2004. I was adamant when I started that it would not be a partisan blog. I love partisan blogs but I don’t tend to think that way. I decided that no matter what, I was going to be totally honest when I did a post and â€” freed from the shackles of editors â€” for ONCE I was going to write what I wanted to write about.
#2 Do you believe you’re addicted to blogging?
I had a much different reason for wanting to do a blog than most people. I had been a driven free-lance journalist overseas for nearly 8 years, and worked on several U.S. newspapers as an even-more-driven staff reporter (general assignment, immigration issues, education, Baja California reporter, etc.). I left the news biz in Nov. 1990 to go into entertainment as (of all things) a ventriloquist and go BACK to the freelancing I loved when I was overseas â€” writing without the constraints of a corporation. Yet due to challenges launching the entertainment busines plus some severe personal crises, by early 2003 I had still not gotten around to the writing.
I felt I had waited so long I was terribly rusty and lost the high standards I had set for myself. How could I EVER get back to paid writing again?
And blogs? I didn’t read blogs and only towards the end of 2003 did I realize what they were and how many they were (I ALWAYS tirelessly read the wires, watched cable news, read every single newspaper I could and every magazine plus tons of books, ending up as one of Amazon.com’s Top 500 Reviewers).
I saw the blog as a way to GET BACK into writing. But when I started it people said I should only do one or two line links or very short paragraphs. But I had my own goal â€” to get back to seriously write again and communicate. So I decided to try to keep my goals on track and also attempt to build an audience. I was going to do my blog my way and if it failed, it failed…but I was doing it as much to get back into writing as to offer it to readers.
So the addiction for me has been to read as usual and write as much whenever I can, trying to always do the best I can…to get myself in shape for the paid projects I want to start (in 2005 in fact).
Addiction? To answer this you have to ask why people blog.
Some for creativity. Some for fun. Others because they never felt they had a voice and now they can make themselves heard. Others for the journalistic art of it. Still others to promote viewpoints (left or right) in which they strongly believe. Yet another group seeks to use it as a springboard into journalism (I have been in corporate journalism and want to get back into freelance journalism).
I probably spend more time on posts I do Guest Blogging than I do on my blog (I don’t want to screw up someone else’s site whereas on mine I tend to be a little more flippant and will take more chances.)
I tell people: "All I do when I blog is the same crap I always did: I read and now instead of blabbing about it, I sit down and write about it, then hit send and I blab to the world. Even without a blog I read all kinds of stuff and have all kinds of positions. Nothing has changed. I haven’t changed what I do with my work time. I’ve changed what I do with my downtime."
#3 HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN A HIATIS? Not yet, although many readers have suggested I take a flying leap.
#4 HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF GIVING UP YOUR BLOG? WHY OR WHY NOT?
I’ve told everyone that as long as there is a readership and even if it slowly creeps up, I’ll continue. I exceeded my modest first year goals. So now I’m committed for another year. If over 2005 readership goes down or doesn’t creep up, I would probably move on excuslively to fulltime writing projects. That’s just a goal I set: that I have to see that what I’m doing is pleasing to some people.
But I recently had my faith tested.
In February, to help me on writing projects and my weblog, my sister gifted me an IBM Think Pad laptop, something I couldn’t have afforded due to some financial problems. The Moderate Voice had just been launched. And the laptop fit in perfectly with the blog, the increasing reliance of many people on email (some clients will not phone but will email and not phone until the deal is set), my tendency to start little pieces of writing projects, save them, then go back and work on them later, plus some non-journalistic writing projects.
However the WONDERFUL thing about the laptop was that for the first time ever I was effectively using my "downtime" while on the road. I could now use that time I once used for reading and watching lousy TV shows to work on the projects and do the blog. So all summer, as I did shows in Texas, Montana and Wyoming, my blog was written from hotels, usually late at night (Typepad like Powerblogs has a posting timer). I also did a bylined article for a nonprofit group’s website and also did a major research project for a nonprofit organization. In each venture, the laptop played a key role â€” merging all of my activities and creating a constant stream of more productive time.
Last week, I learned my suddenly defunct laptop cannot be fixed. So, literally overnight, this synergistic approach to my entertainment business, my writing projects and my blog vanished.
Last week I debated if I should walk away from the blog. It seemed I would lose my "hits" because unless I find a low cost (reliable) laptop I’ll be without one â€” and my blog will not be updated much when I’m on the road.
I thought about it. But I decided…NOPE. I’m going to see it through 2005, keep looking for a laptop, hope I have the cash to get it (or get it on installments)..and not waver from my mission of what my blog is supposed to be and what it is supposed to do for me (keep me writing constantly).
So I thought about it, but won’t walk away from it…and there’s another reason why I won’t:
People who don’t blog don’t realize the strong friendships you can develop via blogging. A slew of writers from all over the blogosphere’s political rainbow encouraged me when I started and have become dear friends (In November I had the pleasure of meeting Vodka Pundit Stephen Green in Colorado, and Scott Koenig aka Citizen Smash "The Indepundit" here in San Diego). Age makes NO DIFFERENCE in these friendships: I get emails from bloggers much older and younger than me and they’re all the same…friends.
So, laptop or no laptop, the people who suggest I stick my computer somewhere (I tried to follow their advice but it won’t fit) or not, I won’t quit.