Blogging on Blogging

14Apr09

Why is it some people seem to be able to put out multiple blog posts a day?  How do they do it?  I struggle to get more than one in a week.  Is there something wrong with me?

It’s not a problem with coming up with ideas.  I’ve got a stack of about 20 ideas roaming around in my head, on slips of paper, notes on my hard drive.  An idea will come into my head and I’ll have what seems like a twenty minute conversation with myself about the topic.  Thoughts, sentences, complete paragraphs will pop fully formed (or so it seems) into my mind.  Unfortunately it’s usually while I’m driving.  A little hard to post something, or even jot down a few notes when navigating University Avenue in the morning with no coffee in the system yet.  Then I get home and the brilliance and wit has dissolved away like . . . well, there you go–I thought I had a great simile going and the brilliance and wit just dissolved away.

I suppose it could be simply lack of focus.  I admit even now I’m at my computer with my email open (and of course I just compulsively popped over to check if I had any new ones–even though when I do get new email I have a little notification set to pop up), my Twhirl is up and running (what was that last one from ViewsNews?), my HTML editor is open in case my wife wants a quick update on her website, and I have two web browsers with a total of 12 tabs open (three new ones since I started this post).  Things seem to flow better when I’m writing general musings (like this one).

Am I doing too mush research for factual posts?  When I’m writing about current event type topics I find myself popping open more and more websites to do research.  I don’t want to write something completely stupid or completely wrong (naive I don’t mind as much) so I look for sources to back up what’s in my head as true.  Six of the now 13 tabs are for another blog post that I’m working on and I find myself wishing that I still had the four or five spreadsheets I had found when doing another post to go with it.  My most recent entry took a large portion of the day to write because I found myself asking questions:  When was the first newspaper published?  (1605 in Strassburg.  The first English language newspaper was published in Amsterdam in 1620 and the first American newspaper was published in Boston in 1690.)  When was the telegraph invented? (I wanted to make sure it was after the first newspapers.)  How many articles were in the front section of the StarTribune yesterday and how many of them were written by StarTribune staff?  How many columnists does the StarTribune have?  (It was more than I thought even though a couple write very infrequently and they still list Nick Coleman two and a half months after his final column.)  I find myself getting distracted.

But still, I look at some of the blogs I read regularly.  Erik Hare in his blog Barataria has managed to produce three thought provoking articles every week for over two years now.  Bob Collins at Minnesota Public Radio does several posts every single day on the News Cut blog while still talking news on MPR’s The Current, contributing to All Things Considered, and being the designated fill-in for John Gordon on Future Tense.  James Lileks has his Bleat where he posts several items a day he finds personally entertaining, buzz.mn which he maintains for the StarTribune, and he works on the StarTribune’s NewsBreak webcast.  And in his spare time he is writing yet another book.

Perhaps the whole problem is just that I need to find my “bloggging voice”.  Erik asks questions and leans decidely in a philosophical direction.  Bob covers news stories–not the big splashy headlines, but the stories that are the next layer down; ones that are important, interesting or touching, but frequently ignored.  James is decidedly on the humor side of things, quirky, wry and sarcastic.  Shortly after I started this piece, Erik sent out  a question to his followers on Twitter: Why do you blog?  He and I agreed it’s not for the money.  The answer I finally came up with was “cathartic release with a touch of exhibitionism.”  I discuss some of these thoughts with my wife, but it doesn’t seem enough of a release.  Maybe since we’ve been together as long as we have she can almost read my mind sometimes.    And I think that’s where the touch of exhibitionism comes in.  Getting the sufficient release seems to (for me at least) require that at the very least strangers can read my thoughts and ideas.

My last problem always seems to be my closings.  I seem to have trouble figuring out how to bring posts to an end.  I don’t want to feel like they just trail off into the distance, but without it being a story with an actual plot, a natural end can be hard to come by.  The old shcool paper standby of restating your thesis doesn’t always work.  Some postings are a journey that bring you somewhere you haven’t been and need to NOT be a circle.  That is part of the reason I had to get some shut eye before finishing this (and that it was almost 3 in the morning and I needed to be up at 8).

(In case you’re curious, the final count is 25 browser tabs, 72 incoming Tweets, 10 emails, and one website tweak.)

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2 Responses to “Blogging on Blogging”

  1. Thanks for the support! All I can add is that after a lot of practice, I get to the point where I (arrogantly) think I have something that simply needs to be said. Usually it’s because no one else is saying it, meaning that I’m either ahead of the curve or pitifully delusional. I’ll let the readers make that call … to me, it’s just good to get that stuff out of my head so that I can go on to more productive work.

    That’s what the blog is ultimately there for, at least – to get a job, or at least a gig. It’s a pretty big fail on that score, but I keep at it – another vote for “delusional”? 🙂

  2. John,
    Don’t beat yourself up about postings. Both Lileks and Collins are paid to write, and have been doing it for decades.

    I can’t say I do much more than an entry a week, but I’ve noticed it has gotten easier over time (I started blogging less than a year ago). Since my blog is exclusively on food I am limited in the research (taste-testing, cooking). I can’t do it just anywhere or at any time. What I’ve found most helpful is that I’ve grown a body of works-in-progress (11 drafts at last check). Some are dogs that will certainly never be published, but if two or three make it…I’ll probably have a few more started by then.

    I’ve also noticed a lot of what makes it in blogland is inferior. The writing is often rambling, vague and is poorly tied together. I focus on good writing. Good luck!


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