Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why I blog -- part 1

Yesterday Cathy Barger, a fiber artist in New York, asked on the Quiltart list why people blog:

"Is writing it something you look forward to, or is it a chore that you "have to" do, or is it just something you do regularly (though not necessarily daily) like brushing your teeth or getting a haircut? Do you fret about it, or is it a pleasure, or both?

"What motivated you to start, and what keeps you going? Do you have multiple blogs, like one for thoughts & photos of family & pets, another for your political opinions, and a separate one for quilting, art, creativity, etc?

"What do you get out of blogging? I can understand how it would help your related business, if you have one, either directly (people you reach via your blog buy your work, or hire you to write for their publication, etc) or indirectly (your name gets "out there", people feel like they know you), but is that the main purpose for you doing it?

"If you decide to take up blogging on a fairly serious scale, how do you build up your readership to a point that makes it feel worth the time and commitment and effort to you, so that you don't feel like you are putting out all this effort and it amounts to nothing more than spitting into the wind?"

Since I'm a pretty active blogger, her questions made me think, and I decided to answer them here, because you, my precious faithful readers, are the main reason I continue to blog.  It may take more than one post to work through Cathy's good questions, but I welcome the opportunity.  I've known for a long time that articulating and explaining something that you do naturally is an excellent way to clarify your own thoughts and come to a deeper understanding of yourself.

So question 1: Yes, I look forward to writing.  I've spent my whole life writing one thing or another, a talent/predilection that probably came in the genes.  At school I always figured that writing well was an automatic extra letter grade -- if I knew the material at B level, the essay questions and term papers always brought it up to an A at the end.  (One reason I didn't star in physics -- too few essay questions.)  Then I was a newspaper reporter, and segued into corporate communication for the remainder of my career, always writing, always writing.

It's not so much that I love to write, but that writing is like breathing.  (Do people say they love to breathe?)  It's my way of figuring out what I think and why, and helping other people clarify what they think and why.  Although it's theoretically possible to write for your own eyes only, I don't know why you'd bother.  I've always been taught that you never sit down at the typewriter (showing my age there) without first knowing who is the audience and what do you want them to know, think or do after they read your stuff that they don't know, think or do now.

what I wrote in my previous life

After I spent my whole career writing about other people's ideas, I took a decade off from writing.  People asked me whether I would be doing creative writing, and I said no, writing was what I did for pay and now I was going to retire.  And I did, except for the usual newsletter- and bylaws-type writing that I got roped into for various causes and organizations.

But two years ago when I got into blogging I realized that for the first time in my life, I had finally developed enough expertise in my own field that I could write about my own thoughts instead of channeling other people.  I could write about art and quilting instead of the technicalities of accounting for pension plans.  What a joy!

I do sometimes find that it's a chore to write the blog, for instance in the days before leaving on vacation, when I need to write several posts in advance.  Even things you love occasionally require seat-of-pants-in-seat-of-chair tedium.   But that's not to say that I don't want to be doing it. 

I'll reflect on Cathy's other questions in a later post, so stay tuned.


  1. I find an audience of one perfectly satisfactory (I've been keeping a journal, not always a daily one, since I was eleven) for the reason you give: "figuring out what I think and why." So when I started a blog I didn't actually mean to write anything in it; I only wanted to be able to comment on blogs that didn't allow anonymous commenters.But I found that I had things to say, and pictures to post. Being an accidental blogger I've never felt any pressure to produce, or have deadlines, so that aspect doesn't apply to me. I've been blogging for nearly four years now,

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  2. I enjoy blogging because it the diary of MY life and my thoughts, projects etc. The fact that some people like it is icing on the cake. I keep it very neutral (politics etc) because I don't want it to be a job just a fun place for me to be in.
    I have met a lot of very nice people from all over the world too!MOre icing on that cake...

  3. I love blogging because I love to write and, as a social creature, it enables me to have a conversation of sorts with my readers. I'm certain I don't always have something profound to say, but personal exchange isn't only about the big ideas; it's also about the small details (like a preference for a color) that create the mosaic of an individual. Reading blogs gives me, in this hyper-connected but logistically distant world, the chance to meet others. I like that.

  4. Upon reflection, the best thing I love about blogging is paging through and seeing my progress over the months, years. Also, I never wrote a paper in college that I didn't get an A on either. I think it shocked everyone that yes - an engineering major could actually write and make sense! I often think I should start writing artist statements as a side gig since so many times I read them and think - OMG - what are they trying to say. (grin)

  5. I started blogging 5 years ago after several years of reading other peoples because I thought I might have something useful to say but principally as a creative, reflective journal. I've found it a useful tool to clarify and articulate my thoughts - like what artworks stick in my mind when I go to an exhibition and why. It's turned into far more than that through the interaction with the 'audience' providing thought provoking and stimulating comments and advice.

  6. Yes...I can honestly say I love to breathe.

    @Nina-Marie...but can you spell? Lol...after dating many engineers and physicists and marrying an of their chief downfalls is an inability to spell. :)


  7. giggle - well I would be lying if I said I was a great speller! I think that engineers might end up doing what happens with me - spelling things exactly how they sound. (grin) But I'm thinkin' that yes a software engineer came up with spell check as a very useful tool (grin)