So you want to be a blogger? Do you LOVE to write? Do you wake up each morning with your head exploding with stories to be told?
August 28, 2007
An occupational hazard of being a blogger, it seems, that when you are in certain situations and let it be known that you blog, the inevitable question comes up: "So I've been thinking about starting a blog, where do you suggest I begin?" It's kind of the 2007 equivalent of several years back when, as soon as someone found out that you knew something about computers, the question was "So, I'm thinking about buying a computer, what kind should I consider?" (Or it is presumably like doctors who are asked things like "I've had this pain in my side...")
When next I am asked this question, I'd like to imagine the dialog might play out like this:
Them: So I'm thinking about starting a blog, where should I begin?
Me: For starters, do you LOVE to write?
Them: (a bit hesitant) Sure, I like to write.
Me: No, do you LOVE to write?
Them: (a pause) I'm not entirely sure I follow...
Me: Do you LOVE to write? Do you wake up each morning with your head exploding with stories that are just there waiting to be told? If so, blogging may be extremely easy for you. If not, you can still do it... but you just have to be aware that it will take some work.
Let's face it... starting a blog is trivial. Keeping a blog going takes a good bit of work. It helps tremendously if you have this compulsion to tell stories... if you are driven to communicate... if you love to write.
My brain first started going down this track back in July when I read Chris Brogan's "An Autobiography of Sorts". Chris, one of the more prolific bloggers I follow, writes very well and his posts are generally a pleasure to read. In his piece, he included this text (my emphasis added):
My first websites dealt with writing fiction. I wrote voraciously through childhood and was really proud and passionate about my writing. I got lots of early readership through my site, and built a little online community of writers.
A commonality with Chris clicked. Like Chris, I've been writing (at times you could even say "voraciously") since I was very young. Before I moved into blogging in May 2000 (over on Advogato), I had filled countless notebooks and journals with writing. I have boxes of them floating around. All shapes and sizes... carried with me wherever I was. Traveling around the US. Living in New England. On the ice sheet in Greenland. Going to the Univ of New Hampshire in the mid-1980s. Backpacking. Canoeing. Wherever. Whenever. I was writing. Stories. Fiction. Poetry. Commentary on politics. Comments on life around me. Sometimes in German (in my more fluent days). Usually late at night or early in the morning. Much of it, if I were to go back and re-read it, would undoubtedly be pretty mundane and banal. I'm sure some of my scribblings at UNH would rival the drivel posted in Facebook by some of today's students (except that my drivel isn't posted out there for everyone to see and for search engines to cache). I have written multiple technical books , numerous pieces of courseware, and far, far, far too many articles for me to even begin counting (I used to try to keep up). The reality is that I simply love to write. I always have. I expect I always will.
So the transition for me to blogging back in 2000 was trivial. It was simple and easy. I just wrote with a keyboard instead of a pen. Only now I was writing for a potentially global audience so I had to apply a bit of a filter (i.e. "Never put online anything you wouldn't feel comfortable seeing on the front page of the NY Times."), but across Advogato, then LiveJournal (and also my American-in-Canada site) and now this network of blogs (plus now Twitter, Facebook, etc.) , I've continued to post. Not as prolifically as Chris, nor even remotely on the same scale as Jeremiah Owyang:
I enjoy writing, and have published 1,327 posts in the last 15 months (about 3 a day, including weekends).
but I've kept at it all these years. In large part because I really can't NOT post! I do indeed wake up most mornings with my head exploding with stories to be told. For years I've carried around with me a Moleskine notebook whose main purpose continues to be a place for me to jot down notes about things I want to blog about! I still do. And you know what... I don't even blog about probably 90% of the ideas I write down! I just don't have the time in the day. Now if blogging were all I did, perhaps I could - but it's not what I get paid for and is something I just fit into the small random interstices of the day. Similarly, I tag many web pages I see in del.icio.us, with the idea that I'll go back and blog about them... and again probably 90% I don't. I keep all sorts of drafts of articles floating around in Windows Live Writer. Some eventually become blog posts. Some never do and eventually I delete them.
The key is that I love to write. I have a compulsion to communicate... to explain... to teach... to demystify things... to tell stories about things and people and technologies. It is just part and parcel of who I am and what I do.
If you have that compulsion, odds are that you'll do just fine keeping up with blogging. If not, you still can certainly maintain a blog... you just may have to work at it a bit more to keep those entries flowing...
 Since before Moleskines were popular with the GTD set and they were quite difficult to find - in fact, there was only one store in all of Ottawa where I could get them. Today, they are of course everywhere.
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