|Image : Paul Wilkinson|
Archdruid Eileen writes, “The Third Generation of British Christian blogging might go in two directions – the “professional” blogs, such as Andrew Brown or His Grace, and the more personal ones with a certain amount of theological reflection – such as Sally’s (which has been around a long, long time) or Catriona’s (likewise) or Anita’s. I realise I’ve just listed three women and maybe that makes them less aggressive, less determined to blog relentlessly, and therefore less likely to tire of it.”
Hmm. Interesting. I disagree—theoretically!!– with the assumption that being a woman might make you less aggressive, and less determined to blog relentlessly. Practically, however, the average woman does have less physical energy than the average man (certainly the case if I take myself and my husband as a representative sample).
Also, even in households in which childcare and domestic chores are shared at least equally (as is the case in my household), the weight and distraction of them falls unequally on the woman. If the house is messy, the kids go to school without permission slips, in grubby kit, which could have profited from introductions to the washing machine or a needle, no one is going to say, “Bad house-husband,” “Bad dad.” So the weight of domesticity does fall unequally on women—until you reach the stage at which you don’t care what people think. (Am getting there, but not quite there yet.). The quotidian grind of hassle can militate against blogging relentlessly.
And of course, if that prevents burn-out, it is not necessarily a bad thing.
I started blogging in mid-April 2011, and have been surprised at the short life-cycle of many bloggers. How long will mine be? Will I last the course? I would like to.
How does a Christian blogger stay the course?
1) Make sure it is your calling and vocation.
Of course, it is not necessary for everything one does to be a calling and vocation. I travel a good deal, and garden a good deal. Neither of these are my vocation. (Now I wish I would convince Roy that I had a vocation to travel!!) So, of course, one can blog and enjoy it without it being a calling and vocation.
However, if one does feel it is one’s calling, then continuing becomes non-negotiable.
I do feel blogging is part of my calling to write.
But only a part of it.
2) If one feels that blogging is part of one’s calling as a writer, how does one sustain it?
Limits and boundaries. I have over the last 14 months worked out a sustainable schedule. I blog 4-6 days a week, setting the timer on for 30 minutes. If I have a decent post in that time, great. If not, I take another 30 minutes. If it’s still not ready within an hour, I don’t publish that day, but take more time the next day to wrap it up. So, I never spend more than an hour a day on my posts, and often less.
I spend a dedicated 15 minutes a day reading and commenting on other blogs. (Of course, if posts catch my eye in my Facebook newsfeed, or in my blog roll, I read them, so it’s often more than that.) I keep a balance between reading the posts of my commentators and people on my blogroll (to which I have even-handedly added everyone who’s added me, and a handful of others besides), as well as reading edgy Christian blogs which challenge my thinking (Lesley Fellows, Rachel Held Evans, Jamie, the Worst Missionary, The Church of No People, Anne Jackson etc). All these bloggers are younger than I am, and just as I am belatedly trying to get my body more flexible with yoga and body balance classes, I am trying to keep my thinking nimble and agile and not settle into a predictable, atrophied rut of middle-aged thinking. Heaven forbid.
Having a limit for how long you will spend on your blog will help ensure you will continue for the long haul.
3) Why are you blogging?
A very personal question which it is imperative to answer.
What are the benefits to you of this expenditure of time?
To list some personal benefits to me,
Psychological. It keeps me in touch with the subterranean river of thoughts, emotion and inspiration. The often inchoate is explored and expressed. Hey, it’s cheaper than therapy.
Social and friendships—I have made new friends through my blog, whom I’ve later met in the flesh and liked, and have deepened existing relationships. Real people write blogs (as I can attest!) and cyber-friendships add interest to my life.
Writing—My books have sold better since I started blogging, and it gave me the confidence to rapidly write and almost finish my third.
Intellectual—It’s exercise for the mind. Reading other blogs keeps me in touch with the zeitgeist and forces me to formulate my thoughts on issues I had never considered.
Sharing your thoughts helps you to refine them. My comments often show the embarrassing spectacle of retractions, apologies, belated nuancing, mind-broadening, and general signs of thinking in progress.
4) Resist blogging on what you are not really interested in. Resist commenting on the controversy du jour unless you feel strongly about it, or your blog will become like everyone else’s. It will first bore you, and then your readers—or vice-versa— in a deadly circle of miserable boredom.
5) “If poetry does not come as naturally as leaves to a tree, it better not come at all,” Keats wrote. The same with blog posts. Straining to find something to write about is a kiss of death for a blog. Better wait till the inner wells of thought and feeling well up again. Let your blog rest until you have something you feel strongly about that you really want to say. Blogging for the sake of blogging, just for the sake of posting something, is a crime against both yourself and your readers, in my opinion.
Fortunately, I usually have 5 or 10 ideas I could happily develop. When nothing comes to mind, I scroll my drafts folder for the 100-200 posts or ideas for posts I have in draft form. Doing that, however, is a sign that there is something, just beneath the surface of consciousness that needs exploring, but which I don’t want to. Hey, exploring one’s inner reservoir of thoughts, motives, fears and emotions can be painful. (Not everything I write lands up on the blog of course; some goes to a journal.)
Just random thoughts. How is one most likely to stay the course and not burn out?