Blog! Crash! Burn!

It’s funny how I can dish out advice from the heart, but cannot listen to my own advice. Yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers, A. Hab hit the wall, frustrated with the pressures of Post A Day 2011. This was part of my response to her “Give yourself a break, if you don’t want to post, don’t post. There are no Post a Day Police who will arrest you if you don’t post.”

Well, today I don’t want to post. I feel empty and dried up, with nothing to say. And yet, do I listen to my own advice? NO! I feel like I absolutely have to post. And not only do I have to post, but I have to write the most brilliant post ever! (Which, I assure, this one will probably not be.)

Why? Because yesterday was, of course, the day that I got the most hits ever in one day.  Now I know this should be something I celebrate, but the reality is that I feel more like this:

In order to explain this, I will attempt to answer Mark’s (aka The Idiot) question to me from the other day. He asked “In what way has your view of blogging changed (either positive or negative) since you first started blogging?”

The more I blog, the more confused I become about blogging. I started this as a place to help me write more, and in the hopes that a few people would actually read what I have to say. I’ve done that. I write daily and I have a few faithful followers who read my posts as often as they can stand to hear me blathering on.

Then blogging took on a new role. I’ve discovered a group of people who have interesting stories and share the world in similar ways that I do, through words, pictures, music, or whatever other form inspires them. Through blogging I have found a community, which is pretty special. I enjoy visiting with these friends regularly and hopefully giving them thoughtful responses to their posts. I enjoy discovering fabulous voices and stories that make me feel something and respond. I love the people who make me laugh! I love the stories that make me cry! I even love the stories that make me angry and want to tear my hair out and go marching on Washington or elsewhere to battle the injustices of the world around us. I am awed by the talent and beauty in this world; by the people who make language sing or the artists who bring color to the world on a daily basis.

I have also been truly humbled by this community. I know I can write. I know that I have always had a flair for putting words on the page. But now I know that there are so many people who do it better than I do, and I learn from them on a daily basis. I only hope that I have been growing as a writer by following those who share more eloquently than I can.

I have also discovered that I am not alone in the struggles that I face in all aspects of my life: as an academic, an aspiring writer, a mother, an artist, a friend, a woman, a 40-something, a person who cares about this world, a daughter, and so on. The list could go on forever. Every day I find someone who has faced the same issues with more or less grace than I have, and I learn from them too.

But, I still don’t understand blogging. Sometimes I become overwhelmed by the power of other people’s blogs. I have days where I feel jealous at the success of other blogs (and then I get angry at myself for being jealous). There are days that I see no purpose to blogging, and feel like this is purely a place for egos to fuel each other. Those are the days when I struggle the hardest to write. There are days where I pour my heart and soul into a post, only to have that post ignored and only read by one devoted follower. There are days where I whip a post together, thinking it is meaningless drivel, only to discover numbers rising and more comments than I have had before. Yesterday’s post was somewhere between the two–not meaningless drivel in the sense that meeting my now husband was a significant moment in my life, but not something I expected (especially on a weekend) to attract much attention in the blogging world.

I am beginning to think I have absolutely no clue what makes a good post. Seriously. I’ve stated before that there are times I read the Freshly Pressed posts and think to myself  “That is a horribly written post. Why did they choose that one?” Honestly, I am more likely to read posts recommended by bloggers that I like than Freshly Pressed posts anymore (unless the title is especially intriguing–there are a couple of posts today that I will read for sure). So, I no longer have my sight set on achieving Freshly Pressed status. (Of course, I’ll relish it if it comes, but I have no idea how to achieve it so I can no longer think about it anymore). All I can do is write, and hope that my little blog has a purpose that I don’t yet clearly understand. Thanks for reading.

Why do you blog? Why do I blog? Does anybody know?

36 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tori Nelson
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 10:37:15

    Oh. My. Lord. That last paragraph sounds like the inside of my brain. I hit a wall not long ago for the same reasons. I began to feel like my perception of what is good and bad must be off because of falling stats or really horrible selections from Freshly Pressed. My most frivolous posts garnered a lot of attention, while one’s I felt so passionately about seemed not to strike a chord. I even had a lady e-mail me to say she would keep reading my blog if I kept reading hers. The feeling that people might only support your blog for selfish reasons is a hard to wrap my head around.
    The only consolation I’ve found is this: Remember why you first started blogging, before you understood what stats are and when ONE comment on a post was enough to make your week. I get so far away from this that it is easy to feel like I am a blogging failure. And then I remember, I started blogging for an outlet, just to let my brain work and flow and create. I started blogging not for a million readers or Freshly Pressed or conquering the blogging world, just to feel like I had said what I needed to say that day. GET BACK TO THAT!

    Reply

  2. lifeintheboomerlane
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 10:48:08

    I have a love/hate relationship with blogging. The love is 1. I can share all the random thoughts that my brain creates every second of the day anyway and be completely dumfounded that some people actually appreciate them. 2. I can write serious pieces every once in awhile and people seem to appreciate them as well. 3. I have found a community of like-minded people and I can even meet one of them in London and talk non-stop for hours. The hate: Blogging is taking up more and more time which is really driving me crazy. I am already following too many blogs, and I don’t have the time to read everyone’s posts every single minute and I know there are lots of others bloggers out there who I don’t even know about but who are amazing and would change my life if I knew about them but I never will. PS Agreed about Freshly Pressed. Often, I just shake my head over the choices. Unless, of course, they pick me.

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 11:13:37

      I’m trying not to add too many more bloggers to my list, unless I stumble upon someone I absolutely love. I have actually dropped a couple (who then immediately dropped me–which shows you that some people only follow you if you read their blogs). I try to follow blogs I love, whether or not they respond to mine, but I treasure the few relationships where we actually have discussion. I would love to meet up with you in London someday, but I have to get there first. Someday.

      Reply

  3. Taochild
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 10:54:35

    Since right now I am often lucky if I even have 10 people read what I post, I truly understand what your struggle is. And the same thing has happened. I write something that I truly want people to read, and no one even looks at it let alone comments. I write whatever pops into my head … and suddenly I am popular for 5 minutes.

    The truth of the matter is that I believe you, like me, write for yourself. You have something you wish to express, so you express it. If it is read and liked, well then all the better. And if intended to inspire, well it is a success even if it only inspire one other person. Because they will take something from it and pass it on to others. A cain reaction started.

    We may not always be aware off the full effect of our actions, but that does not mean they will not have an effect. But no taking the action will definitely have no effect. As you say, a poorly written post often garners much attention by the masses. And will soon be forgotten. However a well written and meaningful post, even if read by only one person, will not be soon forgotten and may even have an influence.

    Change the world one person at a time. One word at a time.

    Reply

  4. Taochild
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 10:56:25

    PS. This also applies to poorly typed posts (as the comment I just shared was) lol

    Reply

  5. TheIdiotSpeaketh
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 11:20:47

    Wonderful post! That is EXACTLY how I feel. Please read this post of mine and you will see that we are on the same page.

    http://redriverpak.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/the-day-captain-phil-harris-changed-my-life/

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:01:16

      I hate you for making me cry, Idiot. Not really of course, thank you for sharing that wonderful post. (By the way, I cried when the captain had the stroke too).

      Reply

  6. sportsjim81
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 11:39:52

    Lisa,
    I would simply say that this is exactly how I feel some days, but it seems everyone else already agrees. I was featured on Freshly Pressed a couple months back and during the 2 and half days it stayed up there (it was a Friday when it posted), my page stats, comments and subscriptions went through the roof. For the past 2 months, I find myself searching sometimes for whatever formula I used for that post in hopes of getting back there and feeling that rush again.

    What I have learned during that time though, is that while its great to get 10 subscriptions in one day, if those 10 people never bother to read, comment or interact with me, its as if they don’t exist. I get much more satisfaction from folks like you and Tori and The Idiot over there, when you click the like button or say “that was a great post”. The difference is, you guys actually care about the people you read and I try to do the same. Basically, what I’m getting at is to remember that the people making these comments are active participants in your blogging life and want to follow you on your journey, wherever that may lead. Great Post and keep up the good work!

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:00:22

      Thanks a lot Jim. I am trying to make sure that, at the very least, I hit the like button when I read something I like but don’t feel that I have anything to contribute in response. I do tend to focus more on the people who actually make comments back and forth now, not because its a quid pro quo thing (I’ll only read your blog if you read mine) but because I really enjoy those relationships. I read other blogs too, and respond when I can, but I return back to the blogs that speak to me in some personal way.

      Reply

  7. nrhatch
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 11:40:27

    Thoughtful post, Lisa.

    Like much of life, we get out of blogging what we put into it. No two bloggers have identical reasons for blogging ~ and our reasons may change from day to day.

    Only we know whether the time we spend in cyber space is time well spent, or just another “Waggish Way to Waste Time.”

    If you’re interested:
    http://nrhatch.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/blogging-a-waggish-waste-of-time/

    Reply

  8. Vixter2010
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 11:44:44

    Firstly I love your posts so don’t get despondent! And yay for most hits, everyone loves a good romance especially us single gals 🙂 I do feel bad if I don’t comment back on someone who comments on my blog but it does get hard to read them all but I try not to overwhelm myself and stick to the community we are building where people support each other and won’t judge a less than perfect post!
    You should blog for enjoyment and if you’re not feeling it, give yourself a rest. Promise I won’t abandon you! And yes come to London and meet me 🙂

    Reply

  9. Kathryn McCullough
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:01:29

    Lisa–this is a GREAT post! Truly. I love the raw honesty–that you say what so many of us feel. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve shared here. I struggle all the time. Sometimes the better the post, the fewer the readers, comments. So often it doesn’t make sense.

    I blog now for a different reason than I began blogging. I blog now because of the community. I love the folks who read my blog. I love the blogs I read–but it’s the sense of connectedness that I respond to.

    This has it all over academic discourse for me. And it does take up a lot of time!

    Keep speaking from your heart and you will continure to attract readers. It’s honestly that I love, and that’s what’s wonderful about this post in particular.

    Hugs,
    Kathy

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:06:54

      Thanks Kathy,
      I think you all are determined to make me cry today. Or maybe that is just where my head is at. You should also heed your own words when it comes to your memoir. You are sharing a story from your heart from a place of complete honesty with yourself and others. Therein lies the beauty of your story, and I can’t wait to read more.

      Reply

  10. CMSmith
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:06:14

    Yes. I totally concur. But you struggle so much more flamboyantly. Do you have a drama background perhaps? I love it.

    Reply

  11. Kaye Peters
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:13:22

    I started blogging because my writing buddy told me that publishers won’t even look at you if you don’t have a blog with x amount of followers. I thought “Oh crap! I need to do that then.” But now that I’ve been doing it for a couple of months, publishers, agents and the “business side” of blogging is the furthest thing from my mind.

    I have no idea why I’m still doing it, really. I fight with myself the night before a post goes up thinking that its horrible, pointless and not an enjoyable read. But then I remember that although I started this for a specific reason I’ve ended up doing it for an entirely different one…just me.

    Sometimes my posts are entertaining, sometimes they’re boring, but I posted. I wrote. I write everyday, sometimes its my novel, but most times its a post. It amazes me that people read it and boggles my mind that some people even leave comments.

    I still fight with myself, try to make myself give in to the pressure. Even if I say “I’m not posting tomorrow” about 15 minutes after the words left my mouth I’m in front of the computer finishing up the post. Sometimes we just need to win these little battles to get us ready for the war.

    You’re doing a great job!

    Reply

  12. Heather Henry
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 12:30:52

    I think everyone feels this way at some point. I know I have and I’ve only been blogging for a month. I sometimes wonder if the only reason I’m doing it is to attract attention. But I do think it’s more than that. I desire to inspire others and also be inspired by the many amazing people out there in the world. People who I would never have met, if it wasn’t for this blog world. I’ve already made some wonderful friends. You included. When I feel frustrated I try to remember that I’m doing this to challenge myself and hopefully brighten someone’s day along the way. I think the thing that makes your posts great, is that you’re relatable. I hope you have a wonderful day!

    Reply

  13. Hilary Clark
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 13:25:03

    Can I just say “ditto” to your post and every comment that followed it? I got up this morning and thought “Oh, crap, I gotta write a blog post today. What the heck am I gonna write about? Why am I doing this anyway?”

    Okay, that’s not all I want to say…
    I don’t look at my stats (often), although I did notice I’ve had about 1800 hits (and I have absolutely no idea how that happened). I recently read somewhere (maybe on Chuck Wendig’s blog? Maybe Donald Maass’ book – The Fire in the Fiction? I really can’t remember) that there is a difference between a storyteller and a person seeking recognition for their writing.

    Storytellers write because the need to tell a story is so great that they have to put it down on paper (or in a blog). If they get published, the storyteller is happy that someone liked their story. They keep writing because they have more stories to tell, whether those get published or not. Fame and fortune isn’t the driving force. Words are.

    A person seeking recognition for their writing writes with the goal of being published and becoming famous as their only motivator. Once published, this person either continues to produce ever-increasing tripe, or they go down in history as a one-hit wonder.

    Who do you think has more fun?

    I started my blog because I needed a place to write, a place to rejoice that writing had come back to me after decades spent lost in a barren wasteland. If people read my posts — fantastic! If they don’t, well, then, they don’t. Because, most of the time, what I end up posting is something that was noodling around in my brain and I had to get it out before it drove me mad. I don’t expect everything I write to resonate with everyone, just as everything doesn’t always resonate with me. (Your posts tend to resonate, though, hence my long comment. 🙂

    If I’m fortunate to become part of a community through blogging, I’m grateful. I’ll take gratitude and fun over fame and fortune, every day.

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 13:44:21

      Thanks Hilary. You reminded me that I write because I write. Now I have the added pleasure of writing things that actually get read, even if by only a few people. Of course, the dream of publishing on a larger scale still exists (see my new post) but I have a community now. And I am writing the stories that I need to tell. I’m glad they resonate with you, as yours do with me.

      Lisa

      Reply

  14. Piglet in Portugal
    Mar 28, 2011 @ 17:53:36

    Interesting so many bloggers are on burnout over post aday. I admire those who have kept up a PAD but there is not any PAD police if you dont 🙂 Remember the Race is not won by the swift but by those who keep running.

    Blogging for me is about community and sitting down reading a variety of blogs on a variety of topics and having fun! I would not worry about being Freshly Pressed, I was, on a very simple post about Gazanias – I think it was the photos which caught their attention, because as sure as God made little apples it was not the content. Hey ho.

    You can write BTW and IMHO I would not worry too much about what others are doing. Just be yourself and develop your own style.

    You ask what makes a good blog post…I’m not sure. Perhaps, title, word count less than 500, graphics and a variety of topics…

    Boa Noite 😉
    PiP

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 28, 2011 @ 18:53:10

      Funny, I rarely can get below a thousand words. Maybe that’s my problem. Oh well. 😉

      Reply

      • Piglet in Portugal
        Mar 29, 2011 @ 02:11:09

        It would be interesting to gauge others opinions on this as I only started blogging last May and I’m still feeling my way. I’ve just been asked to write a monthly column for a large Expat website – word count 700 words. I can talk for Portugal but write it down and that’s a totally different matter! Hey, so that’s my Gremlin making the post long enough
        😦
        At the end of the day as, Taochild says above, write for yourself 🙂
        PiP

        Reply

        • Lisa
          Mar 29, 2011 @ 07:20:37

          Congrats PiP! That is awesome. I can write to an expected word count when I have the guidelines. It is when I am just writing for myself that I tend to run long. 😉

          Reply

  15. Aligaeta
    Mar 29, 2011 @ 09:37:06

    Well Lisa, I have fallen behind on my reading these past few days, but now I am all caught up. I am happy to hear the story of stumbling into your first date with your husband was the well deserved all time high!

    This post here, as you fumble with topics of frustration is wonderful and has produced the most thoughtful comments from your blogging community.

    I so appreciate your following and comments on my blog. You make me feel as if I am not alone in my day to day struggles and you understand my frustrations, as I understand yours.

    I agree with everyone’s comments regarding ‘Freshly Pressed’ I think the judges have been quite off lately, these past few weeks, it isn’t what it use to be.

    I give you credit for your commitment to the daily post. I write most days and would like to write daily but I know committing to do so would probably take the joy out of it.

    I write because I need to write. What is most frustrating is the things I need to write about: the frustration I am feeling when people I love are making poor choices, I can’t write as it will expose their personal business. Respecting others privacy makes posting difficult.

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 29, 2011 @ 10:55:32

      I appreciate all of your comments and kindnesses as well. The funny thing is, I got even higher hits with this post about frustrations with blogging. Go figure.

      Could you fictionalize the stories a little so that you can say what you need to say, and still respect their privacy? You need to write what is in your heart.

      Reply

      • Aligaeta
        Mar 29, 2011 @ 13:27:21

        It’s funny you say that. As I was writing the comment about not being able to write what I need to, I did think maybe I can try to fictionalize it.

        May your stats continue to meet new heights : )

        Reply

  16. sparksinshadow
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 00:33:56

    I’ve been blogging to hone my writing skills, and the fact that blog readers are mainly bloggers who want readers (but don’t want to read too many blogs) means that many of us are left out in the cold. Haven’t we each written posts that were close to our hearts or gut-wrenching, or were experiments that needed a reaction, only to find that no one, or maybe only two people care to read them?

    It doesn’t matter what I write or how much I read and comment on anyone else’s blog. Few people have the time for a dialog on the craft of writing. And I understand, but without honest feedback, how does anyone get better at it? I’ve found this post of yours on a particularly low day for me. Particularly low week. So it resonates with me a lot. This one and the one after it. I wish you all the best with your writing.

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Mar 30, 2011 @ 07:04:42

      I know it is hard but give it time. When did you start your blog? I started in March 2010, but I don’t think I had any readers or people who would respond until January 2011. The more you read and respond to other people’s blogs, the more response you get on your own. Of course, the posts that mean the most to me still often get ignored, but I’m not giving up. If you read the comments on this post, I think you will see that most of them say keep writing for yourself, because that will help you strengthen your voice. I am now going to your recent post and give you some honest feedback.

      Reply

  17. Ed Williams
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 08:23:37

    You’ve ripped these words directly from my mouth. : )
    Lisa Lisa Lisa…
    YOU have such a fine understanding of the process. Don’t ever stop.

    Reply

  18. awestruckwonder
    Mar 31, 2011 @ 15:56:58

    Wow, that is the question I ask almost every day, and have been asked often by others…with a curious tone in their voice, and a puzzled look on their face. Seriously, I agree with you. Sometimes I think it must be that I have some hidden desire to be naked in public, which is sort of icky and not even just a little weird. But the urge to write just won’t be silent until I write. It’s IN me and the only real relief is in writing it down. I just love that feeling, and I love knowing that we can speak without anyones permission, or editorial eye. I like that my thoughts are free for the reading. I like that your’s are too.

    Reply

    • Lisa
      Apr 01, 2011 @ 06:30:19

      Sorry I took a while to respond. I took a day off from blogging yesterday. I agree that writing is a relief, but sometimes it becomes a part of the problem That’s when I need to step away and work on something else. 😉

      Reply

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