6.12.2006

Schizo-Blog

I have a love/hate relationship with my blog. And the more I learn about blogging, the more common that schizophrenia appears to be.

Technorati recently released these stats (along with some very cool pie charts) about the blogging phenomenon:

The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months

It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago

Technorati now tracks over 37.3 million blogs

On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day

19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created

Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

With millions of blogs clamouring for attention, making a niche for oneself is an uphill battle. I've always believed that if you have something to say and say it well, people will listen. But saying things well, with sufficient verve and originality, requires considerable thought and energy.

Which leads me to wonder if it's worth it. Do the rewards of blogging outweigh the costs?

It's a legitimate question being asked by many bloggers. This years' ACFW conference has even included a late night chat session entitled "To Blog or Not to Blog," most likely to be attended by conflicted bloggers like myself. A while back, Dave Long over at Faith in Fiction linked to this article. Freelance author, Sarah Hepola, pulled the plug on her blog and explains the reasons why.

At times, I started to feel that jokes and scenarios and turns of phrase were my capital, and that my capital was limited, and each blog entry was scattering more of it to the wind, pissing away precious dollars and cents in the form of punch lines I could never use again, not without feeling like a hack. You know: "How sad. She stole that line from her own blog."

Blogging had been the ideal run-up to a novel, but it had also become a major distraction. I would sit down to start on my novel only to come up with five different blog entries. I thought of them as a little something-something to whet the palate—because it was easier, more immediately satisfying, because I could write it, and post it, and people would say nice things about it, and I could go to bed feeling satisfied. But then I would wake feeling less than accomplished because a blog wasn't a whole story told from beginning to end. I had shelves lined with other people's prose while my best efforts were buried on a Web site somewhere, underneath a lot of blah-blah about American Idol and my kitty cat.

Like Ms. Hepola, part of me feels that blogging interferes with my actual writing, saps ideas and has became "a major distraction."

Then this comes along and makes me schizo.

Each year, the GodBlog Conference brings together influential bloggers and new media personalities to fellowship, network and discuss the explosive possibilities of this rapidly expanding medium. This years' list of speakers is quite impressive, spearheaded by Hugh Hewitt, who's been at the forefront of the blogging movement for some time. What's more, the event is reasonably priced and being held at Biola University, a hop, skip and jump from my lily pad.

I feel so Mr. Hyde-like. One minute I'm bemoaning the distraction and the next, I'm ready to spend the weekend with a bunch of blogging fools. Someone pass me the antidote.

According to Technorati, there's about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour. This is only one of them. It's taken me 2-3 hours to assemble and edit. Hopefully, it's written well, contains verve and originality, and has provoked thought. Nevertheless, it is 2-3 hours I will never get back, time I could've spent writing my novel or watching clouds drift across the sky or romancing my wife.

Was it worth it?

15 comments:

siouxsiepoet said...

um, well, let's see. sometimes i wonder too. but when i don't post, believe it or not, people ask, are you all right? go figure.

i don't know, except that my blog has garnered the attention of a publisher and while i'm trying to capture the "voice" of my blog, i find it incredibly hard to do, aside from blogging.

it is really just thinking on the page. to make a book of this, one must well, i'm not sure. i'm struggling with it. as i struggle with this whole industry.

sometimes though, when i lose my way, i look back through my archives and pick up the scent, then i'm able to find the trail again.

it's not a fail safe. it's probably not wise. but that has never stopped me before.

i keep blogging because a few have come to expect it. and it is one of my few disciplines.

ha!
suz.

Jeanne Damoff said...

That first photograph is . . .. I just really don't want to know.

You're right, Mike. Time spent blogging is gone forever. So is time spent scrubbing toilets or watching TV or napping. I'd love to think if I didn't blog, I'd spend that extra time in some wonderfully constructive way. Probably wouldn't, though.

I don't feel all that conflicted about blogging. I love being part of the Master's Artist. And I write my personal blog for me as much as anyone. I've never had any kind of tracker on it--don't know how many visitors I get or who they are. Of course I love reader comments. And every now and then I receive an e-mail from someone telling me they've been reading it consistently for a long time, or that they just discovered it, loved it, and spent a whole day reading all the archives.

Comments like that are delightful and humbling. But I don't want to build expectations around my blog. I like it as a writing outlet, a mini-community, a storage bin for personal stories. I blog when the mood or the topic strikes. It's a no-pressure zone by design.

To answer your final question, I enjoy your blog. If that makes it "worth it" then there you go. If that's not enough, I guess you have to decide what you're hoping to accomplish and whether or not blogging is the best way to do it.

Happy evaluating, Mike. I think I'll go take a nap.

Jeanne Damoff said...

Ha! You changed the first picture.

Mike Duran said...

Jeanne, I really appreciate your comments. I tend to overkill everything, think it to death and then beat the corpse. I wish I had your carefree approach to blogging. More often than not, I turn it into a legalistic obligation. For who? Mr. Hyde, I guess.

If I had to bottom line it, Decompose keeps me writing, thinking, working the angles... and talking to great folks like you.

P.S. I removed the first pic because it looked too much like me, with an additional 150 lbs, in a lampshade and a sumo thong.

Janet Rubin said...

Hey Mike. For me it's really about connections. I love having a place to showcase some writing and news about me and I remind myself that I don't need a new post every day or even every other day. Without me doing a thing, word of my silly little blog is spreading through my church. I just found out that my pastor has a blog and he has a link to my blog. I had no idea that he knew I had a blog! Anyway, people I hardly know tell me they get blessed or amused by my devotions. They support and encourage me and read my stuff. To me, that is totally worth it. You never know who will read your blog, Mike. It is also cool to have some kind of web address to put in bylines.

michael snyder said...

I agree with my twin sister Jeanne D. There, that was easy. And didn't really take that long, either.

For what it's worth, Mike, I love reading your blog and all the cool comments. But you're right, 2-3 hours?

Tough call...


You could do like the Gatorade song says and be like (other) Mike...I made a conscious decision to allow my blog to suck. Glad yours doesn't.

Ame said...

"I tend to overkill everything, think it to death and then beat the corpse."

So, if not your blog as a place to overkill all those crazy thoughts running rampant through your matter called "brain" and then beat the corpse of said crazy thoughts, where ... or with whom ... do you plan to perform this exercise? You might want to check with your wife before you shut down such a place ... she may need you to redirect all this into another medium ... that is not her! hehehehehe

Gina Holmes said...

If it's between romancing your wife and blogging, by all means please romance your wife. If it's between blogging and watching tv? Well, then blog.

I want to quit my blog at least once a week but like everything else, I tell myself I can quit tomorrow if I still want to. That's how I got through college and writing the 1st two novels. Quit tomorrow, Mike.

lindaruth said...

You have things to say that are worth saying and I learn from you. When I read you or Mark Bertrand or the other Master's Artist folks, I'm always stretched and challenged. And it's comforting to know there are others out there that I can relate to.

But, yeah, blogging is time consuming (at least if it's done well -- what I do doesn't usually take long and it shows). But it's still a good outlet for me and gives me a chance to think out loud without looking like a freak walking around talking to myself. :)

Becky said...

Mike,

I'm still so knew to blogging, I'm having a blast. But I do see how it eats at my time.

Combined with the minutes I spend reading other's blogs and interacting at discussion boards ...

Still, this online stuff does create a community. Is that worth the time? Only if I say something worthwhile, I think, though that's a subjective call.

In this post you said something worthwhile as far as I'm concerned. I haven't been reading for long, but I think I could say that for each of your posts.

Specifically today you alerted me to the blog con at Biola (less than a hop, skip, and jump for me). So now I think maybe I should go to that one too. Maybe just for one day to see what it's all about. The cheap day. Hahah.

Becky

Mike Duran said...

"But you're right, 2-3 hours?"

First, you need to decide WHAT to blog about. Never, NEVER, just start writing. Once you get the germ, you can start from scratch, other times, you'll need to uncover a skeleton, a stat, a news story, quote or factoid. Breaking the page up visually helps readers and gives it an "uncluttered," "accessible" feel. So some research is involved. Next, you need time to scan existing drafts. You wouldn't want to rewrite something you've already doodled about or have written better elsewhere. After this, you can begin actually writing the draft. This could take a while. Which is cool. Haste makes waste. Usually, you'll end up with too much (not waste but "excess), so the process of editing it down begins. This editing process is important because, 1.) Other writers read your stuff and 2.) An agent/editor might happen by. So whatever happens, you won't look like a literary ignoramus. Once the article is done, you can proceed to assemble pictures. This draws the eye to several points on the page -- a necessity in our media-driven milieu. But finding the "perfect" picture takes time. Compound this with Blogger's incessant instability and, yeah, 2-3 hours.

All right, class. Can you say PERFECTIONIST?

Ame said...

PerFEcTioNISt???!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Uhhhhh ... SO glad I had NOT attended your "class" before I began blogging!!! I just write and post! 2-3 hours??? Oh My WORD!!! I do NOT have that kind of free time in my day or night!!!

Though I have to say, I do enjoy your intellectual, well-thought-out, illustrated posts :) Always very intruiging and thought-provoking.

Vicki said...

Most of us wrestle with 'to quit or not to quit,' and attempt to ward off insult, such as the time my multi-published author friend asked me, "So doesn't blogging take you away from your real writing?" Alas, he doesn't blog. But blogging did discipline me in the beginning when I was floundering. As if I'm not floundering now. Blogging primes the pump, helps me find my voice, forces me to write whether I feel like it or not.

Right now I'm trying to blog my way out of a deep dark abyss called major depressive episode. It could be therapy. It could save my life.

Jules Quincy Stephens said...

Mike: I have started and dumped numerous blogs. The only reason the Master's Artist is even still around is because I don't have to be responsible for all but 1/11 of the content. I've pretty much decided at this point to NOT blog.

Sandy Cathcart said...

Mike,

I think it is about sphere of influence. We each have a sphere here the same as in our physical lives. Hardly anyone ever leaves comments on my blog, but I get e-mails and hear from people all the time who have found help there, so I will continue as long as it has a use.

Your blog seems to have a rather large sphere of influence. It is one of the main ones I hit on a regular basis.

I suspect that as you do this more and more, it won't take you quite as long. I have been writing a column for over 12 years now, and I have to come up with 1200 words on a regular basis. It's easy for me now. But when I first started, it took a lot of time . . . now it just seems to flow.

Hope that helps a bit, I'd like to see you keep this up, but I hope it doesn't keep you from your other writing or anything you should be doing as well. We always have those choices . . . and sometimes it comes in seasons, doesn't it?