April 12, 2008

Death by Blogging: Don’t let that blog kill you

Everything in excess is opposed to nature – Hippocrates

But then again, Oscar Wilde wrote, Moderation is a fatal thing. . . .
Nothing succeeds like excess …

Not sure about the last one. I usually begin my day on the computer by combing the latest posts at several blog tip sites to which I subscribe. On Wedsnesday, almost all these sites featured a post referencing an NYT article with a clumsy title, “In Web World of 24/7 Stress, Writers blog till they drop”, citing the recent deaths or two prominent and prolific bloggers. Both suffered fatal heart attacks and were under the age of 60, a third aged 40, survived. The piece throws the spotlight on bloggers, the blogging lifestyle, and its impact on health when not kept in check.

Granted that this has little to do with the subject matter of this blog, please forgive me for this. Fact is I am a serious blogger, not a prolific one, but who would want to be. In addition to a full time occupation that soaks up around 45–50 hours weekly, I also spend around 15 hours per week researching, drafting, editing, posting, promoting, and cultivating this blog. In relation to the efforts bloggers go to for promoting their sites, the term “cultivating” is scarcely adequate. Effective blogging and writing is both challenging and at times, hard work. Raj Dash says it perfectly in a recent article, “What's Wrong With the Blogosphere?”

“Bloggers … have to be more than just writers. They also have to be webmasters, analysts, ad sales people, accountants, editors, social media marketers, and so on. They don't always have the benefit of a team who have dedicated roles … I am a veteran writer/ technical writer. On my best days in the past, I've produced as much as 12,000 words of short fiction in one day, and written and edited 400+ pages of a PHP computer programming book in four months. But telling stories and writing about programming are things I can do without research. Blog writing is sometimes much harder.”

Raj makes an important point about research; it takes time and diligence to produce good content. It also concerns me when I read about bloggers who curse themselves no end for not having back up articles written for when they are too busy or get ill. As bloggers, it is important to realize that we are living, breathing people, not automatons, and certainly, not merely bloggers. We are entitled to a life that is balanced, combining work, family, socializing, and healthy activities with our chosen vocations, of which blogging may be one.

Incessant blogging can lead to anti-social issues and isolation from friends and family. It can strain relationships and make one feel as if always “on call.” Sure enough, I have found myself blogging at insane hours, what does that tell us.

I am interested in your views on blogging. Do you find it stressful? Alternatively, is this counterbalanced by the pleasure derived from good posting and feedback? Personally, I sometimes find it stressing but in a positive sense hence, stress need not lead to distress, know the difference? Nor do I have a compulsion to blog daily; I just would not have the time.

Further reading:

How To Be A Happier, Healthier Blogger

How Stressful Do You Find Blogging?

Comments welcome

26 comments:

The Historian said...

Otto-

Obsession is not a good thing. As you state, a balanced life requires balance.

The purpose behind one's blog has much to do with what it requires. Original work requires great effort. Comment on the world we live in is a different matter.

It seems counter intuitive to spend great time and resources on unpaid labor. Paid employment on the other hand is a horse of a different color.

Jungle Mom said...

"Incessant blogging can lead to anti-social issues and isolation from friends and family."
Friends???
Family???
I blog when I want about what I want, so no stress.

David Schantz said...

Great post as always."Do you find it stressful? Alternatively, is this counterbalanced by the pleasure derived from good posting and feedback? Personally, I sometimes find it stressing but in a positive sense hence, stress need not lead to distress, know the difference? Nor do I have a compulsion to blog daily" I don't think it (blogging) is stressful, it takes my mind of the stress I face at work. I used too try to blog daily, just not enough hours in the day. "I have found myself blogging at insane hours," I work a swing shift, 3:PM -11:PM three days a week and 11:PM-7:AM two days a week. What some would call insane hours is normal for me.

God Bless America,God Save The Republic.

MK said...

"...bloggers who curse themselves no end for not having back up articles written for when they are too busy or get ill."

Yeah, that's me, i'm addicted, i feel bad when there are times when i just can't blog, work, family that sort of thing. i'll feel guilty if i didn't post at least once a day. I know, i know, i gotta just let it go. There just isn't enough time in the day Otto.

Blogging at insane hours, off course, that's when you get your best inspiration.

"They also have to be webmasters, analysts, ad sales people, accountants, editors, social media marketers, and so on."

Ain't that the truth, it's hard work this, positive feedback sure helps.

American Interests.blog said...

The Historian: True that purpose dictates the requirements, I am strong in that department; lots of purpose! About unpaid labor ... What can I say, I never set out to make money from the blog although some monetization wont hurt...

Jungle mom: way to go!

American Interests.blog said...

David Schantz: Know what you mean, there are times when it actually de-stresses my life, doing something I enjoy and believe in...Thanks for commenting...

MK: Doesn't hurt to let go a little if there are too many other things happening. Hey, slow down perhaps but don't let go completely your site is too valuable...

http://mksviews.wordpress.com/

I must make time to come around....

Tapline said...

Otto, You created this post just when my wife said "I'm worried about your spending too much time and getting into issues that concern me." I didn't pursue the issue with her, I just said OK,,,I'll cut down. My big problem is not with research as most bloggers do with their outstanding posts. I read almost constantly....8 to 10 hours a day if not more. I post very little unless, someone or something strikes a nerve..Then I write.....I also ramble....stay well...

Layla said...

Otto this was a thoroughly honest and down to earth, the real nitty gritty no one wants to talk about and or admit when it comes to blogging.

When I had my first blog, Freedom Watch, which was quite famous I might ad and I am still proud of it to this day - I was spending a lot of my day on the blog posting up to eight posts a day sometimes. It was my job then in my mind and I loved it.

After the hack and loss of that blog by liberaltards I went into hiatus. Aside from being depressed about the loss I also found myself in a complete and total writers block.

It took four months and the Dems winning both Houses to get me mad enough to overcome that writers block and open up to blogging again.

If you want info on what happened search my site "Freedom Watch" and it will come up.

When I began The Hill Chronicles it was not the same. All my blogging buddies came back in my support and welcomed me with open arms having learned what happened. Some of my readers figured out who I was from Freedom Watch on The Hill and spread the word, but my status, readership is different, but now I blog different.

I concentrate more on producing excellent articles than writing on every political news event of the day as I had on Freedom Watch. But that is why Freedom Watch was sucessful.

I changed. I did not want to ignore my family for blogging and for the short while I worked to help a friend get an office up and running I had a friend of mine blog for me. Pajamas Media picked me up which is an honor, one I did not have with Freedom Watch. I think that is because I spent more time really writing and not just reporting. I also wrote a series of why I could not become a Muslim and my experience in the Muslim world, which you can search too if you are interested in reading at my blog.

I am still just as sassy as I have always been, but the difference now is that I blog with the intent to educate, not to only attract readership.

Freedom Watch had few comments which I found distressing since I worked so hard on it and wrote many prolific articles, but that is just my point, I tried too hard.

Now I take it easy. I write about what is important to me and I realize I am a citizen journalist, a citizen blogger and that I do not have to prove myself to no one.

I leave that for the Malkins and Coulters of this world!

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Blogging is a stress relief for me. First it helps to satisfy tow of my passions in life, politics and history. Both of which I follow and use in my writing.

Second the interchange among fellow bloggers is not only interesting but informative. Where else can like and unlike minds meet and discuss their views and opinions.

I can see where one could be obsessed with blogging. That is why I post on the same days each week as well as limit my time on the web.

I will admit that I am looking for ways to increase my traffic in order to make this hobby into a living because I enjoy it so much.

I have always wanted a forum in which I can express my beleif and opinions about politics etc as well as make commentary based on research etc. Blogging has fulfilled that and if I can expand my hobby into a living it would be great!

Debbie said...

Otto: A blogger's salvation is when the internet service goes out. Then we have no excuse but to rest, go outside, do something other than blog.

TDS telecom broadband service has been out across Tennessee all day. It felt GOOD, ha.

I've tagged you for a meme, but don't feel obligated:

http://righttruth.typepad.com/right_truth/2008/04/my-epitaph-agai.html

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

Thanks for this post. It was refreshing on several levels.

I came here from a somewhat distasteful experience on another blog (not mine). Conversation threads have been dominated there by two possibly unbalanced individuals: and I had made the mistake of engaging them in conversation.

At the time, it seemed reasonable.

But that's a digression.

"I am interested in your views on blogging." Fair enough I *love* to express opinions, and I'm one of my favorite topics.

"Do you find it stressful?"
Depends on which blog I'm working on.
My war-on-terror blog is a stressor. And, one which I may have to cut back on.
Another blog is almost pure fun: I've assigned myself the task of cranking out a half-dozen micro-reviews each day, of whatever website, blog, or issue strikes my fancy. Oddly, some people actually visit that one.

"Alternatively, is this counterbalanced by the pleasure derived from good posting and feedback?"
Yes, and no. Of the half-dozen blogs I maintain, few generate much feedback. The war-on-terror one tops the list for viewer involvement - and some of that is more stressful than researching and writing the posts.

"Personally, I sometimes find it stressing but in a positive sense hence, stress need not lead to distress, know the difference? Nor do I have a compulsion to blog daily; I just would not have the time."
Otto, American Interests, I'm glad that you do find or make time for this blog - and hope that you can continue to do so.
There's a rationality deficit out here, and you're one of the people who's helping to fill the void.

Keep on blogging!

In moderation, of course. :)

WomanHonorThyself said...

stressful?..heck yea!..lol..but sometimes a relief Otto to get all the voices out of my head!..:)

heidianne jackson said...

otto, thanks for bringing this to mind for all of us. owning my own consultancy i work very strange hours - and the busy-ness has it's own ebbs and flows. when things are less busy, i blog more.

i, too, research relentlessly for everything that i post. i have an obsession for knowledge and i fear ever posting something that isn't 100% researched. if it weren't for that i could probably throw up a post ever day or two even when i am busiest.

i don't get stressed about blogging, i just don't try that hard. i want to educate and get people thinking, not show off what a great blogger i am.

my husband and kids are probably my greatest encouragement - they send me things that they think i should blog on. my oldest is on me to get to part three of my constitution series (almost done) and it's great to see her interested in the history of it all.

off to make the rounds - been so busy i haven't read anything of my friends in soooo long. thanks again otto!

heidianne jackson
http://biggirlpants.typepad.com

Aurora said...

Otto, you've struck on a subject that interests all of us, since we all do it. And those who don't blog find it quite curious...heh.
I guess in a way we live in a kind of twilight zone, but like Angel, I have to do it. I actually feel less stress when I'm letting off steam about the injustices and imbalances I see in the world around me. The only other way to stay sane is to go live on a mountain and stop reading the news altogether.

Z said...

A friend told me her husband complained the other day that he ought to attach a computer to himself so she'd go back to paying him some attention!

I have had my blog nearly 3 months now and was warned I should have some back-up articles for a rainy day, as someone said here. Trouble is, I have trouble keeping down to posting only one article a day or so! I have SO many things I want to have discussed at the site!

Because of leftist 'trolls', I have had to go to moderation mode, approving comments before they're published because i had profanity and inanity that was a waste of time. One troll wrote me "I hope you're enjoying the moderation I forced you to have to implement"...nice people, huh?
SO, I feel somewhat tied to the computer because people want to see their comments fairly soon after typing it....but, mostly?... I think it releases tension; allows me to speak my peace, see what other have to say.
And, yes. I spend WAY WAY too much time with it. I know that...and I keep telling myself to give it a rest for a week, but I simply couldn't!

Ortho said...

Be careful blogging, Otto.

GrEaT sAtAn'S gIrLfRiEnD said...

Put me on the A List.
A is for artist.

Like Angel and Aurora, the urge to surge with a creation of relation to events past or au currant is nigh irresistable.

Reckon readership drives the frequency of posting, angst or addiction?

American Interests.blog said...

Tap: Looks like my timing was ok, take care and see you back soon…

Layla: Thanks for being so candid. I too would be proud of Freedom Watch although I wondered how you put up with the nasty vitriol that surely came you way.

It sounds as if your new status and readership lends itself to a more sustainable blogging experience and I can relate to your desire to ‘educate’ as opposed to chasing readership. To chase readership and comments as the prime motive is self-defeating. Readership will naturally build if ones focus is on quality postings and active participation within the medium.

Great to see you comment here, you represent the first pajamas media blogger to engage this blog – I appreciate.

Liberal Lie the Conservative Truth: Yes, it is a great outlet if one is passionate about a subject. One that provides varied opinions/viewpoints that make the experience highly educational.

Lifting you readership to a point where it can provide a living is quite a challenge. Good luck and let us know how you are cruising with this.

I would be happy with a little monetary compensation for the effort but the priority remains good content - all else should follow.

Debbie: A bit of downtime can also refresh and recharge the batteries and make for better content to follow. Thanks for the tag!

Brian: I have had one experience where the other was possible unbalanced, accordingly I promised to not engage such types again.

The war on terror blog provides for great reading and it would please me to see greater reader/comment contribution. If you find it a stressor cut back a tad but we hope you do not run from it; your’s also fills a rationality deficit. There seems to be no hard and fast rules to increasing traffic; good content, although of great importance, is not going to guarantee it.

Angel: ‘To get all the voices out of my head”…lol. Voices and noises; sometimes it sounds like pink noise or static but when organized and printed it forms a fine post.

American Interests.blog said...

Heidianne: Look forward to part 3 of the constitution series, it has been highly informative. The quest to ‘educate’ and ‘get people thinking’ lays the foundation for a great blog – I see you understand this.

I would advice you not to stress over and fear errors resulting from less than 100% research. Invariably we all make mistakes; our readers understand that as humans there are many other elements to our lives.

Aurora: I like the point you make. At the end of the day, I would feel more stress by not addressing something I feel passionate about. Residing on a mountaintop would be a temporary respite at best; I am not one to run from the world and no doubt, you are the same.

Z: “I have trouble keeping down to posting only one article per day’. Z if I had the luxury of time I too would generate a post per day, and up to five per week (the weekends are mine) … that is, they are good for catching up with what others have posted…lol

I experienced an emotional response on your behalf when reading what the leftist troll wrote on your blog about moderation – that sucks to put it mildly.

I have managed to avoid the moderation thing to date… You’re doing a fine job Z.

American Interests.blog said...

To all: Brian from Another War on Terror blog wrote, “There’s a rationality deficit out there, and you’re one of the people who’s helping to fill the void”, I agree but feel that we all collectively, are helping to fill the void!

American Interests.blog said...

Ortho: Take as much care as I can, lol is there any life plan for this...Thanks for commenting...

Great Satans Girl: http://greatsatansgirlfriend.blogspot.com/ Combatting Anti American Propaganda, Tyrannies, Intolerant Regimes ... Way to go! "Reckon readership drives the frequency of posting, angst or addiction?" All of the above!

Z said...

Otto, if you read the messages the leftist troll has left which I haven't published, you'd be blushing. Unbelievable. Takes some of the fun out of the thing, truly.
Thanks for the encouragement. Your pieces are excellent. Very good reading.z

Americaneocon said...

I've been backing off the past couple of days, because I confess I get obssessed with it.

I do make it a point to take long weekend vacations without a laptop, which has been every three months or so, and last summmer I vacationed without blogging and didn't miss it a bit. So, in that sense, obssess, I guess, but then give yourself a break.

It's part of my job now, as far as I'm concerned, and I've been actually a better professor from blogging. I've gained weight though, so perhaps more exercise on top of the breaks.

Stay well, Ottavio!

American Interests.blog said...

Americaneocon: Thanks Donald. There is a wealth of information at your site so if you back of a tad nobody will mind...Breaks without the computer are good..."actually a better professor from blogging", that's interesting and not surprising. Same here, not that I'm a professor, just better generally.

Incognito said...

It can become an obsession. I blog because it is a way for me to vent, as I have few people (in my liberal industry) to share my frustrations. It turns into a compulsion when you feel you have to bring something to the table every day to keep people who read your blog interested... and because if you don't your stats go down. 'tis sad because that obsession/complusion *can* turn one into an anti-social.

great post.

American Interests.blog said...

Incog: Thanks for sharing yur views with us. We need to let go of "stats", personally I am working on this...If they go down so be it, the focus should stay on purpose, in the case of this blog its listed up top. We cannot make people visit and comment so its best to stay focused on what we can control.
1. Content Quality
2. Community Interaction, that is the time we spend commenting at other sites.
3. SEO and
4. Content Quantity - being dictated by how much time we can spare on this...