When Blogging Turns Bad
There’s currently a ton of useful advice coming out of the Blagust Reborn Prep Week. Most of which is specifically aimed at those who are blogging or creating content for the first time. However, I want to touch on a subject that some may think is a little inappropriate to raise at this point in the proceedings. Especially in light of the fact that Blagust Reborn is supposed to be about nurturing and not discouraging. But I believe that there’s a lesson to be learned from the tale I’m about to tell. I think it would be wiser for new writers, podcasters and streamers to be cognisant of it now rather than stumble into it three of four years down the road. Because a percentage of those who start content creation this August will continue to do so and find some measure of success with it. Success is a relative term but irrespective of that it can come with its own set of problems.
I've been writing all my life. It's something I always enjoyed, especially at school. There used to be a time when I use to write particularly lurid fiction. I remember Mr Deacon, an US exchange teacher who worked at my senior school for a while, telling me to tone it down. But he also gave me a lot of encouragement and it stuck with me. Writing is like many other things in life is an ongoing process of self-improvement and refinement. And as I've gotten older, I've found great comfort in being able to express my thoughts clearly through written words. I love a well-conceived, clear and logical argument. I eschew bluster, hyperbole and showboating. The former is a thing of skill and beauty. The latter is the province of the tabloid hacks, snake-oil salesman and politicians. Such is the power of words and writing. Although my abilities confine me to the realms of blogging and the odd piece of freelance writing, expressing myself through writing is both a joy and an invaluable means of personal therapy.
I'm not one for twenty-twenty hindsight but if I knew what I know now etc. and could have my proverbial time again, I'd would've liked to have made a career of writing in some shape or form. That's not to say that I perceive myself as a frustrated writer because I'm not. I'm just saying that writing is a career path that I would have liked to have pursued. At fifty, and in light of my current circumstances, that is not an immediate option. However, writing online has provided a good alternative. Hence, I've been blogging in one way or another for over a decade. I do so mainly for myself, but I won't lie about the fact that it’s nice to have an audience. Furthermore, that audience has grown over the years. For most of that time, I have chosen to write on a daily basis so as you can imagine, a sizeable body of work has accrued as a result of that. That output has had a tangible impact upon such things as page ranking and gaining traffic. Over half of the daily traffic for Contains Moderate Peril comes from older content found via a Google search. The movie reviews are especially good for this.
However, writing regularly is challenging. It requires commitment, organisation and a degree of self-sacrifice. When I was self-employed, I was able to dedicate time to content creation that others could not accommodate within the rigours of a nine to five job and a family life. Now as carer, although I have a busy schedule, there is still time for writing, although it is not always at an optimal time. But producing content is still hard work and the risk of burnout and fatigue is a real risk. I've also written in the past about the sense of obligation a writer develops toward their audience. Rightly or wrongly I think writers sometimes misconstrue the schedule they have chosen for themselves as a yolk imposed upon them by others. It is patently not the case but when stressed it’s odd how one’s perspective can be skewed. Despite advising others to write whatever and however they wish to, I struggle to do this myself. I find myself always leaning towards lengthy posts and like to ensure that they are coherent and as well structured as they can be. Overall my persistence and output has been well received and between 2014 and 2015, Contains Moderate Peril gained sufficient traffic to have to move to an alternative hosting package that could cope with the traffic.
Of late, I’ve had to juggle my writing output due to changes in my life. There have been gaps on days when I’ve been busy with my parent’s care. As a result, I’ve done some long and serious thinking about my current writing habits and where the entire Contains Moderate Peril thing is going. I feel that I've created this little bespoke brand over the years and I need to figure what I should do next with it. It certainly needs some thought because at present it just isn't working out the way I want it to and at times find myself feeling frustrated my own creation. This is a ludicrous and erroneous outlook but it's a hard feeling to shake. So, I'm going to try and rethink my writing habits and long-term goals. I may also decide to focus on specifics subjects and stop some content. I may overhaul the site. I may create a completely new one if the fancy takes me. Podcasting is a tougher subject altogether, but I still have aspirations here as well. Blaugust Reborn is my chance to ponder on all these points and work out a strategy. Perhaps documenting this process may prove beneficial to myself and others.
I guess the overall point of this post is that there is scope for blogging, like any other pastime or leisure activity to grow and start filling that strange twilight zone between a hobby and a job. As I said earlier, it's important to have focus and fortitude, but you also need to listen to your feelings. Especially when they start to become negative. Do not allow yourself to lapse into a state of blogging by obligation or writing under duress. Stay focused about what it is that you want to achieve and then stick with it. If things don't work out, then change them. Every post does not have to be a Pulitzer prize winner. You are supposed to be expressing yourself rather than continuously competing with yourself. But most of all, don’t allow burnout to reach that critical mass that ends with you rage quitting and deleting your blog. I’ve been there and done that and it doesn’t solve the problem as well as you’d think. So work hard and enjoy your content creation but don’t let it get the better of you. After all, the tail does not wag the dog.