Blog-apathy, an exhortation, and a farewell

I was saddened to see in my RSS reader yesterday that John DePoe of Fides Quaerens Intellectum is calling it quits. John has had some excellent discussions over his way (he’s been on the blogroll here for quite some time), as well as some quick updates from the philosophical blogosphere and elsewhere (such as William Lane Craig’s recent essay in Christianity Today) that are invaluable.

His reason is one that I have sometimes struggled with: a lack of desire to blog, and John adds that “blogging has felt more like a chore than an enjoyable hobby.” I’ve been there, and it’s hard to muster through with other things happening.

I’ve been blogging off and on (although probably more off than on) for about 3 years now, and the only reason I still feel like doing it is because I still have things that pop into my head, some (relatively) original thoughts and some reflections on various mental stimuli (like reading the blogs of others), that I want to put down (in a metaphorical sense) in writing. It used to be that I felt like my voice needed to be heard because I had important things to say that other people needed to hear, but now my reasons are more selfish (and paradoxically less egotistical): I’ve realized that blogging is more about catharsis for me than relaying important facts or personal wisdom. I also deeply value the use of blogging for reflection, something that drives me (for reasons sometimes unknown to me) to keep two blogs, one specifically to reflect on my teaching/learning experiences.

For any bloggers reading this that might be suffering from similar troubles with blogging, I would make the following suggestions:

  1. Reassess your reasons for blogging. Unless you have a relatively large readership and are a proficient writer, you’re probably not going to write to appease others who want to read what you wrote. The best thing I think the average blogger can hope for is to have some small regular traffic and other sporadic hits that indicate that someone cares about what you’ve written. Comments are even better, but blogging in the hopes of receiving feedback is probably a futile effort as well unless you choose to write on only the most controversial topics (abortion and evolution are ones that have driven feedback for me).
  2. Keep your mind thinking about things you might want to write about. I started using Google Notebook to track ideas, some of which have been sitting around for months now, and it has been very useful to provide content (when I don’t spontaneously blog with my ScribeFire interface – another useful tool). Jeremy Pierce of Parableman has stated that he keeps a text file of ideas for blogging that he searches every so often for things to write about. It might even be useful at times to review past writings and follow up or amend previous statements on different topics – maybe even to find holes in them.
  3. Read, read, read – and then read some more. The best way to keep ideas moving is to take them in – ingest whatever you’re interested in to keep your mind sharp. It doesn’t even matter if you blog about what someone else has written; you may simply be inspired to investigate a certain topic or to find analogous arguments elsewhere, among other things. When you stop consuming writing – something that seems to be a common thread among writers of all types – then you will probably see your own writing flow diminishing as well.

I wish John all the best and thank him for his great site, and I hope that other bloggers will see this as an opportunity to reflect on their own habits and struggles as writers.


2 Responses to Blog-apathy, an exhortation, and a farewell

  1. Alex says:

    I used to blog on Xanga until everyone stopped reading it. I still blog on Facespace sometimes. I miss it sometimes but that part of me is dead now so I won’t open another blog.

  2. James Hanley says:

    I understand everything you say here, and I’ve been blogging only about a year.

    The biggest impediment to me is the “read, read, and read some more” bit–I’m frequently too busy to pay attention to the news, or much of anything else, and I end up lacking anything to write about because I literally don’t know what’s going on in the world.

    Fortunately, the world isn’t harmed by my lack of awareness and insightful commentary, so far as I can tell.

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