Rebooting a blog isn’t easy, but it’s more psychologically challenging than technically daunting. A lot of people have done it, so there’s some good, hard-won wisdom on how to pull it off floating around out there. I’ve been contemplating some of this advice over the past few weeks while working on the relaunch of this blog. Always a late adopter, I started this site two years ago with a flurry of enthusiastic posting, but went on to make an epic number of mistakes and missteps on my own downward spiral toward distraction, discouragement, and finally letting my blog languish.
A famous 2008 survey by the blog-indexing service Technorati reported that 95 per cent of blogs are sooner or later abandoned. This vast winnowing stands in sharp contrast to the hundreds of millions of users who plant their flag in the thriving realms of Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Foursquare and all the other social sites and services. Meanwhile, the blog/social hybrid that Tumblr offers and the various instant blog hosting services like Squarespace have blurred the distinction between the kind of writing that blogging entails and the short-sharp-link-and-quip posting that characterizes tweets and Facebook updates. In certain respects, blogs have become the new business card, or a brand-of-you storefront, or a backdrop for macro-tweets, not a revolutionary publishing medium where a billion new Boswells and Dorothy Parkers craft gemlike essays and stylish memoir.
In 2009 the New York Times Style section diagnosed an epidemic of exhaustion that strikes “when the thrill of blogging is gone,” ensuring that “blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants.” People with big dreams of monetization and glory — “to build an audience and leave their day job, to land a book deal, or simply to share their genius with the world” — were having their hopes dashed. Also, tl;dr: “You want to write, like, long entries, and no one wants to read that stuff,” one downed blogger said. And to think that all of this disillusionment was already a done deal by the time I first started this blog.
I, too, suffered the heartbreak of “blogathy” — yep, it’s a word. Well, I’m back, unbowed and with the wind at my back, and ready to stand up for old-school blogging. One of the topics I’m going to be exploring in upcoming posts is the thoughtful, long-form, un-weblike counterforce that is pushing back against the ephemeral, bite-sized, salty-snack model of social posting that leaves souls and minds hungry for perspective and satisfaction. The “dark social” underground is the new vanguard! Or something. Stay tuned.
For now, however, I’ll offer a few words of reassurance and inspiration and a few therapeutic links.
1) Don’t waste emotional energy staying embarrassed about the stagnant, non-updated, stale blog you’ve neglected for so long. Keep your eyes on that shiny new blank slate, and embrace your archive for its strengths and achievements.
2) You’re now a smarter and much more savvy veteran. Lots of blogs bog down because the learning curves and demands of design, webmastering, tweaking, and bug-fixing took their toll. The bright side is that after a break, you’re no longer a rank beginner, and you can move much faster and with less friction toward the actual work of posting.
3) Consistency, dedication, and discipline will make any gaps in your past blogging irrelevant.
4) Relax and take your swings while no one is paying much attention, and it’ll be much easier to gain loyal readers and keep them when you’re in the groove.
Lastly, here are a few posts that I found helpful to one degree or another:
10-22-2012: I found another useful post on Deborah Ng’s insightful blog, Kommein, offering a proactive argument for a healthy and positive sabbatical from blogging.
In 5 Reasons to Take a Break From Your Blog, Ng observes:
I’m now of the mindset that a blogger needs to take a break now and then to keep fresh, stay sane, and not have to resort to posting the same dang things everyone else are posting to their blogs. Just as we need a break from our jobs, our homes and our kids, we also need a break from our blogs.
Photo: the caped author at bat sometime in the 1960s