Daily Blogging and What It Does to Us

This July will mark my tenth anniversary of blogging. For ten years, I've written at least one blog post every single weekday. That's a long time. I've written nearly 5,000 blog posts. I did it during leisurely mornings like this one, but also during times when I had two hours of sleep because of work and family obligations. 

I'm not entirely sure why I blog. It really doesn't bring in much money. Sometimes I get aggravated. I suppose that I had proper reasons for blogging when I started, but those reasons are long forgotten. Now it's just a habit. 

Blogging is a community effort when it's done best. It's a conversation between other bloggers and the peanut gallery. Between all of us, we've logged nearly 44,000 comments. 1.6 million unique pageviews and 2.9 million total hits. It's strange and nice to see so many people who started blogging ten years ago are still at it. Some do it only when inspiration strikes; others went pro. Some migrated to Twitter. And it's strange and nice to see that so many blog commenters have stuck around here for so many years. 

What has all this blog writing and commenting done to us? It's an intense activity after all. It must have some impact. 

Does blogging make us better writers? In some ways, yes. I can shoot out 500 words in less than fifteen minutes. My sentences are definitely better than they were even two years ago. I am better at picking topics that interest people. If you know that readers are showing up and looking for new content, you get stuff done. You finish things off and accept that imperfection is better than nothing. 

On the other hand, blogging makes it difficult to write other things. A person only has so many words in them in one day. If you use up that quota on a blog, it is difficult to do other writing projects.

Also, blogging is a highly ADD activity. We careen from topic to topic. To write something that's worthy of publication, you need to plug away at the same topic for days at a time. You have to edit and re-edit and edit again. I may not be able to do that anymore. 

And what about the conversations? If you are a regular reader on this blog, I assume that you are also participating in conversations on other blogs as well. You're also probably participating in similar chatter on Twitter and Facebook. What has this conversation done to us? 

You all know that you're not regular people, right? People who participate in online political conversations are more educated and more political active than the regular population. I think we're in our own little bubbles, not necessarily organized by ideology, but bubbles of intellectual privilege. Sometimes after there's a big hoopla going on the Internet about the topic of the day, I'll call a real life friend and ask her what she thinks about the hoopla topic.  It's a nice little reality check for me, because I'll realize that most people don't know about the hoopla topic and really don't care. 

There are also many little surprising gifts that have come from blogging. Virtual friends have become real friends. People gave me support when things were rough or helped out professionally. Now, I'm going to become all weepy and sentimental, so I'm going to walk away from this post. Because in the blogging world, a rough, sloppy, sentimental conclusion is okay. 


20 thoughts on “Daily Blogging and What It Does to Us

  1. We had a crisis at home last week. (An unbloggable crisis.) I remembered that one of your commenters had mentioned a similar situation in her comments here and scrolled your posts to find her blog to find her post about it. I posted a comment, even though her post was over 4 months old and she reached out to me. It was only a brief email exchange, but it was so incredibly helpful. I went from feeling distraught and completely alone to realizing that we’re not alone – and that there is lots of support out there in the world.
    So, you never really know the impact your blog is making.

  2. I do miss blogging — I started back when Invisible Adjunct was around, so it’s been awhile. As timna, I think I blogged for about 5-6 years, but when I had a Fulbright in Bangladesh, I wanted to keep in touch with people who knew me (without connecting the dots back to timna). Never really started it back up again and I feel like the last three years are not documented. Facebook connects, but I don’t have that kind of reflection there.

  3. I am honestly better informed because of blogging. I can have conversations with people I’d never come across in real life. They point me to issues and ideas that expand my understanding of the world.
    I also really just like to hear and share the personal stories. I love conversations. I’d rather talk and listen than anything in the world. Blogging fills some of that.
    And you’re right about people in real life not really caring about some of the same stuff I get riled up about online.
    To echo Kristen, bloggers and real life friends who started as bloggers have helped me through stuff that I wasn’t ready to talk about in real life. The stranger on the bus is very comforting in crisis situations. I’ve appreciated that.
    I’ve been asked to write a column about going through divorce. I’m considering it, but realize I couldn’t do it with just a first name and initial. I’d no longer get to be that stranger.
    You are really the only blog I read regularly on a daily basis. I still pop in to others now and then, but I your well written consistency makes you part of my day.

  4. Blogging has helped me build a community online (and now offline too) that I would not have had otherwise. I’ve found people who share similar interests and passions and points of view. It’s given me the opportunity to explore those interests and passions visually and in my writing.
    I’ve “upped my game” in photography (actually started from zero), learned some graphic design and improved my writing skills. I’ve learned how to network and how to use social media.
    It’s inspired me to take things offline and start a Salon series where I live. And that’s brought me kindred spirits locally.
    I find that with being online and blogging I can be more than just two dimensional – I can enjoy the debate and banter about the issues here AND I can write about/explore the creative process on my own blog. I can read about costume design from a historical perspective, learn about art photography, find out about books and film and tv that might have flown under the radar screen.
    I’m not limited geographically anymore – I have friends in many places that I’ve made online that I now see in person when I travel.
    It’s been a game changer for me.

  5. I started blogging over ten years ago because I thought it would help me become the kind of academic I wanted to be. It didn’t–perhaps because I simply didn’t have it me to become such an academic anyway, or perhaps because I just didn’t have the requisite amount of luck which such an ambition required, but mostly, I think, because I never could teach myself to use blogging effectively. Still haven’t. But I keep at it, for any number of reasons.
    It’s a vanity thing. I feel like there are things to say, and want to be able to tell myself that I said them, no matter if anyone reads them or not.
    And it’s a friend thing. Blogging enables one to have a presence in a wider world than one’s own actual physical environment allows, and some of the people in that wider world become friends. I really value the people I’ve gotten to know and been able to learn from over the years.
    That includes you, Laura. I don’t know when I first discovered the original Apt. 11D, but I’m glad I did. I don’t comment nearly as much as I used to, but like Lisa, I still check your blog every day (and steal stuff from it regularly). There’s probably only a couple of other bloggers I can say that about. So, kudos to you! Here’s to 10 years more.

  6. I dunno about your conclusions. I’m a high school graduate with a secretarial job, a family that includes drug dealers and people who’ve been on welfare almost their entire adult lives. The women mostly work and the men mostly don’t. All our kids go to daycare and there’s no such thing as after school sports or extra tutoring or classes. Most of the kids also got free school lunch (that includes me and my sibs back in the 1960s and 1970s).
    Right now I live with my second husband, and my younger son. My husband was laid off and out of work for over 2 years, then finally found a part-time, no-benefits data entry job that pays about half what he was making before–and they twitch his work hours around all the time, some weeks 5:00 am to 11:00 am, other weeks 11:30 am to 5:00 pm. My son is almost finished with massage therapy school and has been working sales parttime–again, no benefits and because it’s partly commission, not even minimum wage.
    I read your blog to learn about other choices people make. I read your blog and others to remind myself that even though I did everything right, the combination of poor family and no runs of good luck mean I’m barely making it. (I have no debt, I’ve never gone bankrupt or quit a job, I’ve saved money–then spent it on required medical procedures, etc.) But there’s nobody in my family to give me a hand up, a job offer or introduction; nobody to bring over groceries when I was broke (stupidly paid my bills before buying groceries), and certainly no home to return to if I can’t make it on my own.
    And I comment because my experience is so different from what I see reported on blogs.

  7. My blog will ten years old in August. But, it has still attracted almost no readers. I use it mainly as a substitute for sending e-mails to my mother and as a journal for my own reference. That would account for at least a third of my total readership.
    My stats over the last ten years are 108,363 page views and 2267 comments. But, I am quite sure that most of the page views are from bots and not humans.

  8. Here is my clip show comment on this blog. Like Bruce Springsteen, Mike Daisey, and Jennifer Marbles, this blog has built an audience. How it has done so is worthy of study. I first was linked to it by a woman I knew who had her own blog in 2003 or 2004. I initially stayed because it discussed a child with delayed speech, and I thought I had such a child at the time. (I either did or I did not, but I have a fully-developed, if shy, talker today.) I stayed beyond that because it was so honest about so many things. The blog is liberal. I like that. But it’s at times ridiculously liberal, and I love it when the conservative commenters (both of them) call the blog out on inconsistent points. And the blog is sometimes mysterious: an “elephant in the room” appeared last Fall, which could not be discussed, not even in front of the kids. OMG! What was it? A divorce? (Probably not, given Dad making cookies a few weeks after that.) An illness? I probably hit the blog every hours for a few days back then. I assume the job change was the elephant in the room. But we cannot talk about that….yet. But we want to, and we will…once the lawyers are all done!
    Most of the initial blogs I have read are now gone. But this one survives. Long live 11D!

  9. I come here and have for years because of the community. I’m not an academic and sometimes the quality of my arguments is on the weaker side (I can slip into the personal anecdote/sample of one for evidence) but I love the banter and debate. I also love that it includes people from the right, centre and left.

  10. 11d is the only blog I read daily, as well. I usually hit Slate, Salon, the NYT, and televisionwithoutpity (my guilty pleasure) every day too, but this is the only personal blog. It is also the only blog I comment on, though there are 4-5 others I read at least once a week or so. I was thinking recently how extremely weird it is that I do this with people I have never met and whose real identities (except yours, Laura) I do not know – and may never know! I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I’ve definitely found it a relaxing way to get news and think about issues. Easier than FB, in a way, because you don’t have to worry about hurting your “actual” friends’ feelings – though a couple of months ago I was actually worried about one of the arguments we had here about academics. But it turned out okay in the end, I think.

  11. “Mostly Lurking” I loved your comment!
    I found this blog via Russell Arben Fox. I started reading after he mentioned it on another blog where he writes. I watched that blog, BCC, go from a weird orange blogger blog with a different name to a giant group blog. I Love love love to read blogs and I check in with 11d almost daily. I’ve been reading blogs since 2004 or so but have done very little writing of my own. I love to lurk — which is weird because in real life I am very gregarious, love to talk, love to share my opinions and usually won’t shut up. On blogs I’m oddly silent. Maybe I’ll de-lurk with substantive comments someday. Keep writing Laura!

  12. I can’t remember how I found this blog, though I do think it was a link from another blog written by a mom. I started reading blogs when I was coming to terms with how much headspace motherhood was taking up in my brain, but didn’t have real life people to talk to about that. In my mind, I kept feeling that someone would shake me out of it and put the kids back into their appropriate niche in my life.
    A lot of the blogs I used to read are gone, so I really appreciate this one. Also, I do appreciate the conservative commenters, the folks with backgrounds different from mine.

  13. I echo much of what everyone says. I’ve been logging for 9 years. I started reading you from almost the beginning. I think I found you through Tim Burke. I feel close to many of the commenters here. Even when I don’t know them or agree, I enjoy reading. I check almost every day. I wish I had more time, but teaching kicks my butt.

  14. Oh, nice commenters, thanks so much. I wasn’t digging for compliments, but I do appreciate them just the same.
    Kai, you are more alilke the other commenters here than you realize. Very, very few people are aware of blogs and participate in the comments and have views about politics. You may have a different job and have faced different struggles than the other commenters. You bring this background to your political views and social commentary, which is great. But you’re still in the same intellectual bubble.
    af, I do feel bad that I let that that conversation about academia get under my skin. Could have handled it 60 different ways. But, you know, this is raw blogging and I’m human.

  15. I can really relate to what Sandra says. My online community is a lifeline because I live in a small provincial town in New Zealand.
    Sandra, can you explain what a Salon series is? It sounds like it might be something I could explore.

  16. I’m very happy I picked up on reading blogs, especially this one. Before that, I had to spend time talking with my coworkers when I wanted a break or needed a distraction. Not that they aren’t nice enough people in their own way.

  17. “I was thinking recently how extremely weird it is that I do this with people I have never met and whose real identities (except yours, Laura) I do not know – and may never know!”
    True story: I had a dream a few weeks ago where I somehow was the owner of a borderline hoarder relative’s home and I was in a tizzy because bj was coming over and the place was a disaster. Now, I’ve never met bj in real life and I have very little idea what she looks like, but my subconscious decided to plop her into my dream.

  18. It’s an evening event in Vancouver, Canada for 15-20 people that I host monthly to every 6 weeks. Here’s the description:
    “small creative gatherings introducing you to cool artists and interesting people in a social and informative setting. Think musical performances, dance, play-readings, magic, lectures – whatever I find that I KNOW will inspire, challenge, and entertain”
    It attracts photographers, writers, graphic designers, artists – anyone who is creative (whether for paid work or not) and enjoys banter and good conversation.
    Drinks and appy’s as well.
    It’s my way of building some offline community as I’m fairly new to town.

  19. I think I found 11D via the late, great Invisible Adjunct. In fact, I may have started reading this blog because I suspected that the mysterious “Laura at 11D” was the Invisible Adjunct! (The press is now on top of the awfulness of the academic job market and the disastrous effects of adjunctification, but bloggers were there a decade ago–and saw all of this very clearly.)
    I stick with blogs, both reading ’em and writing ’em, because I’m disheartened by the abbreviated snark of more recent social media. I’d rather read 1,500 thoughtful words by someone whose position I dislike, and who’s open to polite disagreement, than cringe at another smug, asinine Facebook meme.

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