The BubbleCow blog for writers posted an entry recently titled “You should blog every day.” Good, I thought upon seeing the headline, because that’s just what I do. Now tell me why.
My blog is almost exactly six months old today. Since launching it at the end of August 2009, I’ve posted five days a week, skipping only major holidays. (And yes, it’s possible that come June you’ll hear me argue that Arbor Day is a major holiday. But so far I’ve been honest, taking off only the major ones.)
I can’t remember exactly where I picked up the idea I should post every day. But I’ve maintained that standard diligently. Occasionally when I check my numbers, though, I have that slight tree-falls-in-a-forest feeling. If only a few people visited my blog on any given day, do I still need a new post the next day? Who’s going to know?
Whether or not it matters to anyone but me, I do post something new every day. One reason I blog every day is the same reason I run every day (as I wrote about here) and write in my journal every day (as I wrote about here): because it’s easier to maintain a daily standard than to spend time every morning debating with myself as to whether or not it’s an appropriate day for a blog entry. As with running and journaling, I fall back on my trusty “Just do it” standard. It’s easier for me to blog than to engage in an internal debate with myself.
I also love the workout it gives my writing skills. Coming up with a cogent theme five days a week is an awesome and often thrilling challenge. While it’s true that I’ve been journaling one thousand or more words every day for more than 15 years, that’s a different kind of artistic discipline. I give myself permission to be boring and stupid in my journal. I give myself permission to write about how there’s nothing to write about. I give myself permission to vent circuitously without letting my words lead me to any conclusion, punch line, sound bite.
But while some of my blog entries may be trivial and others really trivial, I still attempt to tease out a theme or topic every day. And I love that part of the exercise, finding a theme worth covering every 24 hours. Going running. The kids’ homework. Watching my daughter sled. Re-reading Little House on the Prairie. Dealing with an email hacker. A trip to the dentist.
Worth writing about? Really? Sure, why not? Therein lies the challenge: finding a reason to write about any of those things.
Making myself write about something, anything, every single day means that I’ve abandoned my old habit of “stockpiling” ideas. Before I started my blog, I would think of things all the time and tell myself, “I’ll write an essay about that…someday.” Then when it was time to submit my monthly column for our local newspaper, I’d inevitably have forgotten all those ideas – or, even if I’d bothered to make a note of the ideas, lost sight of why it seemed like an important topic to me – and I’d be once again waiting for inspiration to strike. And I’ve discovered over the years that waiting to write until inspiration strikes means one of two things: facing a deadline with a very, very blank page or staying up until two in the morning to capture what suddenly seems like the most compelling thesis in the world.
These days, every idea gets tested out. Some merit further revisions and submission; others get their 24 hours on my blog and then disappear, not to be revisited. But blogging daily is like holding a regular brainstorming session with your own muses: you get the ideas out there quickly and regularly, and then you can go back and see which ones are worth hanging on to. Earlier this week, I faced a monthly column deadline and turned to my blog to see what I’d written that I might want to further develop; I was surprised to find an entry from weeks ago that seemed to me like it merited further consideration. I grabbed it, revised a little, and sent it off not to our community newspaper but to my editor at the Boston Globe, who wrote back within the hour saying she wanted to use it.
So, encouraged by BubbleCow that it really is worthwhile, I’ll continue blogging from Monday to Friday. As I see it, now that I’m exclusively self-employed, it’s part of my job. And even if the output doesn’t end up mattering a whole lot to anyone, as with running, I’ll keep doing it daily just for the workout.