The 1000th Post: To Be or Not To Blog

Heard you didn’t miss me.  I’m back anyhow.

This is the 1000th blog post of The Domino Theory and I wasn’t sure if it would be the last one.   I took a month off to think about it. Or to put it more accurately to not think about it.

Nobody called,  nobody wrote to ask when I was going to publish again because nobody cares if there’s one less blog in the world.   All this blog is and ever will be is me sharing my thoughts on a topic most people already know about. I’m not breaking news. I’m sharing one man’s opinion and the value of that opinion waxes and wanes depending on how receptive the reader is to what I have to say.

Blogs come and blogs go.  Those that endure do so because the blogger finds ways to keep things fresh and interesting to them.   If they are lucky so will their readers.

This blog was supposed to be a means to an end. The intention was for me to keep my writing tools sharp by keeping busy between freelancing gigs. I never got into journalism to make money because unless you become a brand like Bob Woodward where you make your reputation on one or two good books and squander it by writing increasingly bad books, there’s no money in journalism. At least nobody I know is living comfortably off those wages.

I could do nothing but write about police shootings and racism and never run short of material.   The trouble is  how depressing it is to dwell all the time on blood and bigotry.   It’s not much fun to read either.   This will never be  the place to come for  your Kardashian/Jenner updates, but even I need to lighten the mood at times.   I recently read for my monthly writer’s group a personal story about a friendship which ended badly. It was a substitute for a blood-and-thunder piece I had written about the shooting of Walter Scott. One woman told me, “I was a little scared when I heard you were reading this month. You can be pretty intense sometimes.”

She’s right about that. But too much intensity wears you out.

The other night I came across a Word Press site from blogging expert Lorelle VanFossen and her post, How to Know When to Stop Blogging.  It rang true from the first sentence, “Blogging isn’t for everyone, and everyone doesn’t need to blog. There are times when you should stop blogging, and there are times to take a rest from blogging.”

As I approach the eight-year blogging mark, those are words of sage advice.   VanFossen had more of particular interest for me.

Stop blogging if you don’t have a purpose: Honestly, you don’t have to blog if you don’t want to, and if you don’t know what to blog about, don’t. If your blog has no purpose, stop blogging.

Your blogging purpose doesn’t have to be specific, but it does need to exist. A blog purpose is the reason you blog, the definition of your blog, and why your readers come back to read your blog. If you are blogging about your daily life’s activities and affairs, then that’s your purpose. If you are blogging about a specific industry such as online technology, space, transportation, or ice skating, that’s your blogging purpose. If you are blogging about a specific rare area of science, math, or research, you’ve found a purpose for blogging.

If you blog because it fulfills some deep inner need to express yourself, and it makes you happy and motivates you to get up in the morning, and that feeling lasts longer than 3 months, you’ve got a purpose for blogging. Keep blogging.

Vague, empty blogging just because it’s something to do, or because everyone else is doing it, is useless and a time waster. Stop blogging.

Pretty much this.   Taking a 30-day blogging hiatus did not offer any great revelations. Did not break through a wall of writer’s block. I had no epiphany. No startling insights. None of that. I just needed a break. I took one.

I did not reflect and I did not recharge. I am not renewed or refueled with a brand new sense of purpose. Whatever it was which made me angry or amused or confused or happy or moved to plant my butt in a chair and start typing until what was trying to get out was set free still does.

VanFossen’s parting shot is direct.  “If you are bored with blogging, or bored with what you are blogging about, or your blog writing bores you, it bores your readers. Stop blogging and find something else to do.”

That “something else to do” is to write more, blog less. Writing more means going back to freelancing.   Writing more means recognizing its okay to blog less.     Writing more means writing more stuff that means something and less to fill space because I’m not updating enough.

Too much time spent thinking about writing is not enough time spent writing. There are stories to tell and if I want to read them I’m going to have to write them.    This blog doesn’t have another 1,000 posts in its future, but I’m curious to see how many are left.

 

To Be Or Not To Blog?

This is an opportunity for me to take a short victory lap (because I hate to run) over a personal accomplishment for The Domino Theory.

Based in no small part from the higher profile given to my blog post review of Fruitvale Station being featured on the Word Press Freshly Pressed page, I rocketed to 500 “follows” in three months.    What really blows my mind is I’ve been grinding away at this blog since 2008 and I didn’t get to 100 Follows until June of this year.

What’s really been a surprise is it hasn’t stopped.   At the rate the follows have been coming I may hit 600 before Thanksgiving and that is something to be thankful for.

Fame, if not necessarily fortune at long last!   Yay! You like me! You really like me!

Trophy Case

But seriously, folks.   I can’t individually thank every one who has subscribed to my blog.   I am truly touched by the vote of confidence because everyone I know who does this has those moments where they get that sneaking sensation they are only talking to themselves.    Well, if I am I hope the conversation is at least interesting.

I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to go next with this blogging thing.    While I’m very good at saying precisely what I think about Ted Cruz,  Kanye and Kim or bad jazz, I would really like to transition to more serious, less frivolous, subjects.    I think of myself as a  good interviewer (though I hate transcribing interviews) and next year I’m going to get back to doing more of them.   If I want to raise the profile of The Domino Theory one way to do it is by talking with people I want to know more about  because nobody else seems to be talking to them for me.

Journalism as I know it is in a state of flux.   Anyone who tells you they know what happens next is lying to you and themselves.   What is known is the readership that faithfully followed newspapers, magazines and print is gone and they aren’t coming back.   They are accessing information and entertainment on handheld devices, on their phones, and via other means that doesn’t depend on dead trees to get the point across.

Even the best blogs can’t come close to what the Washington Post, TIME or Newsweek did when they were required reading.   Blogging is not the first draft of history.    It’s the immediate reaction to history as its made.   I know for a fact a lot of trained journalists absolutely despise bloggers and it doesn’t matter how polished or professional the prose and the presentation is.   They will never consider it a legit option to classic print, radio and television news media.

I don’t either.  Not yet anyway.  I’m not a blogger trying to create journalism.   I’m a journalist who blogs and this is still very much a work in progress, but I’m still excited by the possibilities.   If you gave me a million dollars and told me, “Go make some journalism” I wouldn’t start a newspaper.   I’d create a blog.

Since I have one already maybe the best bet is to keep trying to make it better and if it becomes something more like journalism and something less like blogging, that’s not a bad thing.   This is as much an experiment as it an experience.

Thanks again for your support.  Going forward I hope to give you even better reasons to continue doing so.