On Blogging

Isaac Morehouse has a piece on his blog about the top ten benefits of regular blogging.

(The keen-eyed observer will note that Morehouse’s blog has had gaps of 3-11 months over its five year run – but the article is so good I don’t care):

1. Self Discipline – Like all disciplines, it makes you a better person; more in control of your schedule and habits. It is empowering to do something on a regular basis.

For one reason or another, getting up at 5:30 nearly every morning to write has become just a part of life.

2. Self Translation – You hold a set of beliefs and ideas about the world. You may not even know exactly what they are, but they exist. Blogging helps you translate those ideas into a form that you and others can use.

In the time I’ve been writing this blog, this has been true.  When I started writing Shot In The Dark, I was a conservative, and a modestly well-read one – but still, much of what I believed was unformed and squishy, and there were huge gaps in what I knew.

And both are still true, to some degree.  But much less so than before I started.

3. Self Education – You have no idea how much you know, or how capable you are of understanding and explaining things. Once you start blogging, you’ll be surprised to discover what a genius you are.

Well, maybe not “genius” – but I’ve learned a lot about a couple of issues – education, Astro-Turf groups and so on – that I’d never have had occasion to learn otherwise.

4. Observation – Every day you are taking in loads of sensory information. You see news clips, billboards, emails, people; you hear music, talk, etc. When you start to blog you learn to find meaning in the things your senses take in, and find story lines. You learn to observe.

And – this was cool – eventually you start finding the unexpected, hidden storylines.  That’s kinda fun.

5. Humor – The things noted above are often hilarious, you just don’t always realize it at the time. Regular blogging helps you recreate experiences you’ve had, which often reveals their hilariousness.

I’ll get back to you on that one.

6. Writing – Blogging ain’t great literature, but it can be. Any kind of writing regularly will improve your skills. Blogging will especially help you learn to be more concise and interesting.

Would that it were always true.  Or even true more often.

Still, I’ve seen examples of people who genuinely did improve as writers over time.

7. Self Knowledge – You may not know your area(s) of interest and expertise – regular blogging will help you discover what you are interested in and good at as you begin to see patterns and reoccurring themes in your posts.

Writing this blog has certainly opened up some interests I’d never have had otherwise.

8. Experimentation – Blogging allows you to be a pundit on any issue. You can comment on things you normally don’t have time or knowledge for. You are allowed to speculate and think out loud on a blog in ways that more formal media do not allow.

Heh .

9. Crash-testing – Blogging regularly will inevitably produce some pretty good writing. Blogging every day will help you get all kinds of stuff out, and then look back and see if any of it is worthy of refinement and publication elsewhere. It’s a great testing ground for ideas, themes, articles, outlines, etc.

I wouldn’t say it’s “inevitable” – but that’s very true.

And for me, it’s the best “show prep” there is.  The traditional rule of thumb in talk radio is “spend an hour of show prep for every hour you’re on the air”.  But in a typical week I’ll spend 5-10 hours writing, most of it about stuff I want to talk about on the air.  I don’t like to walk into the studio, sit down and start broadcasting cold – but I can.

10. Archiving – Regular blogging for just a year can result in hundreds of articles on hundreds of topics. You will develop an archive of your thoughts and a record of how they’ve evolved over time. When someone asks for your opinion on an issue you won’t have to start from scratch. You can send them a link to that time you expressed it so well.

Which is, of course, a two-edged sword.  After a long time writing, you generate a lot of material.  It’s hard to keep track of it all.  Sorting it into categories and adding tags helps; a decent search engine (thanks, WordPress!) helps too.

Anyway, Morehouse’s post on the one hand tells me things I’ve known for a while, and on the other hand codifies them in a handy “Top Ten”-style format for convenience.

After all that, it’s almost anticlimactic to say that today is this blog’s 11th birthday.  The yearly anniversaries up through ten were kind of a big deal – but after 11 years, writing this blog is more or less a part of life’s rhythm to me.

I started this blog thinking I’d be happy if I got five readers a week.  My daily audience is into four digits now, and has been there since about 2004, which never fails to astound me.

Anyway – thanks for stopping by all these years.

8 thoughts on “On Blogging

  1. Congrats, Mitch. I’ve learned a lot about blogging, and a variety of other topics, from you. Your ability to be both prolific and consistently readable continues to amaze me. It’s easy to provide quantity or quality, but it’s awfully tough to do both. Yet somehow you manage it. Thank you for the daily gift you provide.

  2. Thank you for providing the place to come by and read. One of the best reads on the internet, day after day.

  3. Congrats, as always, Mitch. I hope to one day Lazarus my blog, but the perceived mundanity of current day-to-day life doesn’t lend itself to the kind of updates you and Lileks provide. I touch base daily, still.

  4. D and Loren: Thanks a million!

    Yossarian: I’m not sure I could have done this when I had little kids. Mine were 9 and 10 and a little more independent (and soundly asleep until 7AM) when I started doing this.

  5. To echo Loren “One of the best reads on the internet, day after day.”

    Happy B-day SITD, wishing you many happy returns of the day!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Happy bday/anniversary, Mitch. I don’t know how or why, but you became my #1 blog stop…sometimes my only stop if I only have a few minutes. Lileks, Hewitt, AntiStrib, The Strib “Talk” section, and many others faded into oblivion for me (those that are still around), to end up as very rare occasional stops given the limited amount of blog/web reading time I have now. It’s been an educational pleasure reading your work, and I’m happy to have at least met and conversed with you a few times over the last couple years since I became politically active. Occasionally I bounce to TrueNorth from here if time allows, and I inadvertently and unintentionally “met”/learned of Nancy and Derek via blogging around the same time I met them face to face. Altho, we had been reading each other’s posts on here for a few years before we figured out we lived 4 blocks apart. That was very cool.

    Thanks again!

  7. Please accept my best wishes, too. I greatly appreciate the information and unique insights I’ve found here in the couple months I’ve been hanging around. Due to my stage and station in life, it took a bit for me to realize that I was actually reading a blog …

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