How and Why I Blog
by John Martin
  1. How did you get started in blogging?

    When blogging first came into vogue, I was attracted to it on three levels:

  2. And, finally, I guess the fact that my writing is "out there" and people can "interact" with it if they choose to, greatly appeals to the extrovert that I am. So, all in all, blogging satisfies a lot of my "needs."

  3. What is the driving force behind your 4.5 years of blogging without missing a day; that is, what is your inspiration?

    Just before I started blogging I was looking for a new car to buy, and I found one that had all of the features I wanted, but it was white. I remember thinking, "Do people drive white cars?" and "Do they look dirty all the time?" So, for the rest of that day I looked for white cars, and I was absolutely astounded by the number I saw. (And most of them didn't look dirty, BTW.)

    But more than anything, this exercise showed me that the more you look for something, the more you're going to see it. And that's when I decided that I was going to look for affirmations in my life to include in my daily blog. A lot of people use their blog to rant and rave, which certainly is a legitimate use, but I wanted mine to document my days and be as uplifting as possible. So I chose the LiveJournal username of dailyafirmation (click to see the history of the one "f" in affirmation) on purpose: the daily part to encourage me to do it every day, and the affirmation part to remind me to look for affirmations during my day. It's been interesting over the years to observe the change in my recognition of what an affirmation is. At first, I almost always recognized them as verbal (or written in an e-mail) comments, such as, "You're so funny," "You're a great guy," "You're fun to be around," or "I admire your intellect." But as I continued "looking," I began to realize that a lot of events and gestures are affirmations, too. Examples of those are being invited to go out for coffee after class in a new grad school class and getting a short story published. And one final note about affirmations: I've also noticed that in looking for them regularly and recognizing them more clearly, I've also gotten better at giving affirmations.

    Another driving force of daily blogging is that I like the idea of being able to look back over the years to do some self-reflection, and in some cases see personal growth. It's amazing how some things that once consumed me in my life, now seem almost irrelevant. And, finally, if I ever get amnesia, dementia, or Alzheimer's, I can look back and re-enjoy my life.

  4. Where do you see blogging going in the future, in terms of a respected media outlet?

    I think the future of blogging is largely dependent on the development and evolution of tools and applications that facilitate blogging. It seems to me that tools and applications that accommodate a "mashup" mentality—facilitating the embedding of pictures, videos, and music, for example—will certainly help personal blogging to continue to flourish.

    I'm not sure about the future of blogs as a respected media outlet, but it seems to me that as long as they continue to represent "the voice of the people" and deliver it "realtime," it will continue to be a viable—respectability aside—force to be reckoned with. 

  5. Why do you think we're seeing some bloggers stop/give it up? Taking a break?

    I firmly believe that people will only continue to do something that they’re getting something out of. So, there are as many reasons to stop, as there are to start, blogging. For me, my “return on investment” is mostly self-directed. I’m happy with what I produce whether anyone else reads it or not. Of course, I love when other people read and comment on my blog, but it’s not the driving force for me. If it was, I might have quit a long time ago.

    I also believe that it's a matter of priorities. If something is important to you, you'll make time to do it. Some time in the last year or two, I read of a blogger who had been blogging every day for 5 years, I think it was, who announced one day that she was abandoning her blog. The reason she gave? She had been wanting to write a book forever, but hadn’t had the time to put toward it. And it had just dawned on her that if she took the time she spent writing her blog each day, and spent it writing her book, she’d actually get it written. That’s a good example of a recognition, and realignment, of priorities.

  6. Do you ever get writers block? If so where do you go for inspiration?

    Ha. I have a lot to say about a lot of things. But, seriously, since my blog is a daily journal, and I stay busy (see my July calendar as an example of what I mean by staying busy), I really don't ever run out of things to put in my blog. As for material that I often comment about “between the lines” of my daily activities, I sometimes use, if I haven't read something interesting in someone else's blog to comment on or haven't observed something interesting myself during the day to comment on. You can ask my friends, I am always grabbing a little piece of paper somewhere saying, "Oh, that's got to be blogged about." And now—shameless plug alert: I can always use 30THREADS to get some ideas of things to comment on!

  7. What are your favorite blogs? What blogs do you read?

    I prefer “human interest” types of blogs. I don’t read any work-related or commercial blogs regularly, only when someone on Twitter, for example, includes a link to a particularly interesting-sounding posting. I follow the blogs of several "friends" I've listed on LiveJournal, and I tend to favor blogs that are well-written and that have a creative element to them. I'm also partial to blogs that comment on words and writing. I enjoy The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, where signs such as this one are posted, usually with some repartee about them:

    My favorite in terms of cleverness is the indexed blog, where Jessica Hagy articulates observations and truths about life through Venn diagrams and graphs, with crazy examples such as these two:

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Was that a flying squirrel?

    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Manna from heaven, to eBay.