Unless you write a blog, there’s no way to understand how random the different aspects of it can be. Within the blogosphere, random takes the form of:
* Bloggers who inspire me and keep me blogging
* Who the comments come from, what they say and when they show up
* The different places I go while writing posts
* The posts that show up in front of the public and the posts that don’t
Recently Justin Wehr, a blogger I’ve followed, like for years, posted on his blog writing habits. I’ve also been talking to a few people who are interested in starting their own blogs. This post of mine copies the format of his post with my answers. Justin: this post is for you. Blog on.
Why I got into it
The reason I started blogging was because I was going through a Masters of Software Engineering program and wanted to have something I could easily show others when I finished.
Why I stay(ed) in it
I found that it helped me think through my schoolwork and that I enjoy writing more than I ever understood. I’ve always had a journal in one form or another. In fact, several years worth of entries exist on the 286 pc clone running Norton commander that I think might still be in my mom’s basement.
My blog has been a metamorphosis for my personal and professional life. It’s taken me around the world. It’s introduced me to some very good friends I otherwise would never have met. It’s kept me connected during some dark times and has continued to help me process the world around me. I process my life through writing, some of which makes it onto this blog.
What *is* blogging for me?
Blogging is the most purely selfish habit I have. Whenever I sit down to write a post, the priority is always on me and what I want to say. There are no ads. There is no genuflecting. I have never written a post because someone asked me to or taken money for anything that has shown up on this blog.
Although my content was pretty narrowly focused in the beginning towards school projects, it’s turned into quite a mixed bag. Anyone remember the Kangaroo post? What about the Desert post? Then there’s the dumpster post. (We’ll just leave the “Twilight” post in the ether, shall we?)
How hard is it to keep chugging?
For most of my blogging life, I’ve never, ever had a problem coming up with posts. There was only one period in time when I worried that my blog was withering and the fact that I wasn’t writing freely was a very strong smell of things going on in my life.
Do I read and/or revise old posts?
There is always a small mistake or two that I miss in a post. There are very few posts where I haven’t hit publish then looked at the post and thought (oh shit…edit! Edit now!) Although, to be fair, the edits are always quite small. I do, on occasion, read my old posts. My thinking is circular and I enjoy looking at how my opinions change over time.
What keeps me from sucking?
There are a few guidelines I have for myself.
- Be kind to myself. Since the blog is by me, for me, I practice self-love. There is no reason why I should ever not be nice and overly forgiving to myself on my blog. This includes comments. I’ve been lucky to only ever have a couple of comments that I just wouldn’t post. (Protip: RTFM has no place here.)
- Posts shouldn’t be a reaction to someone else’s negative energy or merely a regurgitation. The blog is mine so it should be as 100% me as possible. The posts I write shouldn’t be posts that anyone else would or could write. This post is a notable exception, but I think that’s in the best possible way.
- Be patient. There are posts that sit in my backlog for months before I finish them. Some of my best posts including the last post on continuous deployment might sit for a while. Sometimes this is because I’m feeling cranky about something and it comes out in a bad way. Sometimes it’s because of, well…life. I’ve found that the good ideas for posts have a certain timelessness so it’s ok if I have to put it down for a few weeks or even months.
- Capture the ideas as soon as possible. I know to keep some paper in the bathroom for ideas I have in the shower. I have evernote on my phone. I’ve got religion about it. If an idea comes, I write it down somewhere.
What do I think other people think of this blog?
Umm…I don’t freaking care. I just don’t.
Where do the ideas come from?
I love Justin’s answer to this question, so I’m reprinting it here:
“All over the place.
All over the damn place.
Not uncommonly: Books, blogs, field observations, porch ruminations, pesky bedtime thoughts, car rides, and conversations.”
How do I decide what’s post-worthy?
The content has to be interesting for me and usually relates to a problem I’m thinking through or a challenge I’ve faced. Sometimes I blog about trips that I take or conferences I’ll be attending.
Which posts are most salient to me?
Be Gaga-riffic, Be yourself
Testing in a Throwaway Culture
A Desert Tale of Rocks and Ruins
Picasso Ate My Metrics Paper: Visualizing Software Metrics with Treemaps
Tossing out the map
A twist in the plot
What is Quality, What is Art
Where/when is the writing done?
Where: Currently, on a $50 goodwill sleeper/sofa in a one bedroom apartment located in Mountain View, California. There is usually a dog or a man also sitting on the sofa.
When: Usually either early on Saturday morning or late at night (note…it’s 10:54 on Thursday night and I have to be working at 6:00am)
How long does it take, typically?
It’s so dependent on the post. Some are eked out over lengthy periods of time and some come in a great whoosh.
What’s my 5 year plan? What are my aspirations for this mofo?