Blogging can be a great practice for writers. It forces you to write regularly and helps you discipline yourself in your craft. I'm a fan of it. Really.
But it can also be a disease — a people-pleasing addiction that saps you of your creative edge. The true writer must beware of and take caution when using this marvelous tool for one reason: Writing solely for others can cost you your (writing) soul.
3 Reasons to Stop Blogging
Here's why blogging can sometimes hurt your writing:
1. Blogging is instant
It happens immediately. As soon as you press “publish,” your article is live for the world to see, free for people to react and respond to your content.
This is exciting, addictive even, especially when people affirm your writing. We all need positive affirmation, but because publishing a blog post is instant, it can be dangerous.
You may find yourself publishing just for the thrill of taking your content live for others to praise it. Or you may begin to believe you're better than you actually are.
Blogs stroke our egos. If you have one, be careful.
2. Blogging is expedient
Before the days of instant gratification when you had to actually pitch a piece before someone would consider publishing it, writers took time to consider what they wrote before sending it off to an editor.
Not so anymore.
Because blogging allows you to reach your audience instantly, it's tempting to hit publish prematurely, to jump the gun on the creative process, to not let it run its course.
Good writing takes time. And the expediency of blogging can subvert the process of getting to your best content. Again, I say, proceed with caution.
3. Blogging is easy
Anyone can do it.
Beware anything that allows you immediate pleasure and reward with little work required. Beware anything that any hack can do. (It doesn't really set you apart, does it?)
Take the time to write something worth reading, something that your readers will appreciate, even if it doesn't mean you blog every day. (I know, I'm sort of breaking my own rule here, but this is just that important.)
Anyone can blog. In fact, many do. But not everyone has something to say.
What's the solution?
Writers need to write first and foremost for themselves before worrying about building an audience or platform. This frees you to create art the world needs to hear, that the marketplace will reward, and that you'll enjoy writing.
While writing for others isn't necessarily bad, it can't be primary. You must first write for yourself.
When you can do that, you may return to your blog.
Why write for yourself?
Because writing for yourself releases you from the temptation to entertain.
Writing for yourself allows you to be honest and transparent in your writing.
Writing for yourself causes you to write what you really want to write. (This is more important than you realize.)
And that leads to passionate, life-changing work.
So what do you do now?
You'll have to take some intentional steps to break out of this addictive cycle of writing solely for an audience. You may have to stop blogging for a little while.
Here are some ideas of next steps if the ideas above resonate with you:
- Schedule times of focused writing, while continuing to blog.
- Take regular breaks from your blog (but keep writing). This may be a week-long “staycation” or the weekend. Whatever you do, set aside some time for longer writing that doesn't need to be shared immediately.
- Start a journal.
- Reflect on content that you've published, asking, “How can I make this better?” Then rewrite it.
- Ask for feedback from your true fans. See if what you're writing seems honest to them.
- Read more books, articles, and other long-form pieces.
- Return to your blog, once you've recaptured your creative voice. You and your audience should be able to tell the difference.
What's the point of all this?
You started this whole writing thing, because you had a passion and a voice. You had drive and something to say.
If you're like me, you may have found yourself spending more time promoting your work than actually writing. This is bad.
If that's you, then it's time to refocus. On what really matters. On the art and not just the craft of writing. So that you can become a real writer, not just another poser with a blog.
You will find that the world rewards those who really care about what they're doing and take the time to do it well.
Write for yourself. It's worth it.
Is it time that you stopped blogging and started writing for yourself again?
Recommended Reading: Why I Shut Down My Blog [Slate]