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The Essayist: What I’ve Learned as a Failed Blogger


What I’ve learned as a writer is that writing sucks.

 It is also the most glorious thing in the world. Writing is a challenge that oftentimes becomes a Sisyphean effort. Sisyphus was the Greek king who was forced to push a boulder up a mountain, only to have it roll back down again.


Yeah, writing is kind of like that.

I started writing when I was young. One of the first things I ever wrote was a fan fiction set in the Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen universe. Forgive me, I was 5. However, those first few pages were like the first few shoves against the boulder; we all have to start somewhere.

Like the boulder of Sisyphus, writing can feel like a never-ending challenge, something to be done over and over again, but to no avail. Some of my blogging friends will know: While there have always been writers, a good example of contemporary writing can be found in the rise of the blogger.

One blogger I know has been posting on Facebook a lot recently, discussing and trying to come to grips with the difficulties of writing. One article she linked to provided me with some food for thought.

Her recent posts surprised me since she runs a college newspaper and updates her blog religiously. If she’s having this issue, then who doesn’t?

Some of my other friends in the journalism world or “j-biz” (that’s a term now) often lament the difficulty in coming up with leads or topics for their blogs. Other times it’s how to cover an issue. Sometimes it’s just how to actually write the damn thing.

 A science friend of mine maintains a blog about science research in Alaska. While she doesn’t post every week (or month) when she does post its thoughtful and well-researched. She’s maintained the site for over a year and when she changed geographic locations (interior Alaska to coastal Alaska) she still kept at it.

I, unlike both of my lady friends, have tried and failed to be a blogger. The closest I’ve gotten is a blog I kept for six months several years ago. My stab at blogging kinda sorta focused on the internet and college life and fashion and politics. Yeah. I tried to do a lot. That was probably the problem.

Yet a third friend of mine has blogged. He kept a general interest blog for some time, before quitting due to a lack of time and motivation. It’s interesting that the two females I’ve mentioned have kept at it, while the two males haven’t. Yet all of us have experienced motivational issues. I’m assuming it’s because we’re humans and this is just part of the human condition. I have no answer to this interesting aside, so if you do, please post as much in the comments.

What all of this context is attempting to illustrate is that blogging (and writing in general, really) is tough. But if you stick with it, force yourself to write, and have the occasional blast of creativity, you can really produce some top notch stuff. I think that, really, is what makes blogging and writing worthwhile. Sometimes you turn out schlock, other times you realize you wrote something that even Salman Rushdie or Carl Sagan could appreciate.

Ultimately when we write, we write because we want to. Sure, sometimes we have to write stuff that we don’t like, but we’re writers because it’s who we are. It’s in our blood, as they say. I write for the reader, you, but I also write for me.

My fellow failed blogger (but accomplished writer) gave me the following as to why he writes:

But I write for me more than anything and hope that a reader out there sees it and connects.”

I know that feel, bro. I know that feel.


  1. Yeah. I know that feeling too. (Does ‘feel’ work in this context? I don’t think so… But hey, it’s your article.)

    As it happens I was discussing this whole idea with a friend just this afternoon and she commented that having to write when you don’t feel like writing is too much like work, to which I nodded and said something like ‘Yeah, your point?’

    Writing can be hard work, and sometimes is for me, but more often than not it all just seems to flow smoothly and uninterrupted, like a good conversation over cups of coffee or glasses of wine. And in fact, that’s how I think of writing most of the time, as a conversation between myself and my reader, or readers… No matter that sometimes I’m holding up both ends of the discussion, or feeling like I’m talking to myself. When it works, it works well, and when it doesn’t – I quit. Being a freelancer, that’s okay, I have the option to quit and come back at it when the muse is again in the mood.

    In my lifetime I’ve been many things, among them a writer and an artist, and I’ve always found that my writing worked best when I approached it like art, with an artist’s attitude, rather than as a writer-who-works-at-writing. Perspective. Use it or lose it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Just wanted to let you know someone’s reading, even two weeks later. 😉

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