• ADVERTISEMENT

    Get a Life::Fighting Blog Obsession

    by Mark Glaser
    April 24, 2006

    i-2668231738aba5cf73bb5192fa0e25d0-Political Animal.JPG
    When I first started blogging in January, I had a sneaky suspicion that this blog might become a bit of an obsession. Here’s what I wrote then: “But now, finally, in 2006, I am ready to turn my life over to the blog. I hope it doesn’t eat my wife and son, chew through my assorted leisure activities, and gnaw on my dreams at night.”

    After a few months on the job, I can report that blogging does indeed interfere with my sleep patterns occasionally — though I haven’t seen the Movable Type blog software in my dreams…not yet. I wouldn’t say that the blog has eaten up my wife and son or any of my leisure activities, but I would say that it’s hard to stay away for a long period of time.

    Whenever I’m near my home office computer, I’m very tempted to check in, check email messages or log onto Movable Type to see if anyone has left a comment. And I can’t imagine being on my computer to do other work or communicate with family and friends without making that quick check-in. The convenience of blogging software being at my fingertips wherever I may go (at least where there’s an Internet connection) cuts both ways — it’s conveniently always there to feed my obsession.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    If I’m at a friend’s house, the temptation is there, too. “Uh, can I get on your computer for a minute just to check my blog?” Or on the road, I could open my laptop in an airport terminal for a quick check-in.

    Now, in some ways, I should be obsessed with my blog to some extent. Unlike the vast majority of bloggers, I am actually being paid to blog as a job, and I’m the sole watcher and editor of comments posted to my blog. So I should check in to make sure spam messages haven’t been posted (as they were so inconveniently last Friday night), or that personal attacks haven’t broken out all over. But every hour? Every few hours? When do I get a break?

    I was curious what other bloggers might think, so I pinged Kevin Drum, another paid-to-blog guy who writes the liberal Political Animal blog for the Washington Monthly. My question was simple: How do you keep your blog from taking over your life?

    ADVERTISEMENT

    Here’s what Kevin said by reply via email:

    I don’t! However, since it’s my full-time job, I have less incentive than most to worry about this. My short answer is: get out of the house. This may just be me, but when I’m in the house, even if I’m doing something else, the computer is always beckoning. After a few minutes I get itchy. Any new email? Has any news broken? Did someone post something interesting in the past few minutes?

    But if I’m out of the house, I usually forget about the blog completely. I don’t even think about it until I step in from the garage, at which point I suddenly feel a deep urge to make a beeline for the computer. Alternatively, I guess I could just turn off the computer now and then. But that seems rather drastic, doesn’t it?

    OK, simple advice. Get out of the house, get away from computers, and try the “out of sight, out of mind” approach. But what happens if you have a Treo or other connected handheld device where you could easily check email or blog comments at any time?

    “I am completely electronics free when I leave the house,” Drum says. “I don’t even take a cell phone unless I have some special reason to think I might need it…It definitely allows me to keep my mind off the e-world and on whatever I happen to be doing in real life.”

    It seems like the electronics and online world are encroaching on all our previously quiet moments, so consciously disconnecting will become a necessity to keep our sanity.

    If you write a blog, what do you do to keep from obsessing over it? How do you delineate blog time from real down time? If you don’t write a blog, what other online obsessions do you have, and how do you break them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Tagged:
    • I’ve found that there is an underlying need to want to be heard, be understood and to connect with others. And so when I write or create videos, then there is this innate need for receiving feedback and validation. It can be and is very addictive.

      Exercise, meditation and yoga all help me stay centered and connected beyond whatever electronic feedback I receive from my work. And I’ve also found that face-to-face human interaction can help provide a counterweight.

      My wife and I actually produced a video talking more about this: http://tinyurl.com/fq7u4

    • I am not a paid blogger, but I am focused. First, I made it clear to my readership that I post M-F and not on weekends, that is family time. But I do check the blog on weekends and keep up with comments. Sometimes I find that a schedule works. Post in the AM, check comments just before lunch, then again before I go pick up my son from daycare, and then at night, right before bed. Also, I find that answering comments right away sometimes cuts the conversaton short. Give you readers some time to breathe and interact with each other (or at least tell yourself that).

      As for breaking news stories, well, that is like any other gig, you have to cover the ones you can and not wory too much about those that go by in the river of news.

    • I leave all electronics behind for at least an hour a day with one exception: the DSLR camera. Every day, without exception, rain or shine, that hour is all mine, to take photos of what I please, to watch the herons nesting in the tree across our lake, to look for especially pretty flowers blooming and photograph them.

      Of course, the next thing I do is upload the best of them to the blog. :)

      Confession: I’m DrumsNWhistles and I’m addicted to my blog. Furthermore, I have no desire to cure myself of it.

      DnW

    • Knowing when to stop thinking about your blog for a while is admittedly an area I’m not very good at. I just launched a new blog yesterday, and I’m trying to establish some guidelines — loose as they may be — for my work on it. I can usually switch off reasonably well on the weekends, and I like Kami’s idea of keeping Saturdays and Sundays post-free. Now let’s just see if I can stick to that!

    • When i began blogging a few months back, it was the best new thing to happen to me, you know, people leaving comments and praising my writing style. But barely a year later than am already feeling pissed off with this thing called blogging. First i become restless when i’ve not checked to see who left a comment. And i feel rejected also, when no one leaves a comment. The worst part, unlike you, is that am not paid to blog. And when i have once or twice thought of deleting my blog and forgetting about it completely, i just cannot let myself to doing it. I’m not married, neither do i have children -so the question of the blog eating my “wife and son” cannot surface but it does “chew through my assorted leisure activities, and gnaw on my dreams at night.” So then, i can only conclude that blogging is a very destructive dug, that once hooked forver hooked! It’s a cancer that disorganise your life if you dont stop yourself before you blog.

    • I just obsess, I haven’t found anything to keep me from not obsessing.

    • Nice ghoulish article … very fitting for the season and impressivly damn interesting.

      Online clothing

    • Good idea to go electronics free. Not sure I could go completely without due to emergency purposes, nonetheless, I like the idea.

      I remember I went into an Irish Pub to have a beer on night with 2 friends. When we were able to push through the crowd and get a table and take a look around the place we noticed 4 mates sitting at the table next to us. None of them were talking to one another, instead they had their heads buried in their cell phones texting. They were probably texting each other!

    • Good idea to go electronics free. Not sure I could go completely without due to emergency purposes, nonetheless, I like the idea.

      I remember I went into an Irish Pub to have a beer on night with 2 friends. When we were able to push through the crowd and get a table and take a look around the place we noticed 4 mates sitting at the table next to us. None of them were talking to one another, instead they had their heads buried in their cell phones texting. They were probably texting each other!

    • I am also a blogger and as what you have mentioned, during the first two years, I became obsessed in my blog. Everything I do, may it be personal or work related activity, I blog about it. When I learned and started doing meditation sessions a year ago, everything changed. I am still into blogging but I find more time for other things. Meditating regularly has helped me a lot to set my priorities and connect to my inner self daily.

    • Getting away from the computer is so important. Your struggle is not unique. I go to the gym like you or go to the yoga studio. That really helps.

    • Meditation and being in nature help me to stay centered and avoid becoming obsessed with just one thing. Making myself available for community service also helps alot.

    • Ha Ha I sympathise with you. Although II am not blogging as a job I am trying to earn a bit of extra income doing internet marketing. My trouble though is similar to yours I find when writing articles or making videos to promote a site my time alternates between what I’m supposed to be doing and checking my facebook and checking my stats.
      The solution? Hell I don’t know, just trying to focus and keeping to a timetable.

    • Sometimes we need to step back and withdraw what we had accomplish just for the sake ourselves.

      In your case, just relax, take some time to rest and do yoga or exercise regularly.

      Just put everything in balance.

      Good for you on blogging!

    • with blogging, I have found it very hard to separate my work from my time… do you feel the same way?

  • ADVERTISEMENT
  • ADVERTISEMENT
  • Who We Are

    MediaShift is the premier destination for insight and analysis at the intersection of media and technology. The MediaShift network includes MediaShift, EducationShift, MetricShift and Idea Lab, as well as workshops and weekend hackathons, email newsletters, a weekly podcast and a series of DigitalEd online trainings.

    About MediaShift »
    Contact us »
    Sponsor MediaShift »

    Follow us on Social Media

    @MediaShiftorg
    @Mediatwit
    @MediaShiftPod
    Facebook.com/MediaShift