Boy Genius pointed me to Tony Pierce's 10 Signs on Blogger Burnout. Some good points there. Here's they are:
1. when your internal dialogue gets hijacked by your concerns about what your readers will think.I went through burnout late October. I had a jillion blogs going on at once, and I felt that the three or four hours a day I devoted to blogging had been hijacked by me wanting to write about too many topics at once; the election, sports, poker, fiction, and music. Thank God that the election was over, so I could walk away from my poli blog. I took time off from blogging and went to write a novel.
2. when you are afraid to write down what you are truly thinking about at that moment.
3. when you believe the lie that some people just arent capable of good writing.
4. when you believe the lie that there is a certain way that you "should" write anything.
5. when you get more involved in punctuation, spelling, or aestetics than saying what you want to say.
6. when you get caught up in traffic, hits, popularity, readers, and/or fame.
7. when you believe the lie that what you think doesnt matter.
8. when you believe the lie that what youre about to say has been said before and/or written down better.
9. when you forget that most ideas can be expressed in less than 15 minutes.
10. when you dont set aside a little bit of time each day to update your blog.
Afterwards completing Gumbo, I made a pact with myself that I would always partake in my daily two hour free write before I blogged anything. To this day, aside when I'm traveling, I try my best to adhere to that rule I set forth. This morning for example, I woke up and wrote first before I ate, checked my email, read my bloglines folder, played poker online, and even checked my voicemail. That discipline makes me feel like a real writer, because I'm doing something that a) not every writer does on a daily basis... and b) that most normal people don't have that self-discipline and that's why they are normal.
Last year during my blog hiatus, when I was working on my fifth novel was when I realized the several fundamental differences and the few similarities between blogging and writing.
Writing and blogging are two different things. People often get confused with the two. When I often suggest to people that they should start a blog almost all of them say, "I'm not a good writer." I think that's total bullshit. Writing is different from blogging. I read blogs everyday so much so that I kick myself in the junk for wasting my time on shitty bloggers. I caught a lot of shit when I outed myself on my poker blog when I berated some of the author of blogs on my blogroll. I was being honest when I said that a bunch of them were poorly written. A good blog takes several months to cultivate. But, if you don't improve from day one... then I felt I was wasting my time reading all those stagnant blogs, which failed to evolve out of the beginning stages of having a new blog.
Man, 96% of all blogs by nature are poorly written. And the ones who have talent as a writer are usually run by boring individuals. Just like TV. The majority of TV sucks, and we all put up with such low standards in entertainment.
When I suggest to a friend of mine that they should start a blog, what I am really trying to say is that, "You are far more interesting than almost everything I have seen on the web. The stories in your lives need to be told."
You do not need to be a good writer to have a good blog. You just need to be interesting. Back to Tony Pierce's fundamental point: "There are no rules on the web other than dont be dull."
Unfortunately, the most interesting people that I know do not have a blog. And some of the most boring and loathsome individuals in bloggerdom continue to suffuse the internet with excrement. I am conscious of that, so when people/readers/friends say that I'm a great blogger, I often think, "That's not saying much."
Most of the bloggers that I link up have potential. Some of the authors are lazy. Others are simply too busy to put the right amount of time into blogging. I really wish that they found the time to improve their blogs.
"But, Pauly, I am interesting."
So you say. Just kidding. Some of you are interesting and have trouble expressing yourself. The only way to find your voice is to write until it comes out clearly. It took me several years before that happened. Keep on writing.
Just because you are a good writer doesn't mean you know how to be a good blogger. It takes a special breed of person who knows how to convey themselves in a precise manner keeping people interested enough that they want to come back again to read what else you have to say. There are career writers who are trying to turn to the web as a new medium for them, and that Wall Street Journal cookie-cutter style or NY Times Op/Ed crap doesn't stick to the wall in bloggerdom.
After my trip to Las Vegas I went through a weird transition period when I had to make a decision that would affect my writing career... that I needed to devote more time to my personal writing and less time blogging, playing poker, and chasing pussy around. The result was that I secured several freelance gigs which led me to getting the assignment to cover the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Now, I have discovered that my Phish blog is getting more traffic than the Tao of Pauly. Once again two offspring of this blog have become more popular. Am I bitter? Well, yeah a little. But I know that Trey just went on tour so that's why the sudden spike in Phishy hits. We'll see if the Phish blog can sustain their base over the next few months.
I still feel than in 5 years (2010 for you non-math people), after the poker boom is over and everyone goes broke, and after I have the opportunity to let everyone know how good of I writer I am... that this blog will be the most popular of my blogging empire.
I can dream, can't I?
For now my Phish blog is popular. My poker blog is super popular. And eventually that traffic spills over to here and Truckin'.
Normally I would spend more time on something that is working, like the Phish blog, but lucky for me, it's a group blog with my Phishy friends helping to provide the content. That's how I feel about Truckin'. It started out as a forum for my friends' travel stories and it's really become a literary magazine featuring bloggers. Almost all of them are poker bloggers who can write well. I have a vision that at somepoint, I will make Truckin' a real magazine and I'd combine both the old Truckin' with my poli blog. The result would be a literary rag with some political commentary. Maybe that can happen someday. 2010 perhaps?
To sum up, I am jumping into the world of being a "paid blogger" and whatever that entails when I move to Las Vegas one week from today. My skills are sharp enough that a major website wants me to post daily musings (and sometimes up to the minute coverage) about the largest poker tournament in the world. That's going to be an epic adventure. And maybe someone will notice my hard work and be willing to give me a shot at a book deal.
I'm worried about afterwards... will I be super burnt out after I get back from Vegas? That I won't want to write at all? Or will I just want to avoid all things blog-related? I'll find out in a few months.
I told BG the other day, "Just write."
I shall follow my own advice.