Around two months ago I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I no longer had time to maintain two blogs. I won’t go into the reasons here, but the case seemed pretty unanswerable. So I closed down this blog and decided I would focus on Sociological Imagination. Since then I’ve felt the quality of my writing gradually deteriorate. The reasons for this seem obvious to me: objectively I write much less without a personal blog. The recurrent practice the blog helps ensure writing is a taken for granted part of my everyday life, it’s something which I feel no more anxiety about than other mundane daily activities.
I’ve found my creeping sense of dissatisfaction in the last two months extremely worrying. It’s a new experience for me to look at my writing, conclude “this is crap” and to feel uncertain of how to fix it. It’s not that I was always happy with my writing up to this point. I really wasn’t and I have multiple ‘working papers’ which demonstrate this. But when blogging was a part of my daily routine, my response to difficulty was to keep writing. The challenge added to my enjoyment of the process, rather than contributing to my descent into a seething mass of writerly neurosis.
Having a personal blog enables a cheerful optimism about writing. One which I never want to be without again. In the words of one of my favourite punk bands, it facilitates ‘word acrobatics, performed with both harness and net’. I feel like I learnt to write seriously in the last couple of years of my PhD, when blogging became a daily activity for me. That’s when I began to take profound pleasure in writing for the first time. I’m not entirely sure I can be a writer, as opposed to someone who is contingently obligated to write stuff, without having my own blog. It seems I’m not the only person to have this experience, as A Very Public Sociologist recounts:
Since December 2006 this blog has weighed on my brain like a digital nightmare. Apart from a six month break and a further 18 month leave of absence, I’ve been writing or thinking about writing content all that time. Even when I took a hiatus, words, phrases, screeds of 500 words or more tangoed across my eyeballs when the shutters came down at night. As our minds have allowed social media technologies to colonise and structure our perceptions – how many times have you thought of a real-life happening in terms of an instagram snap or a sharply-observed tweet – so mine finds half-digested ideas immediately suited to bloggable form