Accountability: Showing Up To Blog

2010 July 6
by Grace Boyle

I have this thing that when I start something, I feel accountable to continue it and not give up…until given reason. Blogging has become one of those accountable pieces in my life.

Blogging feels good. I enjoy it, I learn from it and always am discovering something new from other bloggers. There is one piece of blogging publicly that interests me, and that’s: accountability.

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Ever been stood up on a date? Ever had a friend say they were meeting you for coffee, but they never showed? Not a good feeling.

People may read a blog for years or maybe only for a week, but if they like what they read, they’re going to come back. As a reader, we might develop a relationship with the blogger or draw inspiration and knowledge from their thoughts.

What happens when they don’t show up to blog?

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bummed.

Personally, I feel this innate sense of accountability to blog. I’m not obligated (if I was, I would stop blogging, obligation isn’t fun) but I do feel like it’s on my weekly, current to-do list and I like that.

I put effort into blogging and I’ve met numerous friends and deep relationships through blogging. I’ve learned from bloggers and blogging. I’ve argued, agreed, gained knowledge, laughed and cried into my blog. Don’t get me wrong, I’m busy, but when I receive e-mails and letters from readers I remember, it’s now not only my mom reading my blog and that humbles me so I naturally, want to keep going and keep learning.

To clarify, I’m not writing for others. I am writing for myself, but just like the annoying girl at the cocktail party who only talks about herself, doesn’t listen, doesn’t ask anything about you or give anything in return – who likes a blogger who dips out, doesn’t listen or doesn’t give back?

I understand personal issues, deciding it’s time to stop blogging and/or generally feeling frustrated with blogging – then stop. I’m sure there will be a time when my priorities are rearranged and I will stop blogging. I’ve gone through many waves where I wonder, “Should I stop blogging?” Or, “I don’t feel moved, I don’t feel like blogging.” There are days when I even feel like I want a blog post to appear, poof, but the page is empty, the cursor blinking at me. Maybe the struggle keeps me going. Undoubtedly, that will come and go and maybe someday, I will stop altogether. Who knows.

In (close to) two years of blogging, I’ve somehow conjured up 2-3 posts a week on average. I’m not sure if I can keep that up forever, but I’ve settled into a rhythm. For example, since I started Friday Linky Love, over a year and a half ago I haven’t missed one. When I go out of town, it’s usually on a Friday, so I make sure to write and schedule the post in advance. I feel this strong desire to keep giving back to the bloggers and authors that I feature and it has become a tradition, one that I do not want to break.

We all blog in our own way – that is what makes writing individualistic and interesting. It is all of our choices, our writing and our blogs, but if you’re in it now, be in it, stay in it. Show up to blog, be accountable and feel good about what you’re writing. Furthermore, if you don’t feel good about it or aren’t having fun, why bother?

So for me, I created my blog and until the day I stop enjoying it, I will keep showing up.

What about you? How do you choose to blog? What works for you? Do you feel obligated to blog? Do you not care about how often you blog? How has it changed for you overtime?

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  • http://www.bflofutsal.com/ryanknapp/ Ryan Knapp

    If I had only one site to blog on I wouldn't have a problem. But by the time I'm done blogging for two of my projects, there isn't effort or time for me to do a third, which is 'my' blog because I'm simply spent from the process.

    Time and time again I've tried to make time, but I realize the personal blogging or 1v1 convos are for you guys who are good at it, and I can simply do my business blogging or on other topics and be happy.

  • http://fiwk.blogspot.com Royce

    Grace, fantastic post! I couldn't agree more about accountability… and I like what you say about not doing it for others necessarily, but it's to some degree accountability with yourself.

    Do you know Penny Arcade? ( http://www.penny-arcade.com/ ) I would venture that they are the most successful webcomic going. One of the co-authors wrote about his advice to those starting out, and his #1 piece of advice was to always be accountable to the schedule you set. PA has a Mon-Wed-Fri schedule for new comics and accompanying news posts, and he said they made a point from the very beginning to never, ever miss a scheduled day or be late.

    I would agree that that is the most fundamental characteristic any blogger or writer or web creative person can have for success in the long haul – accountability with themselves for hitting their schedule (whatever they define that schedule as).

  • emilyjasper

    Hey Grace, I have had some of the same thoughts as you. I guess I get most disappointed when I realize that the blogger only started the blog so it can be a stepping stone. Once they've stepped up, they stop blogging. Sure, people get busy, but close it down or put up a busy notice. I think the other thing is that there are some amazing bloggers out there, but if they aren't interacting (or even blogging), it's frustrating when they always get praise. Is there praise because we're too lazy to change our minds? Is it really ok to praise the absence of content or interaction? Good thoughts…

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Ryan You bring up a good point – blogging for multiple blogs is tiresome. However, 'good' is a relative term because I think you ARE good at blogging. I also knew that in writing this, we all blog differently so I was curious to hear everyone's thoughts and their own blogging ideals. I don't expect anyone's to be similar to mine, but thought it was an interesting topic because I continually feel like I should be blogging and accountable (for some reason…)

    I find it difficult when I'm regularly guest blogging for others and trying to maintain my own blog. I can only imagine if that was every week (e.g. with additional blogs to always write for)!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Royce I do not know Penny Arcade – I love your examples and contributing comments, always so interesting Royce! I love the schedule they have created, it really helps anyone stick to what they're doing. This can be the same for exercising and setting your priorities. Thanks for sharing!!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Emily I didn't think about starting a blog as a stepping stone…but I can think of bloggers that have done that, good point.

    I thought less about praise – but in my eyes, praise can be deserved because of what someone HAS done even if they aren't blogging for the moment. Nonetheless, a lack of blogging becomes obsolete because the web moves so fast, so I think the bloggers who continually 'show up' and are held accountable, should also receive praise. However, I think that praise isn't due because someone blogs regularly, it's more around content, ideas and writing …

    Good thoughts and points, Emily! Thanks for sharing them, keeps me thinking.

  • http://twitter.com/ChelsTalksSmack Chelsea Talks Smack

    AH….yes. I get incredibly INTIMIDATED before I blog- because I am blogging for me, but I'm also blogging because I hope that people out there can connect with what I'm going to say in some way. I blog because it's therapeutic and gives me clarity….but sometimes I'm AFRAID of what I'm actually going to discover through all of that….so, I put it off. I'm also pretty weird about the time of day that I blog- for instance even if I have an idea, something I just MUST talk about, I simply can. not. blog in the morning. or during the day really- I mean, it just WON'T HAPPEN. I need to be alone, in the dark….at 2am. It's interesting…which makes the rhythm of it a little more difficult.

  • http://akhilak.com/blog Akhila

    This is a great post, and I definitely agree! I have had blogs in the past, but never really stuck to them or put in the effort I put into my current blog. I try to keep writing occasionally, even when I'm really swamped with work or other things. It's because for the first time ever, I have an audience. Granted, it's not a very big audience, but the fact is, I know people out there are reading — and that makes me feel like I should be writing. Again, it's not an “obligation” per se as it's something I still want to do. It's exactly the way you describe it – a feeling of accountability, but not necessarily an obligation that is undesirable to fulfill.

    I also feel that many top bloggers begin blogging and then move on to something else. I feel disappointed with that as well because I begin to enjoy reading that person's thoughts on a regular basis. I wish they would keep writing on their blog instead of leaving it behind for bigger/better things. I hope to keep blogging on my own blog even when I get busy for the same reason!

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Chels It's always interesting to hear how people blog and how they might be affected by the outcome. You, intimidated?? 😉

    Interesting, I always post my blogs at 8:00 AM each morning (usually I schedule it to go out at that time) but I write whenever I'm hit with inspiration. I don't know how else to contain it – do you think you're more creative at night? Love it.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Akhila Great story and I definitely agree with you.

    I also think that when people leave their blog and readers hanging, the least they could do is send an email to subscribers or post an update on their blog like “I'm not blogging anymore,” or “Taking a break.” I would appreciate the latter just so I'm in the know and maybe, it's out of their control as to why they stopped blogging.

    Either way, why build an audience and strong community then move away without giving anything back? That's what really drove me to write this post…thanks for sharing :)

  • http://diamondkt.blogspot.com David

    Blogging can be extremely time consuming! So unless you are really enjoying it, I don’t see why anyone would force themselves to blog. And like you, I too always say the day when it begins to feel like a chore is the day I say goodbye to blogging…or take a long break, which I’ve done in recent months.

    I would be lying though if I said I don’t sometimes feel pressure to post something new or even feel a little bit of guilt if I haven’t posted in awhile. I hate that! Of course that’s when I need to remind myself it’s just a blog and it’s pretty far down on my list of priorities.

    Congratulations to you for being able to post 2-3 a week! If you can keep that pace up, I’ll be impressed! When I started 5 years ago, I posted 7 days a week! Needless to say it got exhausting and now I’m down to 1-2 posts a week. Ok, now I’m just rambling. Carry on, Gracie. :)

  • http://beginnings.ryanpeterson.net Ryan Peterson

    Sometimes when I'm a party, I like to sit back and watch. Maybe I'm not feeling particularly extroverted that evening. I won't say much, but I am there, and I'll still enjoy myself.

    Other times, I feel very extroverted. I'll introduce myself to strangers, talk a lot, and be something closer to the life of the party.

    This pretty much echos my sentiments when I blog. When you aren't feeling motivated to blog, it's hard to produce content on a regular basis. But at least you're at the party, and soon enough you'll feel extroverted, and you'll start talking once again.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @David It is time consuming, no doubt about that.

    I'm a multitasking queen, somehow I fit in way more than is humanely necessary (good and bad thing?) so the posts have come flowing. I'm not sure if that will continue, most likely, it won't but for now I feel good that I can produce something for myself and of course, others who might enjoy it. Even if it's just one other person.

    You posted 7 times! That's nuts. You, carry on :) I'm happy you're back to blogging.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Ryan I really like your analogy – I think many of us feel this way and you're right, you have to be in the right mood and mindset to blog. No sense in blogging, just to blog. It doesn't help anyone. Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://diamondkt.blogspot.com David

    The mileage you put on those small hands is remarkable! So keep cranking out those posts and I'll keep reading them. But if my company goes under because I'm too busy trying to keep up reading 2-3 posts from you a week…then I'm holding you personally responsible!

    That's the downside of being a boy – inferior multitasking skills. Upside to being a boy – no monthly periods!

  • jodidey

    Blogging is a creative outlet for me. Forcing it would be like forcing a river to flow, faster and on a human-made schedule. Notta gonna happen. I blog when I'm inspired, I reply when I'm inspired. No inspiration= no bloggos. I know you are wildly creative and blogging is your bag… but don't you wish sometimes people would not crowd their blogs with the less impacting pieces? As a blogger you have to be your own editor and chief and I think that if we applied the same strict filtration guidelines, we would delete more and edit the ramble and the fluff… and as a result post less.

    Having said that, how about you write a blog post on blogging etiquette– so much follow through, follow up, norms of reciprocity, etc, that frankly is difficult to learn and even more difficult to master. Whatcha say, Grace? How about making yourself an official mentor with a how-to-guide….

  • LostInCheeseland

    I'm so glad you talked about this because I often feel torn when I'm lacking inspiration, motivation or the right words. But the feeling of accountability is dead on, I feel it and sometimes feel pressured by it but I do think about what series of circumstances will signal the end to my blogging, even if temporary.

    I do feel stressed when I see that I haven't posted for a few days and when I have a great idea but the words just aren't coming out. I feel this way particularly when I read blogs from people who find the time/strength/ideas to write daily. I think that leads to burning out but perhaps I should be more regular, as with your Friday linky love.

    I agree with Chelsea – there is a level of intimidation and self-made pressure. You're writing for you yet you DO hope that what you're saying strikes a chord with someone out there. usually it does, but what about the times you were convinced your idea would appeal to people and then you hear crickets? It's disappointing, but that's part of the game.

    All of that to say, I stick to the principle that if I start feeling too bogged down by blogging, too stressed, I will stop. What will ultimately cause you to stop? A lack of desire, a lack of things to say or a tapering readership?

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Jodi Writing (in any form) is also a creative outlet for me. Subsequently, blogging is one of those creative outlets however, just like a writer who has a book deadline, a group following them, a speech to deliver, or an article to write for their publisher(s) – you have to learn to harness that inspiration.

    Blogging, in a way, becomes a public form of your ideas and much like with your blog and it's style you RELY on your audience for answers, ideas and conversation. If it was just you, the blog wouldn't really have a living breathing movement that it does now.

    With that being said, I have never blogged or pressed publish on a post that I didn't like or disagreed with. Fluff and rambling is awful. I see many bloggers do it, but I would much rather leave the blog blank (sometimes I will just blog once in a week, that's because it's all I've got) than write something I did halfheartedly.

    Maybe I will do a how-to guide. Many people have written about that, because there are no real rules, but that's a great idea. In the mean time check these out:

    http://www.bloggingtips.com/2007/11/25/blog-eti

    http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com/weblog/2006/10

    http://bloggingwithoutablog.com/blogging-etique

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Lindsey All great points and as I figured, many bloggers feel the same way and want to do their best. Sometimes that means not being able to deliver, not finding the right words and also being a disappointment to yourself…and maybe even, your readers.

    In the comment above I mentioned to Jodi that I think writers have to learn to harness their creativity and inspiration. When you write publicly, let's say for a column, I know there are times when we won't feel like writing but we have a deadline, an audience and a piece to deliver. Obviously, blogging isn't our job, but to many it actually is. It's part of their income and my blog, got me my job so my ideas “are my resume” (as Brazen says).

    I think I would stop blogging once I feel a lack of desire and lack of things to say.

  • http://girlandcity.com SassyGirl

    I really admire the commitment you've shown to blogging, and I'm sure other readers do too.
    I have commitment issues with everything, I go through phases where I'm completely obsessed with something, but once the phase passes, I'm over it. I thought blogging was going to be like that for me, but I've been blogging since 2002, so there you go. I haven't always been a regular blogger – when school got busy, I'd stop blogging. And yes, I'm sure I've disappointed a lot of readers that way, but the rhythm of my blogging is part of my character as well, wouldn't you say?
    In the same way, my rhythm to reading blogs is also turbulent. Sometimes I follow blogs daily (or at least several times weekly), sometimes I don't read blogs for months at a time. Nonetheless, the fact that I haven't given up on blogging for 8 years means it's not a phase, and for me, that's a big deal.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @SassyGirl Love it, the rhythm of blogging = part of your character. I think it's true and I think it's the way it should be. Be yourself, always.

    As I have mentioned in a few above comments that even if we don't feel like it we have to write for our column, or go to work, etc. Blogging should never be obligatory but there are times when I don't want to blog, but feel the urge to do so. I find creativity somewhere then it flows out. I like to harness my creativity, where it varies on different levels (high and low) but either way, I somehow am able to produce it if it's worth it.

    And finally, that is a huge deal that you haven't given up blogging for 8 years. Congratulations, that is amazing! Thanks for sharing :)

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  • http://www.opheliaswebb.com Elisa Doucette

    I'm with you, it's a weird mindset and phenomenon we set ourselves up for. There is no *real* consequence for not blogging regularly and for many it isn't like it's a job or that we even get paid!

    Yet I still feel yucky when I don't hit what my mental posting schedule is. And I won't even start how I feel about the fact that I haven't done a #BlogCrush in…I don't know…FOREVER (it seems!)

    I feel like I'm letting people down. If they are taking time from their day to visit my site and poke around and possibly (hopefully) subscribe and and AND then I need to offer them something in return. And it's VERY frustrating, cause sometimes I have nothing to offer. Sometimes I just can't put it into words. Sometimes I'm so consumed with what I want to say but won't/can't/shouldn't/don't that no other thoughts can enter into my mind and I am paralyzed by that blinking cursor.

    In other words, I totally know where you are coming from. :)

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Elisa Yes, yes, yes. I thought of you when this post was written but think it's so interesting the accountability that I truly feel in a non-obligatory way of course.

    Thanks for sharing and it has been great to see and hear that other bloggers often feel the same. Empathy, yes!

  • clearlycomposed

    I read this post and just found myself nodding and nodding. I know that bloggers don't “owe” me anything but after reading a blog for a year, learning about health issues, family dramas, all the details that make up a life and then suddenly they are gone, the loss is palpable. I worry and wonder and just wish they would have said good-bye. I have a friend who has my online info and if something happens to me she knows to make a final post for me on my sites.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Clearlycomposed Yes, we do become invested in what bloggers have to say, their lives and their personalities. We wouldn't be reading them or coming back post after post, sometimes for years, if that wasn't the case. I think it's extremely ingenuine to not even say why you're leaving or not announce it. I understand that saying good bye or moving on happens, but at least remember what you've done with the community and of course, thank THEM.

    Interesting point about if something happens, to make a final post for you on your site. By the way, have you heard of this: https://www.mywebwill.com/?

  • http://www.owlsparks.com/ Carlos Miceli

    I've never liked those friends that show up and are not in the mood. They better stay at home and come out when they are going to be fun.

    Accountability doesn't make sense if quality is lost in the process.

  • http://www.smallhandsbigideas.com Grace Boyle

    @Carlos Good point about friends, albeit, a little different than blogging (as I mentioned) but still a similar feeling on the receiving end.

    And you're right, if you're just producing crappy content just to POST and BLOG it doesn't make sense. My focus was also when you're ready to stop blogging, move on, leave it for a while, etc. that you let people know and don't just drop off. Thanks for sharing my friend :)

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