Do you blog for today, or for someday?
In other words, do you sit down and write about what inspires you in the moment, to an audience of right now? Do you imagine your readers reading the posts today or tomorrow, first thing in the morning? Do you care at all whether a surfer who trips on your site a year from now will connect or care in any way about the post, or do you write for a community of followers and commenters who will have a conversation, with you and each other, in something close to real time?
Or do you write carefully thought out pieces of prose that you just know are exactly the right answer to someone’s need, somewhere, somewhen — not necessarily now? Perhaps you imagine that your readers find you by searching on aswang, chupacabra, or whatever your subject is, and discovering your work; maybe this happens tomorrow, maybe next year. But whenever it happens, your readers think “Aha! This is exactly what I was looking for!” Or so you hope.
I started thinking about these questions today. My company’s professional blog (Win-Vector) has always been the second kind, and when I started Multo, I had the “second kind” of mindset as well. It’s funny, really — writing for the “someday”, as I mostly do, is an inherently optimistic mindset: I’m casting my posts out like messages in a bottle, and trusting that the ocean will float them to the right people, whether I ever find out about it or not — and I probably won’t. I’m not a terribly optimistic person, by nature. And yes, I know that the proper marketing to generate engagement with my blog would help tons; I don’t do a lot of that, by choice, but that decision is a topic for another post… .
You’ve probably read the Martha Graham quote (from a letter to Agnes DeMille):
There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than others.
I’m no Martha Graham; I won’t even claim to be an artist. But I think I get what she means. Some things one does because one has to.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying blogging for Someday is either better or worse than blogging for Today. And most bloggers probably do a combination of both, anyway. I’m just observing that, for those of us who lean towards “Someday blogging,” the rewards are more abstract, and external rewards can be far less immediate. There’s a difference in the two mindsets that’s worth pointing out; I think so, at least.
And maybe other people do, too. Somewhere. Somewhen.