New Blogging Platforms Are Like New Gym Accessories

Official U.S. Navy Imagery
Official U.S. Navy Imagery

You name it, I’ve had it.

I’ve had a Geocities website (a Backstreet Boys fan page, because who else but pre-teen girls with an obsessive love for a boyband would have a Geocities site?). I’ve had a Homestead (aka the lesser-known Geocities) website, which housed a short-lived “teen girl hangout website!!” I’ve done Kiwibox, Allpoetry, Storywrite, Livejournal, Deadjournal, Xanga, WordPress, and Blogspot. I did YouTube vlogs for years, until the passion to make videos petered out and YouTube morphed from a place for vloggers to a place for corporate-sponsored production teams and people hoping their video of licking a dirty sock goes viral. I placed my big toe into Tumblr (for a “Found at the Dollar Store” blog that went no where fast). I even started writing in Medium. I tweet more than I care to admit and I Instagram practically everything that strikes my fancy. I think all I’m missing now is a Vine account.

There’s something new and fresh and giddiness-inducing about creating a new website profile or blog. It’s a new name, with a new layout, and potentially a brand new start. It’s like buying a brand new outfit, one that you throw on the second you get home and parade around with a feeling like you’ll never love an outfit as much as you love that current one.

Being friends with primarily writers and artists means I’ve got a laundry list of blogs that I check up on. And some are beyond incredible. My high school friend is now a photojournalist and her blog houses some of the most intense photos I have ever seen, from the 2008 presidential election to a brothel in New Delhi. My old writing workshop friend has a knack for simplistic prose than can pack a punch. My best friend since middle school writes about her life in a way that is equal parts beauty and tragedy. All websites that I gladly check up on.

However, for every stellar, well-kept blog, I deal with a thousand abandoned blogs. Not a month goes by without a friend either privately messaging or publicly posting a link to their brand new blog page. A new blog, one that they’ll update constantly — not like their old blog, that they fell out of sorts with. This one will be different. This one will be inspiring. And, like every other blog before, it falls by the wayside within five or six weeks. Maybe if the blog is lucky, it will get a few semi-apologetic, “I never update this anymore” posts, followed by a half-hearted stab at an entry, before being left behind in favor of a new blog, with a new name, and a new background image.

Given my history with the writing websites, it might be hypocritical of me to look down on such practices. But, as I see it, while I’ve cast a wide net over the years, I tend to stay loyal to the websites I love. I’ve had my Livejournal now for nearly 10 years (and I continue to write in it, even as the website itself slowly dies). My crafts blog is edging in on 2 years old. And, while I’ve only had my 365 Project blog for a little under three months, I’ve posted every single day, even on days when I didn’t really feel like writing. So, as someone who has been a little devoted in a lot of places as well as a lot devoted in a few places, I think I have a right to weigh in on this matter.

Making a new blog is like buying new gym accessories. A new set of weights here, a brand new pair of compression pants there. It’s all new and shiny and exciting and surely these brand new things will inspire you to work out now.

And it will, for a week or two. Then the novelty wears off and you’re back to where you started.

Like working out, writing — and writing consistently — requires more than something superficially different to “inspire” you. Having a million different blogs for a million different things won’t really solve the core problem. What is it that’s keeping you back from your goal (writing- or exercise-wise)? If it’s a lack of inspiration, then a brand new blog won’t solve that. You have to dig deeper. You have to force yourself to experience life a different way, to add words onto a blank page (even if it’s just, “shit shit shit shit shit…”), to see what it is that keeps you from making your ideas come to life.

If it’s a lack of ideas, then spending even more time on the internet, making yet another blog, won’t magically cure that. If anything, get off the internet. Go away from the computer. Wander around, bored out of your skull, until the first little peeps of your creative unconscious finally make its way through. Sounds that you didn’t hear because you were busy creating for third WordPress blog.

If it’s a lack of motivation, then you’re wasting your energy creating a new website. The same way you’re distracting yourself at the mall, looking at hot pink sports bras or yet another pair of $200 running shoes. You need to figure out how you can kick yourself into gear. You don’t need to hand your credit card to the teenaged cashier for the fifth time. You’re draining your time, your energy, and – in the case of exercise – your bank account. And it motivates you to do nothing more than (literally or metaphorically) run in circles until your attention goes elsewhere.

I’m glad that the internet doesn’t require constant webcam recording. The last thing my art/writing friends need is to see the exhausted, knowing smile that creeps on my face when they link me to yet another blog. I’d be out of line to say anything, so I don’t. But part of me just wants to reply with, “Instead of spending 10 minutes signing up for another Tumblr, go on a walk for 10 minutes. Learn about another culture for 10 minutes. Meditate for 10 minutes. So something — anything — more substantial than essentially going to Sports Authority and buying your 8th pair of yoga pants.” TC mark

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