Blog Attention Deficit Disorder

...I think that's what I have. I have B.A.D.D. and I've got it bad.

I seem to go through phases here sometimes. There are days when I'll post several times a day, other days when I'll post just one enormous feed-choking diatribe, and then days or even weeks will go by without me posting a darn thing - and the urge to write growing stronger every day, and the guilt piling up alongside it.

Doc Searls, counseling Dean Landsman to look at blogging in baseball terms, said: "Think of blogging as hitting. Sometimes you want to hit the long ball. Sometimes you just want to get on base. Sometimes you want to bunt to advance a runner. Thing is, you're the whole line-up. Not just batting clean-up."

In the same post (it's a good one, you should go read it), Doc also calls blogging "emails to the world," and says, "Who worries about emails being too short? Or not deep enough?"

He's right, of course - and yet I do worry. I love that people read this stuff - even after five years, I still get that little tingle when someone says "yeah, I read that on your blog." But I cringe too.

It's not the quality of the writing I worry about so much; I learned to ignore that nagging little inner critic a while ago. Now I just try to write.And I know I certainly don't do it for the audience. All sorts of things motivate me to write here, but if I was out for the traffic I'd clearly have to be approaching this a lot differently. And high traffic comes with its own set of complications - I know, I've been BoingBoinged in the past :-)

Yet part of what I do miss when I've not been keeping up with my own blog posts is that sense of dialogue and engagement in the discussion one gets. The irony is - in a sense it's the engagement that seems to have kept me away from writing for a couple of weeks this time around. See: the problem is, there's just so much darn stuff to read.

I'm a slave to my feedreader. Most of the time I'm able to maintain a healthy, efficient triage system on my email and reading lists - scanning and grokking as much as possible without being drawn too deep into link after link. But when I'm a little (*cough*) under-employed, as right now, the luxury of having extra leisure time to read just sucks me into the bottomless pit of other peoples' ideas.

I'm not complaining - it's a daily joy to have so much wonderful stuff to read; following the thought threads as they hop from link to link. And I am engaging - out there commenting on other people's blogs and joining the conversations in at least one way. But it's a form of B.A.D.D. for sure. I can't tell you the number of times in the last couple of weeks that I've sat down here meaning to blog something, and then found myself getting happily lost in a forest of other's thoughts. By the time I come up for air it's already the wee hours and I'm too tired to write - again, dammit.

All is not lost, however. Via Joe Thornley's blog, I came across this excellent post by HP's Eric Kintz, in which he points out that blog post frequency is actually irrelevant. I love what Eric has to say here - and not just because it's personally reassuring. Among other terrific points, he says: "Traffic is generated by participating in the community; not daily posting," and "Traffic is irrelevant to your blog’s success anyway" - two thoughts I would wholeheartedly subscribe to (yeah, yeah - "to which I would wholeheartedly subscribe". Whatever. Begone, nagging inner pedant - I told you I wasn't worried about the quality of writing any more, dammit).

Ryan Anderson, meanwhile, in a useful post I've been meaning to point to for some time says: "
Blog success is based on momentum. Traffic in motion tends to stay in motion, and once it is at rest, it’s hard to get it going again."

I don't know. What is "success" in this context anyway, Ryan? I guess the definition is entirely subjective and personal for each of us. For me, blogging success is equivalent to getting the writing monkey off my back without having to face the fearsome prospect of the novel or business book I know I'll have to hunker down on one day.

So sometimes the feeling of success comes from just writing. Sometimes it comes from the frisson of blogger pride one gets when someone responds to something you wrote. And sometimes, as Eric says - it can be enough to just be participating in the community.

I feel, in other words, a bit like Hilary Clinton - I've been on a listening tour for a couple of weeks.

Sometimes, it's good to just shut up and listen.

B.A.D.D. but good.