I’ve had cause to think about the blog in the last couple of weeks. In fact last week I abandoned the usual format and did something different – challenged myself to find five quotes that I really liked. They also had to say something related to academic writing.
Now, I made this little detour coming off a bumper week of hits. The post on five ways to organise a literature review was certainly pretty popular. While it wasn’t the most hits I’ve ever had for a post, it was up there. How did this happen? Well, not only did it use a number in the title, it also made a promise – to provide some succinct information about something that worries a lot of people.
I know that I could always write that kind of post. And maybe I should because it’s what a lot of people find of most use and interest.
But the reality of blogging is a bit more complex. Not all the readers of the blog want unadulterated handy hints. So I want to do something that will keep these people interested too. But as importantly, I want to provide a broader view of scholarship and academic work and to just focus on how to do the expected stuff wouldn’t really fulfil that aim. And it certainly wouldn’t challenge the usual ways of doing things, and I like to do a bit of that too.
You need to understand that I write this blog as a scramble, as Thesis Whisperer puts it. I never have a lot of posts in reserve, and it s not at all uncommon for me to be writing a post the night before it is published. I don’t get that many guest posts; they do just turn up out of the blue and are usually very gratefully received. They give me a bit of a breather, as well as providing other points of view.
But being a scrambling blogger does mean that I’ve built blogging into my regular writing routine. I know I’ll write and publish 2000 words each week and I do my first drafts in two separate hour long stints, usually on the weekend. But blogging this way does mean that I sometimes do scratch my head about content – I feel I have nothing more to say.
Last week, I discovered that I occasionally need to do some posts just for my own interest. In order to keep up my own energy for the blog, I have to appropriate it every now and then to do something that simply pleases me. This might be something a bit eccentric, a little off piste. But it is only a week or a single post. And being able to do something a bit different – just because I feel like it – helps me stay motivated.
I do have a list of potential blog topics which I keep as a running sticky note on my screen. And I have a folder which has incomplete posts which I’ve abandoned because I’m not yet happy with them. I may never return to some of them. But I still reach a point where I sometimes just need to do something a bit weird. Something that’s not the same. Something that interrupts the regular pattern of posts.
I guess that’s a kind of sustainability strategy. Do something odd. Something a bit more creative. Something I enjoy just because I can.
I’d be very interested to know what other long term solo bloggers do to keep themselves going.