Kate Quinn, who I met through our 31 Days to Building a Better Blog challenge, has stopped blogging. In addition to time constraints and work frustrations, she says she made her decision because she felt she had nothing "original" to say:
As a wise person may have once said, “If you don’t have anything original to blog, why blog at all”.
With over 120,000 new blogs being created per day, it is easy to see how each individual is just a drop in the vast ocean called the Blogosphere, and I regularly asking myself what, and if, I can produce anything unique.
I keep thinking about Kate's decision, wondering how many other people silence themselves because they think they don't have anything original to say, wondering also if this is a reason to stop blogging. Kate is, of course, entitled to stop blogging for any reason she wants. Blogging requires passion and if you've lost that feeling, for whatever reason, it's probably good to pack it in.
What bothers me about Kate's decision (if "bother" is even the right word) is this whole concept of blogging because you have something original to say. Should that really be a pre-requisite for blogging? Do we even know what we mean when we talk about being "original" or "unique"? I'm wondering about this for a few reasons. . .
In some sense, we are all unique--even if I have the same opinion as 1,000 other bloggers, how I express that opinion will be unique to me. No other blogger will say something in exactly the same way that I do. So really, I'm always going to be saying something unique or original--I have to, unless I'm copying another blogger's post, word for word.
I think that when bloggers talk about being "original" what they're wondering is if they're "adding value" to the conversation--are they doing something more than saying "yeah, me too"? I would argue that sometimes we aren't the best judges of value in that regard. I may think that I'm completely unoriginal in my posts, but there may be some snippet of what I say that resonates and connects with you in a way that no other blogger was able to do. Unless you comment to me, I don't know this and I may feel I'm not adding value as a result.
I also wonder what's so bad about "me too" kinds of posts. As human beings, we are always seeking to make connections and form community based on shared interests. "Me too" is one of the major ways we do this. I think about the posts I'm most compelled to comment on when I'm going through my feed reader--they are the ones that echo my own experiences, that make me say "YES, I've been there, done that and it's good to see that someone else has been there, too." And judging from the comments I get on my own posts, I'm not alone in this.
Part of my concern about the issue of blogging because you have something original to say is that this is based on a premise that this is the only good reason to blog. But blogging is only partially about your audience. It's also about you and what you learn from the experience of regular writing on a topic that interests you. I would blog even if no one read what I wrote--although I admit that it's more motivating to write when I feel like I have an audience. I would do this because I know that blogging has forced me to reflect on my work and how I do it in ways that I never did before. That in and of itself is a powerful reason to blog and to continue the hard work that goes with it--at least for me.
That said, I know where Kate is coming from on all of this. I've had many days where I seriously considered why I continue to blog when it feels like everyone else has said it all, and much better than I ever could. To some extent, I think that's the nature of writing itself. We all struggle with wanting to feel that we're creating music with our posts, not adding to the cacophony that it sometimes feels we're living in in the blogosphere. But maybe the issue is that we're creating music in our own little corner of the world and we don't even know it. Or that because each person is creating his/her own symphony as they surf the Web, we can never know what music is being created outside our hearing.
These are some ill-formed thoughts for me right now. Mostly a way to work through the discomfort and sadness I felt in reading that Kate stopped blogging because she thought her voice wasn't unique. I'm wondering what you think about all of this.
Should we stop blogging if we feel we don't have anything original to say? Do you struggle with the same issues Kate did? How have you handled them?