4 – 8 – 15 – 16 – 23 – 42

After a three-month hiatus, Ana Spoke has resumed posting to her blog today. Explaining she “was too busy getting married and starting my new job” to blog, Ana never did lose her literary ambition, although she struggled mightily to get back into her writing.

The difficulty Ana faced in re-starting speaks powerfully to a dilemma that’s been coming for some time. About five years ago, I was writing sporadically in this blog, and wasn’t happy with what I was posting. I had read from several bloggers that the key was to make a committment of some fashion — number of posts per week, word count, completing a story each month, whatever — and stick to it. Many suggested that posting each day was the key, and for whatever reason that committment was the most appealing to me. Not sure of the exact date, although I do know it was the day after my younger son’s bar mitzvah (I could look it up, as if that mattered) — I told myself I was going to post something, every day, in this blog, starting that day until… whenever.

I’m now wondering if whenever’s day has finally come.

At times, the show’s title perfectly described its audience

It’s not that the thrill is gone; I still love writing, and blogging, as much as ever. But this daily obligation has me feeling like Desmond Hume from the television show “Lost”, tasked with entering six numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42) into a computer terminal every 108 minutes (I’ll save you the work — the six numbers add up to 108). Desmond was told this sequence of numbers had a supernatural power, and entering those numbers was the only way to prevent a catastrophic event. “Lost” was a cult phenomenon in its day, and its fans spent a good deal of time and energy speculating on some of the show’s recurring motifs, particularly those six numbers (hey guys, astrology has 12 houses and 9 planets — guess what number you get when they’re multiplied!). Posting on online message boards, speaking at conventions, and giving interviews to fawning entertainment writers, the show’s writers would frequently drop hints at the numbers’ significance, but after the show ended in 2010, they admitted most of show’s motifs had no hidden meaning. Those numbers had been chosen pretty much at random, and served as nothing more than a useful plot device, what the detective novelists would call a red herring. In other words, Desmond had been entering those numbers for absolutely no reason.

The decision to post every day was the right call five years ago, as I don’t think I could have produced as much as I have if I didn’t have that disciplined motivation. But there’s been too many obligatory posts the past several weeks, and I don’t see the value in keeping the streak going any longer. My Christian readers will likely say that I’ve made an idol out of my daily obligation — and they’re likely to be correct.

But as I contemplate stepping away, I think of Ana’s struggle to resume writing. Let’s say tomorrow, Wednesday, I decide not to post. What’s going to motivate me to post on Thursday? Or any other day this week? Next week? The rest of the month?

If you’ve managed to wade through the preceding 500+ words, I’m now asking a favor. What advice do you have for blogging consistently, but not daily? What tactics do you employ to keep posting regularly? I don’t want to be like poor Desmond any longer, but right now I’m at a loss in my search for a different way of being diligent.

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5 thoughts on “4 – 8 – 15 – 16 – 23 – 42

  1. Hi Keigh, thank you again for reading and relating and sorry to hear that you are having these doubts. If anything, they are natural and I applaud your commitment to post every day, but perhaps that has turned your passion into a job? Prior to my hiatus I was posting about twice a week, but it was never on schedule and the posts were quite random, although with the common theme – chronicling my journey from a writing wannabe to a self-published author. At first I was posting without anyone reading, just to make that (almost) public commitment to finish my first novel. Then, after about a year, it morphed into a self-publishing blog and I started to gain readership, mostly people just like me, that want to finish and publish a book (or many). I couldn’t write anything for three months because I felt that I was betraying myself and them, because I was giving up on writing. And that’s easy to do when you get a well-paying job and everyone tells you how good you are at it – why would you spend any time writing books that hardly anyone reads and quite a few people don’t like?
    So back to the reason why I’m writing again – I finally found my feet at the new job and I guess it gave me the “brain space” to come up with the new idea. The idea was so energising, I could not wait to share it with my blog readers, because I know that many of them, just like you, struggle with the commitment to something so vast, time consuming, and often unrewarding, as writing.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that simply commiting to a writing schedule would make blogging a tedious and unpaid job, and who would want to do that? If you can think of what rewards it could bring for you, maybe you could find the motivation. One of the easiest blog posts for me were the “Quick How-To” posts, where I shared work-arounds to publishing and web posting problems. Incidentally, they were also very popular. Still the most popular were the ones where I managed to get something done after a lot of effort – I think they gave other authors hope. And I hope that you find for yourself once again why you set out to blog in the first place.
    One last bit – I’ve read somewhere that 2-3 times a week is the optimal target. Maybe daily posts are overwhelming to the readers, you never know. Unless you run a SurveyMonkey that is 🙂

    • Ana, thank you for your thoughtful answer. I may have to read back in your blog — self-publishing is something I may pursue in the future.

      It’s certainly true that blogging has turned writing into a job for me. But since writing is the only job I’ve ever wanted to do, I’ve kept at it much longer than I have with most other obligations.

      Your blog seemed to take off when you starting posting on topics that were of great interest to your readers. I don’t think I give enough thought to that consideration — maybe I give too much emphasis on expressing myself, and not enough on communicating.

      A 2-3 post a week schedule sounds about right. Daily notifications of new material from this Keigh Ahr guy may, as you suggest, be a little much for readers.

      Thanks again for your comment, and good luck with your shower-inspired new project!

  2. My journey is quite different to yours I know but I have a commitment to my Blog site. However, I only post what is of blessings and encouragement to ‘others’. Its purpose was never to promote my writing etc etc. Simply a getting to know some folks and interacting. Really what they eat is of interest (only marginally so), What they think is and certainly how they are journeying. I do however have two writing websites. I maintain these and they are secure. On these I WRITE. The folk I invite know they are there others may drift by and stay forever. One site had 6 followers….. in the past 15 years now has 612,000 and grows about 1000 a month who have dropped by. All I do there is WRITE. I don’t take on social issues etc etc. My answer is simply……What is the purpose for your blog?
    I know I enjoy dropping by. is your blog to be the consuming of your daily passion or should your writing and your life – even writing passionately in a notebook prevent this ‘commitment to the blog’? Are you a blogger? Or are you a person who has a book, wants to write a book etc etc. Cheers! I wish I could share sometime about what I am presently trying to finish. The task overwhelms BUT….we are writers.

    • Hi Faye — didn’t know you had this other side to you. Two other sites! I’m impressed.

      Your always challenging me in your comments, and I appreciate that. I like to think of myself as an aspiring writer who finds blogging an ideal medium for my interests. But a blog is just a tool, and I wouldn’t hesitate to jump to another platform if I felt the change would further my interests even more. Right now I’m thinking it’s best to do less blogging, and explore what other tools I could use.

      Thanks again for your feedback! Good luck on that project you’re trying to finish!

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