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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

Some people have a hard time keeping their blogging resolutions. I… have the opposite problem.

September 26, 2018Filed under blog#blogging#burnout#writingMarkdown source

A couple things have had me thinking about blogging today. I happened to end up reading this post by Christine Yen from 2014 just a few hours after listening to Craig Mod’s interview with Jason Kottke. They have two very different takes on blogging. Yen’s piece has the sense so often echoed online: “I want to be blogging more.” Mod’s interview with Kottke notes how remarkable a 20-year-old website with daily blog-like entries throughout is, and Kottke emphasizes how he loves the work (and it is work!) that he does to keep it up.

My relationship with blogging is somewhere nearer Kottke than Yen on that spectrum. While I have occasionally resolved to blog more—and occasionally to blog less!—I find that mostly my problem is that I cannot stop blogging even if I want to.1

One of the things that’s strange about burnout is that what constitutes rest from the stressors will vary from person to person. Writing, for may people, might be a source of tension or stress. The perceived obligation to generate content can be stressful.2 But far more often, writing is restful for me. It is a way of organizing my mental life—publicly, but (at least) as much for my own benefit as for that of potential readers—and organizing my mental life is somehow a good form of stress relief.3 So it turns out that blogging—not on a schedule, not on a deadline, but whenever I feel like it (and that is obviously a lot)—is good for me in the midst of this. It seems to go in the same basic bucket as running.

So: my aim back in May, just before I realized what exactly I’m dealing with in burnout, to blog less in the interest of getting other projects done? When I said this?

I don’t think I could stop myself from blogging that way from time to time if I wanted to. But it won’t be the focus, and if things are relatively quiet around here for much of the rest of the year, don’t worry… you know why!

Well, at this point I’ve let that go. Subconsciously at first. Now consciously. I wasn’t wrong when I said couldn’t stop myself from writing entirely. Now I just know that I also mostly shouldn’t. There may be points on other writing projects in the future, times when I’m not dealing with not-so-mild-anymore burnout, when I can and should. But not now.

  1. In truth, as this blog post suggests, I cannot even stop blogging about blogging! I’ve been metablogging for over a decade now; don’t expect it to stop anytime soon!

  2. More than one thoughtful listener to my most recent New Rustacean episode responded along these very lines; and it’s a point I haven’t made here before, so: consider it raised.

  3. Interpret that as you will. I have given it no small amount of thought myself. As I noted on the aforementioned latest New Rustacean episode: I am hypermetacognitive, and my incessant metacogitating is a source of alternating bemusement and frustration for my poor wife.

    Yes. I said “incessant metacogitating.” This is what poor Jaimie has to put up with.