Blogging at the crossroads

Legend has it that blues singer/guitarist Robert Johnson met the devil at a crossroads and agreed to sell his soul in exchange for his musical talent.

I’m at a crossroads myself. I won’t be making any deals with the devil, but I could do with some inspiration on the writing front.

The crossroads in question is a blogging crossroads. The road I have been travelling seems to have reached a confusing junction. It has been a good journey, but what has brought me this far might not take me much further.

If this blog was a TV series, its declining viewing figures would point to inevitable cancellation. That’s the danger of studying blog stats – when it’s going well, the incoming comments and viewing figures are addictively enthralling. When you post something and the figures are low, it’s demoralising. The unhelpful voice in my head tells me to give up; that I’m a has-been. It compares me to other bloggers and says “They’re doing better than you. Why do you bother?”

I find myself wondering what to write about, and indeed whether to keep blogging at all, as I have plenty of other things to keep me occupied. On the occasions I have time to blog, sometimes I just can’t be bothered. Other times, I’ve got an idea for a blog and talk myself out of writing it because I don’t think anyone will be interested – and I’m not even sure that I’m interested myself. I’ve talked myself out of writing this post several times and am only really posting it to spite myself.

My writing was most compelling when I was ill with depression. I wrote because I needed to get it all out of my head, and people seemed to relate to it.

But I’m happy to say I’m not ill any more. As I’ve got better, the story has become less gripping, and fewer people read it and feel moved to share it. And I don’t have that same drive and impetus to blog at the moment. I used to post almost every week. Now it’s once a month, if that. The momentum has gone.

I’ve written a lot about depression and sometimes wonder if there’s anything useful I can do with that back catalogue. I’m proud of what I’ve done, and hugely grateful for all the amazing support you’ve given me. I know from the comments I’ve received that my blog has helped a lot of people, which I love to hear. In return, every comment, retweet or like has helped me.

To be honest, though, I’m not sure I have much left to say about depression. I’ve been writing about it since 2011 and don’t want to keep dredging up memories that I’d rather forget. And I don’t want to bore people, or myself, by going over the same things over and over again. On the other hand, supporting people with mental health problems is something I really care about, and writing is one way I can do that. I’ve got to know many brilliant people through sharing my story – people whose friendship has enriched my life – and we all need to stick together to fight the stigma of mental illness.

I do love writing about wildlife, especially birds. Birding is something that helps me stay well, and I mainly write about what helps me to keep depression away these days, rather than depression itself. But I don’t think I want to restrict myself to a theme. I like writing about random stuff like pantomimes and music too.

I’ve written light-hearted stuff about parenting, but my kids are getting older and I don’t want to embarrass them – not in a blog anyway.

I also fancy writing more fiction and comedy. But is this blog the right place for that?

And so I stand at the crossroads. I know I want to write (sometimes anyway), but I’m not sure what. In some ways, it’s like starting again.

But there is only one of me. I have a finite amount of time, energy and inspiration. So another factor to fit into the equation – along with all the many other things I want to do all at once – is finding time to relax, and simply to be.

The main thing is that I stay well. I’ve burned myself out before and am always on guard against doing it again. I’m grateful to be well enough to have reached the crossroads, however frustrating it may be.

So, I don’t know what you can expect from Dippyman in the coming months. What do you think I should do?

 

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15 Comments on “Blogging at the crossroads”

  1. Phil Jewitt says:

    Hi Paul, my ten pennorth for what it’s worth is that I split my original blog into sub blogs. I have my ‘Between Personal and Professional’ blog where I’m exploring work life balance and then I have a couple of photo blogs; one about birds I’ve seen and the other exploring publishing photos of people in public places and how that makes me feel – the ethics etc. I’ll tweet you some links.

    I never worry about stats too much – not all useful engagement comes from them. Some people mention my posts the next time I see them and we have a chat about what I was writing about and like you say I’m building up a back catalogue of articles.

    So I wouldn’t worry about the crossroads thing too much – sometimes what you write should be for you not your audience – they wont be sitting there waiting for us to finish typing. I have unpublished posts where writing about something helped me to work out stuff going on in my head. I may publish them one day but that writing was for me.

    My photo blogs also help on those days when words just won’t come.

    Stick with it. There is a piece on blogging by Sally Whittle @swhittle (link here -https://philjewitt.wordpress.com/why-blog/ ) that you may find helpful.

  2. Paul Hurwood says:

    Hi Paul,
    When I stopped Mental Health blogging full time I had fallen into the same malaise that you describe. I decided that I enjoyed the writing to much to give up and that I wasn’t willing to just let it go, so I just refocused my blogging on a new blog.
    I have left my Mental Health Blog up for people to read, as as you say people to find lived experience helpful.
    I would suggest going in a more general direction if you still enjoy writing and write for yourself and people will come. It will take time to find your new audience, but they will come, you write well, and good writing always rises to the top.

  3. rmwk100 says:

    Hi, Paul, a beautifully self-observant, honest and well-written post as always. Life changes, ands it’s fine to move on and do something different, or, indeed, to do nothing at all. I’m a Quaker, and one thing I find helpful about the Quaker approach is that we are always open to realising when it’s time to lay something down, as well as when it’s time to take something up. Why not have a break for a few months? You can write anything you want to, just for your own enjoyment and satisfaction. You can keep your pieces on file to re-read whenever you need to – but you don’t have to do anything with them at all. Without forcing anything, if a new way forward presents itself, and you want to start blogging again, then you can make a fresh start. It’s better to give yourself a break than to keep going just for the sake of keeping going! Hope these few thoughts are of some help as you worth this issue through.
    With love from Ruth xxxxxx

  4. samms41 says:

    Hi Paul, your blogs really helped me when my husband was suffering from depression – I am so pleased you are now better and so is he, therefore, I don’t always read your blogs, not because I don’t want to, I suppose I don’t have the ‘need’ that I once did have. As Ruth says, life changes all the time – I believe that if you have the need to write something, then write it but write it for you, not for others – some will read it, some won’t but that isn’t important. I don’t write blogs but I did write a journal, almost every day when I found life very very challenging – I haven’t written in my journal for about a year now…..some days I feel like I should, but again I don’t feel the need as I am happy!! – should I feel the need at some time I shall pick my pen up again! Don’t put pressure on yourself, there really is no point – you are a great writer, if you want to – then do it, if you don’t…..then go do something else! stay healthy and happy! kind regards Sam 🙂

  5. Fran says:

    I think you should take a break, but come back if you feel like it. I cant thank you enough for the uplifting emails you have sent

  6. Tim Watkins says:

    Hey Paul

    I’ve dipped in and out of your blog periodically over the last few years. When doing so, it may be that you have posted several times since my last visit – other times, perhaps only once.

    But your musings on life, and particularly during the darker times, have always been cathartic for my own struggle against depression. I’m not ‘recovered’, but am having a lengthy uptick at present. I still get down periods – don’t we all – but it’s part of who I am now. I’ve come to learn to live with it.

    My own blog has had a stop/start life of its own. I haven’t posted since last September. Not because I don’t want to, but because I share many of the doubts and insecurities you have alluded to here. Who is listening? Who or what am I doing it for? I agree that you probably don’t want to wallow in the depression that first was the trigger for your blog, but you write well and in a thought provoking manner on all range of issues. Maybe take a break, and then come back to it with a reboot, and a refresh in mind…? Every good idea needs rebranding every now and again. People still love iphones. But the market for the original iphone is dead, because the latest model has a fresher, bigger, better look – with new features. Why not apply the same logic to your blog?

    Don’t disappear completely. Your core supporters are still there, I’m sure!

  7. Nina says:

    So many questions and such an open and honest collection of your thoughts. Personally I would do what you enjoy most and if bird watching is that, write about that. I like your blog, it is inspirational, do continue.

  8. […] has been rather neglected this year, and continues to stand at a crossroads as it creaks into its sixth […]


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