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I’m baaack! September 17, 2010

Posted by ashleyquark in Tech Tools.
Tags: ,

I’m back to my blog . . . after a two year hiatus! I’m going to honest to any readers I may have out there. I didn’t just decide it was time to start blogging again. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I’m resurrecting my blog because it’s a requirement of a class. I hope that with the increased readership that I expect this class will generate for my blog, perhaps I will get hooked and begin to blog regularly, but I’m not too sure. Let me tell you a bit of my blogging history and then I will pose some questions that will help me reflect on why I’ve had a difficult relationship with blogging.

I started my first blog with my students. Back in 2005, I was teaching English Language Arts at the American School of Kuwait, and I wanted to help students find an audience for their writing so we started a class blog where they essentially journalled each week, read each others’ writing and commented to each other. While I say this was my first blog, I guess that’s a bit of a misnomer because I just set up the blog and provided a space for my students to write–I was just a member of their audience. In retrospect, I should have been blogging with them to model the practice, but I didn’t.

In 2006, I returned to Saskatchewan from Kuwait to work on my Masters of Education in Educational Psychology. During this time, I had the good fortune to work with the Digital Internship Project and began to learn a great deal about using technology in the classroom. As well, my research for my thesis revolved around teenage girls’ experiences with cyberbullying which helped me understand how social networking and the use of technology affects the lives of girls. At this time, I started this blog to provide a space for me to reflect on what I was learning; however, it didn’t take long for me to abandon this blog.

Then in 2009, I turned 30 and decided that my goal for my 30th year would be to do 30 new things that have never done before. My plan was to document my adventures on my newest blog:  30 Adventures at 30. This time I thought I would blog about my experiences and monetize my blog–perhaps the lure of possibly making money on my blog would motivate me to stick with it. In starting this blog, I also figured that blogging about 30 new things I would do in my 30th year would give me a specific time frame and if I abandoned my blog after that, at least I could say that I stuck it out for a whole year. Unfortunately, as you can see on my “30 for 30” blog, my attempt was short lived and I only ended up blogging about a few of my experiences.

I must say that I am generally a very committed and dedicated person and when I start something it almost always gets finished. So, with all of these failed attempts to blog regularly, it begs the question, what’s the problem? Why haven’t I been able to stick with blogging for either personal and professional purposes? This made me wonder why other people blog and what purpose do they see in their blog that keeps them committed.

Jason Kaneshiro talks about the concept of not “Breaking the Chain”—an idea he borrowed from Jerry Sienfeld. This strategy to stay committed to blogging basically focuses the blogger to write everyday. Yes, it’s that simple. He says that every time you write, mark it on a calendar and you will eventually see a long chain that represents your progress which will be a motivator to continue. I suppose that I can see how this works, and Kanashiro compares this to process to sticking with a diet or exercising. However, my problem is that I would use a method like this to stick to a diet or exercise because it is healthy for me. Blogging, in my mind, does not make me “healthier” and I do not want it to become an onerous chore.

Similarly, on his blog about Blogging Ethics, Martin poses the questions to his readership, “Why did you decide to start a weblog? What did you want your blog to accomplish? Have you achieved that purpose yet?” His readers responded with several reasons to blog that make a lot of sense to me such as “keeping my writing sharp,” keeping a record of my thought process, and learning from others through feedback and critique. However, I am still unsure if any of these reasons would compel me to stick with a blog for the long-term.

So I pose this question: Why do you blog? What makes you want to do it everyday and stick with it? As evidenced by my various attempts, I want to be a blogger, but what am I missing?



1. Linda - September 18, 2010

really connected with your reflection on to blog or not to blog…and found the link to Martin’s blogging ethics site helpful in getting me started. thanks

2. Kyle Lichtenwald - September 20, 2010

Hey Ashley! Glad to see your in Alec’s course this semester. I am looking forward to following along a bit. Should prove to be good learning!

I suffer some of your pains in regard to blogging. I have one, but I can’t remember the last time I updated it. I have often thought I will resurrect it but just another thing I put on the back-burner. Maybe I will be inspired this semester as I begin teaching in my own classroom. One reason my blogging reached a stand still is because I have enjoyed much more networking and learning through my time micro-blogging on twitter. Ever since signing up way back in the days of the Digital Internship Project I have been able to use twitter to support my learning and connect with folks around the world.

All the best this semester and I look forward to chatting sometime soon.


3. whatedsaid - September 22, 2010

I blog to reflect, to clarify my thinking, to provoke others to think, to share great learning taking place at my school, to keep a record of my ideas… in no particular order. Mostly I blog for myself, but having readers comment and engage in conversation can be a huge motivation to stick with it. Blogging has connected me with other educators worldwide. Commenting on others’ blogs makes it a two-way conversation and I’ve become part of a community. I think combining blogging with twitter makes a difference too.
One way to stick with it is to write short posts more frequently, rather than long ones less often… readers appreciate this too! Another is just to write in your own voice, whatever you’re thinking about or wanting to share, because thinking too hard about how it’s going to sound makes the whole thing a chore.
Good luck! Hope you stick with it this time. I’m an addict 🙂

4. Hazel Owen - September 22, 2010

Hmmm – some interesting points being made 🙂

As a collaborative sort of person, one thing that I find tricky is coming to terms with a blog as, in essence, a one way push. Yes, you can comment (like we’re doing here…and sometimes the comment thread is fascinating) – but why wouldn’t you use a discussion forum or a wiki for that?

However, for reflecting, capturing an experience, collating and sharing diverse resources, then blogging is great…although, for the third in this list, perhaps a wiki would be better because people could contribute directly should they wish to.

I guess it does come back to the why? what? when? who? questions – and as the facilitator of a couple of online community spaces most of those are answered. And as a keen Twitter follower (that’s how I found your blog, and your question(s)) and contributor to other communities, for me it also comes down to the fact that if no-one blogs and responds we don’t have an international community, and ultimately lose the richness and variety it represents.

Good luck with the blogging

5. Stephen Ransom - September 22, 2010

I would argue that blogging does make one mentally healthier – in the sense that it forces one to reflect on and organize one’s thoughts. Of course, this could be done just as easily with a paper/pencil type journal, no doubt. The additional benefit of doing so in a public format is that it allows others to participate in your thinking. Too often, I must agree, this can come across as “Great post”, “Rah Rah Rah” type of comments rather than challenging and clarifying types of comments. But, even without the comments, you may have a readership that really benefits from your transparency and willingness to share your ideas.

That being said, as Alec, I require my grad students to keep a weekly blog, knowing full well that for many, this exercise may very well end once it ceases being a requirement. But, part of my goal is for my students to understanding what blogging is all about and how it can facilitate thinking, sharing, writing, and a sense of audience for their own students and peers. There is no better way to understand how this all works than to dive in and do it oneself.

I totally understand your struggles with the discipline and desire to blog. I think if we are all honest, we all struggle with this at some point and on some level. And, truth be told, not everyone enjoys writing…and even more, writing with a reflective or metacognitive approach. That’s okay. But, that doesn’t change the benefits of honestly doing so.

Anyway, these are my two cents worth here. This is a really short video with Seth Godin speaking on this very topic. Give it a listen. It’s no magic blogging pill, but it is true in my experience – and yes, I, too, struggle to regularly blog, so I pick a schedule that works for me.

Happy thinking!

6. Daniel Donahoo - September 27, 2010

I think you’ve hit the point that many people come to Ashley – and not enough people ask the question – why do I blog?

There are other questions that should be asked as well, we learn them all in English at high school…
– what do I have to say?
– how do I want to say it?
– who is my audience?

There are too many blogs that sit there in the ether without a readership, and I get the whole “I do it to sharpen my writing” or “to clarify my ideas”…but you don’t need to write that in the public forum that is the internet – you can do that anywhere – they are answers as to why people write every day – not why they blog.

I, like you, have tried and failed many personal blogging attempts – way back to 1996 when my personal websites were an attempt to blog before anyone coined the term. As someone whose main focus is writing I was frustrated by a lack of audience and obviously didn’t invest as people need to in building a blog network and engaging. I think sometimes you need to comment in blogs as much or more than you post to make it a worthwhile professional development tool!!! A good blogger reads, comments and engages as much as they think and write their own posts.

My solution – I wrote guest posts for different blogs until Wired’s GeekDad.com offered me a permanent blogging gig. They have huge traffic, and it is great to know what I write will be read. They have even started paying.

So – I blog not because I like to write. I write much more away from the internet than I do for it. I blog to share my ideas and discoveries. To engage with an audience and to led me to new information, new ideas and new people. Blogging, in my view, has very little to do with writing…which may seem odd…but it is more about the network.

7. Stephen Rahn - September 28, 2010

Glad to have you back in the blogging world. You have some unique experiences that will prove valuable to your classmates and students.

8. Clint H - September 28, 2010

Hi Ashley. Why do I blog? Like many of the previous comments, one of the reasons that I blog is to reflect on what I am doing or what I have done. It is my de facto portfolio, in reverse chronological order, of things that I wish to celebrate and things that I wish to document the process of.

More importantly, it is a place where I can share my experiences in the hope that it benefits others, just as what other people have published on their blogs has helped me.

Oh, and I don’t do it every day. But I am constantly on the lookout for things that I think are ‘blog-worthy.’ I guess in a way blogging has made me more aware of what I am doing,even if I’m not blogging about it!

I look forward to reading more about your journey in Alec’s class this semester…

9. lewisv - October 3, 2010

Hi Ashley,

In trying to respond to your questions about why we blog and what makes it stick, I would have to respond by saying I haven’t truly figured that out yet. I am new to blogging and, to be honest, right now I feel like I am just speaking to myself and do not yet have the concept that there is potentially an ‘audience’. I think what makes me come back blogs (mine or someone else’s) if the content and the discussions. I find they allow me to express ideas and connect with others in a unique and interesting way. Talk soon!

10. shelleywright - October 4, 2010

Hi Ashley,
I think to try to blog everyday is way to much pressure. For me, it takes a bit to formulate what I have to say; there’s a process. I think blogging is about sharing experiences that may be valuable to others. It’s about hearing that others are in the same place we are, or maybe further ahead that we can learn from. I think it’s also a habit that needs to be established.

11. olabakri - October 6, 2010

I totally feel what you are saying. My first two posts took ages. I did not know what I want to say. It’s very hard especially you don’t want to a powerful kick off. Also, it’s very hard because of time constraints. We are running everyday to just catch our 24 hours and still we wish that we have more time to do things. I think we need to commit doing this. we need to consider this as a food dairy ( I used to do this:) to watch my weight). We need to just express our feelings of everyday situation, and we have many …

12. Lisa Neale - October 11, 2010

I can relate so much to this post. I have 5 draft blog posts that in my mind are just not ready. So now quite frankly, they are dated. My reason for blogging is to think about my thinking out loud and to reflect on my learning. I also blog to bring together my ideas and plan for action. I’m not blogging everyday but surprisingly I think about blogging frequently.

13. Ed Allen - October 12, 2010

Ashley, I don’t blog everyday, but I have been blogging more regularly lately. Why do I blog? To learn, to share, to write. And I feel that it is a tremendous reflective practice.

When i blog, I think. I reflect, I write. So it is good for my soul. And it is a bonus when someone stops by and comments!

Keep on blogging!

14. Allie Anderson - October 20, 2010

Hello! My name is Allie and I am in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, AL. I have set up my current blog for the class that I am in. Before I started this class, I had not interest in blogging. Since I have been in the class, I have seen how blogging can help with classroom management and other organizational things in the classroom. I would also like to try to do another blog for personal use, but like your personal blog I’m not sure if I can stick it out.

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