This is going to be a bit of a weird(er) one… I hope I manage to frame it right. It’s a little difficult to explain so please bear with me. I want to talk about writing for something other than just yourself…
On this blog, I will occasionally write posts about the art of bloggin’. Those post are of debatable use and usually serve more as a sounding board where other bloggers can share their experiences and insight on a subject rather than an actual “how to”. I myself still have a lot to learn. However, I do enjoy sharing with you all anything I may pick up along the way. I also love the comments.
Because we bloggers all tend to share the same preoccupations and face the same hurdles, I have brought up issues like stats, blog growth and motivation/inspiration on several occasions. And I have been extremely lucky to get some fantastic comments. In fact, those comments have been a personal source of motivation/inspiration on a regular basis.
However, talking to a friend some weeks ago, I realized something I had never noticed. This is where I’m going to struggle to explain a simple thought.
Generally speaking, the (amateur) blogging community seems to have settled on the idea that blogs are for fun. I happen to agree with this and it’s how I approach my blog. We will often comment to each other (I do this a lot) that you should write what makes you happy whenever you feel like doing so. That the minute the blog becomes a hassle or an obligation, there’s no point to it. There’s an insistent general notion that blogging as a hobby is a hedonistic venture. It should be enjoyable.
Like I said, I’m all for this. It’s the type of comment/advice I’ve given on dozens of occasions. But I’m a happy go lucky person. I hadn’t really considered the possible flip side of this attitude.
When talking to a friend (a foodie blogger), she pointed out that there was a similar conceit in her community. You had professional restaurant critics who did their thing, but the amateur bloggers who just wanted to share their love of food were there to have fun. It sounds great, but what about when you’re not having fun?
What she meant was, she loved her blog and loved the sense of accomplishment it gave her. She was actually proud to have this thing she could point at as her own creation. She also adored the community she got to know through that blog. Food had been a lifetime passion of hers and she had no one in her day to day to share it with, so the blog filled that void and served a very real purpose in her life. But she didn’t necessarily enjoy writing posts.
She loved taking the pictures and sharing her thoughts. However, drafting had never been that attractive to her. She had little interest in writing in general and although it wasn’t painful for her to do, she also wouldn’t have called it fun per see. Moreover, editing and formatting those posts so they would look like she wanted them to, took a lot of time which she honestly would have preferred to spend on something else. She did like it, but it was also a hassle. Like going to the gym or practicing an instrument/ learning a new language.
And whenever she felt less than motivated, her community would come back with, take a break, if you’re not having fun then do something else. She was left with the impression that because she wasn’t looking forward to putting together posts all the time, she was doing something wrong.
So, she stepped away from the blog and came back. It worked for a while, but she kept getting comments along the lines of: glad you love it again… And she still didn’t exactly love it. She would get restaurant invites for opening night and always reviewed brand new places. Those posts would get a ton of views. She would feel like she let her readers down a bit when she didn’t have time to go to an opening night. People told her not to worry and just write what she wanted to. So, she cut back on those, for no real reason and of course, views dwindled too. That sense of community was slowly leaving.
She got frustrated, feeling like she was putting in so much time and effort for something no one was reading. When she mentioned it on her blog, she got the same, as long as you enjoy what you write, what does it matter? You should write for you… Stats are just numbers, you should fixate on those. It will make you miserable. I’m pretty sure I just quoted myself there!
Like I said, I personally agree with the blogging for fun approach! But this was rather unhelpful to my friend who ended up quitting her blog all together.
After a while (a few years), she realized she missed it. She missed the ritual which was comforting and rewarding if not always fun. She missed the tiny sense of personal pride at having built something out of nothing. She wanted it back. So, she started a new one. Of course, those issues of motivation and stalled growth came back. This time though she had a friend with a blog (me). So instead of venting to her community she came to me.
I immediately gave her the same unhelpful comments. Well, if it’s not fun just stop. Invite me over to cook instead, we’ll have a blast!… But this time, she could easily just roll her eyes and say, whatever now tell me something useful dum dum. I love my friends. So instead, I gave her practical advice. Software to make the writing process a bit more entertaining for her. Ways to advertise her blog better. The power of tags and guest posts to give her that sense of community. We made an index page, so she could see at a glance every time she added something to her blog, which gave a very tangible feeling of progress.
Mostly, I stopped telling her that the only point is to have fun. It was important for her to internalize that it was fine to write a post you’re not all that passionate about, but you know your readers would enjoy. A post written for others isn’t a bad thing. Ultimately, the pleasure you will get from the conversations around your posts can make up for whatever was lacking during the writing process. It’s a bit like writing a post from a prompt or reviewing a show suggested by your readers.
There’s also nothing wrong with having a blog which is just a time filler. Something you do because you like certain aspects but aren’t necessarily completely devoted to. There’s no actual right way to go about this.
I have to admit; my own instincts still tend towards not making yourself to do things that are a hassle. But I see where she’s coming from. I pretty much forced myself to work out everyday for over a year before it started becoming enjoyable at all, and now I couldn’t live without it. I have benefitted from it in so many ways. And before you guys say, it’s different because working out is healthy (debatable) and productive. Blogging has a ton of benefits. It’s a social activity that teaches you to interact, write, do layouts, the basics of marketing and design, critical thinking skills, conflict moderation, ect…. And it can lead to, or at least help with, an actual career.
Did any of this make any sense? I guess I’m trying to say, it’s ok if some days you don’t like blogging. You don’t have to quit if your passions wane for a bit. As long as you’re still getting something out of it, it’s a positive. And for my part, I’ll try not to be too quick on the “just have fun” rhetoric and try to give practical advice when I can.
I really do think you should have fun though….
71 thoughts on “The Selfless Blog…”
I write for an audience of one: myself. My blog is a place where I can get my thoughts about anime and the shows I enjoy out when I don’t get my friends around to talk about with. Plus it keeps my writing (though not my spelling!) sharp. I love it when people like my work and reblog or comment, but if I focus only on that, I’ll drive myself insane.
I totally understand! I’m with your friend… I get frustrated when people tell me to step back and take a break, and don’t help me figure out if I may be doing something wrong… But, my blog is very important as I’m trying to get into an editing field of work, and this blog is my foot in the door. So, it’s NOT just fun for me. And, not getting proper constructive criticism and help on how to properly market my blog and get it out there in people’s notice isn’t going to help me get anywhere! So, it can definitely be frustrating! 😕
I know it’s all meant with the best intentions it’s just not always the most useful advice. I do hope you get a publishing job!
Ha ha!! Well, first I still have to figure out what I’m doing… Since I STILL have no idea!! You’d think after almost a year I would have figured it out… But, like you said… Sometimes people don’t have the most helpful advice. 😕
I wish I had some decent advice but I don’t… Honey jack is delicious?
That is a very true statement. Lmao!!
I have fun when I blog but sometimes it really irks me. That’s due to formatting and polishing process-mostly. I’m more of talker then a writer so I struggle at times with that as well.
Lol but even when I want to quit. I can’t bring myself to actually do it. One because it’s so routine to me now and two because of all time I took to nurture it in pursuit of chasing my dreams. This means something to me.
I’ve written posts for my enjoyment and I’ve also written posts for purpose of entertaining our audience. It reallty just depends on how things play out.
Thanks for sharing.
I think I’m a lot like you
See i knew there was a reason why i liked you. lol
I was just teasing. Sorry i didn’t mean to offend you.
Do i fail that hard at emoji…i was going for happily flustered…..not offended at all. Please keep em coming!
on my pc it looks like shocked frown. my bad lol
I suspect I’m about to show my age for a few minutes. It seems that this “do whatever is fun” is a good thing – I’m all for it. When I finally broke all ties will all my abusers my motto became “I’ll do what I damn well please and nothing else” and, yeah, pretty much it still is. Keep in mind that keeping my hubby healthy pleases me, although it’s also not always a lot of fun. Which brings me to my point. This “do what makes you happy” has been interpreted as in “makes me happy every minute I do it”. I think the best way to get to my point is through a couple of examples.
One – I love horses. I always have. I mean, I honestly love the smell of horse shit – that much love. But horses are expensive to keep and take a good bit of care or money to pay someone else to do the care you don’t want to. I’ve spent a lot of time shoveling shitty stalls, digging out smelly hooves, dabbing smelly medicine on disgusting weeping wounds, hauling hay, or every one’s favorite – cleaning my geldings sheath. I could go on. None of this is actually FUN for me (or anyone else I suspect) but my reward is a happy shining, healthy horse who nuzzles me, whinnies when I walk into the barn, and now and then if I’m lucky carries me to a big shiny trophy or on a lovely trail ride or we just hang out together like the friends we are. There’s more happiness in those moments than I can adequately express and it is well worth every stall I’ve ever had to dig down six feet of mud out of because of a barn flooding from an automatic waterer. See? Horses make me happy.
Two – research has shown that people who save money are, in general, happier than people who do not. Is it because they jump up and down with joy when they deposit $50 in that savings account? Of course not (well, they might but…) It’s because they can rest secure in the knowledge that if something comes up (a bargain on some land, or an accident that makes you take a week off work) they have a little cushion of money they can use if they need it. See, savings make you happy. Now, I can see this might only really apply to those of us who are a bit older and have had a few dips and falls in our life when things would sure have been easier with an extra buck or two in the bank for emergency, whereas younger people who can call Mom or Dad for help don’t get it. OTH – why do you suppose Mom has the money to help out? Uh huh, her savings. And it makes her happy to be able to be there for you.
Basically, my point is that delayed gratification can also be a cause for happiness. An overall sense of satisfaction is HAPPY. Happy isn’t just that little ecstatic dance you do when your new Natsume figure comes in the mail. It’s the way you feel to look over and see him on your desk watching over you now and for years to come, too.
Right now, I’m barely blogging. I never blogged to be happy – I set out from the get go to make money at it. I’ve made a bit, not enough to make it worthwhile though. I like to write, so to that extent it was easy for me. I am now actually making a concentrated effort to NOT make a penny on the Internet (long story, might end up on my blog someday) and I find myself wondering if I’ll ever really blog to any extent again. I DO like to write. In fact, I write for no reason whatsoever other than that I have words in my head fighting to get out. But I’m thinking maybe rants and opinion pieces and stories would be better published on Wattpad or Royal Road Books, something like that. If I blog at all right now – it’s pretty much for nobody’s edification but my own. I might have to say it is more compulsion than pleasure. Huh, okay, I’m talking to myself now. Lots going on in my head lately. Going through a big transition.
I love your thoughtful, and thought provoking posts. To me, they are the ones that actually make your blog stand out among anime blogs. I read just about every one of your posts because something is always interesting and fun rather than a formulaic review of every anime show evah. Not meant as criticism to anyone else, just my personal preference.
First I hope you do post on your blog. Also more horse stories!
This is a phenomenal comment and for me this represents the fun part of my blog. So I would say I agree 100% with everything you just said and also want a horse…
Great post and I have been having the same thoughts because I haven’t been getting much interaction on my blog and wondering if I am doing it wrong and guilt of giving the same advice once but I do think having a blog is like taking care of something sometimes it is not always fun and can be an hassle but it has its rewarding moments that make it all worth it
Like taking care of something is the perfect way to put it! Brilliant!
To grow through hardship and competition… that feeling of triumph, by it’s very nature, cannot be experienced without overcoming something, and the greater the challenge, the thinner the margins for success… that isn’t necessarily the fun part, the suffering, it’s the accomplishment at the end.
THATS the point. To do it. Experiencing hardship is hard, but it should not equal BAD. Muscles hurt from working out but that is not BAD. The mind aches after managing a fast evolving crisis or a challenging academic competition, but that is not BAD… and more often than not, it leads to GOOD.
Feeling comfortable and without strenuous effort does not equal GOOD or “RIGHT”. It’s just all a part of the process!
It is “normal” and “okay” to have aspects of something one enjoys and dislikes. Doesn’t need to be good or bad or fun or difficult and be abandoned when it’s isn’t 100% “fun” or effortless all the time.
It’s all part of the experience!
This is a perfect post for the start of National Blog Posting Month. I’m going to try to post something every day this month, and I’ll remember your advice when I feel like taking the easy way out. 🙂
There’s a national blog posting month? Awesome!
I understand what you’re saying here. Sometimes I just don’t feel up to blogging on certain days or weeks but I still do. For me, considering where I am in my studies, it always feels like the time I spend writing my posts or reading posts could be spent on reading for my modules or working on my essays. But I don’t. Somehow, blogging has become part of me. Whether I like it or not doesn’t matter anymore because at the end of the day, it’s become part of my life and I gain a sense of satisfaction from it. It’s sort of the same with my studies. There are days when I’m in love with it and there are days when I hate it but that doesn’t make me want to give up because it’s become an integrated part of my life.
I get that perfectly. For me it’s like working out. I don’t always feel up to it but after it’s done I’m real happy I did it
Nothing’s going to be un all the time. Sometimes you’re not in the mood. Sometimes you have to take the bad with the good. But, you know, the God of Fun isn’t going to sit there dour-faced behind a spyglass and wating to punish you the moment your fun lets of. That would be one ironically-tragic god. I’m convinced the God of Fun is a tanuki. What is fun is good, so go out there and cause trouble to keep things interesting. It’s a naive person who thinks trouble only affect others, and it’s a mean person who thinks watching other people in trouble is fun. That’s not what it’s about.
So, then, what’s this about: “If you’re not having fun, don’t do it?” It’s a balance thing. It’s like finishing that dreary anime just because (I’ve done that a lot; I’m much happier now that drop dull shows early.) If you have a good reason? That’s fine. But just because? No. It’s so easy to get stuck in a groove of your own making. You sort of remember it being fun once and mistake this for it still being fun. When you notice something like this is happening, shake things up. How? There’s no clear answer to that, and whatever you’re going to try is likely going to be troublesome. It’s a little easier if you have goal, because a goal helps shape questions. But a goal is ultimately optional.
this is spot on. If something isn’t fun, make it more fun. Fun is something of a measuring stick, but not having fun doesn’t mean abandon the activity. Maybe it’s your approach? Maybe it’s your attitude? Maybe this part will never be fun, but if you get rid of it all, all the other fun goes away, too? Whatever you do, though, having fun shouldn’t turn into a duty.
There’s a distinct Eccentric Family theme to this reply, and the show’s opening’s lyrics are basically about this: if life’s not fun, make it so, because sitting around and complaining about how boring life is, that’s the most boring thing of all. So, yay for practical advice. It’s the opposite of both giving up and giving in.
” the God of Fun isn’t going to sit there dour-faced behind a spyglass and wating to punish you the moment your fun lets of.”
That’s an _amazing_ image!
You know, I think life is generally better with a little tanuki anit-wisdom thrown in!
I’m not sure if it makes any sense, but I’ve been using blogging as an escape from stress of school stuff. I’m glad that I’ve had all the time to continue blogging while doing everything else.
it makes perfect sense!
Slowly revamping my format into a shorter form and letting a bit more of cynical old man self shine through is helping keep the fun up… And I try to avoid pressuring myself. But too many years in the SCA have beaten into me “even if it’s a hobby, even if you’re a volunteer, do it effing right!”… So that’s hard to overcome.
On a larger note, I kinda hate the “it must be fun” attitude. That erases the people for whom ani-blogging is a serious passion. The fun isn’t always in the doing, but in the finished product and the reactions to it. Working on your passion is always satisfying, but it’s not always or necessarily fun. Cooking is kinda like that for me… I loathe some parts of the process (like cleaning up as you go and washing afterwards), but the final product and people’s reactions are deeply satisfying.
So, I guess I’m saying that in some ways the bromide “it must be fun” doesn’t sit well with me. It places too much emphasis on the individual and the process, and practically no emphasis on the final product and it’s reception. (And kinda skips over that the community places it’s greatest value on long form pieces on single topics, shows, or episodes – one particular form of end product, and the hardest to produce.)
I have a larger issue with the need for instant gratification in general but that’s probably a different discussion
I’m not following how you got to instant gratification from anything I said.
Oh no I meant that expecting bogging to be instantly fun is simply a byproduct of expecting everything to have quick visible and tangible results. I was agreeing with your comment
You have such a light touch with your writing. You’re able to convey seriously complex ideas in a clear and enjoyable way. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve been trying to get to that level of clarity my entire writing life, which began (no lie!) over 40 years ago.
I like the idea of writing if it’s enjoyable. But it has nothing to do with why I write.
Writing is hard. At least, it is for me. I’ve hated everything I’ve ever written because of how far it is from what I’m trying to say.
But I still write.
Not just my anime blog, but I’m trying to write a series of novels. If I don’t write, I don’t live. That sounds melodramatic, but what I mean is that through writing, I can become more me than I could without writing. So it’s not a question of writing as fun. It’s a question of whether I want to firmly establish myself as existing or not. If I want to exist as who I am, then I write. Otherwise, I am not who I could be.
I’ve seen other writers say they can’t not write. It’s almost like a compulsion. I understand that statement. I’ve tried to think about it and understand the sentiment, and this is what I’ve come up with: To the extent I write, I become. To the extent I don’t write, I do not convert my potentiality into actuality. That’s actually a thing that Aristotle discussed:
What’s hilarious to me? In this easily consumable blog post, you’ve presented some of the same ideas the Aristotle, one of the most powerful thinkers Sol III has ever produced, and you’ve made the ideas entertaining.
That’s kinda cool!
You’ve got to be kidding me right? I don’t think I’ve ever been able to focus my writing as much as when we collab. You keep me grounded and offer counterpoints that always steer me back on track without dismissing me.
I think you’re amazing at creating centered essays and your vision is always so optimistic and pleasant. To me, it seems amazing that you don’t give your self way more credit…
“I don’t think I’ve ever been able to focus my writing as much as when we collab. You keep me grounded and offer counterpoints that always steer me back on track without dismissing me.”
That’s a huge compliment, so thank you!
Though to be honest, dismissing your perspective would be like dismissing a class O star:
“Well, I guess it’s _kinda_ bright…”
Which makes more sense if you know stellar classifications, which I was just working with for the novel series I mentioned:
So it’s kinda fresh in my mind!
Back when I was an editor, there was a time I spent lots of effort correcting the grammar and generally cleaning up a writer’s newspaper article. The writer read what I’d done to his article, thought for a moment, and said, “This sounds more like me than it did when I first wrote it.”
I consider that one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received! The whole point of working together is to elevate each other’s writing. Editor, collaborator, co-writer, doesn’t matter. If the result clearly articulates who we are and shares that with the world, we all win.
So I’m really happy to hear that you’re finding our collab a positive experience!
I’m getting a lot out of our collab, too, because you’re keeping me honest by steering me back to the facts of the case! And I’m trying to learn from your writing style. So for me, it’s been a great experience!
“To me, it seems amazing that you don’t give your self way more credit…”
I was talking to my wife about writing tonight, because it’s National Novel Writing Month. She reminded
me I’d be a much better writer if I got the heck out of my own head and just wrote more. I think there’s something to that!
I don’t know if it’s a matter of giving myself credit or if it’s a matter of just pushing forward in spite of my awareness of m own inadequacies. Regardless, I need to do the latter more often, because it’s so easy to step back in the face of my own perceived inabilities. And if I’m not writing, what’s the point?
But I’m not even sure trying to resolve those questions is important!
In this moment, I’m just glad to be part of a community where we’re sharing our experiences as we’re trying to work through these issues.
There’s benefit in share experiences!
Your wife is probably right. Wives usually are!
Yeah, she usually is! I’ve learned to accept that!
“Writing is hard. At least, it is for me. I’ve hated everything I’ve ever written because of how far it is from what I’m trying to say.
But I still write.”
I’m going to give a warning in advance. This might become a shocking comment from me. No, no worries I’m not going to dispute anything you wrote here, it was as usual an amazing post. One of the best things that I have gotten out of blogging is meeting so many wonderful people and with some becoming very good friends (It goes without saying that you are one of them). I’m also not obsessed with stats. Sure I like it when I write a post that people enjoy reading it, and comment on it and all that other stuff. It’s the interacting that makes blogging a joy, and I have always enjoyed reading other people’s posts, and ofcourse commenting on them. So far, so good right?
Well…the real shock comes now: this might be my final year of blogging. I haven’t made a definitive decision yet, but next year a lot of things are going to change in my life. For one thing my company is going to be moving to another city. Which means the little time I have right now in the day, is going to be even less next year. The second thing that is going to change is that I will be moving myself as well. I have been supporting my parents a lot because of numerous things, and have been living at home. But it’s time to get my own place. That means another cut back in free time.
Blogging has never been a choir to me. But I am noticing that there are days where I come home and would love to just sit back and watch something, or read a bit. But at the same time I feel the fact that I don’t want to let people down who respond to comments, or react to posts of mine, or people that have written awesome posts themselves. And that is becoming harder for me to do. My work currently is incredibly busy. In fact in the 22 years I have been working at my company it’s never before been like this. I don’t want to take another hiatus, but at the same time I do notice the fact that it’s becoming harder for me to keep up with reading posts, writing my own things, and commenting (something that as you know I love to do). My blog is very important to me. It’s been that way for over two years now. I love the people here, they have given me so much, and been so incredibly supportive.
It all comes down to balance…and these days the balance isn’t really there anymore. I spent an incredible amount of time here. And that is of course time well spent. But I also love my other hobbies: watching movies, anime, tv shows, reading playing boardgames etc. That lately is something I hardly have time for. It’s even worse when I am having a week where there are days that I am not at home in the evening, and play catch up to everything that I missed.
I don’t want to leave….don’t get me wrong. But next year it might become impossible for me to stick around. Now, nothing is set in stone yet. It might just be a temporary phase, and things might be completely different again in a few weeks. But ….it is something I have been struggling with. I’m sorry for such a depressing comment.
I do think your post was amazing, and seeing the incredible response to this so far: I am not the only one! Keep doing what you are doing: because everyone here appreciates you for who you are, and what you do! 😊😊
I’m not going to like this. In fact the only way i will accept it at all is if it’s replaced by a weekly watch with Raistlin event we can attend because a lot of us need a bit of Raistlin in our lives… Not negociable
Lol, well, as I said nothing is set in stone yet, and nor have I made a final decision. It might turn out differently, but looking at next year, and all the changes it’s going to be hard to keep this up. But one thing is for sure whether I’m leaving blogging or not: I won’t leave all of you behind. I would miss you to much, so I’ll find a way to heep in touch. And a weekly watch sounds wonderful 😊😊 Thanks Irina 😊
well like I said you got 2 options. Disappearing isn’t one of them
I think a lot of people start blogs because it is fun. When the site grows past a certain point however the hobby can become a chore. You have an audience and feel pressured to deliver regular content. Seeing the view figures increase is a nice feeling, but on the flip side you get obsessed with stats and will feel low when a post underperforms.
You mention that software exists that makes writing more fun. What app is that? Also what pointers did you give your friend for advertising their site?
I’ll put a post together. It seems to be a subject of interest for a few folks
I get all of this. My blog is a fresh budding baby, less than 6 months old, but for me it has been nothing but a hobby this whole time. I originally started this whole blogging thing to try and widen my portfolio, but then I realised why not make it into a hobby. I used to do reviews and ONLY reviews, but I honestly got bored really fast as I had very little content I actually cared about. My reviews were either of old shows or just things no one cared for. I love my discussion posts as they let me talk about things I want to talk about. I like trying out new ideas for my blog and some stay and others dont. I think it’s all down to the person, and me personally I try to keep my blog neat but honestly it can be hard sometimes. Great post, really insightful and one I’ll definatly use to try and imporve my own blog, thank you. 🙂
I’m glad you liked it. I do think we all go through the same challenges
I’ve given up on several blogs in the past for various reasons, but keep coming back. I think this time I’ve worked out a format that works for me and a schedule that isn’t going to kill me (although I always seem to try).
They say if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life, but in reality if you do what you love you end up working every day.
I liked you post because it’s something that affects us all and is hard to define. It should be fun, but sometimes it takes some time for it to get to that point, and even once it is fun, you can have days or weeks where it isn’t.
Heck – even playing video games is dull sometimes.
Excellent post. I dod think you need to have fun when you can with this stuff. It it becomes a chore, that’s not insurmountable, butwhen it becomes damaging to continue, that’s a problem. For me, this is part fo my job now, so keeping a routine and forcing through the days of “I’m not feeling ti today” is part of the process. At the same time though, I do like the routine of it. It’s also a way to de-stress from the real world stuff that’s been hitting me this year, so even a psot i’m not as happy with is a good distraction.
I msut say though, as a side, if you have advertising advice, that’ always welcome! I never know how to advertise this thing effectively :p
Effectively – nopes….but a collection of hints I’ve gotten from other people – sure! I can put a post together if people are interested
Awesomeness. Well, I’d definitely be interested
I like the routine as well…. OCD is it’s own motivation!
Oh crikey, yes. Routine makes the day easier
This is almost certainly going to turn into a long comment, so I… actually, no, I make no apologies for it! I hope I’ll have some useful insights into my own feelings on this subject, and that some people out there might be able to get something out of it.
As many of my regular readers will know, I used to be a professional games journalist. Unfortunately, that “career” of sorts ended less than well when I was laid off from my last position at USgamer.net on the (likely spurious) grounds that “the site wanted an all-American staff”… and I was a Brit contributing from overseas. (Given the people who were hired shortly before I was out the door for good, it seems much more likely that the editor in chief wanted to hire his sycophantic cronies that he’d worked with before, rather than continue to deal with the British guy who liked Japanese games with Problematic Boobs in them.)
Anyway, that unceremonious end to my career left me in a difficult spot. The games press as a whole had already developed the rather sanctimonious and narrow-minded sociopolitical attitude that makes it the target of such mockery today, and I didn’t feel like I had a place in it any more — a bit of a bummer after I had spent most of my life up until that point dreaming of a career in the business.
So after some thought — and while I still had a bit of income from my last couple of months at USgamer — I set up my site. Initially I intended it primarily as a continuation of the weekly “JPgamer” column I had hosted on USgamer, which in itself was a direct response to an atrocious freelancer’s review of one of the Hatsune Miku games, in which he described anime fans as “degenerates” and “bringing the creep factor overseas”. But over time, I started to get a little more ambitious.
It began with a discussion with a friend whom I’d initially met in the USgamer comments section. We were both frustrated at the inordinate amount of time certain big-budget titles got from certain sites, while other games went completely unnoticed — or worse, got disgusting “this is for paedophiles” writeups from people who emphatically don’t know what they’re talking about. So I decided… why not take the “triple A” approach for games that never get that much love?
I kicked off with Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, the latest installment in a series I loved, but which was consistently shat on by handwringing male feminists who wanted to look super-progressive by condemning anything with the slightest hint of sexiness about it. I continued with Megadimension Neptunia V-II, another new installment in a series that had become important to me. And, eventually, I came to a game that subsequently became one of my favourite games of all time: Dungeon Travelers 2, a title which had been written off by the inexplicably popular rag Polygon as a “creepy, porn-lite dungeon crawler” without actually bothering to look into it.
My “Cover Game” format was born, and it evolved over time. As I became more confident with the format, I started posting more material outside of that format, until I was posting something every weekday. Now I’m making videos and branching out into other fields. But, you know what? I’m still having *fun*. I’m still fulfilling that dream of being able to write about games — and in doing things this way, I’m not beholden to the fickle whims of anyone else; I can just write about things my way.
But those many years of dreaming of a career in games journalism meant that I felt like if I was going to do this, I was going to do it *properly*… to treat it as if it was a professional commitment. As such, right from the beginning I’ve made an effort to make my site look good and make sense to navigate. I established my “MoeGamer 2.5” format in July of 2017, which added the unique “Hub Pages” for each and every game I cover, allowing a quick means of seeing everything I’ve published about a particular title. I’ve added “About”, “FAQ” and “Moe 101” pages to flesh things out a bit. I’ve upgraded my site hosting so I have more space for images and the ability to customise the CSS. I work on weekly videos and a (usually) bi-weekly podcast in both audio and video formats. It is, it’s fair to say, now a defining part of “who I am”.
Which kind of puts me in an interesting position when it comes to this discussion. I love what I do, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. I have a huge amount of appreciation for the people who follow me here, on Twitter and on Facebook, and even more so if they are Patrons or occasional contributors via Ko-Fi… but I’m pretty sure I’d still be doing this even if no-one was reading… and that I’d still put in the same amount of effort, because the “professional” feel I’m going for is just satisfying for *me*. I like looking back at my old stuff and what I’ve created; I derive enormous satisfaction from seeing I’ve published over 600 articles single-handedly since I started MoeGamer; I occasionally just hit my “Anything!” button up on the toolbar and re-read some random pieces I might have forgotten about.
I am writing what *I* want to read… and by happy coincidence it seems there are other people out there who want to read the same things, too. The whole thing gives me a sense of structure and meaning to my hobby… and indeed has become something of a hobby in its own right. Would I like to make a living from it? Sure, absolutely; despite my dream being stamped on rather thoroughly a few years back, it’s hopefully clear to anyone who reads my stuff that my passion is still very much there.
But, more than anything, I’m still here because I *want* to be here.
I’ve actually followed your history on your own blog but I really appreciate you taking the time to share it with my readers. It’s one of those behind the scenes stories that I’m always fascinated by and I bet I’m not the only one!
As a professional blogger, I’m sure your perspective is a little different and adds another layer I certainly can’t come by with my limited experience.
This was nice to read. I’ve fallen out of my groove a bit, mostly because Real Life stuff was getting in the way. I missed blogging, but then I found it really hard to start back on writing/making posts again. I’ve honestly been kind of hung up on the whole “just have fun” thing, because I’m hesitant to write/create if it doesn’t come with instant gratification, if that makes sense? But then I also know that the fun/interaction will come back once I put the work in…this honestly put a bit of blogging back into perspective for me, so thank you for sharing 😀
You know, if that’s all this post does, it was more than worth writing and had a much greater result than I could have hoped for!
I think sometimes we always think that following our passions should be fun all the time. That really may be why people don’t follow their dreams. We expect fun. For me yes blogging is fun. It isn’t something that I try to force myself to do.
However, writing my book is painful some days. There are moments where I force myself to sit in front of the screen and put slow painful sentences down in my book. I don’t want to write all the time. It isn’t fun to write when I’m tired and I just want to sleep.
Then the moment comes when I reach a point in my writing day and think. “I did this today” It may not have been easy but there is real joy in doing something that you love. Not always fun but it does bring a longer lasting sense of fulfillment.
Sometimes I (and perhaps others) fail to appreciate the distinction between satisfaction and fun. There’s a ide spectrum between something being a thrill and something being a chore that we tend to overlook.
I’ve had that struggle so much this year. I think with life getting hectic it also contributed to it, but man, do I understand where your friend is coming from. I do have fun and enjoy my blog very much, but there are some posts that I do that I know the readers will enjoying seeing and engaging with far more than I will ever enjoy putting them out there. My blog, even though I have fun and it goes up and down with stats/passion/etc., is something I view as work. It’s not only a passion or hobby for me, it’s my job, and naturally with any job you’re going to have days where you hate it or don’t care for it or feel indifferent. Having it as my job also helps me to stay grounded and focused on something, and it also helps discipline me in ways that help in other aspects of my life, such as dealing with mental health like depression and anxiety. I think one of the reasons I’ve had so many hiatuses this year is because the mentality of “If you’re not having fun then quit” (essentially), while meant to be positive, can actually be very negative and frustrating, as well as super de-motivational. So yeah… I totally get where your friend is coming from. This was a great post and not a subject that is discussed very often at all.
I have often found solace in your posts. As a fan and reader, I am grateful that you’ve kept at it even when it wasn’t all giggles and laughs
Thanks, Irina. That means a lot to me. 💜
I managed to get a few things out of this:
– You are a super nice person.
– The blogging process isn’t all about fun; some selflessness adds into the flavor of output.
– Saying “Do what you love or don’t do it” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be (use in moderation).
– Empathy is a key factor in problem-solving.
I liked the post. And despite a somewhat-prevalent ritual of you stating (usually first thing) that the post “feels unfocused” or “doesn’t make sense,” I think you do a lot better of a job of keeping up with a focused topic more than you think you do. It may not always come out to people in the way you think it will, but there’s a collection of things one could take from this (or other) post(s) that could prove meaningful to their own (blogging) life.
You are too kind and may have been a bit generous with your intrepertation of this post and Boy do I appreciate it!
Thanks so much for this post, it was such an eye-opener! I especially love “it was fine to write a post you’re not all that passionate about” and “A post written for others isn’t a bad thing”. I thought that every post had to be fun, but we don’t live in an ideal world. And some hobbies still deserve every effort even if they’re ‘just for fun’.
Exactly… Pure in the moment enjoyment isn’t the only yardstick. I’m glad my point came across and thatmks for letting me kno you liked the post! It means a lot
I totally get what you’re saying, Irina. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing episodic posts for certain shows but I’m lucky that my format (and overall lack of professionalism) allows me to literally say in the post “this show is hard to write about” or “not much happened this episode let’s talk about something else ~vaguely~ related to the show”. Added to that I feel like the blog takes up free-time that could be (better?) spent doing things I don’t do as much as I used to like playing video games. I’ve bought a couple games recently (about a month or so ago) and they are still just sat in the bags from the shop I bought them from. It’s not from any lack of desire to play them, it’s because I think ‘I should probably blog instead’. Blogging is now a necessary part of my day and it’s one of my top daily priorities–regardless of whether I’m particularly ‘feeling like blogging’ or not.
I think bloggers like you that have a very rigourous schedule and format usually have a very strong discipline that helps with the motivation but I bet it’s not always easy to keep up! It’s pretty admirable to be honest
I just treat it like a job in that whether I like it or not, I HAVE to get it done. It’s just lucky that it’s never really gotten to the stage where it feels like a chore, as opposed to a task.