Destination: Z-list

Laura explains the process of blogger burnout:

Many of the top bloggers have been absorbed into some other professional enterprise or are burnt. It’s a lot of work to blog. Most bloggers, and not just the A-listers, spend 3-5 hours every day blogging. That’s hard to maintain, especially since there is no money in this. They used that time to not only write their posts and monitor their comment sections, but to read and foster other bloggers. Blogging survived based on the goodwill and generosity of others. It’s probably no coincidence that every blogger that I’ve met face-to-face is an extraordinarily nice person. But it’s hard to volunteer that much time over a long period of time. The spouses tend to get annoyed.

I attribute my survival, if that’s the word, to the following:

  • Three to five hours? Not a chance. If I find myself taking more than twenty minutes on a single post, I shunt it off to Ventland.
  • I have no reasonable possibility of absorption into Something Larger, which means I don’t spend any time consciously, or unconsciously, rewriting things to fit into someone else’s matrix.
  • I keep one to four items in the can at all times, letting them age. This does nothing for freshness, really, but I’d rather let them sit for a few hours, in case I think of something new I need to add, or something old I need to delete. It beats the hell out of staring at the screen for hours on end.
  • I have no spouse, and no prospects for one. Not only does this simplify matters immensely for at least two people, but it’s a never-ending source of whiny, self-absorbed material.

I’m sure someone out there will accuse me of being extraordinarily nice, so consider this my official denial of same.

(Via Megan McArdle.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    3 July 2009 · 11:46 am

    Yeah, the three to five hours a day seems like a lot. Of course, I don’t go searching for “cool stuff” unless I find it in the process of searching for some other reason (like research).

    I wonder how much of the burnout she refers to also has to do with overly high expectations – the “I can get a book deal out of this!” or “Someday, they will pay me to blog!” and when that doesn’t come to pass for 99% of bloggers, they feel either cheated or like the system’s rigged or something and they burn out. (I know there have been a lot of times when I’ve looked at my little blog and thought, “Why don’t more people read and comment? Why don’t more people link me?” I wound up concluding (perhaps incorrectly) that it was just that I wasn’t very GOOD. Of course that made me unhappy and kind of burnt out. I try to move past that and remind myself that it’s preferable in this world to have a few true friends instead of a semi-anonymous entourage, but still, there are times when the only thing I can say is “it would be nice to be admired.”)

  2. CT »

    3 July 2009 · 12:07 pm

    3-5 hours per day is extreme, especially when even a lot of A-listers average on more than 1-2 posts a day.

    I’d say burnout comes from a combination of getting little/no feedback and exposure, and longer-term, the sense that they’ve said everything they have to say and don’t want to start repeating themselves. Inasmuch as I suffer from both those maladies, nevertheless I’m still permalinking away…

  3. Francis W. Porretto »

    3 July 2009 · 12:17 pm

    Hm. I put about an hour a day into writing for Eternity Road, on the days that I do write for it. (Since acquiring my Esteemed Co-Conspirators, I’ve allowed myself to dial it back a bit.) When I feel empty of material — that is, when nothing of current interest seems worthy of whatever extra illumination I might shed on it — instead of going to “the trunk” for a topic, I take the day off.

    I have yet to feel anything akin to burnout, but there’ve been periods where I felt too exhausted by other responsibilities and stresses to do a proper job with whatever blogging topic I might have. Once again, having a stable of worthy co-contributors has made this a lot easier to bear.

    And then there are days like today.

  4. Lisa Paul »

    3 July 2009 · 2:02 pm

    Ha! Despite your protests, I’m going to accuse you of being extraordinarily nice. Good blogging rules. May I also add the technique of carrying a little moleskin notebook around with you. There is a major amount of wasted time in our lives, from waiting in lines, to being stopped in traffic. I jot down notes and compose posts in my head during these unplanned downtimes. Let’s me dash off a post in about 20 minutes. And I write long posts.

    Let me also add, spending significant amounts of time alone in a barn in the middle of the country with Wi-Fi but no TV, radio or reliable phones gives one an awful lot of blogging time.

  5. CGHill »

    3 July 2009 · 2:07 pm

    I have a little digital voice recorder for sudden bursts of inspiration out on the road. (And since my current cell phone also has one, I have actual belt-and-suspenders redundancy, which should surprise no one.)

  6. Mark Alger »

    3 July 2009 · 9:41 pm

    As one of Fran’s co-conspirators (but with a blog of my own as well), I concur. If I spent more than an hour a day at it, I’d be fired from my day job or divorcedd or both. My rule is a bit different from y’all’s, though. I figure if I can’t dope out a good statement of what’s on my mind in ten or twenty minutes (for a single post), then my readers won’t be able to either and won’t read it.


  7. Dick Stanley »

    3 July 2009 · 11:59 pm

    I rarely spend five minutes on a post, but I believe in keeping them short. I’m sure it shows. My vast audience and marching army of devoted commenters is proof. Nevertheless… I enjoy what little I do and I really have better things to attend to, including a nine-year-old boy.

RSS feed for comments on this post