WordPress.com, the best free blog platform in the whole World Wide Web, has thrown down a challenge to bloggers. I’m a joiner, so I’ll take up the challenge.
The goal of the WordPress challenge is to encourage bloggers to post more often. Two obvious options are to post every day during 2011 (that would put you on the path to being the Cal Ripken* of blogging), or to post once a week during 2011. I’m going for once a week.
Let me start by questioning the premise of the WordPress challenge. Most bloggers accept, as an article of faith, that we ought to post more often, ideally at least once a day. (Many people subscribe to the same theory about sex. That is, the more the merrier! And hey, doesn’t everybody do it at least once a day??)
Why? Where is it written that MORE, or MORE OFTEN, is better?
As a career journalist (both reporter and editor), I know from experience and observation that all writers have limits.
To be sure, the late, great Washington Post sports editor Shirley Povich wrote his sports column at least six days a week for years. But columnists usually write perhaps three columns a week, and no more.
William Shakespeare wrote an amazing number of plays and sonnets, back in the day. (But we don’t know very much about the life of Shakespeare. Were the works of Shakespeare all written by William Shakespeare? Or by four other playwrights using the same name?)
Cal Ripken, Shirley Povich, and William Shakespeare were uniquely gifted in their fields. But the WordPress challenge urges every blogger to post daily, if possible. Whereas Ripken, Povich, and presumably Shakespeare, devoted their lives to their professions, most bloggers are part-time amateurs. And before blogging, professional writers were backed up by editors and proofreaders. Bloggers are backed up by spellcheck, if we remember to use it.
So now we have this inferiority complex. Whatever it is we’re doing, we aren’t doing it OFTEN ENOUGH, which translates to the slogan of the assembly line: “Work faster.”
Work faster! (Is that the best you can do?) Work faster, work faster, work faster. Faster and faster!
Capitalism and the Protestant work ethic are relentless in their demand for more production, faster. We have become a society of guilt-ridden and exhausted drones. That’s in our work life. Blogging, for almost all of us, is a hobby, a leisure activity, an avocation. We want to get some satisfaction from blogging. Pushing ourselves to post every single day turns blogging into a discipline, like meditating every day, or going to the gym every day.
Discipline is good for you. But dare I say it: Blogging is supposed to be fun!
In addition to draining the fun out of blogging, the post-every-day work ethic will also drain the quality out of writing. Good writers know that writing takes some time (although miracles happen on deadline). Nearly every written page benefits from being set aside, to be reconsidered later. Nearly every page improves in the rewriting.
There, that’s almost enough. With a few more keystrokes, I’ll have 500 words. I have proven once again that any journeyman reporter can produce drivel on demand, every day if necessary.
Posting every day is not necessarily good for bloggers, or for their craft. Just my opinion.
— John Hayden
*Cal Ripken is the retired Baltimore Orioles shortstop, the “Ironman” who broke Lou Gerhig’s record of consecutive baseball games played. You could look it up.
- Comparing the Legendary Consecutive Game Streaks: Cal Ripken Jr. vs. Brett Favre (bleacherreport.com)
- Cal Ripken, Jr. Launches $100 Million Grand Slam Math Challenge (eon.businesswire.com)