Sunday, November 30, 2008

How NOT Blogging is Hurting My Career

Anyone whose paid attention to such things knows the standard format of the "How Blogging Will Hurt Your Career" articles that pop up occasionally in the Chronicle and other places in the inter-web-o-net-o-sphere. They usually run something like this:
  • Lots of young and foolish scholars are now blogging.
  • What is blogging, you ask? I'll define it, poorly.
  • Examples of bloggers behaving badly and thus damaging their nascent careers.
  • Careless confusion of blogs with social networking sites.
  • Dark hints of how even those not behaving badly are in danger.
  • Warnings of caution for those using these new-fangled computing devices, with implication that all writing should be in Latin and on vellum.
  • Fin.
Let me be my usual contrarian self and whine about how my career has been hurt this semester by not blogging.

As regular Wordhoarders know, I've been plagued by five courses this semester (three of which are composition, oh joy!) and a dying office computer. I've had to farm out my regular feature, the Morning Medieval Miscellany, and have had precious little in the way of original-content posts. Even my video posts of "Learn Old English with the Wordhoard" had to stop because my daughter complained I was keeping her up at night.

I knew blogging was going to slow this semester, but I didn't realize it would come to a crawl. One other thing I had not realized, though, was how I have come to rely on blogging to help me with my other writing.

I've made zero progress on my monograph-in-progress, Medieval America. By zero, I mean I haven't written a single word on it -- it still exists on paper as just a half chapter, with the rest of the book alive in my mind but still unconceived on paper. No doubt the slowness of my work computer and my teaching schedule have contributed to this, but so also has the lack of blogging.

Blogging in the morning had become for me a type of throat-clearing exercise. Write a few paragraphs of off-the-cuff "hey, medieval stuff!" prose, and I was ready to conquer things with footnotes and scholarly tidbits. So many people have depicted blogging as a distraction from doing "real" scholarly writing, but the absence of blogging this semester has taught me that it's a little bit like doing scales before practicing a musical instrument -- it gets the synapses firing and limbers the fingers for a dance along the keyboard.

Not blogging has made scholarly writing like starting a 5K run from sitting in an easy chair. Sure, it can be done, but wouldn't stretching a five minute walk make that run easier and more pleasant?

So here's praise to blogging as mental exercise! I miss you, regular blogging, and will return to you when my schedule and technological situation allow!


  1. Sorry, that should have been "good piece!"

  2. Anonymous2:32 AM

    I completely agree with you. Blogging helps a lot, not only to be more critical with the contents you teach or write, but also to understand the kind of information common people look for about your field. And, yes, is a good exercise of concision and clearness.

  3. Steve,

    The very definition of a Freudian slip!

  4. Anonymous12:09 PM

    Well, I encourage you to blog, if only because "Medieval America" sounds intriguing. One of these days I'll get to edit something like that, instead of all this anthropology stuff....

  5. To breathe is to blog -- but then I'm the sad kind of obsessive who neglects other duties (slap my wristie!). You'll note I had no trouble ignoring all the blogs while I was swanning around London for a week, however. So, have you started Twittering to make up the deficit? [she says without an evil grin]