On Slow-Blogging And Now-Blogging And The Pace Of Things These Days

July 2, 2012

A few years ago, there was an article in the New York Times about the phenomenon – such as it was – of ‘slow blogging.’ It cited Todd Sieling, the Canadian blogger behind ‘the Slow Blog Manifesto’, who described slow blogging as “(the) rejection of immediacy… (and) an affirmation that not all things worth reading are written quickly.” Which, sure. I am all about the rejection of immediacy. I would love to reject immediacy more often. It just happens that we live in a world where everyone else is all about the embrace of immediacy. Witness the continent-wide freak-out this weekend over Instagram and Pinterest going offline for some hours. WE CANNOT RIGHT THIS MINUTE POST THE PICTURES OF OUR DINNER, WORLD. WHATEVER SHALL BECOME OF US?

So it is that it feels strange and awkward and almost dysfunctional to have become, quite unintentionally, a slow blogger. I am slow blogging – it’s been an entire week since my last post – in a world that values speed. And as much as I’d like to just slap on some blinders and continue turtling my way forward, ignoring the blur of words and characters and images zooming past me (all that is solid melts into air), it’s just, you know, hard, because the Internet doesn’t work that way. You’re either in the stream of communication, or you’re not. You can mosey along, telling your stories at whatever pace you like, but if you want to be in the discursive flow, you have to keep up. If I were just telling stories, this might not be so bad, but I’ve never been in this just for the stories. I’ve always been here for the stories, plus. Plus the conversation. Plus the friendship. Plus the community. Plus the connection and the support and the warmth and the argument and the energy and all the wonderful, sometimes manic, sometimes chaotic, dynamic movement of this space.

I feel my slowness like a physical weight, like the drag of gravity or that phantom force that slows your movement in dreams, that sensation of being burdened, or of wading through mud. I want to move more quickly. I think. Maybe it’s that I want everyone else to slow down. Thing is, I don’t think that anyone will, even I ask nicely (wait up, guys! I can’t keep up! Anyone want to walk back here with me? Guys?)

So I’m trying to find a balance between the pull to move faster – from that part of me that does, in fact, want to move faster, want to zip along on the current of chitter and chatter and joke and debate and badinage – the pull against my pace. I’m not sure how, or whether, I’ll find that balance; it seems to me that I may need to simply make a decision to either work harder to keep up, or to get comfortable with slowness. Or to redefine slowness altogether, and to embrace a practice of nowness, of measuring my discourse upon scales other than the scale of time, of orienting myself and my stories by the light of the present moment, and letting pace follow from practice. Whether there are long gaps between the moments of story, or whether those narrative moments pile up against one another; whether those stories surf the current of the conversation of the moment, or circle quietly in their own discursive eddies, then so be it.

It’s not quite redefining time, but it is perhaps more conducive to capturing it, in a way that feels right to me. And that is, perhaps, all that I can ask of myself.

(You see how this post is on my Intel Digital Life page? That’s because I wrote it with my Intel hat on, which is totally a little foil beanie that receives satellite transmissions from the galaxy of AWESOME. Or something. Anyway, it’s part of the series that you see here, on this humble page, about living la vida digital, which is also part of this whole storytelling exercise over here, on Facebook. You should check it out.)

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    Summer July 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I feel like, though I can’t definitively say because I haven’t charted data, that this happens with bloggers as their children get older maybe. It might seem strange, since kids are so much more self sufficient as they grow, but they’re also so much more able to engage, be out of the house for longer stretches, enroll in classes, clubs and sports, go on trips, etc.

    That, and it seems like parents who blog for support and release and sanity need that so much more when children are small. As they mature, we are able to emerge from the cave of our home, little by little gaining exposure to other adults in the process. In my instance the other adults aren’t necessarily my tribe, but the sheer volume of time occupied by my 5 and almost 8 year old-who are not yet even IN any clubs, extra classes, or sports-reduces my writing opportunity to nearly 1/3 what it was before. No more groggy free association while pumping, or early morning session with a notebook and a cup of coffee when someone woke up for a pre-dawn feed. Both my husband and myself are awake and alert in the evening now and neither of us is occupied putting a toddler or infant to bed so no one is left at loose ends. (which is when I did lots of blogging in the olden days)

    This is how it’s shaking out for me, anyway.

    Kim @ LIAH July 2, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I have always been a “slow blogger” I think. I’ve had my moments where I’ve posted two or three times per day for a week or two on end … and then I’ve gone almost an entire month without posting anything. Life is like that. Sometimes you have oodles to talk about and other days (or weeks) you are just enjoying the time that you have with your family and shutting the rest of the world out for those precious few moments you can capture.

    I have tried to “fit into the mold” of blogging daily about something – or even two or three times a week. That’s just not me. My blogging comes from the heart. I talk about what is on my mind, on my heart, or whatever social issue is plaguing me enough to spout off about.

    I never said I was normal either. :-)

    cat July 2, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    you may enjoy this,The ‘Busy’ Trap, from yesterday’s nytimes…

    Her Bad Mother July 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    oooh, I have that bookmarked. I should probably read ASAP :)

    Kerri. July 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I am currently in a HUGE period of “can’t keep up’edness,” and it’s this weird melding of desire to write/inspired to write/drowning in other things. I used to be able to keep up at a reasonable pace, particularly when I was working in an office and before I had my daughter. But now, self-employed, traveling often, and parenting a toddler has my brain imploding and my participation ribbon in my health blogging community collecting dust.

    Thank you for this – it makes me feel better. :)

    Cristie July 2, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Oh my god yes. I feel like I am a dinosaur because all that I love about why I blog has changed and I’m not sure I can or even want to keep up which means I’m obsolete before I even “made it.” A tough pill to swallow indeed.
    Thank you for this. I know I’ve said this before, many times in fact, but you always have a way of capturing exactly what I’m feeling. You rock-fast or slow.

    Deanna July 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Ah, but perhaps in finding your own blogging rhythm is the key to your best voice. If you pressure yourself to keep up, you risk losing it.
    Far be it from me to give YOU advice on blogging, but I find if I force myself to blog three times a week, when I’m not feeling like blogging three times a week, my message gets lost in translation.
    I might blog less, but I think I blog better.
    Cut yourself some slack, girlfriend!

    KeAnne July 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    I love this. I’ve been unintentionally slow blogging lately. Part of it is due to work and life being busy, so busy, but I also wonder how much the season has to do with it. If any season called for slow blogging, summer would be it. I feel the pressure to publish, publish, publish but there is something satisfying about pausing & savoring your words, maybe polishing them a bit before letting them go.

    neal July 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    When I started blogging, I thought I’d maybe post one essay per week, since that was my thing – essays. Then, I realized that I can’t craft a really great essay in a week, sometimes not even in several weeks. If I am to have any hope of 1. documenting our lives and 2. nurturing a community, it just didn’t seem viable to sweat so much just over a single item. So what I decided is that I will still work on essays, but that they will take up whatever portion of my time left over after I complete three posts per week. So far I feel good about it, although I wish I had a little more time for the essays. I enjoy the variety of small fun posts punctuated by well-crafted meaningful ones.

    And for what it’s worth, I find your blog refreshing and interesting, and I’d follow no matter how slow you go.

    emw July 3, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I’ve adopted a similar schedule, Neal. Trying to write long, essay-like posts more frequently than once a month or once every two or three months just wasn’t possible and made my blog look too stagnant. Even now, I only post once a week. I admire you for doing three a week!

    How do you find the time?

    neal July 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

    How to find the time? Well, it helps to not have an other job. Since my wife and I graduated, we moved in for a period with my in-laws, and my wife telecommutes part-time, and I do some part-time freelance writing. We split the childcare roughly evenly, which gives me about five hours per day to work on writing, which usually becomes maybe three hours, after other things get in the way.

    If we were shooting for a much higher standard of living (like, our goal is to bring in about $20,000 per year right now) , I’d probably be working out of the home, and I’d never have time to write. Priorities, right? I’m still working on getting enough really substantial thought pieces completed, though.

    Mother Ruckus July 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I constantly struggle with trying to be a “now blogger” but end up being a “slow blogger” because I’m raising two kids, managing a house, training for a marathon, etc.

    Let me know when you figure out the answer! :)

    Kendra (Momma's Ruby Slippers) July 2, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s tough when there isn’t constant “stuff” going on to write about. Not to mention, wanting to soak up time with your kids without thinking about it being blog material. I’ll walk back here with you! Love the post and adore the photo. Perfection!

    Schmutzie July 3, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Blogging is at its best when you go with the stride that suits your natural predilections best, I find. Your writing style and your heart in it shouldn’t have to suffer to meet the perceived needs of others’ need to consume. Slow is good :)

    emw July 3, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Blogging once a week feels fast to me and is something I’ve only just tackled in a sustained (and I hope, sustainable) way. Before I launched a different kind of post (I call them Analytic Blinks), I was blogging when I had finished a post (they are long, usually) and it was usually a month and sometimes more between post.

    It’s hard to blog everyday unless it’s part of your job. Even then, it’s a grind.

    Enjoyed your thoughts on the subject.

    Mike Hoskins July 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

    What a great post! I’ve reflected on this over the years, watching how so many post each day and it seems we’re losing our attention span as a society. Even looking at the news coverage, that’s all it is – who can get it out first, regardless of content and quality. And then when they follow-up, it’s not worth reading. This is all the reason for the downfall of the traditional print newspaper. People just don’t have the time or interest in sitting down and reading it, despite that being one of the most effective ways to actually retain the information you’re reading. Many who do, just scan headlines. It’s sad. And the blogging and social media world is making us even more impatient… here’s to more quality blogging when the time is right.

    Her Bad Mother July 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    “it seems we’re losing our attention span as a society.” oh, my gosh: THIS. this is so true. it does seem that way. COLLECTIVE ATTENTION SPAN LOSS.

    no wonder everyone is on Adderall.

    neal July 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Agree about the attention span, but I think it’s also because there are so many accessible (and often similar) options out there. If you’re favorite blogger hasn’t updated recently, it’s pretty easy to go find someone else who fills a similar niche. It’s certainly not like 50′s television where everyone waited for the same show to start on Friday Nights at 7:00.

    Her Bad Mother July 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

    were we better off with the 50′s television model, though? or does the glut of choices represent an improvement? (I wish we were somewhere more in the middle.)

    me July 3, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    I absolutely love this post. Thank you. Landed here a week or two ago during a mild case of worst-mom-on-the-planet-itis. Anyway, this post is perfect. I am neither a “slow” nor “now” blogger, siimply a new blogger and the feedback here about posting frequency, etc. from you and your readers are spot on for me today!

    karengreeners July 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    So, I’m on trend for once? I’ve always been a slow blogger, but I think I’ve also mainly used my blog just for the stories. At least, once twitter and Facebook came along. Now I can use those things to be a hare, and continue to be a tortoise on my blog. I’m ok with that. I couldn’t keep up if I tried, but people still know where to find me.

    Rebecca July 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    I like that idea of slow blogging. I tried to keep up and post twice a week, but decided that was way too exhausting. I felt my creativity being slowly drained out of me. Now I blog when I want, and it helps me remember that I’m the reason I’m blogging in the first place, so all is good :)

    jessica bern July 10, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    Being a humor writer creates a rhythm I cannot control. I “think funny” at certain times and at other moments, I most definitely do not. As I’m not in control of a lot of what life events are tossed my way I am unable to set a schedule for myself. I tried for many years but what came out on many occasions was a post that didn’t reflect what I believed showed off the best “funny me” that I can be, my rhythm was “off”.

    Now, I just live my life and when I see funny I note it and then when I’m feeling funny I write about it. I think we all just need to do what works for us and only us.

    Kristen July 15, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Oh, how I applaud you on this. I love to see you embracing it here too.

    As you can see (with my comment coming…what, thirteen days after the fact), I am currently in the midst of some slow-blog-reading. I used to blame it on the baby. And/or over-committedness.

    But maybe it was my subconscious propelling me to savor what I read a bit more.

    Nah. I still blame it on the baby. ;)

    Kristin July 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I completely agree with you. I’ve noticed that people who are blogging will update posts everyday! It must be hard to write everyday- but it is also hard to catch up on reading the posts! I’m glad you wrote about this. I enjoyed reading it!

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