Why I Blog

In a conversation a few years ago, a friend asked why I bother writing a blog.  His rationale was that since I didn’t receive any compensation for the task and it wasn’t part of my official job, why would I waste time each week writing new posts.  I took a few minutes to explain my rationale for blogging and thought it would be a great subject for this week’s post.

To me, blogging isn’t about what’s in my job description or what I’m paid to do.  It’s about thinking, learning and sharing.  And for that, I have received immeasurable compensation.  Here’s why:

1.  I need to write to learn.   I usually have a bunch of ideas swirling around my head.  Blogging forces me to connect my thoughts in a coherent way and make sense of the sometimes disparate concepts.  It’s not true for everyone, I’m sure.  But writing gives me the opportunity to solidify my thoughts and learn.   When I start writing a blog post, I usually have a general idea of the subject matter and some of the points I want to make.  After getting started, however, I may end up in an entirely different place because the writing process leads me to consider my thoughts in a new way.

2.  I need to write to become a better writer.  I wish I could learn to write by watching someone else write or by reading the written word on page.  Like most things, however, writing isn’t a spectator sport.   Blogging is a way for me to sit down each week and focus on writing.  It’s the same way that runners choose to run each day or musicians choose to practice regularly.  To be good at anything, we all must dedicate some time to develop necessary skills and hone our craft.  Some writers keep journals or join writing groups.  I blog.

3. I’m giving back.  In my mind, blogging is a service that I offer for the community.  Not that the world was suffering without my great wisdom or anything, but I think that I have a knowledge base that could help some of my colleagues, whether they’re at my institution or somewhere across the globe.   Blogging is a way of digitally volunteering.  By contributing new posts each week, I can help people learn new things about teaching and technology.  While this may sound odd to some people, blogging is a form of digital altruism, where individuals work, alone or in groups, to share their expertise or solve problems. The world is full of digital altruists.  Wikipedia and YouTube rely on them.  People share their expertise and knowledge base in all sorts of ways online.  My blog is how I choose to give back to the larger community.

4.  I’m having a dialogue with and learning from the world.   Blogging gives me the ability to have a larger discussion with people I’ve never met about subjects I find interesting.  At the time I’m writing this, over 31,000 visitors have read the 8 Blog with over 125 people stopping by today.  While I’ve submitted 154 posts so far (today’s post will be 155), I have gotten 180 comments on my posts from readers across the globe.  People have visited the blog from almost every state in the US and from over 100 different countries.  While I’ve been able to get a number of manuscripts published in national and international means, I have had very few people contact me or interact with me regarding those publications.  Blogging opens my work to an international dialogue.  As a learner, it’s been tremendously educational for me.

While I’ve shared my reasons for maintaining the 8 Blog, I also want this to be a motivational message for those of you who are thinking about blogging.  Are you looking for a creative outlet?  Do you want to open a dialogue with your colleagues or with total strangers?  Do you want to work on your writing skills and get feedback on your writing?  Blogging can be one way to accomplish this.  Anyone with an idea and some motivation can start blogging today.  Go forth, my friends, and blog.

This post was originally written on October 2, 2012.