Friday, May 26, 2006

The Psychology of a Blogger

Blog addiction. I’ve written about it, and it seems as though many others are suffering from it. Recently, i obsess wrote about blog apathy, which is a serious malady that includes, as one symptom, the need of the blogger to feel liked and validated. I immediately felt that I fit the profile.

And it got me thinking. Why do I blog? What addicts me to it, really? Why does it make me so happy to wake up each morning and see comments on my latest post, indicating that maybe just maybe someone is reading what I have to say and is possibly even slightly entertained by it?

To understand the psychology of it, I have to go back in time a bit and tell you a little about myself. Please indulge me if you will…

***fade to flashback***

There was once a child who loved to read and loved to write. She loved fantasy and adventure stories like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Hobbit, as well as stories about girls that she could identify with, such as Anne of Green Gables.

She would develop intimate ties to the characters, and when she got to the end of a book, she would often read the last page over and over, futility trying to hold on to the characters who, inevitably, would slip through her fingers and disappear. And she would cry, a little, because those characters had really become like close friends.

This child also liked to write. Though in truth, she wasn’t all that good at it. But still, she would pound away on her grandmother’s old typewriter and put the fantasies that swirled around in her head onto paper. She just knew that her stories were good enough to publish. Though truly they weren’t. But, still, she could dream of being a writer. And she did.

As the child grew older, her love of reading and writing intensified. Her favorite subject in school was English. She loved analyzing literature. She would write notes in the margins of her books, tracing themes, trying to discover the secret insights and truths that the authors were trying to convey.

When she entered college, she decided that she would study literature and spent four more years dissecting the works of the great authors. And she adored it.

When it was time to graduate, however, she realized that she had absolutely no idea what to do with her degree. She just knew she liked to write and she liked to read. And that was it.

Because she was also interested in public service, she ended up working for a small, non-profit organization. Her writing skills came in handy and, after proving herself, she was allowed to write glossy publications for the organization on a number of topics ranging from teen pregnancy to tobacco cessation. She loved that part of her job.

But then there was the other part of the job. The not so fun part. The part that had nothing at all to do with writing. The part which was terribly fast-paced, where she was made to manage staff and project deliverables and large events on timelines that were impossible to meet. The part where she had to regularly work evenings and weekends to get everything accomplished. The part where she realized that her work might not really be making much of an impact anyway, and yet it was taking over her life.

The pressure built for four years until, at the age of 26, she developed a stress-related thyroid disorder. She began to lose weight quickly. Her heart beat so rapidly that she became as jittery as a speed addict.

But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst was when she found out that she would not be able to have children as long as she suffered from the condition. And that scared the shit out of her because having children was what she had always wanted more than anything.

So in addition to seeking medical treatment, she also made some drastic changes to reduce her stress levels. Perhaps the most drastic of all--she quit her job and went to work for a government a fiscal analyst.

It was a desperate move. Becoming a fiscal analyst was certainly not her dream job, but it was the first opportunity at a non-stressful job that came her way so she jumped. And truthfully, she welcomed the anonymity of her new position in such a large agency. She was able to hide in the bowels of a bureaucracy so big that no one would notice her. No one would find her and pressure her to take on huge workloads or work long hours. Her job was the opposite of stressful. The sacrifice? The work was monotonous. It was boring. And sadly, it required no right brain activity whatsoever.

She had traded her pen for a calculator. It felt funny. It was not her. But she was stress-free and finally went into remission from her thyroid disorder. She became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful, healthy 8lb 2oz baby boy. She had acheived her goal of becoming physically healthy.

But in the meantime, she began to lose her identify. No one knew she loved to write or that she could write. People knew her as a numbers person. A box checker. A creater of red tape. A regulator.

And that’s where she was three months ago when she found blogging. She approached it tentatively, even fearfully, for putting pen to paper again after three years felt oddly awkward and she was not sure what would flow out. And further, she was not sure if her writing would connect to others, which is what she secretly hoped for.

And so here she is, here I am, three months into blogging and realizing why I am addicted, why I need blogging and why I need you, my readers and fellow writer/artists.

Because for me, this is my lifeline, my one and only creative outlet. And you, my friends, whether you know it or not, are spurring me on to improve my writing by stopping by and leaving me comments and by modeling witty and insightful and emotional writing in your own blog posts, which I devour like I once did Anne of Green Gables. By doing these things, you are challenging me to improve my writing. You are helping to construct my creative space. You are giving me the courage to write again. Because I'm not just some red tape regulator. I do have something to share, something meaningful to add to the dialogue.

And I'm finding my way back to myself...through this blog. One post at a time.

I thank you for helping me do that.

A Perfect Post


Blogger carrie said...

Well said, thank you.

You are a wonderful writer and I truly enjoy all that I've read (I'm a little green, but I too am an ex-English major).

1:11 AM  
Anonymous kvetch said...

Blogging is wonderful, isn't it? I didn't even know how much I missed writing until I started doing it again. There is something about other people's posts that just drawas you in --- I haven't read this much of anything --- in years! And reading makes you a better writer! And yes, writing and having people comment is amazing. I'm obsessed as well, addicted, as you say, and also have a post brewing about the same thing. I really enjoy your blog, and your writing, btw!!!

4:30 AM  
Blogger Christina_the_wench said...

You got the skill, girl. Keep it up!

I write for contact with someone who isn't yelling "MOM" ______(fill in the blank).

5:04 AM  
Blogger Pattie said...

I love, love, love this post!!! I enjoy your writing so you are an English major? Sometimes life takes us in different directions (health, babies, etc) that we didn't plan for. I am glad that thru it all, you remembered what your passion is and are fulfilling it. I think that I blog for the same reason you do. It fulfills a creative need. Keep up the great work! ;)

5:07 AM  
Blogger Christina_the_wench said...

ps. I NEED one of those Blog Addict t-shirts. Hook me up with a link?

5:42 AM  
Blogger Kel said...

Blogging is the best thing in the world. It helps us with our highs and lows and brings us closer to people we never thought we'd "meet".

I'm so glad you stumbled on my blog, because in turn I found yours.

Wonderful post, wonderful!

6:07 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

Great post! I also did non-profit/development work (12 years!) and totally understand the stress.

It's so fun to go back to our true passions. I have found that with blogging as well. It has been a great reminder to me of my old (very old, about 20 years old) dreams of being a writer.

6:20 AM  
Blogger sunshinedaily4me_wuz_here said...

How true. I have often wondered myself why I am addicted to blogging. There are some that just don't understand it - but others like you, that do! I always wanted to be a writer too, but never pursued it. I never pursued it in school a Marketing degree instead which I never formally used as I married an Army officer right out of college and nobody wanted to hire an army spouse for a "serious" job. That was ages ago...but I do understand the need to write and be creative. And I really enjoy reading your posts! I think its the comment thing that is most addictive - somehow it is so validating!!!

6:27 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

You are not alone.

7:32 AM  
Blogger Jodi said...

AMEN, sister. I feel ya. Well, not really since we are in blog land and it's cyberspace and I can't REALLY feel you, but I feel you, as in I understand and agree wholeheartedly.

I too loved to read and write, since my conception I think. My biggest dream is to be a published writer. I seriously doubt that will ever happen. But, in the meantime I LOVE blogging, I love having a place to express myself, and I very much enjoy reading extraordinary writing such as is displayed in this blog with each & every post.

You ARE a wonderful writer and I feel privelaged that I get to read you! :)

Oh yeah, and I am a comment whore and am not ashamed to admit it.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I have chills. You could totally be ME! I changed my major in college from English to Accounting because I didn't want to teach (though I don't know why) and I didn't want to starve trying to break into publishing. I had lofty notions that the only kind of writing I wanted to do was novel writing, but at I realized that such a goal would take a lot of time, patience, and a good deal of luck along with my talent. I was a Novel Snob, and I so. regret. that. It caused me to make one of the worst decisions of my life. I changed my major so that I'd have a solid, steady paycheck. I sold out.

My job is left-brained all the way, calculator and mechanical pencil in hand, I fall asleep with the banality. Instead of staying true to my dreams and just getting jobs that paid the bills while writing and working toward that end, I substituted a career in something I have no interest in, that bleeds me of time in which I wish I was writing, time during which I commute for 2 hours a day, time I sit at my desk and wish I was home writing, time time time that's slipping by me. I only get about an hour a day to write on my projects, and that hour is only if I'm not so exhausted that when facing the computer or pillow choice, I actually choose to plop my ass in the desk chair instead of bed.

And so I blog.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

Carriebrett: a fellow English major--awesome.

Kvetch: I enjoy your blog as well. It was one of the first ones I read and I now visit you regularly.

Christina: I love that aspect of blogging too...getting a break from the write and read about the

Domesticator: likewise, likewise!

Kel: right back atcha Mama!

Mrs. Davis: 12 years? You are awesome. It is good work.

Sunshine: yes, the comments. They are nice aren't they? No gettin' around it.

Dawn: that makes me happy.

Jodi: I'm glad we met. You are a really down-to-earth writer and I like that.

Andrea: I think we are living parallel lives! Sometimes I feel like I sold out too. Glad we met over the blogosphere. I can totally relate to your comment.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Marcie said...

Even though your job is as a fiscal anylyst you will always be a writer and a damn good one at that.
This blogging thing should be fun and never a source of stress. Thanks for the reminder:)

9:55 AM  
Blogger Great Day said...

If reaching your audience is what you were seeking, your quest is over with me.

You brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful, well thought out post.

I have throughly enjoyed your writing and will be back everyday for the rest of my life!!

10:12 AM  
Blogger jennster said...

awwww- this is lovely. you are so cute. write away darlin, i'll kepe reading!! :)

10:26 AM  
Blogger Catch said...

I love your blog...its always interesting and witty...I didnt really know a lot about blogs when I started mine.....but it is quite an outlet...and I have made so many blogger friends!!! God bless you keep writing...we will keep reading!

10:41 AM  
Anonymous lildb said...

Wow. My blush (blog crush; I'm full of 'em lately) has suddenly become a raging torrent. Really? Narnia *and* The Hobbit *and* Anne Shirley?

Be still, my throbbing heart, my flushed face.


seriously, I used to cry - okay, scratch the used-to portion - at the end of books, because I'd fallen so in love with the characters and the world in which they dwelled that I didn't want to let go.

dude, I *so* can't wait to hang out with you sometime, and get the boyz together to swap spit. :)

*your* new #1 crazy-stalker freakshow blog fan.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

This was an awesome post. Truly awesome. I can totally identify with the identity "crisis" - I've said it many a time. Blogging has helped me find myself.

And Anne Shirley and I are kindred spirits. :)

PS I'm a violinist - but worked as a music therapist - college professor in that field so not really music teaching but teaching how to be a music therapist... (to answer your Clubmom comment ? :)

11:34 AM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Great post. After reading Debbie's entry, I was thinking about this topic quite a bit last night. It seems like you've done a perfect job of summing up my thoughts already.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Nancy said...

That was a great post. I can definitely identify with your reasons for blogging. My job gives me an opportunity to write, but not in any way that truly allows me to express my creativity. The outlet for creativity -- and stress release -- provided by blogging has been wonderful. And the friendships and connections I've made have been an unexpected benefit.

1:57 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

Beautiful post. I feel like the blog world is an almost magical place where we get to say what we want, how we want it. This is more valuable to me than living in the lap of luxury would be. All I ever wanted to do was write and have people read my writing. Now I have had that dream come true.

It makes the 8 hours in the mustard colored cubicle kind of bearable

4:22 PM  
Blogger Mommy off the Record said...

Marcie: thank you. I totally agree that blogging should be fun. May it stay that way!

Great Day/Jennster/Catch: thank you for the sweet comments... *sniff; wiping eyes*

lildb: we shall definitely have to have a spit swapping party with the boyz. You and I, we'll have margheritas.

Motherhood Uncensored: i am simply grinning ear to ear that you have visited me. *bowing humbly*

Mothergoosemouse: thanks for returning a visit :)

Nancy: i never thought that one could make connections through blogging. who knew? it's a nice added benefit

Suebob: you have a mustard colored cubicle too?! Something we have in common!

4:35 PM  
Anonymous reluctant housewife said...

I just love this post!

I could cut and paste it onto my own blog, if only people would believe I could have said this as well as you.


4:49 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

What an inspiring post! I had no idea you had gone through so much, but I'm glad that you were able to find a writing outlet. I enjoy your writing and always look forward to new installments.

For me, blogging is all about getting my own thoughts out, when often I have no one to share them with. I can share them with the virtual community of moms I have met.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous chelle said...

Blogging rocks!

I think most people that write for a blog, find some theraputic or creative outlet. My mind would be mush without blogging and designing!

I am glad that we can be apart of your outlet!

7:00 PM  
Blogger Tori said...

Thanks for sharing...
I love your story. I think there is a little frustrated writer in all of us....
And at least this way... we don't have to scramble to find a publisher...
(though we secretly hope one will find us and say... Where have you been all my life?)

7:17 PM  
Anonymous Mama C-ta said...

Wow, this was awesome, I learned so much about you. You are a fabulous writer. The kind of blogger that makes me want to quit w/my 3rd grade writing level. Glad it's helping the real you shine again!

7:42 PM  
Blogger Catherine said...

I'm always late! Therefore, ditto what most everyone here has already said... I feel like I can relate to you on a gajillion-and-one levels. Beautiful post. :)

8:29 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Yes, what everyone else said. Beautiful, true post. Blogging is totally a life-line, it's awesome. By the way, I'm sure those stories you wrote as a kid were fantastic.

10:25 PM  
Blogger kim said...

That was beautifuly put *hugs* I feel like I found a lost part of me when I started my blog. Who knew all that reading when we were growing up would lead us to these blogs and to each others lives. It looks like we started our blogs around the same time and even in the same place? very cool :)
and thanks for visiting me

10:29 PM  
Blogger cameo said...

in three short months you have quite a following! it's good you have found this outlet. because it's good to honor who you are and BE who you are! keep it up.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Zephra said...

That was great and I was a HUGE Anne fan. I too daydreamed about what happened to her after the book ended.

7:27 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh this is wonderful. You speak for so many of us and I'm glad you've found yourself through the writing process.

as my former shrink (ahem) would have told you, it's cool that you need all those things. That's what makes you human. Don't apologize for them; own them.

10:40 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

You ARE a wonderful writer! And to think I am just as new to blogging as you, 3 months. My motivation was much different (just to journal for me and Liam). I am so glad I ran into your blog for this particular post. You gave a beautiful summary of your diverse life and that is so much fun for a new reader!

I understand the addiction. The allure of comments or "pearls of wisdom" is a new phenomena for a lot of us. What shear joy when a new count appears each hour of the day (because I check my comments like a mad woman hundreds of times a day... a comments "whore" as Jodi said)!!!

10:48 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Great post. And I feel the same way as you do about what my blog has done for me. :)

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Izzy said...

A kindred spirit, as Anne would have said!

I adore Anne of Green Gables (and also get attached to fictional

8:57 AM  
Blogger Wendy Boucher said...

I'm really glad you talked about this topic. I've been wondering why I blog too. At first, I thought it would be for strictly promotional purposes (I'm an author). But it SO is not for that at all. There is a personal need that it fills and I'm glad you found your outlet too.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Dawn Isaac said...

Awesome post. It is my first time visiting here. I love blogging also.

1:16 AM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

congrats on Mega Mom's nomination for this piece as a perfect post. It really, really is!

7:06 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh so funny - on my own post today when I highlighted this as a perfect post, I didn't realize it had been awarded for real. Yeah you!

7:58 AM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Congrats on the perfect post! When I teach Children's Literature, I always emphasize that the books we read as children are so powerful - they become part of our identity in a way that adult literature just can't. Your post demonstrates that so beautifully.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Congrats on the Perfect Post! You truly are deserving of that honor.

(and I apologize for not commenting on this sooner. I read it soon after you wrote it, but then something got in the way - damn life - and I meant to come back. I'm glad I did! It gave me a chance to read this again.)

10:19 AM  
Blogger modmom said...

hi! i just found your blog + read this great post! you are a very good writer. clear, concise, logical, fluid.

12:16 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I found this throught Mega Mom's perfect post nomination. It's great. I never thought of being a writer until I was home with my little ones with no outlet at all. Then, I thought, I have some things I'd like to say, so when my friend told me about blogging, I started. I use it like a journal and maybe one day I'll become a writer, or not. But, I'm having fun writing here.

3:58 AM  
Anonymous MotherPie said...

YOur piece was wonderful and the commentor that mentioned the power of books we read as children was spot on.
Blogging does fill a niche...

6:23 AM  
Blogger mommy on the verge said...

Great post! I want a t-shirt that reads 'This Bitch Blogs'
I think I will have one made up for me.
I think all of us who write are so grateful to have this outlet, I was too lazy to keep a diary, so here you go folks! All our crazy thoughts on-line! Lets all keep it up!

9:09 PM  

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