Thinking about writing a blog?

Bob Borson —  March 24, 2010 — 24 Comments

The Scream by Edvard Munch

I have been struggling with the popularity of a post I wrote listing reasons “not” to be an architect. I am also learning that the effort I put into my writing is out of balance with the rest of my life so, if you are thinking about starting your own blog of original content, be warned – it’s a lot of work. I thought it would be interesting to share an email exchange I had with one of my new friends – Paul Anater. Paul writes the blog Kitchen and Residential Design and has helped ferry me along these first few months of writing my blog. Whenever I have a question on the zen of blogging, Paul’s my go-to guy.

From: Paul [mailto:saintpetepaul@gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:22 AM
To: Bob Borson
Subject: angst

Bob,

The post about the crappy mosaic you just left a comment on is my number one hit generator of all time. In the year since it first appeared, it’s been translated into at least four languages and even now generates about 20 direct hits a day. I marvel at its ability to generate traffic and buzz. It’s hardly something I want to be known for, but the people who come looking for that post usually stick around to see what else is on my blog. The value in K&RD comes from my archives, not any one particular post. The same holds true for Life of an Architect. The popularity of your top ten reasons NOT to become an architect seems to be gnawing at you. Congratulations, you’re normal. Be grateful for the attention and keep writing. People always gravitate to the negative (ask anybody in TV) and the trick is to use snark as a hook from time to time. Cynicism is like dessert. It’s nice from time to time but a steady diet of it isn’t very satisfying. You do a great job of using your wit to lure people in but it’s your intelligence that makes them stay. Chin up!

Paul

From: Bob Borson [mailto:bob@lifeofanarchitect.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:02 PM
To: Paul
Subject: angst

Paul,

As always, thanks for the words of encouragement. Like all things (it seems), I start with great enthusiasm and immerse myself into learning something new…. but eventually my interests fade and I move on to a new “hobby”. I am surprised that I enjoy this as much as I do but the amount of time it takes is shocking. I don’t know how anybody actually gets any work done – between the blogs, twitter, responding to posts, and preparing and editing the photos I use,  I might be spending 20 hours a week on this. The quality of my sleep has definitely diminished because I lay in bed worried that I don’t have anything to write about, or my latest effort will provide the evidence that finally proves I am an idiot. I will be exposed as a fraud and the men in heavy-rimmed glasses will come take away my architectural license.  To then have one of the most throw-away posts (Top Ten Reasons to NOT be and Architect) be the main generator for the rest of my site…uughhh. Why kill yourself trying to generate original content when I could pull a top ten list out of thin air in 30 minutes or simply repost other people’s efforts?

When my wife came in from out-of-town last night (at 10:30pm) her third or fourth question was “What have you been doing? Your blog?”. There wasn’t a tone to this question but I still bristled at the question and got defensive. I thought I could be doing something positive with the time I spend on my blog; feeding homeless people, rescuing people from burning buildings, learn CPR, or even (gasp!) talking to my family.

I have really enjoyed writing my posts and have been amazed at the number or quality individuals I have come to know in such a short time – I don’t plan on stopping but there needs to be a balance and I question my ability to find it.

As a matter of fact, would you mind if I posted this email exchange for tomorrow’s post?

Bob

From: Paul [mailto:saintpetepaul@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:16 PM
To: Bob Borson
Subject: Re: angst

No Bob, I wouldn’t mind at all. A blog can easily become a full-time job if you let it. The key is that you can’t let it. The other key is to let go of your posts as soon as you hit the publish button. A blog cannot be the last word on a particular subject. I take my posts seriously but not so seriously that I think they are anything but the meanderings of some guy in Florida. Some people find me amusing, some people learn a thing or two from me and that’s really great. More than anything though, I keep my blog going because it’s fun and it opens the door to opportunities and people I could have never been exposed to otherwise.

You’re doing great with all of this and if you ask any blogger, they’ll tell you that they go through and have been through everything you’re experiencing now. Like I said before; congratulations, you’re normal. Now get back to work! Hah!

From: Bob Borson [mailto:bob@lifeofanarchitect.com]

Sent: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 12:23 PM
To: Paul
Subject: angst

Hah! is right – in my office, we like to say “back on your heads”.

A man dies and gets sent to hell to spend some time for his sins. Upon arrival, he is met by a demon that tells him he has a choice on where he spends this time. The demon shows the man option #1 which is a room with people chained to rocks and bursts of fire burning them repeatedly.

“Oooh – uhmm, that looks bad. What’s my other choice?”

The demon walks the man over to another room which is full of people standing knee-deep in fecal matter, drinking coffee and talking to one another.

“That doesn’t look so bad. I’ll take this room.”

So the demon leaves the man there in the room of poop. The man helps himself to a cup of coffee and goes to introduce himself to the nearest group. Just as he is about to say hello, the demon in charge of this room shouts:

“Break time is over, everyone back on their heads”.

I have to get back on my head, these posts aren’t going to write themselves.

.

.

  • Jellyxox

    did you know that the picture at the top of this page is called scream????

  • http://www.buildingmoxie.com jb @BMoxieBMore

    take 3: (long day & delete the others) a day or 7 months late. 1st this post exemplifies what i have said many times — just how supportive paul anater is. 2nd I cannot believe you have been here. you simply make it seem all so effortless. . . I am most surprised by this and *it’s* what ends up sucking *all* my energy — “wife . . . her third or fourth question was ‘ . . . What have you been doing? Your blog?. . .'” that and stealing from a day job. You’re still doing it! glad to have met you and thanks for sharing and retweeting this. . . a faithful follower. WWBD?! jb (<< maybe he'd proofread the first time then post the comment Ha!)

  • bobborson

    I think my post this coming Wednesday will be on my website, what I've done, how little I know, how things are being measured – sort of a review where all the areas that I need help are exposed. I think it's quite posssible that there are other bloggers out there that like to blog but don't really know the technical side – I didn't. It is also difficult to find out how to measure your progress. I'm not sure if I beleive all the people out there that say that have 23 bagillion readers a day to their site. So I think I am going to pull the curtain back…

  • http://twitter.com/ModernSauce Madame Sunday

    Glad to know I'm not the only one with blog woes! I use my blog to creatively flesh out things that I wouldn't be able to in my “real life”. Whether it's a silly throw-away post or something with a deeper meaning (hopefully) I think it ends up being just a different narrative of my life. People are here to listen to YOUR voice – short, long, silly, poignant, whatever. And just like real life there are mistakes, things you wish you'd done differently or things that you are pleasantly surprised by and are out of your control. 'Out of control' – the most hated words to an architect! ; )

    Ok I won't be a lurker anymore!

  • http://www.nashandassociates.com Brian N

    When the ’12 Step Program’ gets set-up, count me in. Hey – look at it this way, we’re all suffering the same malaise and domestic wry smiles – Maybe this blog and the comments/replies are another form of Group Therapy – so thanks for the post. Guess if this was all we did – blogging – it would be a different ‘take’ on the process. I’ve only been at this for just over 3 months – which gives me a sense of unending respect for those who have been at it for years.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob Borson

      Brian,

      I know what you mean about writing a blog for years – I can’t even begin to imagine. I’ve been at this really since March 4th – started off writing 5 days a week and had to reduce down to M-W-F. It was exhausting and I have so many other things going on that it was causing a lot of stress because I didn’t want to stop working on anything!

      Thanks for commenting and for taking time to visit.

  • http://www.nashandassociates.com/ Brian N

    When the ’12 Step Program’ gets set-up, count me in. Hey – look at it this way, we’re all suffering the same malaise and domestic wry smiles – Maybe this blog and the comments/replies are another form of Group Therapy – so thanks for the post. Guess if this was all we did – blogging – it would be a different ‘take’ on the process. I’ve only been at this for just over 3 months – which gives me a sense of unending respect for those who have been at it for years.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob Borson

      Brian,

      I know what you mean about writing a blog for years – I can’t even begin to imagine. I’ve been at this really since March 4th – started off writing 5 days a week and had to reduce down to M-W-F. It was exhausting and I have so many other things going on that it was causing a lot of stress because I didn’t want to stop working on anything!

      Thanks for commenting and for taking time to visit.

  • http://www.kitchendetailsanddesign.com detailsanddesign

    ooooh, I may take umbrage at the comment “sense of a contractor” vs “hordes of designer types”!! Not all designers are fancy fluffs!! In my neck of the woods, I know more about executing the details of interiors than the majority of the contractors!!! LOL!! I have saved a few contractor tushs more than once by picking up on some details BEFORE sheetrock and giving them a head’s up! Of course, we plan, execute and manage most of our own projects…remodels anyway so makes it easier.

    ok back on subject: I am with you on time commitment and being busy. I cannot fathom how I carve out the time I do for all this but it does get easier. I do not think you have to write every day to be impactful either.

    Apparently an ability to exist on little sleep is also helpful….

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Cheryl,
      It was not my intention to single anyone out by “designer types” – I consider myself to be a part of this group. I was referring to the inherent natural differences between those who focus on imagination versus those who focus on functionality. I would hope that designer types and contractor have a bit of both (but let’s admit it, that is not always the case…).

      Maybe I will try an experiment with posts under 500 words for a while – that will be really difficult for me but it has a great upside!

  • http://www.kitchendetailsanddesign.com/ detailsanddesign

    ooooh, I may take umbrage at the comment “sense of a contractor” vs “hordes of designer types”!! Not all designers are fancy fluffs!! In my neck of the woods, I know more about executing the details of interiors than the majority of the contractors!!! LOL!! I have saved a few contractor tushs more than once by picking up on some details BEFORE sheetrock and giving them a head’s up! Of course, we plan, execute and manage most of our own projects…remodels anyway so makes it easier.

    ok back on subject: I am with you on time commitment and being busy. I cannot fathom how I carve out the time I do for all this but it does get easier. I do not think you have to write every day to be impactful either.

    Apparently an ability to exist on little sleep is also helpful….

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Cheryl,
      It was not my intention to single anyone out by “designer types” – I consider myself to be a part of this group. I was referring to the inherent natural differences between those who focus on imagination versus those who focus on functionality. I would hope that designer types and contractor have a bit of both (but let’s admit it, that is not always the case…).

      Maybe I will try an experiment with posts under 500 words for a while – that will be really difficult for me but it has a great upside!

  • RichardC

    As one of your heretofore anonymous readers, I do hope the angst you are feeling goes away before it drives you to quit your blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed your musings. In fact, I have even learned several things. And, as a General Contractor, that’s a huge step to admit learning something from an Architect (he said tongue firmly planted in cheek).

    Keep blogging! You’ve got a talent for it!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Richard,
      Thanks for your kind words (I can’t believe that you put it in writing that you learned something from an architect – we’ll keep that between us so that you don’t get cross-ways with your contractor buddies). For the record, I didn’t use the word angst, my friend Paul did – what I have falls more into the category of exhaustion. As much as I have enjoyed writing and the other bits associated with my site, I don’t really have the time for this level of commitment. I have my own set of standards and sooner or later, somethings going to give. Hopefully I will be able to resolve the process of how I go about doing this so that I can find the balance. I have received ton’s of suggestions that are probably worth exploring but in the long run, I think the people who tolerate me and what I have to say will plateau and it won’t matter if I write something M-F or not.
      I am glad you came out of anonymity to write, I could use the sense of a contractor to weigh in among the horde of designer types – please feel free to call me out when you see fit (anyone else for that matter – the dialog is the best part really).

  • RichardC

    As one of your heretofore anonymous readers, I do hope the angst you are feeling goes away before it drives you to quit your blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed your musings. In fact, I have even learned several things. And, as a General Contractor, that’s a huge step to admit learning something from an Architect (he said tongue firmly planted in cheek).

    Keep blogging! You’ve got a talent for it!

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Richard,
      Thanks for your kind words (I can’t believe that you put it in writing that you learned something from an architect – we’ll keep that between us so that you don’t get cross-ways with your contractor buddies). For the record, I didn’t use the word angst, my friend Paul did – what I have falls more into the category of exhaustion. As much as I have enjoyed writing and the other bits associated with my site, I don’t really have the time for this level of commitment. I have my own set of standards and sooner or later, somethings going to give. Hopefully I will be able to resolve the process of how I go about doing this so that I can find the balance. I have received ton’s of suggestions that are probably worth exploring but in the long run, I think the people who tolerate me and what I have to say will plateau and it won’t matter if I write something M-F or not.
      I am glad you came out of anonymity to write, I could use the sense of a contractor to weigh in among the horde of designer types – please feel free to call me out when you see fit (anyone else for that matter – the dialog is the best part really).

  • http://www.kitchenclarity.com ClarityK (Sarah)

    Well I love your posts and your thoughtful voice. Bravo! We’ll all be together in whatever circle of hell exists for bloggers. I hope the coffee is decent there, at least.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      Thanks Sarah – now, after reading your note, I’m really nervous; for some reason I just realized that I don’t like coffee (but maybe that’s the point when you are in purgatory)!

  • http://www.kitchenclarity.com/ ClarityK (Sarah)

    Well I love your posts and your thoughtful voice. Bravo! We’ll all be together in whatever circle of hell exists for bloggers. I hope the coffee is decent there, at least.

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      Thanks Sarah – now, after reading your note, I’m really nervous; for some reason I just realized that I don’t like coffee (but maybe that’s the point when you are in purgatory)!

  • http://www.kitchendetailsanddesign.com detailsanddesign

    Hmmm. Yes, normal Bob. I can tell similar stories. My husband is thinking about starting a 12 step program for bloggers! The thing is, you do get “addicted”. I do not care once the post goes out..I read comments but don’t think it about it much. What I have found though is that I try to take some time to “think” about topics at one time…write them down then keep that list handy when I start to write. Other times, I have to work! Or i have nothing to write about! But when I allocate time to work on the ideas…it helps me NOT think about it other times.

    The other thing I do is write about what I know. Makes is sooo much easier. My blog is really much about what happens in my day from a design perspective and business owner perspective. ( side note: I had a new client yesterday begging me to not use their “before” photos for the blog!LOL)
    I will say my employees are pretty much tired of me interjecting, somewhat excitedly, into all of our meetings or job site visits, “GAWD, this will make a great blog post!” Yeah yeah yeah, whatever cheryl!

    Paul and I had this same talk Saturday. (note to self: make sure Paul mentions me in the foreword of the book he is sure to write here shortly!) He is full of good ideas and is so willing to share with others. That is truly awesome and interestingly enough, that is my experience with many of my twitter friends and blogging buddies. The genuine inerest in others…even though we all have an agenda!
    The other thing Paul and I both do is write directly into the blog…no word docs or anything to make it one less step. If I need to correct, I go back later and do it.
    I hope you stick with it! I have enjoyed your posts and think if either of us ever has any “spare” time, we need to get on with our NEW blog! I love the idea!

    Really.?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com Bob

      I might need a 12 step program to qualify for THE 12 step program. And I know the people around me are sick and tired of hearing me talk about what I’m learning. One of my goals when I first started out writing was to hone my “voice” and become more succinct. Not sure how that’s working out for me so far. My posts are almost always really long and I hear it from some friends that they are too busy to read a post as long as the Magna Carta. Since I’m not sharing anything other than my opinion and observations on concepts (as opposed to “look at the new line of porcelain tile” – people don’t want that from me), the topics are hard to come up with; particularly since I am trying to write them in an amusing way for people who might not be architects or professional designers.

      Occasionally, someone will suggest a topic and it would be a great idea other than the fact that it’s only a few sentences deep in content. That’s my main struggle, finding worthy topics that I think I have a unique view on and can apply my “voice”. I should take my own advice – the struggle is what makes the worthwhile worthy. I should trademark that, shouldn’t I? “I, Bob Borson, do claim that phrase as my own, heretofore and forthwith, so as I intend to do something with it to improve my position in life.” something like that.

  • http://www.kitchendetailsanddesign.com/ detailsanddesign

    Hmmm. Yes, normal Bob. I can tell similar stories. My husband is thinking about starting a 12 step program for bloggers! The thing is, you do get “addicted”. I do not care once the post goes out..I read comments but don’t think it about it much. What I have found though is that I try to take some time to “think” about topics at one time…write them down then keep that list handy when I start to write. Other times, I have to work! Or i have nothing to write about! But when I allocate time to work on the ideas…it helps me NOT think about it other times.

    The other thing I do is write about what I know. Makes is sooo much easier. My blog is really much about what happens in my day from a design perspective and business owner perspective. ( side note: I had a new client yesterday begging me to not use their “before” photos for the blog!LOL)
    I will say my employees are pretty much tired of me interjecting, somewhat excitedly, into all of our meetings or job site visits, “GAWD, this will make a great blog post!” Yeah yeah yeah, whatever cheryl!

    Paul and I had this same talk Saturday. (note to self: make sure Paul mentions me in the foreword of the book he is sure to write here shortly!) He is full of good ideas and is so willing to share with others. That is truly awesome and interestingly enough, that is my experience with many of my twitter friends and blogging buddies. The genuine inerest in others…even though we all have an agenda!
    The other thing Paul and I both do is write directly into the blog…no word docs or anything to make it one less step. If I need to correct, I go back later and do it.
    I hope you stick with it! I have enjoyed your posts and think if either of us ever has any “spare” time, we need to get on with our NEW blog! I love the idea!

    Really.?

    • http://www.lifeofanarchitect.com/ Bob

      I might need a 12 step program to qualify for THE 12 step program. And I know the people around me are sick and tired of hearing me talk about what I’m learning. One of my goals when I first started out writing was to hone my “voice” and become more succinct. Not sure how that’s working out for me so far. My posts are almost always really long and I hear it from some friends that they are too busy to read a post as long as the Magna Carta. Since I’m not sharing anything other than my opinion and observations on concepts (as opposed to “look at the new line of porcelain tile” – people don’t want that from me), the topics are hard to come up with; particularly since I am trying to write them in an amusing way for people who might not be architects or professional designers.

      Occasionally, someone will suggest a topic and it would be a great idea other than the fact that it’s only a few sentences deep in content. That’s my main struggle, finding worthy topics that I think I have a unique view on and can apply my “voice”. I should take my own advice – the struggle is what makes the worthwhile worthy. I should trademark that, shouldn’t I? “I, Bob Borson, do claim that phrase as my own, heretofore and forthwith, so as I intend to do something with it to improve my position in life.” something like that.