The Pledge and Punishment of Blogging

 “At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty’s sake, and invincible determination, may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat” (Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad page 21).

On the face of is blogging is easy. You jot down a few meaningful words on a topic of interest, press the return key, and BANG! It’s out there for the whole world to see. You wait for people to lap up your brilliance; your literary nuggets of wisdom. You wake up the next day and immediately check the page hits, responses ready for all the glowing praise sprinkled over your article like fairy dust from a magic kingdom…

5 views?!?!?! Are you kidding me!

Maybe it’s impatience? I’ll wait a bit longer you think to yourself, perhaps only log back-in every four hours now! But, lo-and-behold, four hours elapse and the readers still don’t flock; it seems like they’ve migrated for the summer. This blogging malarky is harder than you originally thought. Doubt starts to creep into your brain; questions with no answers. Where are my subscribers? Is anyone even reading this at all? What is the purpose of keeping these digital records anyway?

Every writer experiences this, it’s only natural. Logically however what are the chances of an unknown webpage becoming viral overnight among the billions of other sites out there? You’d get better odds on the National Lottery. What you must realise is that those blogs getting thousands of hits per day started out just like yours once; little fish stuggling against the current in a Pacific Ocean of words and thoughts.

In The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain boards a steamship for a pleasure excursion around Europe and the Holy Land; the ticket paid for by a magazine for whom he satirically chronicles his the incidents and adventures he experiences along the way. After two weeks, Twain encounters a fellow passenger who is also documenting his travels. The youthful boy  expresses delight at the number of journal pages he’s managed to fill, even going as far as detailing what he has eaten for every mean on board: “I’m coming along bully! I wrote ten pages in my journal last night – and you know I wrote nine the night before, and twelve the night before that” (Twain, pp. 21). A while later however, when the guests have docked in Paris the boy does not appear so jubilant: “I won’t run that journal anymore. it is awful tedious. Do you know – I reckin I’m as much as four thousand pages behind hand… Oh I don’t think a journal’s any use – do you? They’re only a bother aren’t they?” (Twain, pp. 22).

This boy has fallen into a pit that has since swallowed a myriad of bloggers. Readers will not come instantly, not even slowly. At first they will trickle in like a leaky faucet. Persistance is a virtue, and combining this this with diligence and a love for writing is how one will eventually make that dripping tap discharge readers faster than the Amazon. It won’t be overnight, it may take months and months of continual posting, but it will happen!

As Twain insightfully responds to the boy: “Yes, a journal that is incomplete isn’t of much use, but a journal properly kept is worth a thousand dollars, – when you’ve got it done.”

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