My context-ridden attempt to answer a question about blogging from a reader.
@ericstoller may I ask what inspires u 2 write? I enjoy reading ur posts which inspires me to want to write more. It just takes me so long— Kelley McCarthy (@KMcCarthy8185) December 28, 2012
When I started my first blog in 2004 (originally located on an Oregon State University server), it wasn't about being strategic, constructing a personal brand, or collecting page views. The blog began as an experiment for my assistantship at OSU and ended up being my portfolio for my graduate degree. A collection of essays, random thought pieces, photos, videos, and questions, my blog served as a cerebral living room of sorts. Most of the posts that I wrote between 2004 and 2010 related to social justice issues, higher education, and technology.
When Inside Higher Ed offered me a spot on their blogroll, I immediately said yes. Writing for IHE since the summer of 2010 has been a phenomenal experience. When I quit my full-time job at OSU in 2010 and devoted 100% of my available time to my consulting business, the original blog that I had started 6 years prior started to gather some dust. Nowadays, my original blog (moved from OSU's server to a dedicated host/URL) at ericstoller.com serves as my home-base for sharing assorted tidbits. Currently, it serves as a place for me to share my recent presentations and my professional bio. The majority of my blogging endeavors are situated at IHE. There's a big difference between having time for random blogging and blogging for an organization like IHE. This blog has a different audience and I try to be much more cognizant of the tone/style that I use.
In terms of what inspires me to write, I would say that I am inspired by a lot of things…conversations, articles, news, art, current events, history, and pop culture. People often ask me how I come up with ideas for this blog, my answer is usually that I stare at the walls in my office for a while, but in truth, there are so many things to write about. That's usually a bigger issue for me. Finding ways to constrain my mind so that I can focus on a singular topic as opposed to letting my mind wander. I think it's also important to clarify the difference between inspiration and motivation. My motivation to write for IHE comes from the fact that I am compensated for my work and that I truly enjoy giving back to this community. However, it's important to note that having ample amounts of inspiration and motivation doesn't make blogging an easy task.
One of the things that I struggled with in 2012 was finding enough time to blog. My consulting business was epicly successful and I was juggling a lot of travel, speaking commitments, and consulting projects. Blogging was often something that I did after completing everything else that was on my to-do list. It takes energy and after traveling almost 100,000 miles in 2012, I was left with a shorter amount of time to "get my blog on." Sometimes, this resulted in shorter blog posts. Three paragraphs instead of five, or the inclusion of a video to add content to a piece. A quality idea or question is often all that is needed for a post. If it takes you a bit more time to create a post, don't worry about it. Think of your blog as your art project. It's your art…and your timetable.
Lastly, don't worry about what you're writing about. Far too many people in our profession are concerned with writing blog posts that are about student affairs. Write about something that interests you. Heck, just write. That's most of the challenge. Write something, post it, and then write some more.
My most-read/most-commented post of 2012 was "Where are the Radical Practitioners?". The idea for that post came about because I was listening to a recording of a speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. gave about the war in Vietnam. Sometimes an idea for a post will just pop into your head…it's up to you to blog about it.
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