For a long time I have wanted to write an analysis of a disease that has been underdiagnosed in the cyber world: I call it Blogger Burnout. Information on this disorder is sadly lacking. An in-depth search of the medical literature turned up nothing. PubMed, with its 23 million citations, gave me zip. The World Health Organization has identified over 12,000 “types” of diseases known to man. But Blogger Burnout has yet to be properly discussed, let alone analyzed, studied and treated. That’s not to say the subject has been totally ignored. Random writers have offered their insights on Blogger Burnout here and there. But a thorough medical workup on this disease state is sadly lacking.
This is strange. From an epidemiological perspective this condition is already global in its proportion, and seems to be spreading rapidly. The evidence of this disease is all around us: abandoned blogs, once vibrant and alive, now sitting silently in cyberspace not having been updated (or read for that matter) in years. There they hang, dangling from an invisible noose; lifeless, listless and lonely. They’re cyber skeletons; shells of their former selves. Where have the bloggers gone? What happened? The answer: Blogger Burnout.
In fact, if you are an online writer I suspect that you too have, at one point or another, had at least a touch of this disease. It’s not always fatal. Some seem to catch it, get knocked out for a while, and then mysteriously recover to full health once again. But you have had to, for the most part, recover on your own. There’s no walk-in clinics for this blogging bug. To my knowledge there is no ICD-9 (or now ICD-10) code to bill for treating this disease. Maybe after this post that will change.
What are the symptoms of Blogger Burnout? It often begins with a lessening post count from previous months. Now, understand that post-count varies greatly from blogger to blogger. There is no such thing as a “healthy” number to aim for. But typically when post count drops below 25% of former frequency we get concerned. This symptom alone is not enough for a definitive diagnosis though. A broken hand or broken computer could be the cause. Most importantly, from the bloggers I’ve spoken with, is this growing sense of dread and depression that settles in their soul whenever the thought of writing occurs to them. The stomach turns. They manage to find time to just about everything else…except writing. They slip into denial and tell themselves little lies like “I never really liked blogging anyway.”
So what causes Blogger Burnout? This is more difficult. An easy answer would simply be to say that it is the busyness of life. But life is always busy. And we still manage to do the things we love. No, I don’t think our schedules are to blame. In my humble opinion the root of the problem is our fear of boredom.
Whenever something looses it’s initial glamor and glitz, we are prepared to abandon it. The excitement is gone, and we run in terror, afraid it has nothing better to offer. We think the “new” joys cannot be competed with. But we’re wrong. C.S. Lewis, the famous author of the Chronicles of Narnia series, and thoughtful Christian philosopher put it this way:
“It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill. Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through that period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors opening all around them.”
So what’s the cure for Blogger Burnout? Here it is: Keep Blogging. That’s right. Or should I say “that’s write.” Keep going. Stay calm and keep blogging. After the initial shine of starting a new blog wears off, you will undoubtedly hit some dry spells. Go through them. Write through them. The same might be said of many relationships too. It’s not true love until it’s tested with some trials. Dry times aren’t death pangs. Bored with blogging? So what. Keep going. It won’t hurt much. Psychiatrists call this fear of boredom “thaasophobia.” I think we all have a bit of it. The early joys have to die. Things can’t be new forever. Blogger burnout, once pushed through, will give birth to even better blogging and more fulfilling posts than you could have imagined before. If only you won’t give up.
Need more inspiration? Okay, here are a few more ideas to rekindle your blogging bonfire:
What are you really interested in right now?
What’s hard in your life right now?
Learned something new?
Seen something memorable? Take a pic and share it.
What are you reading?
What are you watching?
What’s your opinion on the big news story today?
What’s the scariest thing that ever happened to you?
What would be your dream job?
What was your most memorable vacation and why?
What are your favorite websites?
And if all else fails…take your laptop somewhere TOTALLY different…and write from that location.
And so here’s my very brief and woefully inadequate analysis of this underdiagnosed disease. Hippocrates I’m not. We need more research into Blogger Burnout for sure. You suppose I can get a government grant to study it? If I do, I’ll blog about it. I promise.
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