When You Stop Blogging

No, I’m not quitting this blog. Far from it. But I’ve had two other blogs in the past – one that was fairly popular, one not so much – so I have a little experience.

There are two ways to stop blogging: planned and unplanned. Unplanned means you just stop, without any kind of announcement to your readers. You write an ordinary post, and it turns out to be your last because, well, you never hit “Post” again. In this case, the blog generally dies at the end of a gradual drying-up period, and the last post begins something like: “Gee, it sure has been a long time since I posted anything!”

But a planned stop means you write a “This is the End of the Blog” post. You talk about why you’re quitting and how long you’ve been thinking about quitting. You talk about the good times and the bad times. You thank your readers. And you say goodbye.

I’ve seen this end-of-blog post countless times. I’ve written it twice.

And when you announce the end of your blog, something interesting happens. People you’ve never heard of, people who have stayed silent for months or even years, suddenly leave comments. And the comments look like this:

“Wow, you’re quitting? I’m so sad! I read your blog every day. I loved it. I’ll really miss this part of my daily routine!”

It’s ironic. Many times, writers quit blogging because they think nobody’s reading, or nobody cares. They don’t find out how much people cared until it’s over.

Why am I telling you this?

It’s not a guilt trip for people who don’t comment. While I love reading the comments I get, I don’t want my readers to feel obligated. Life is short, and we have enough real obligations without adding fake ones to the list.

Nor am I saying you should never quit a blog. Sometimes it’s the right decision. In my case, it was the right decision both times. Do what’s best for you.

I’m telling you this so you understand the nature of blogging – and, more broadly, of any art you put out into the world.

Here it is. Your audience is bigger than you realize, and cares more than you expect.

We sometimes think of art as being like a picture gallery where we put up our work; people buy their tickets, take a look at it, and leave. But publishing art – especially on the Internet – is more like scattering seeds on the wind. Our creations fly to far places, all over the world. They take root in hidden crevices. They sprout flowers we never see.

Art is a long, long game. Sometimes it takes years before we see the returns. But they’re there, invisible, working their way to the surface. Be patient. Your art is growing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to step out of this fortune cookie and drive to the office.

Have you ever been surprised by an unexpected audience that your work found for itself?

2 responses to “When You Stop Blogging

  1. I’d say for starters it’s amazing how many different countries you can rack up just by blogging. I LOVE that new feature! Also, I didn’t really realize until I tagged a post as “Christianity” how important it is to get your work in front of the right audience. I’m trying to tag more effectively with some mixed results, as well as placing my work in other relevant venues. (More than half my hits on Monday were from posting a comment on an NPR blog). PLEASE don’t stop this blog, though. I love reading it, and having a little back and forth from time to time.

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