The 10 Responsibilities of the Long Form Blogger

During my time with Mike and Sean, two icons in the medical and nursing blogospheres, I began thinking about why being a long form blogger is so difficult to maintain overtime and why it is running the risk of becoming obsolete.  The three of us have all struggled with social media burnout and have scaled back, or in my case, have disappeared from social media all together.  We even tossed around the following question:

Is long the long form blog dying?

Yes, dear reader, I believe it is.  But why?  Where did it go?  Where is the love?

1.  Writing is difficult:  Blog posts of substance require a lot of thought, some editing and should be an interesting topic.  The point of writing, after all, is to be read.  At times, the words flow like water over a cliff.  They run through the keyboard.  Other times, they have to be dug from the recesses of your mind.  The successful blogger, and writer, knows the true meaning of writer’s block but will find a way through it.

2.  A blog is a website that needs maintained:  Let’s face it.  Most bloggers are complete nerds when it comes to their blog.  They update not just the posts, but ensure their readers are able to share with embedded links to other social media sites, they link to other blogs in their sidebars, and ensure the layout and look of the blog are a reflection of who they are and what they write about.  This doesn’t even cover the time needed to clean out and protect the site from spam comments and continually update the blog software, and the apps needed to successfully capture ideas, photos, videos and words.

3.  Information can drown you:  My first online journal was created in 1999 when the term blog didn’t exist yet.  Since then, I have had too many social media accounts to remember and now keep up with other blogs through RSS feeds, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest . . . the list sometimes seems endless.  Finding a way to manage the interesting information is in itself an overwhelming task.  Unfortunately, saving the writing and ideas of others to be read more indepthly later may end up being the breaking point.  How often is it possible to go back and reread all of those links?  Unless you, as a blogger, are diligent, consistant, and dedicated the sheer amount of information may become too much to handle.  This leads to the quick reTweet of links and Sharing on Facebook with little to no substance behind what you found important enough to share.

4.  Life is busy:  Life is damn busy.  You have to really want to be a true, old school blogger.

5.  Success relys on relationship cultivation:  Online relationships come from discussion, comments and participation.  So, looking at the previous four, where this fit into your time hack???

6.  ADOBSO:  Attention Deficit—Oh! Bright Shiny Object!  If you aren’t focused, writing long form, especially when attempting to link to other sites and add multimedia, you can get lost in the Internet and eventually forget what you set out to do in the first place!

7.  Evidence based concepts are intimidating:  When writing about health care, especially when dealing with clinical subjects, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the idea that everything must be written like a term paper and annotated.  This has ground many a blogger’s writing to a halt.

8.  Your blog never goes away:  The constant reminder by the MSM (main stream media) and your employer that everything you put on the Internet is permanent is down right frightening.  This thought process is every bit as scary and even more so for the bloggers who have been around for awhile.  As a person gets older, as social media evolves and as professional lives advance, what was ok 10 years ago may not continue to be ok.

9.  ADOBSO:  Heh, yeah—–Squirrel!

10.  Blogging is a huge responsibility:

–Regular updates are an integral part of remaining part of the conversation and cultivating readership.

–Employers usually have a say in what you write and how you represent yourself requiring self-censorship which may become dangerous to your professional life if not adhered to.

–You must be prepared to become an unintentional mentor and cultivate relationships IRL (in real life).

As I go on to define who I am as a blogger today, versus who I was as a blogger almost 10 years ago, it becomes obvious where my personal shortcomings in writing originate from.  Many of my challanges are based on my current professional role.  It is difficult to know when you are crossing the line when that line is faint or if the line is moving.  I am one of the fortunate bloggers.  My employer is progressive in their social media outlook.  Unfortunately, my niche in flight medicine makes me extremely visible in that writing about specific experiences is almost impossible when the local media covers the story first (and usually gets it wrong btw).

When I first began blogging, I wasn’t prepared to be a mentor and didn’t understand how important it is to maintain and answer the emails I received because of my blog.  Quite frankly, I sucked at it.  It became so overwhelming I didn’t keep up and for those you sent me email or commented in the past, I apologize.  This bothers me more than just about anything related to my online life.  I squandered the relationships that could have been with professionals around the globe.

Now that I spent time away, broke the cycle of living life so I can blog about it versus blogging because I am living life, I feel more prepared to be that long form blogger.  I am still working on blowing away the chafe and finding an optimal mental process for writing but am more comfortable in my head knowing that being a long form blogger is truly a difficult role to take on.

EMI Testing for use in Flight

No Shit, There I was

L-R Sean (@iamunafraid), Emily (@crzegrl15) & Mike (@drmikesevilla)

When I was in the Army, the best stories began with:

 “No shit, there I was . . .”

When that slid off of a soldier’s tongue, you knew you were in for a whopper.  The story, if told by a FNG (f’ing new guy), was usually one of boasting and exaggeration, which no one was expected to believe.  We would listen anyways out of simulated respect and only groan when it was the 5th time or the 100th time we heard the same old thing.  If, however, an old crusty sergeant uttered the same statement—the type personified in old John Wayne movies, we knew to sit down, shut up, and hang on for the ride was going to be a good one.

No shit.  There I was . . . in Cleveland at a bar in the she-she Ritz Carlton, paying too much for my dirty Belvedere, on the rocks with a string of olives.

And so it began.  The evening of one long conversation of serious revelations broken by stare inducing laughter.

And the three friends finally met.  Conversation without the aid of a video camera or a keyboard.  No Internet required.

And @iamunafraid, @drmikesevilla & @crzegrl15 became Sean, Mike and Emily.

Mike captured the evening with a blog post that night (or early the next morning as it were).

Sean wrote the next day and then went on to write a blog post in the true long form capturing the nature of what old school bloggin’ is all about, in over 3,000 words.

Me?  I’ve taken the slow but sure path to relating my evening of epiphanies.  It has officially been nine days and Sean won’t leave me alone until I post.  So, this is going to be a bit fragmented.  A version of diarrhea of the fingers . . .

What is so gripping that this story should begin with “no shit, there I was?”  For you, maybe nothing.  For me, the conversation and ideas helped to shape the world of things to come for me and social media.  I have stated over and over throughout the past 4 or so years that I would blog more or be more involved.  By talking out loud that night with Mike and Sean, I realized that my not being true to my word was a result of many different circumstances both professionally and personally, but also involved the evolution of social media.

Originally when we old-timers began blogging, it was anonymously or semi-anonymously.  We hid in the blogging closet where it was safe and quiet.  Then the social media world became one in which the whole world was involved and the art form of the long blog post was reduced to the abbreviations and hashtags of Twitter.  During the evening we discussed the ugliness of what we have become as an online society and how mentally devastating it is for those who began before Twitter and Facebook existed.

We came to term this as “Get off My Lawn!” Syndrome.  Mike described it as feeling like the crabby old guy who sits on his porch and yells “GET OFF MY LAWN” at anyone who ventures onto his property.  In short, we old bloggers feel like the old crotchety elderly neighbors who do nothing but complain and yell at the neighbor kids.  But, after us old heads finished spending time longing for the old days of the Internet, we began to progress the conversation to the good that has come of it.  For me, it is the exciting world of #FOAMed (Free Open Access Meducation) and the subset of FOAMed that includes Retrieval (aka Transport) Medicine.  For Sean, it is a love for the student and new RNs.  For Mike, it is the Family Medicine Revolution.

We determined that blogging and social media is becoming subspecialized.  It used to be that you blogged about your personal life and the many things you were interested in but the stories were personal.  I named my blog “Crzegrl” because it was a nickname that personified me.  As time has gone on, blogs created by individuals became topic focused and much social media presence is now based on that particular topic.  You know, “Hello I am Emily and I blog and converse about X.”  Throughout the discussion we concluded that this is the new future of the world we love and have helped shape.  So, over my third Yuengling of the evening, I re-raised the idea which I had attempted about 18 months ago.  

Should I do away with my blog crzegrl.net and become something related to transport medicine?  

There wasn’t hesitation in Sean and Mike’s response:  both of their heads snapped up and they almost shouted “no” in unison.

I didn’t realize how much of a “brand” or person I had become online.  To lose crzegrl would absolutely be to lose part of myself, but it took their opinions to make me understand who I had become to others as well.  

So, No shit, there I was . . . in Cleveland to meet two strangers who really weren’t strangers.  I began with dirty Belvedere on the rocks with a string of olives and finished with Yuengling.  I started with a confused sense of who the Social Media Emily is and ended with an undefined but percolating sense of who I was to become.  My previous blogging success was based on brutally honesty.  It was based on not being afraid to talk about the difficult and the painful.  

I am Emily Bennett.  I am a flight nurse, and a life long adventurer.  I am one who cringes at the thought of conventional professionalism and is passionate about being the best—because why devote time unless you are fully committed to giving that one thing you can never get back? I love to be a bit of everything and know a little about a lot.  I am passionate about skydiving, my friends, my family and my writing.  I am in love with resuscitation and transport medicine.  

Do not tell me a day exists where I will no longer fly with the birds or swim with the fish.