Can blogging be a hobby?

Keep up and blog on (Photo by Alexander Baxevanis | www.flickr.com/photos/futureshape)

Keep up and blog on (Photo by Alexander Baxevanis | http://www.flickr.com/photos/futureshape)

It is ironic that I’m writing this blogpost on whether blogging can be a hobby at 11pm on a Saturday night when I’m technically on annual leave for a week.

I’m working this late because I made time to have a family dinner and catch up with my sister and her partner.

I also chatted with my partner about our well-intentioned and erratic packing for the camping trip that starts tomorrow.

What I didn’t do was spend time working on the post… until now.

This post is about how academics choose to spend our time, and how – quite often – when I’m not working, I’m blogging, or thinking about blogging.

I’m realising that writing for blogs has become my hobby. Other people may knit, play instruments, or cook.

I blog.

A hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure” (thanks, Google). I’ve always enjoyed and had a passion for writing in various forms. I have two half-drafted novels in my proverbial bottom drawer (one a Brisbane horror novel, the other a post-apocalyptic Australian narrative). I’ve entered story competitions, and dabbled in fan-fiction (extremely fun).

Now most of the writing I do is for blogs.

It’s important to me that what I write is not always work. What gets tricky is that I consider the Research Whisperer (RW) partway between work and fun – real fun, not ‘work fun’.

Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) wrote about self-care, balance and overwork late last year, and it made a lot of sense to me. When you realise that certain habits and (often self-set) pressures are leading to illness and exhaustion, it is time to assess and pull back.

What I find both confusing and exciting is that the more work I do with the Research Whisperer, the more I like it.

While the weekly publication schedule can have me stabbing calendars every once in a while, the discipline that it has brought to scoping topics, writing, editing, and formatting the writing is fantastic. There are so many things I do automatically now that I only realise what my blogging process is when I have to explain it to others.

I tend to spend my days trying to do much work as I can before switching off to dive into domestic sphere activities. After the kids are asleep, I’m often doing a strange hybrid leisure/work thing where I’ll be watching a TV series or movie with my partner and working on one blog or Twitterfeed or another. It’s often the Research Whisperer, but is sometimes also my AASRN work, or occasional leakage now from the RED Alert (La Trobe University research culture blog).

I started this habit when I was working full-time as a grant developer, and creating and nourishing the Research Whisperer on the side with co-founder, Jonathan O’Donnell. We started the Research Whisperer in 2011, and didn’t have that kind of work included in our work-plans for quite a while. Working on it in the evenings and on weekends, trying things out, was my answer to getting a handle on the new project. I didn’t know how else to give the project a red-hot go.

After a while, Jonathan and I used our Friday #shutupandwrite sessions as Research Whisperer editing, writing, and formatting zones, but that’s only a couple of hours a week. Not really enough to charge up the blog with our own writing, start and grow its social media streams, and start soliciting from guest-posters.

Hobbies usually bring you into the orbit of like-minded souls. You get together, and nerd out about things that only you and a chosen few can get so involved and excited about. You create materials and share what you have. You swap stories. This happens to me when I meet up with fellow bloggers, particularly those like our buddy Inger Mewburn (@thesiswhisperer), who also fulfil the promise of their blogs with face-to-face gigs.

It’s also hugely satisfying to introduce people to the culture of sharing that exists online (particularly among the people in my networks). That moment when someone newly active on social media gets it? That’s a big bonus! It’s great to see them understand the rewards that come from sharing online, and have them know that ‘giving knowledge away’ online doesn’t actually flag a loss.

What I get back from these blogger’s relationships goes beyond affirmation of my written word, or the occasional piece of well-received advice. It’s a gateway to a community that keeps helping me do what I like doing, furnishes me with the tools and know-how, and supports me to get better at it.

To me, that’s exactly what a hobby is, and should be.

What I haven’t worked out yet is whether I’m allowed to count blogging as a hobby, particularly as it overlaps with my day-job and professional persona. Is this my form of being a workaholic? Does all this work shore up my academic identity. Am I unaware of its insidious nature?

The most salient question is, I suppose, whether it’s something I’ll feel pressured to keep on doing even when the love dies.

I’ll have to wait till the love dies to answer that one.

Advertisements

About Tseen Khoo
Dr Tseen Khoo is a lecturer based in Melbourne, Australia. She convenes the Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN), is often on Twitter (@tseenster) and co-founded the Research Whisperer (theresearchwhisperer.wordpress.com) with Jonathan O'Donnell.

22 Responses to Can blogging be a hobby?

  1. The line between work and hobby can be very blurred. I blog as an academic and most of my blogging is related to my work at the Family Action Centre (University of Newcastle). I must admit I am more interested in writing for the broader audience of a blog than the more limited audience of academic journals – but it can also be an easier option. I don’t get rejection letters from my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • biochemlife says:

      Well I started a blog because it supports my love of writing. I am in the same boat as you. I am committed to the blog because I love it…despite the fact that I haven’t posted in about a week or more due to personal problems. I work full time and to squeeze in time to write for pleasure is very hard right now. I think that the love of blogging could go away and then what do you do with a blog that slowly withers away into the weak but still present pages of past posts, still read once in a while, but not actively part of present day discourses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tseen Khoo says:

        The first blog to fall by the wayside once I started up RW in earnest was my personal one! Partly, this was because it was a blog that had always been posted to erratically; partly, it’s because it was the one with the least at stake. Starting RW with Jonathan meant there was someone else dependent on the blog’s consistency and content – this prioritised it for me when it came to disciplining myself to a weekly schedule!

        I find that the only way I get blogging done is to set aside time every week for working on it. The moment I skip it (usually for unconstructive reasons like vegging out on the couch…), I lose the writing/editing rhythm.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Tseen Khoo says:

      I totally get that feeling of not getting rejection letters or submission angst from a blog, Graeme! Because I do so much blogging now, it also feels like a very comfortable voice to have. While I’ve published academically quite broadly, I’ve never felt ‘at home’ with the academic voice, and I don’t know if that happens for many?

      Looking forward to checking out your blog!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. The line between blogging being a hobby and work is very grey. I enjoying writing and reading blogs. The blogging community is so diverse and its cool you can e-meet people from all over and share different perspectives that you may not have encountered or talked about in person.

    Like

  3. silgtavares says:

    I love it as well. It is probably my main ‘hobby’ at the moment. I love it so much and do so frequently that my husband calls it ‘addiction’!

    Like

    • Tseen Khoo says:

      Hah! Well, yes, there is that… 😉

      I was just away from screens for about 4 days (camping – no signal!) and realised how much my usual life (and hobby) requires me to be tethered to the internet. It gave me pause.

      Like

  4. Reblogged this on Sarah's Attic Of Treasures and commented:
    YES , Blogging is a HOBBY. A really good one…..

    Like

  5. I also find myself blogging as ‘down time’. I often think: ‘Huh? What’s wrong with me that I write about work and research as a leisure activity?’ But, I do! So you’re in good company. 🙂

    Like

    • Tseen Khoo says:

      In one way, it’s a good sign that one’s research/work is satisfying on multiple levels, and keeps us excited and interested beyond standard engagement. What I try to stay aware of is why I’m doing the work out of normal work hours – am I doing because I feel I have to? Or because I really want to?

      And, the other side of the equation: what am I NOT doing when I blog/edit out of hours? If that becomes too much of a compromise, I’d be pulling back to a workable routine.

      Like

  6. troyrhoades says:

    Reblogged this on Drops of Experience.

    Like

  7. Reminds me. Must update my blog.

    Like

  8. Pingback: #AtoZChallenge: B is for Blogging | Voices under the Sun

  9. Kate Bowles says:

    Just popping in with a late comment to say that I really identify with your sense of the value of blogging when someone else depends on it. When Karina and I started CASA (actualcasuals.wordpress.com) that had the effect of reprioritising Music for Deckchairs for me, and I wrote less there. One of the things that CASA has done for us is maintain a weekly habit of putting content out, in our news posts. But I think this has also slightly depleted energy for more analytical writing.

    Academic blogs are part of a shadow economy of scholarly thinking — unfunded, productive, and often high impact. But I think there’s also this shadow impact on self, health, family and home that is really complex.

    For me the experience of having a space where I write in my own “comfortable voice”, is really valuable. I’m so grateful for the conversations that it brings me.

    Like

    • Tseen Khoo says:

      Thanks for this, Kate. And, yes, the shadow impact on the domestic sphere is as you say. Even as I find that it’s the only time I get to immerse myself in writing + researching posts, I know it’s at the expense – often – of spending focused time with other members of my household. Should that mean I don’t do it, juggle it, divvy up certain days…? It’s a constant compromise on that front.

      Like you, I find the doing of it and being involved with these networks invaluable and highly satisfying. I guess the constant compromise, while frustrating, is work that I’m willing to do. For now, at any rate.

      Like

  10. N says:

    Wonderful post. I think blogging as a hobby teeters between work and fun, particularly when the blogging topic mainly concerns work. In my opinion, it’s a little easier to consider blogging a hobby when one is blogging about, cooking, for instance. Still, I must say there’s something oddly cathartic and rewarding about work-related blogging. Perhaps it’s the joy that comes with being able to actually have fun while doing so!

    Like

    • Tseen Khoo says:

      You’re right about the cathartic nature of the blogging, esp for academia given the contrast between academic + blogging prose. The level of engagement from the blogging – again, in contrast with academic publications – is much more rewarding. Much.

      Like

  11. Pingback: Less blog, and moar blog | The Banana Lounge

  12. Where can we find your fan-fiction, Tseen Khoo? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: