It’s 1974, and I’m sitting in the front seat of my mother’s 1965 Blue Green Plymouth Fury. She has me bundled up and ready for errands. Before we can leave, the car needs to warm up. To pass the time, my mother leads me on count up to 30. This is my first experience with numbers.
I’m sitting at the dining room table. My back is to the door that leads to the basement where my oldest brother, HB, is hanging out. I call out my math homework questions, and HB calls up the answer. This is another of my early experience with numbers.
Yes, I learned my numbers in an unconventional way. If you look deeper at my history, this is not surprising. You see, I come from a numbers family. My father was an accountant. My mother can recall the birthday of people she has not seen or spoke to in years. HB majored in accounting. My 2nd oldest brother crunches number in some capacity in his job. My next older brother has held a number of jobs where numbers were required.
Numbers dance in my head.
A few weeks ago my blog turned three. As I’ve noted before, I had a simple yet vague goal when I started my blog. I wanted to become a better writer. I knew once I started blogging that I wanted to blog consistently. I settled on posting two times a week. And I do believe it has made me a better writer. Go back and check some of my early posts. What do you think?
Anyway, I did not start blog to meet other bloggers or form a community. But I have. I did not blog to become more aware of the little moments. But I have. I did not blog with the hope of selling my writing. But I have.
Something else has changed -DRAMATICALLY. When I first started blogging, I didn’t know that the number of visitors was counted. Seriously, it was a few months before I stumbled upon the stat counter.
And a whole new world opened up for this numbers guy.
Yes, the stat counter changed things for me. Sure, I still had my original goals which included a desire to have people read my work. I wanted to move people which is what writing has always been about for me. With the more people I reached, the greater impact I could have.
I know this may sound egotistical, and it may be to some degree. Surely, anyone who has an artistic talent that he or she pursues can relate to this. Doesn’t every musician want their song heard? Doesn’t every artist want their painting seen? Even the most fantastic work has no impact if it sits in a closet unheard and unseen.
Since that day of awakening, blogging has changed for me. I’d write a post, put it up, and advertise its presence in various places. Then I’d check the numbers. Multiple times. If the numbers did not rise, I was convinced that my post had no impact. While I treasured the positive and insightful comments, I wanted numbers too.
I waited to go viral. I had some posts that did amazingly well. By the numbers. And I was happy. But then the next post came out and once again, I checked the numbers obsessively.
A question has been rattling around in my mind for a while now: What am I looking for? Will the numbers ever be high enough? What good does checking the numbers do?
But I have a problem. You know where you’re on the computer and you have something that needs to get done – maybe, even work. However, instead of working you procrastinate. Maybe, you check Facebook or Twitter, or Email, or Youtube or sports scores, or the Stock Market. You know whatever floats your boat. Well, my procrastination includes a check of the numbers. It’s pointless.
However, I’ve become addicted. There, I said it.
Last week I brought this issue up in my dad bloggers group. I noted how I had become numbers obsessed and I needed to chill. I asked if there were others and if they were up for a contest of some sort. I suggested that we follow the lead of a Seinfeld episode where Jerry and the gang can go the longest without ‘You Know’. For our purpose, ‘You Know’ was checking numbers.
Well, a few bloggers took me up on this challenge. In fact, a few guys – Dad Capades, The Captain’s Log…Tales from the Poop Deck, The Father of Twins and Dad With A Blog – have already stopped looking at their numbers. I, on the other hand, have not. However, I am ready to start. Let me be clear I do believe that looking at the numbers has value to it. I do not intend to never look at my numbers again. I absolutely will. But, I need to be reined in.
I need to remember that blogging is about more than numbers.
Numbers can help destroy our love for writing and the passion we have for our art. I can’t say I never get caught up in it because I certainly do but I have such a strong compulsion to keep writing I never stop even when no one reads my work.
I respect that you write for writing’s sake. As much as I love writing, I need some numbers to push me even more. However, lately, I’ve bee checking them way more than is necessary.
Btw, I read your stuff and I am definitely not the only one. Chin up, man.
I’ll be interested to see what the results are…when you are ready to look of course 🙂
Me too. I doubt it will be any different though and that’s the point. I almost cracked today.
That is actually a very effective approach to behavior modification. The group thing – it’s like the Biggest Loser. Peer pressure and accountability.
Let’s see if it works. It was a tough at times today.
I’m back and trying to catch up on all your posts!
The numbers thing is a sticky wicket. If I obsess over them, that’s obviously not healthy. But they can be a sign of health–how well is my writing reaching others? I try to find balance in the right attitude, but mostly fail.
I want to find that balance as well. A few times a day is not balance nor necessary in the least.