How blogging changed my life–and how it can change yours

I´m blogging this.

Ear­lier this month, the New York Times Moth­er­lode blog fea­tured new research sug­gest­ing that blog­ging may make new moth­ers hap­pier.

It got me to think­ing about how this is also true for us denizens of Plan B Nation—and for much the same reasons.

The cited research—a small research study by Penn State Ph.D. can­di­date Bran­don T. McDaniel—suggests that blog­ging coun­ter­acts new moth­ers’ feel­ings of iso­la­tion. It found a pos­i­tive cor­re­la­tion between “blog­ging and feel­ings of con­nect­ed­ness to fam­ily and friends—which in turn cor­re­lates … with mater­nal well-being and health,” writes Moth­er­lode blog­ger KJ Dell’Antonia (who, in another life­time, prac­ticed law with me, but I digress .…)

Feel­ings of iso­la­tion are also a hall­mark of life in Plan B Nation—and one of its most dan­ger­ous poten­tial side effects. Long-term unem­ploy­ment, in par­tic­u­lar, has been repeat­edly linked to a down­ward spi­ral in per­sonal rela­tion­ships. Gallup Chair­man and CEO Jim Clifton sums this up suc­cinctly in his new book The Com­ing Jobs War: “Peo­ple who have been out of work for 18 months or longer lose engage­ment in their net­work of friends, com­mu­nity, and fam­i­lies. The worst things in life start show­ing up when peo­ple expe­ri­ence extended unemployment.”

Speak­ing from per­sonal expe­ri­ence (hello read­ers!), blog­ging can go a long way to help with such feel­ings. Two months ago, when I started Plan B Nation, I was in a pretty demor­al­ized place. I’d been un– and under-employed for more than two years and was hav­ing a hard time imag­in­ing a light at the end of the tun­nel. I didn’t really think blog­ging would help, but I’d been think­ing about doing it for a while and finally took the leap. If noth­ing else, I fig­ured, I’d at least learn some new skills.

Flash for­ward to today, and my whole out­look has changed—and largely because of this blog. Sim­ply put, blog­ging about my story has trans­formed my rela­tion­ship to it. It’s gone from being a source of suf­fer­ing to being my sub­ject. When I step back to mine it for mate­r­ial, I start to find it inter­est­ing. I start to see what it has to teach me (and how, in shar­ing it, I can maybe even help others).

And there’s a huge addi­tional poten­tial bonus to blog­ging in Plan B Nation: It can be a ter­rific source of pay­ing work. That’s cer­tainly been the case for me and—a quick Google search reveals—for many oth­ers as well.

Iconic blog­ger Pene­lope Trunk—if you haven’t read her, you should; you’ll either love her or hate her—is a big pro­po­nent of blog­ging as a career strat­egy. For doubters, she lists the fol­low­ing five rea­sons to embark.

1. Blog­ging makes career change easier.

2. Blog­ging lets you skip entry-level jobs.

3. Blog­ging opens up the world of part-time work.

4. Blog­ging makes it eas­ier to re-enter the workforce.

5. Blog­ging builds a net­work super fast.

I can’t say every­thing in this post will be true for every­one, but for me, it’s come pretty close. (For more evi­dence in sup­port, check out blog­ger Jen Gresham’s post on blog­ging as a career tool—part of BlogHer’s ongo­ing series on career rein­ven­tion.)

Will it be true for you? You’ll never know if you don’t try. (Pene­lope Trunk also offers tips on how to get started.)  You might con­sider, as I did, that even if your blog doesn’t fly, you’ll still have learned a lot.

Need more inspi­ra­tion? Try check­ing out other blogs that explore life in Plan B Nation. A few examples:

  • Brett Paesel’s darkly hilar­i­ous Last of the Bohemi­ans (about a fam­ily vaca­tion to India in the shadow of bankruptcy)
  • Whar­ton M.B.A. Sharon O’Day’s blog about women and money (which evolved from her own expe­ri­ence of start­ing over at age 53)
  • From Prada to Pay­less (“The life and times of a once glam­orous NYC fash­ion indus­try insider, to a mother of three girls, liv­ing pay­check to pay­check , fac­ing fore­clo­sure, and try­ing to find humor, and san­ity in it all, while look­ing (try­ing!) deli­ciously chic in her Pay­less shoes”)

Plan B Nation takes lots of things away from us, but it also fills our life with amaz­ing (if painful), strange, intrigu­ing, and unfor­get­table sto­ries. The trick is to see them, to lean into them. Blog­ging can help with that.

Do you have a favorite Plan B Nation blog? Please share it in the com­ment section.                                                  

© 2012, amy gut­man. All rights reserved.

19 thoughts on “How blogging changed my life–and how it can change yours

  1. I was com­pelled to come back to this post because I have toyed with (and resisted) the idea of blog­ging for sev­eral years now. One of my main rea­sons not to is that I see so many blogs that start with a burst of cre­ative energy…and then just sput­ter out. At first the blog­ger posts every day, then every week, then once a month, then once a year. It is like a TV series that goes on a sea­son too long (any­one remem­ber the X-Files?). By the end, it’s pathetic. Add to that the high value I place on com­ple­tion, and a blog seems too open-ended to me. I can’t fill that much space, and I’ll never be able to say that I’m fin­ished. Even Thoreau even­tu­ally left Walden Pond. How do you face the task of main­tain­ing this blog with all your other com­mit­ments, and do you have an exit strategy?

    • Great ques­tions, Matthew — & remark­ably sim­i­lar think­ing to mine before I started PBN. I fully expected to run out of steam after a few posts, and I thought I would feel really silly after telling peo­ple I was start­ing a blog & then, well, not. What I dis­cov­ered is that I couldn’t find out what would hap­pen unless I gave it a shot. I’m still sort of sur­prised at how blog­ging “took.” I was read­ing some­thing the other day — I think in the NY Times — about the ben­e­fits of “fail­ing fast.” Try some­thing. If it doesn’t work out, try some­thing else.

      As for main­tain­ing things, often I don’t. My writ­ing is pretty spo­radic these days, but for now, I’m okay with that.

      Hope this helps! Why not give it a shot?

        • This is so cool, Matthew! And apolo­gies for not get­ting back before now–I see you have a new com­ment on my new post that has a Com­mentluv link, and now I am going to read it!

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  5. Amy,
    Thanks for this post, as well as oth­ers. Your blog is great! I started my blog 9 months ago, after mov­ing south from liv­ing in West­ern MA. I started because a friend told me it might help me to move away from being a worka­holic who gave too much of her­self to becom­ing a mom again at home who needed to find her­self. I have moments where I feel like I should stop writ­ing about my jour­ney (who’s inter­ested any­way?) to lov­ing shar­ing all the small things in my life daily.
    Keep up the blog! Love it!

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  7. Well put. Due to my blog, divorce has gone from a source of suf­fer­ing to my fas­ci­nat­ing sub­ject! I love it. Plus it has con­nected me with so many inter­est­ing peo­ple that I now feel bonded to. In fact, I even dated one of my read­ers for a cou­ple of months, which I sup­pose is akin to get­ting a free­lance project, from your per­spec­tive.
    Molly@Postcards from a Peace­ful Divorce recently posted…Cri­sis ManagementMy Profile

  8. A true tes­ta­ment to the power of blog­ging? The strong bump I got on my “women over 50 and their money” web­site as a result of you men­tion­ing my site here! Love your work … and love that you pro­mote the power of blog­ging for its oh-so-many ben­e­fits. Thanks, Amy!
    Sharon O’Day recently posted…How to Truly Play BigMy Profile

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  10. Thank you for your work Amy. Yes, rein­ven­tion phase has been fully under­way and adap­ta­tion is tak­ing a turn yet again. Keep­ing up with your posts inspires me.

  11. Amy, I really like this post. I started blog­ging when I had my first baby. I didn’t do it inten­tion­ally as a way to con­nect. I did it as a way to make sure my career didn’t tank while my emo­tions were tank­ing. But I totally under­stand how blog­ging could help new moms.

    The other thing I love about blog­ging is that blog­ging gives me a way to share all the inter­est­ing research I come across. I’m with kids most of the day, and believe me, they really don’t care what I’m read­ing about. The blog is a way to keep my life intel­lec­tu­ally stimulating.

    And, I love the research you have in this post. It makes me feel con­nected to read it and talk about it :)

    Pene­lope
    Pene­lope Trunk recently posted…How to man­age a career in 2012My Profile

  12. Excel­lent post, Amy. Thanks for all the links. I’m def­i­nitely in a rein­ven­tion phase, which is why I’ve been explor­ing suc­cess on my blog.

    Kind of won­der­ing where it will lead me, career-wise, if anywhere.

    • Thanks for the com­ment, Hope! For me, view­ing such things as life exper­i­ments works well. (I’ve writ­ten about this — and about how this year, I’ll be chron­i­cling one new exper­i­ment a month on this blog.) You try things out and then watch with curios­ity to see what hap­pens. For me, this tends to make things feel more inter­est­ing & fun. In any case, keep us posted on how things are going for you. :-)
      amy gut­man recently posted…2012: My year of experimentsMy Profile

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