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.                                                  

Copyright © 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?

      • I thought I’d let you know that I’m giving it a shot — I’ve started blogging. We’ll see how it goes…..

        • 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    • That’s great, Sharon! Glad to hear it. (Oh & I fixed that pesky possessive thing in your comment :-) I ALWAYS seem to do things like that online; not sure why that is)

  5. 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.

  6. 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 :)


    • Thank you SO MUCH! I have long been in awe of your writing/work/life and it really made my day (week!) to get this response. I almost didn’t bother tweeting you the post at all–thinking “She gets zillions of emails every day from readers/supplicants trying to snag her attention and why add to this particular cyber storm.” So glad that I did.

  7. 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. :-)

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