The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

May 29, 2008

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Blogger

I had planned to write a post about plastic on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) tonight, but I’m tired. And a little depressed. Because I just got wind of the fact that one of my favorite bloggers, Crunchy Chicken, is going to retire from blogging for a while, take a mental health break because of serious stresses in her life, and part of me went, “Oh. Lucky girl.” Is that f@#$ed up or what?

Don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love Fake Plastic Fish. I love how much I’ve learned since I started blogging here, and I love and appreciate all the support and great ideas I’ve received from FPF readers. But I’m also a perfectionist. So each night before writing my post, I have to psych myself up for the task at hand. I’m not a natural writer who can whip up a frothy bloggy confection lickity split. I usually have to add a few drops of agonizing and whining before the thing is done.

A while back, several technology bloggers suffered heart attacks. Two of them died. Certainly writing a little personal eco-blog does not carry the same pressure as competing to break big technology stories. But as friendly as eco-bloggers tend to be with one another, we certainly feel the push to increase our readership or to be the first to find the answer to a green living problem.

So to those of you who blog, I ask the following questions. And to those who don’t blog but spend a lot of time reading other people’s blogs, some of these questions apply to you too.

1) Do you feel pressured to write a minimum number of posts per week?

2) If so, where does the pressure come from? If not, why the heck not? What’s your secret?

3) How do you manage your computer time in general? Is it easy for you to get on, do what you have to do, and get off? Or do you get sucked in for hours and lose track of time?

4) Do you have significant others who resent the time you spend online? How do you negotiate computer time vs. personal real-life time?

5) Do you ever find yourself walking down the street in the real world and realize that your head is still totally stuck in the Blogosphere?

6) Has your body suffered in any way from spending too much time sitting and staring at a computer screen rather than exercising? Has your diet suffered?

7) Have you resorted to alcohol or other chemicals to wind down and take your mind off cyberland? If so, is that a problem for you?

8) How do you manage your e-mail? Seriously. I need to know. Because remember when I wrote about having over 500 messages in my inbox? I still have over 500 messages in my inbox!

9) Does blogging ever make you feel lonely? It is, after all, a solitary act while you’re composing your posts. I suppose it’s no different from being any other kind of writer in that regard.

10) What kind of support can we, as bloggers and blog readers, give to each other besides nice comments on the blogs? Is there a way that we can work together and give each other a break? Sure, we could create a Forum to vent our frustrations and give each other feedback. But would that just add another task to our online “to do” lists?

11) Bonus question: How do you read blogs? Do you subscribe in a reader and if so, how many blogs are you subscribed to? How many feeds do you read each day? Do you feel pressured to keep up with your blog reading in addition to your blog writing?

Or is it just me?


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1) I feel like I should write at least once a week, just so I can go back and look at what I was up to…not necassarily because I have readers checking on me. 2) Myself, although I do receive replies to posts when I haven’t written in a few days asking where I am, which is nice, makes me feel like people are wanting to know I’m okay. 3) I don’t manage my time well. I usually get online when I wake up in the morning, but I know I shouldn’t, as it causes me to have to hurry… Read more »

Barbara Swafford

Hi, and thank you for dropping by my blog and finding the post about lonely bloggers. I always appreciate new readers and comments.

My blogging schedule is fairly consistent. I post 5 days a week, answer my comments, visit other blogs (I follow about 100 via a reader), check emails, and if time permits do some social networking. It’s time consuming but I love it. I have a real job, so I have to work my schedule around that.


My husband writes for a blog and there are 5 bloggers who all contribute to the same site. Its nice because they each have their own area that they are more or less the point person on. There is one person (who started the blog) who posts more than others, but they all just blog when they have something they want to write about. As for your blog, well, I love it . . . Your’s and Miss Crunchy’s are my favorites and I read them through Google Reader . . . not every day, but I do read each… Read more »


Hey Beth, thought I’d chip in with my two cents on your questionnaire: 1) Yes and no. I pretty much blog when I want and when I feel I have something worth sharing. That’s often every day, but sometimes not and sometimes I’m just too damn busy with “real life” to blog. 2) However, when I check my stats and see them plummet on non-post days, I worry that people will abandon my blog if I don’t entertain them. Luckily, I can whip off a silly post or rant fairly quickly. I only agonize over the “deeper” posts or ones… Read more »

Going Green Mama

I don’t feel pressure, though I have the attention span of my toddler – so my blog is very stream-of-conscious “hey that’s neat, gotta share.” Sometimes, my post is just telling people to check out others – that way, if you’re feeling pressure to have “something” (which you shouldn’t), you at least have a presence. I get on when the mood hits. If it’s at work, then I make up work time later. I try not to spend too much time online…life is just as important! I don’t manage my e-mail. Actually, personal e-mail is fine; work is so overloaded… Read more »


Hi–wow! you must still be getting alot of traffic to your blog–and so many e-mails! is it the curse of success :-)? the only pressure I feel to post is from myself–and I aim for 2-3 posts a week–BUT I don’t feel bad if I don’t manage to do that–life happens. It is easy to get sucked in to reading blogs–so I use blog reading as a reward for myself AFTER I have finished my other computer work ( I design on the computer alot) I don’t get that much e-mail (thank goddess!) and I admit I am not good… Read more »


I think you may appreciate the humor in the fact that I have had this post open since you wrote it and have been walking around thinking about it and well? I am going to have to let it go. I agree with lots of what you have said. And I am daydreaming about taking the summer off entirely or at the very least cutting wayyyyy back. I love your stuff! Don’t forget to take care of yourself, though, in the long run all of us who love your ideas want you to feel energized for your long, long life.


Oh, I feel you on all of this! I am a little on the compulsive side — that plus the way my blog is set up totally makes me feel like I have a certain number of posts to put up (3 a day usually). And when I’m on the computer, I totally have a hard time getting off the computer — just read one more blog before I sign off, etc. I love it, but I also sometimes resent the time it takes up — not the writing time for me as much as the headspace it consumes when… Read more »


Strangely I don’t feel much blog pressure. Then again I normally don’t feel much pressure even when deadlines are coming at me like bullet trains :) I think about blogging topics often, but then promptly forget them. I do think you lose readership if you lay off the frequency too much, like twice a week. But there is no point of stressing yourself over the frequency. I usually don’t subscribe to blogs, because I am more likely to ignore my email. Plus, reading comments is half the fun. Anyhoo, summer is here. Relax, enjoy the outdoor more, and stop worrying… Read more »


1) I did. But then someone canceled from my blog and said I posted too many times. I tried to slow down but couldn’t find the brakes right away. 2) The pressure comes from a faulty multiphasic capacitor buried deep in my brain. 3) I once got totally lost in the hard drive and had to be extricated by The Geek Squad who rushed to my house in a Volkswagen with a little blue light on top. 4) No…she doesn’t resent the time I spend on the computer because I lock the door and put ear plugs in my ears.… Read more »


I do not feel pressured to write a minimum number of posts. However I can get on myself for not consistently posting. Part of why I tend not to post as often as I would like is because I tend to schedule myself so that I do not spend countless hours online. If I do not make commitments then I would be on the computer until my eyes popped out of my head. As I spend a lot of time on the computer (I use one also at work), I am not nearly as active as I would like to… Read more »


Hi Beth, don’t feel compelled to comment back on this one. It seems to me that blogging is the new journalism, ya? So the same things that journalists went through in the early part of the century (and that some still go through now–if they aren’t just repackaging whatever party line they’ve been fed) are the same thing that bloggers are going through now. It seems that your stress and other bloggers’ stress comes from the desire to educate people, to get the word out. And it’s great and I’m really appreciative of what you do. What really draws me… Read more »


Hi Beth – “Green” blogger, Tao of Change here. I’ve been blogging daily for 15 months now. I have not yet felt pressured or stressed about posting, but instead have a sense of commitment, discipline and dedication regarding the quality and frequency of my posts that makes it possible to get to my page without stress. In fact, when I read over your questions, I realize I have avoided all of the issues you’ve mentioned?!? My secret? Yoga practice!! Not the average mainstream version of attending classes here and there, but a bonafide, disciplined daily PRACTICE. In fact, just before… Read more »


Oh, wow… I was just thinking this! I got back from a lovely vacation of a week without internet… with LOTS of pictures and such for my blog. But somehow, i resented the pressure to do it! 1) I do feel a “pressure” to blog at least once a week, or whenever something cool happens.2) Myself!3) I get sucked in too easily… but I am trying to regulate it. It’s easier in the summer… too many things to do OUTSIDE!4) He resents it a little… but he thinks the blog is really cool and shows it to all his coworkers.… Read more »

Crunchy Chicken

Well, it turns out my mental health is healthier when I’m blogging, so I’m cutting my two weeks short by a few days.

In other words, I’m back to blogging. So, quit standing around and get back to work, woman! Don’t make me come up with a new, less appealing movie poster for you!

Michelle Verges

Well, you certainly tapped into a shared set of blogging issues many of us can relate to! I was just wondering if this could be created into some kind of meme where you tag people with these questions – that way, each response will get more air time and we could also check-out their blogs, too. Sorry, Beth, this suggestion is not to add more work to your plate! It’s just that the questions you posed are so thought-provoking! (And notice I’ve not responded to any one of them. Yikes!)


Going Crunchy

I just write when I want to and about what I want to. It is a fun outlet that I probably give about 20 minutes of personal time a day to. I also might check blogs or write on my lunch break. Since I don’t really do T.V. I guess it is my sub. I’m not trying to make money from it, but do use it as a tool to hone writing skills as I am writing poetry and fiction. Don’t feel pressure, just write when you are moved to. If you get turned off you might back off, and… Read more »


I don’t have a set number of posts I expect myself to do. I’d like to do one or two a week. When a title comes into my mind, then what I want to say follows it, and then writing it is easy. I do most of my computer stuff in the morning. I wake up at 6 every morning, read email, check the news, check the blogs I read (fewer than it used to be). I miss Crunchy. She was one of my regulars, but I certainly understand why she has to take a break. I stopped reading a… Read more »

ahmad wiyono

hello, i love your blog….nice

Cat Chapin-Bishop

I agree, blogging can be an addictive activity! And I do find it hard to balance keeping up with blogging and working long days and spending time with my husband and my community. But I also find that the blogosphere offers me a kind of community, and perhaps that’s part of how I manage to avoid feeling pressured and stressed. I try to blog from a spiritual center (I’m Quaker) and I think that is helpful when it comes to recognizing that I’m getting out of balance. For me, that is more about times when I feel the urge to… Read more »


1. Nope. I write when I feel like writing. I generally try to post only once per day just to have a nice spread. So many of my posts are pre-posted. Also I use sitemeter to check out who reads my blog, I don’t obsess over it. About 90% of traffic that I get is for people looking for pictures of candles. So when people link to me I’m usually not aware because I don’t check my logs very often. 2) When I decided to blog I made a few rules about blogging. One, I was not going try to… Read more »


Since we “lost” Crunchy I’m currently blog shopping. This process has made me feel guilty that I don’t blog regularly, yet I depend on other people to. I have no idea where she got all of her ideas and energy, I am in awe, and have been dependent on her for motivation/ideas. I can respond to the email issue, since I used to get 50-100 emails daily. Read email when you have a chunk of time to do so. Take care of *every* email as soon as you read it. Its okay not to reply to everyone, or just to… Read more »

heather t

Well, I think you’re doing a great job keeping us all informed. You’ve really taken off since you started (or since I started reading you) – you used to just post about your weekly plastic and now you include so many other plastic-related info. Love it! But if you cut back a bit, I for one would understand. And I am subbed, so I’d read you no matter how often or how little you posted. You have questions, I have opinions (as usual): 1. Yes – and it’s nowhere as much as you post here. I want to post at… Read more »


We are in information heaven and hell at the same time, eh? My nephew has a blog and is also trying to make it acting on Broadway and carry on a career as a financial analyst (not your usual day job for an actor!) Just recently he has been signed on to a multiple blogsite that will pay him. I am worn out just thinking of him. When I had the inclination to put something online representing my views, I decided right off it would be a fixed site with few if any changes. To make it a blog would… Read more »


The community thing is a big deal; I used to be pushed to stretch myself because I knew a lot of people who were more active/more green than I am. As we get older, and my family/work stuff takes up more of my time, I lost a lot of those connections or the other people slacked off like I did. So the blog challenges/ideas really help me push myself, hold up an ideal for me to compare myself against (because if I compare myself to my car driving, bleach wipe cleaning, fly-to-a-cruise-ship coworkers/family, I’ll just slide towards that instead.) I… Read more »

Green Bean

First, and this doesn’t necessary relate to your post but it popped into my head when I read it: I feel that blogging helps us define who we are, more for ourselves even than the public. Since I started blogging, I have a much clearer picture of who I am, what I am all abou, what I want to accomplish and what matters to me. I assume that it is that way for you and, frankly, almost all of us who blog about the environment and such. Do I feel pressure to post? Yes, I do. It is silly in… Read more »


OK, let’s take this question-by-question. 1) Yes — barely. I like to post once per week per blog. 2) Well, any less and I might as well give up, right? 3) Oh, I get soooo sucked in. It helps using Firefox: I sometimes have 50 tabs open, and I rotate between email, google reader, televisionwithoutpity, blogger, etc… 4) Just the opposite, actually: My fiance is always on me to get back to work! He’s studying for the bar at the moment, so I think he feels guilty if I’m just sitting there while he’s working. 5) Very rarely. My primary… Read more »


Those are a lot of questions and this probably deserves it’s own post, but because I don’t want you to have another blog post to read (tee hee) I’ll try to answer concisely here. 1) Yes. I feel like I need to write 4-5 days a week.2) Well, most of the blogs I read post about that much and I appreciate it. I like having something to read every day. So I feel like I need to do the same.3) I don’t manage it well. Though I am trying to limit my computer time at home & mostly do my… Read more »


I have a livejournal and nobody but my friends read it, so it’s no pressure. I spend *way* too much time on the computer, mostly as a form of procrastination when I’m on anyway – I read/write when I should be working or doing school (I do online courses). When I’m not on for some other reason, I just don’t turn on the computer. I find that computer time, video game time, and reading time all compete with my family/work/homework time. I haven’t solved it, except by sleeping less. I do find that online discussions are in my brain when… Read more »


I’m not sure I’ve posted before but I’ve been reading since April (and of course gone through the archives!) I feel pressure to blog daily because it is my link to our extended family, who lives all around the country but not anywhere near us. We have 3 kiddos and they want to know what’s going on with them. My mom has called me on occasion to see if everything is OK when I haven’t blogged. But you are in a different category. Rather than just a little “here’s what I’m doing” blog, you are an educating blog. I come… Read more »


I don’t blog; I read online (don’t subscribe) about four-six blogs regularly, usually to start my day or as a break at work when I sit in front of a computer all day. I try not to invest too much time in front of computer at other times of the day, especially in the spring/summer (we have four seasons) when there is plenty of gardening and other outdoor stuff to do. When I’m busy, I may not check blogs for a week at a time. I definitely don’t combine my computer time with any recreational stimulants,other than caffiene. I really… Read more »


If you want to curtail your computer time you can do for yourself what I do for my kids…I set the timer for their allotted time and when it goes off- you’re done, either post it as is or finish the next day. You can tackle your email this way, too. Set your timer for 15 minutes while working on email, then go take a break for 15 minutes, then come back to the computer for 15, etc. It helps break up the eye and back strain and keeps you from getting too sucked into the computer. Hope that helps!… Read more »


1) kinda. but for me it’s easy – i just simply post what i ate for dinner and the recipe on how to make it. and work is slow, so i can blog at work, too! 2) the pressure comes from wanting people to have lots of yummy vegan food! and i feel bad when i don’t post. 3) it’s pretty easy for me to take about 30-60 minutes a day to blog. i can blog at work, and at home late in the evenings, too! recipes are pretty straight forward and don’t been much researching. :) 4) not really.… Read more »

Di Hickman

Everything you wrote rang true for me, like you’d crawled inside my head and seen my inner thoughts. I am struggling right now. Mine is a creative blog and currently I am sapped. So much so I’ve decided that a blog-vacation is in order so I’ll be taking a break soon.I think the problem comes when you do anything for so long, you get bored of it. Whilst we blog about things we love, after a while it becomes a job, a chore, and the enjoyment gets sapped out of it.Take a week off, see how you feel then(and can… Read more »

Fr. Peter Doodes

Yup, I have all, well most, of the problems you mention so reading the list the question must be why do I blog?

It boils down to the fact that while big business has zillions of $s to spend on making us consume and pollute, the environment only has us to stand up for it.

Yes, I will miss Crunchie as well, but don’t you all forget, the environment isn’t the only thing that needs you, I do as well.

PS. I wondered where you had got to Mrs. Green…


I love reading your blog, it makes me feel like I’m not alone in my lines of thinking. My hubby is the opposite of green (red?), and makes fun of me for wanting to live a more sustainable life. Some days I wonder if my meager attempts at sustainability even come close to offsetting half of the damage my other half does to the environment. Seriously, we have 10,000 music cd’s in our house! Each in it’s own little plastic case. I barely need to mention the debt that was incurred supporting that kind of environmental damage. So yes, Red… Read more »

Brigid Alverson

I usually write my blog posts first thing in the morning. My secret: My husband brings me breakfast in bed, and I write while he reads the papers. I do try to post every morning, but if something happens and I don’t make it, I don’t sweat it too much. I don’t post regularly on weekends, but occasionally I do. Most of what I do is link blogging with a bit of commentary, so it goes pretty quick. Writing book reviews is a lot harder, and like you, I tend to slow down and agonize. When I was a newspaper… Read more »

Anarres Natural Health

You are my only blog. I joined because you weren’t just talking; you had made a commitment. And you inspired me to firm up my own commitment and start The End of The World of Plastics campaign. I admire the fact that you come at this from so many angles, ranging from the practical to the spiritual. Subscribing to FBF makes me feel like I am striving alongside others, instead of just being a freak pain-in-the-ass refusing products packaged in plastic everywhere I go. Your entry on me and Anarres Natural Health lent me so much legitimacy in my stubborn… Read more »


Sometimes I feel pressure to post daily, mostly not. I started my blog to please myself and to make my life easier by keeping track of the changes we were making to our diet … so if I start to get stressed about blogging, I remind myself of those beginnings, which, in the end, are more important than a lot of the other good things that have happened since I began blogging three years ago – and definitely more important than blog stats. I have a lot of feedss in my reader, but I categorise them – three levels for… Read more »


Dear Beth,

I love your blog, and appreciate the time you put in to make your posts just right. I enjoy checking for updates every day, but I would feel guilty as a reader if I thought you felt guilty about reducing the frequency of your posts.

How is that for a convoluted sentence?

I read 14 blogs (13 if you don’t count Crunchy).

Thank you :0)
kt from Canada

Mrs Green

Oh hello, Did you, like, just download my thought processes while I was asleep and write out all the information for me? I can SO recognise myself in your questions and thoughts and yes, I have a neck problem which is exacerbated by sitting at the computer, fritterin’ away my time. It’s scary; I have no answers, but I can fully ‘get’ what you are saying. I currently have 41 blogs in my RSS feeder (some of which have multiple posts a day) and I’m champing at the bit because I haven’t had time to write my own blog since… Read more »

Mr. Wonderful

___How do you manage your e-mail? Seriously. I need to know. Because remember when I wrote about having over 500 messages in my inbox? I still have over 500 messages in my inbox!___

When the IN messages exceed 150, I take a day and take care of them.

Just post on your blog, “This is message answering day. Go read this (link to another blog) this one today!”


Hey! Don’t drink alone in front of your computer, let’s go to the Trappist and they use nice glasses (no plastic). :) Seriously – have gone through phases where I spent a lot of time on the computer and off again… I don’t feel compelled to make a minimum number of posts either on my public blog or my private personal blog. Esp not tonight after a small accident related to my distributed gardening project (note to self: do not mix dry soil and water by hand in #7 plastic greenhouse pots as they have hidden fins that like to… Read more »


That was an excellent and thought-provoking entry. I deliberately subscribe to only one blog, FPF, because of the amount of time I spend reading it and getting lost in cyberspace following its leads. I’ve started turning off my computer completely, so that it’s a hassle to turn it back on, by 9 PM. Since it’s not immediately available when I get up, I actually start my life before I get around to turning it on again. I was once married to someone who was tied to his computer. It was a lonely time for me.


I never feel pressured to write a minimum. Of course I have been blogging a short while, and luckily not that many folks read what I have to say so no pressure. I just blog on what interests me and damn those who don’t find me interesting! LOL I am one of my biggest fans! And I too will miss the CHicky babe. I feel like she is like a big sister who always had a smart @ss remark ready for me!