Grinding to Valhalla

Interviewing the gamer with a thousand faces

Jaxom (Chapter 5)

Posted by Randolph Carter on May 21, 2009

MMO community connection:

The Middle-Earth Adventurer

Chapter 5: Blogging

When did you first start blogging?

I started blogging on October 13th 2008, so a little over 6 months ago. That was The Middle-Earth Adventurer, which remains my one and only blog, although I use livejournal for personal blogging and Twitter. I should also mention a brief foray into writing a monthly column at a fanfiction website I was once a part of. In a sense, that might have been considered a blog, but that was before I had ever heard of blogging.

Why do you blog?

I love talking about what I love doing. So, in my case, I love to talk about playing LOTRO. It’s pretty much that simple. As I discovered/helped create the current community that exists around the LOTRO blogs, I think I need to add that I blog for that community as well. At first, bloging was about myself. I did it just for me because I liked it. Now, in addition to that, I do it for everybody else that reads and particulates.

Do you have a schedule or some sort of routine you try and follow when blogging?

My goal is to have on average one post per day over at the Adventurer. This last month has seen a reduction in that regularity because I have been playing less and we’re in the middle of a development cycle for the game. Before Book 7 was released, I saw nearly three posts per day. As to a more general routine in my day, I usually blog in the morning, mostly about things that happened the previous day, if it’s about activities in the game, or information I’ve run across in my morning e-mail checking, blog reading, twitter updating, etc, etc. But I don’t limit myself to specific times during the day when I blog. When inspiration hits, I try and jump right into a post.

Is there some grind involved in blogging? If so, how do you cope?

Well, you might say that it’s hard to keep up a regular 1 post per day schedule at times. That could be considered a grind, but I don’t view it as such, or keep a grinding mentality when I’m blogging. If there’s material to post, I’ll post it. If not, I won’t post. The nice thing is I’ve managed to find inspiration so far to keep my goal and it hasn’t become a chore or grind. It helps that I love to blog.

By contrast, what do you find pleasurable about blogging?

First and foremost I love to write. Anything I’m interested in I love to write about. And I get the added benefit of a clearer mind. Writing helps me to interact with the subject I’m writing about. For LOTRO, I understand the game and the mechanics behind the game better because I think critically about what I’m blogging about. I’ve also come to love the interaction with the small community we have. Either other bloggers or readers, it’s always nice to hear other opinions about what you’re interested in. That assumes an open mind. We all know about flame wars on forums and such. So far, all the participants have kept an open mind about the topics presented by the Adventurer and other LOTRO bloggers. It makes for some wonderful social interaction.

How many people offline know you blog?

All my local friends do, because I’ll mention it from time to time. But most of them aren’t interested in the subject of my blog (LOTRO) so don’t participate in it. They’re cool with what I do though. It’s not like I’m doing something weird or particularly nerdy. Then again, many of my friends are fellow nerds so their perceptions might be a bit biased.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to try their hand at blogging?

You need to love two things to be successful at blogging. First, you have to love whatever it is you want to blog about. If you don’t love it, you won’t keep up your blog over time. You’ll burn out. I love LOTRO and despite hitting a lull in my playing, I still love the game and I still want to write about it. Secondly, you need to love writing. If writing is a chore, blogging is not for you. Building on that, your love of writing should come with a desire for improvement of your writing skills. None of us start out writing Stephen King quality novels, even King himself. A successful blog will be well written or will see improvement in the writing as the blog progresses. And all this is only possible if you love to write.

I’d also say that if you get a large readership, you will come across people whose ideas differ from your own. You must be open to ideas. This might seem strange because many bloggers aren’t but they blog anyway. And some of their blogs are popular. I don’t see blogging as simply a means to expressing your own ideas and calling it good. Blogging is interacting with the community about which you blog, and interaction should be just as respectful online as in person. We don’t see enough of this. So be open, because you’ll find people who don’t agree with you and won’t be open about the opinion. They’ll attack you personally, call you names, discredit you in anyway they can. You need thick skin.

All this is well and good. You love a subject, you love to write about it, and you can take the heat. Now you need to set the ground rules of your blog. Do you talk about personal stuff? What comments are acceptable? Etc, etc. This is part of establishing your personality as a blogger, setting an expectation for your readers. And you cannot back down from your choices. People need to know what to expect with your blog, whether they like your rules or not. Changing the scope, scale, content, subject of your blog will turn your readership into a roller coaster ride. If you don’t want to blog about your topic anymore, but are interested in a different topic, start a new blog. Or make sure you started your current blog with enough generality to include everything you might want to blog about.

What is something you know now that you wish you had known when you first started?

Honestly, I was lucky in this. I had delved into the world of blogging long before I started doing it myself. I heard many bloggers and podcasters talk about the dos and don’ts, the ins and outs. I read different styles, saw the types of discussions and community interaction. I knew how to write before I started my blog (thank you college). So I came into blogging knowing what to expect, knowing how to accomplish my goals. That’s not to say there aren’t any surprises. I was amazed at how fast I became involved in the LOTRO blogging community. We’re not big, but there were more LOTRO blogs out there than I thought. Soon as I started the Adventurer, I began to quickly follow the links and profile pages to find everybody. It’s amazing how interconnected everything is on the internet. So, if there’s one thing I wish I knew I would have to say that is how to find the LOTRO community before I started, that way I could have done a better job at inserting myself into the mix. Not that things didn’t work out well anyway. I started the Adventurer because I didn’t think there were active LOTRO blogs. I was wrong, and I’m glad I was wrong.

Can you picture a future where you will hang up your keyboard and no longer blog?

Anything is possible. I’m single and unemployed. I have a lot of time to blog. But I plan on getting a job. I plan on having a career, a family – wife, kids, dog, etc. Life won’t always be so forgiving and there may come a time where I need to take a sabbatical. I don’t think I will every quit forever. If it’s not LOTRO, I’m sure I’ll be bloging or writing about something. The regularity may change, but there will never be a lack of quality subjects to put my mind to. I hope the Adventurer will continue for the lifetime of the game, but like I said, who knows. Only the future.

Namari an si, Jaxom

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