Do You Even Blog, Bro?


So it goes something like this:

  • Describe something small and seemingly innocuous
  • Dig to find some deeper spiritual principles that goes with it (use sweeping motifs – people love that shit)
  • Stagger some semi-humourous photos with gag-like captions
  • Finish strong with some lofty ideals and a more serious, uplifting picture.

That, my friends, is how a Message in a Bottle blog post is constructed. Four simple pillars to hold up the latest literary oeuvre. Four items to check off before pressing the blue Publish button on the right side of the screen there.

It works, but it’s also very formulaic. And it puts me into a bit of a creative Iron Maiden.

[insert sentence here about “bleeding for one’s art” etc.]

Now I’m not here to bore you with the details of this blog. You read the blog for whatever reason you read it. Having said that, there hasn’t been much to read. The air has been a bit still here, and the only reason I am writing this is to try and clear the cobwebs from the corners of this room. I haven’t had much to say, and I have lost count on how many times I have started and deleted posts in the last few weeks.

Nothing seems to want to stick.

[The setup has been laid down.]

Two very groovy writer friends of mine (psst: their names are Dan and Mark) and I were having a talk about blogging, and Mark shared an article which spelled out a dire statistic: most blogs last an average of 100 days. That’s it. So in the span of the time it takes my kids to actually clean their room from the moment I ask them the first time, a blog will have been created, filled up and then faded out like a shooting star.

I have seen countless recovery blogs start with a bang. I AM GOING TO STOP DRINKING AND HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS. And those thoughts spill out like confetti from Rip Taylor’s Bucket-O-Fun. When you are new to recovery, you have lots to say. Emotions of all colours seep into every corner of your space. You write because to not write means you will burst with all these newfound observations and insights. You write so you can breathe.

Eventually, things start to normalise. The novelty and newness of a new way of life softens and things just start to be. You’re no longer bound to the frantic pinball game of strange feelings and monumental expectations bumping up against reality and the tilting thoughts that follow. You are living and things begin to be…good. Undramatic. Cushioned with contentment.

So what’s to write about then?

[The question is set, the problem raised, the negativity demonstrated.]

This is when a lot of blogs drift away. People have made their mark and leave to make their mark somewhere else, in new and different ways. Ways that are more in line with who they were meant to be. They no longer need the blog, the sounding vessel, that once served them. And that’s a fair enough cop.

Essentially that is where I am – I don’t feel like I have much to say about recovery much any more. I love recovery and have been fortunate enough to find it, and it’s injected me with the very life that I craved when drinking. Recovery has given my many gifts. And I don’t have much to say about where I am now. I work long hours, I run, I hang with my family, and I nap frequently. That’s about it. I don’t do anything much else.

[The neutral observation made.]

My other good writer friend Sean, when I told him about my concerns, countered by saying that we all have a life worthy of celebrating. I understand his sentiment, and it has merit, but in the end, who wants to read that all is well? Then again, Sean’s writing is fantastic and he makes me laugh at the absurdity of life and his thinking process. Mark deals with the miracles of the mundane in an almost poetic way and Dan can spin a yarn and take you down a splendid path of insight and wisdom in a way that only he can do. So there is something to be said about demonstrating life and spirit through the “normalcy” of existence. Which is far from normal.

[This is the part where I start to see the positive aspects, and move away from the negative. Insert photo with caption here to break up the section.]

I will certainly keep this space open, and hopefully the need to fill it will come. I am not a writer with a capital W, but I do have my moments where I do feel the pull to create. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler nor can I sculpt or even paint worth a damn, so writing it is. And that’s okay. If that is my outlet, then that is it. I don’t have the ambition to write for a living, nor do I have lofty blog branding goals or care much for SEO’s and all that stuff. I just want to jot down something now and then, and I am content to come to that conclusion. It takes the pressure off to perform. This is my corner of the world and I will tend to it as I see fit.

So for those of you who are new and need to spill – spill like a tanker ship. I wrote in a journal for the first year of my recovery and it saved me from my own tortuous thoughts. Getting it down took it away from spinning in my head. It helped to clear the air, so to allow kinder and gentler thoughts to take their first breaths. If you are like me and wondering if it’s still worth writing, keep at it. My sort of anti-post here is an example of me writing even when I don’t feel like it. There is a post even when there isn’t a post there.

[Looking ahead to finishing up. Try and stay positive. Wrap it up.]

Life doesn’t have to be in turmoil to be teachable. The lessons learned when things are going smoothly may not be as dramatic and intense as when things are tumultuous, but they are still lessons. My job is to try and keep my eyes open to them. And write them down. Even if it’s once in a while.


46 Comments Add yours

  1. Gheghe, nice timing for me: having trouble to adjust in my current, finally sort of relaxed life. 🙂 Stress addict, feeling addict. Well, I guess; baby steps all over again.
    See you when I see you. 🙂
    xx, Feeling

    1. Paul S says:

      I am in the midst of lots of work stress, so I get it. And that is probably one reason why I am stilted in the creative department. Baby steps indeed. Thanks for this :). Hope you are well.

  2. Bea says:

    If you write, I will read! Always. There’s something about your words, whether you write a great many or very few, that make me feel connected and, well, better somehow. So there’s power in them words, Paul, whenever you write and whatever you write about 🙂

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you Bea – so nice to see you! I appreciate this. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. 🙂

  3. Victo Dolore says:

    Keep blogging. You DO have important things to say. 🙂

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you SO very much for this, my friend. This made me smile, and I know that you mean it from the heart. Thanks again.

  4. I totally get it. You don’t have to make the blog just another thing to tick off your ‘to do list’. Having said that I enjoy your writing so much and will miss it if you disappear. xxx

    1. Paul S says:

      Yes! I don’t like to feel that it’s something that weighs on me. I started it for fun, and don’t want it to be a chore. I am not going anywhere! and speaking of fine writing – I need to hit up your blog soon. I feel bad I haven’t read any blogs for a few weeks!

  5. Lisa Neumann says:

    “We all have a life worthy of celebrating ” love that thought. Thanks Paul (and Sean).

    I always relate Paul, “A post even when there isn’t a post.” Lol. Somehow I think I shall cross paths with you forever.

    1. Paul S says:

      Lisa – thank you and believe me, I think we will cross paths for a very, very long time. Lucky me 🙂

  6. I have been blogging for almost 3 years, and I really struggle with what to write about in terms of recovery.
    Or I will think of something and then someone else has just written about it!
    I love commenting on other people’s blogs, as it brings some of my own issues up when I do so.
    Write if you want, don’t write if you don’t want.
    I find the pressure of feeling as if I HAVE to post something stops me from writing.
    I love writing, though, and so I carry on in my own strange little way, but I don’t know for how long either.
    Your last paragraph is what I am doing, and so you will see posts about flying pigs!
    (Well, I made this all about me! YIKES!!)

    1. Paul S says:

      Wendy! My new Twitter buddy 🙂

      Thanks for this – great to know I am not alone! It’s not always easy, and there was a time of course where I retired this blog for a few years. So I really needed to take a break, but the desire is still there, but it’s jammed up sometimes.
      I would gladly read about flying pigs!

  7. k2running says:

    Oh Paul, you Always hit the nail on the head. “We all have a life worth of celebraring”…never truer words spoken. I too, feel stressed out that I haven’t posted in a while. My recovery isn’t center stage these days. Priority yea, but I ha e so much stuff going on, good stuff, just living a wonderful life, one day at a time. I find myself struggling to coome up with post ideas….do I blog about my relaxing day at the.pool?, how my hip me problems after long runs?, kids are freaking hilarious? I suppose I could….i mean it’s important to me, but blog worthy? You are correct when you say early sobriety and recovery triggers so many emotions and feelings, I felt like I was in a pinball machine. Now life is chill. I am grateful, maybe I will start blogging about raising 2 funny independent kids. Or a day in the life of an oncology nurse. Or the wacky stuff I over hear at the pool 😂…. I love to write, but it shouldn’t cause anxiety. My blog, your blog, and so many others have served it’s purpose. It has touched so many. Maybe even saved a life or 2…thats something to be proud of and to clelebrate😊.
    You always make me think and chuckle Paul!!


    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you for all of this, Katie. I am touched.
      And I agree – do I talk about the coffee I had this morning? Or my run? I mean, those are fine for me, but probably a dull read for someone else. It’s like when someone describes their dreams to you – it’s fascinating the them, but not so much for you…ha ha.
      Anyways, keep writing! I think it does us good. Even if it’s once in a while.

  8. I get it! I struggle with regular blogging, but at least I did it regularly when I needed it most in early sobriety. The sober blogosphere provided me with extra support, love, and encouragement when I was really struggling. Of all the people here, you made the biggest impact and I will be eternally grateful for your help. Whether you are posting or not, please know that you are appreciated here. 🙂
    XO, KC

    1. Paul S says:

      Awww…thank you SO much, KC. I have to say I did think of you often while you were away, and was thrilled when you returned home. And I know that your blog will never be like how it used to be. You’re different and you are in a different space. So how could your blog be the same?? But I am touched by your words. Thank you.
      (I can’t find your email address – if you want, email me at carrythemessage164@gmail – would love to catch up!)

  9. saoirsek says:

    I hear you, I’ve not felt like blogging recently but I’ll get back to it. I’m glad you wrote this one though, don’t feel so alone now!🙂

    1. Paul S says:

      We are never alone! Thank YOU for letting me know that I am not the only one. I think we all go through phases and I certainly have had my fair share of them here and on the podcast. Looking forward to your next blog post!

      1. saoirsek says:

        I finally got it together to post a blog this morning but only due to insomnia!!!

        1. Paul S says:

          No way!! You know, I haven’t been reading blogs either for the last few weeks and now your will be the first I catch up on! Hazzah!

  10. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant!! [Insert Paul’s skulking away upon hearing praise.] Thing is, man, the world would be a much poorer place without your words. I’m not just typing that to blow smoke up your a$$ (<<Canadian dollars.) I genuinely believe (with an adverb, no less), that you are gifted. The passion may not be there, and you seem to be dealing with that in your own way, but you just need to know that—from my perspective—you are witty, kind, willing-to-share, open to critique, and (more importantly) a Writer, because look at all the people commenting, dude.

    "[T]houghts spill out like confetti from Rip Taylor’s Bucket-O-Fun…"

    ^^ Do you realize how hard it is for ME to come up with genius phrases like this? I mean, wow.

    Funny thing I need to share with you is that everywhere you have red, bracketed text, I can see perfectly what needs to go there. You're in the top 5% of bloggers, not through your longevity or struggle to make it work, but by your keen insight and willingness to be vulnerable. THAT's why I read your shit . . . because it's incredible fertilizer for my own writing.

    Keep doing this thing, Paul. If, for nothing else, because we love you and need your words. It doesn't matter what you write at this point. It's that you're here, and we need your voice.

    – Danno

    1. Paul S says:

      Too kind, as usual.
      I can’t adequately return the love you give, but thank you. I am honoured to have you write this response. I am encouraged and inspired by you of course and this spills out in all directions.
      I have to return to the mantra of if this helps even one person, then it’s worth it. I sometimes get caught up in the “me” of it all. Damn frickin’ alkie!
      Thanks again, brother.

  11. Tate Gunning says:

    I always enjoy your post and feel your thoughts and perspective to be “spot on,” but this one spoke to me. The timing was perfect, as I have been going back and forth on pumping out a specific number of post, let’s say 3-4 month, versus writing to enjoy the experience and seeing where it takes me. It is clear to me, now more than ever, that I want to write and have fun; numbers can take care of themselves later. Also, I see staying in this recovery writing thing for a while, so I’m going to pace myself, put my ducks in a row, and enjoy the ride.

    Next, I think you’re killer, dude. The recovery world needs more Paul’s. This site is an anchor for so many. It always talks to me, every time I’m here. I felt words coming off the page with power and lodging themselves in my brain as I read them. Every word seemed natural and effortless, and had great flow. Your thoughts were portrayed very clearly. And, these are all things good writers do; kudos.

    We are always our toughest critic. I have a lot of faith and respect in you, Paul. In my eyes, you can write. I look up to your example and forward to more. Thank you, Tate

    1. Paul S says:

      Lots of wisdom here, and I am taking notes of what you say. Seriously. I think what you said about pumping out a post because you need to rather than writing for enjoyment struck a chord with me. I am not a branding machine. I am not selling anything per se. I am not on a posting schedule that blogging gurus tell us we should be on. I do this for fun, and if it helps someone, then that’s doubly great.
      Your kindness is too much – I am flattered. Thank you. I sometimes forget that there are many who lurk, and maybe it will be of assistance to someone.
      Thank you so much Tate for the comments and taking the time for this – I really appreciate it.

    2. Paul S says:

      Tate – I have tried to leave a comment on your (fantastic) blog post several times just now, but it keeps saying that I haven’t entered a proper website link, but I have. Any thoughts??

  12. Why not put your recovery into book form? The world needs more of these memoirs. I used to scour the shelves for them when I was trying to manage a few days of sobriety. I love the way your write and would be only too happy to preorder my copy. ; )

    1. ainsobriety says:

      I agree. He should.

      1. Paul S says:

        I have one coming soon… 🙂

    2. Paul S says:

      Awww…thanks. And guess what? I DO have a book coming out! It’s in the final stages. Should be here in a few week, methinks! So thank you for this.

      1. Congratulations!! I am so excited for you. Is is self-published? How will we order it? (I know all these details are forthcoming. Just curious.)

        1. Paul S says:

          It is, even though the publisher does do pretty much everything – editing, layout, etc. No deets yet, but will pass along as soon as I get them! Thanks!

          1. The fact that you have a publisher is exciting in itself. Look forward to hearing more.

  13. ainsobriety says:

    I will read too!
    I blog when inspired. I guess I never had a formula or a plan…and I never expected to stay sober or to embrace life booze free as I have.
    So my blogging continues as a vehicle to keep the connection going to people who have been around for a while and for new people.
    If all anyone hears from me is that a person (actually, a couple. My husband has a jack Daniels tattoo!) who once thought only lame people didn’t drink could get sober and LOVE it, anyone can.

    I am going to write a post tomorrow that doesn’t include a concert…although I have been to a few recently!


    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you so much Anne. I love your posts (and I can’t believe it will be a non-concert one!) and I especially love your wise and comforting words to others on their blogs. Seriously. When I see you there, I know it’s good stuff. Keep writing. I enjoy what you do!!
      I am still going to be here. Maybe not as much as I think, but I am staying!

  14. Man oh man! Look at that response! It turns out blogging about the metonymy of blogging is a popular topic!

    Ready for my generic comment? OK here we go:

    1) find something you enjoyed about the post.
    2) share how your experiences is similar
    3) leave them with something positive to let them know you care. Because you really do.

    Reading this blog post was like watching that movie Deadpool. It’s always good to peek behind the curtain, break that fourth the wall with a sledgehammer.

    There are a lot of takeaways on this one with me, Paul. And after a week away from all of this and on vacation, I have a renewed vow to not fucking care as much about those things you mentioned, the views, the SEO, all that.

    Take blogging back to the basics. Pour what cones to mind outbon the page and leave the rest up to the powers that be. Thank you for taking the lead on this action plan, sir. I hope to follow it.

    1. Paul S says:

      A bit of a meta topic, eh?

      Thanks for this, Mark. My numbers aren’t great. I may have had a bit of a hayday back in the day, and that’s okay. I am not actively seeking more numbers (my marketing skills are shit, to be honest. I hate advertising myself). But I am not really focused on them now much anyways, so it’s a moot point. For me it’s just about enjoying the process. I overthink it sometimes (ok, always!) but I try to stay on track. I don’t want it to be a thing I check off, a chore.

      It’s been fun watching your blog exploding. Your fans are rabidly loyal and love your content (and I agree – it’s astounding). That’s the kind of thing great, soulful content brings. Build it and they will come. And come they have, and will continue to grow.

      Thanks for the kindness as always Mark! My apologies in the delay in responding!

      1. No worries! I’m in delay in responding to your response. So, solidarity! As always in the delayed response.

        I think a lot of this social media frustration that I have is the perception dealy. Like, from my perspective, you are the blog that explodes. I mean, I really don’t get that many views. When a new post comes out I’ll get 200. On days with nothing going on, I’ll get a couple dozen. It always appears that you (on message in a bottle) get a killer like and response rate on WP.

        I think it’s that comparing thing that will always want to put me on top of the heap, or at the bottom. When, always, I am right in the middle, where I should be. It’s hard to see it.

        Right now, I’m in that heap experiment. Trying to not look at stats (I have a big problem with that) and constant comparison. We’ll have to keep swapping experiences on this one. Onward!

  15. I understand a lot of sentiments you expressed here, especially running out of gas and feeling like there’s nothing left to say and wanting to abandon your project. I THINK where I am landing is that my writing doesn’t have to be 100% about alcohol or recovery. I’m a multi-dimensional person with other topics to address and there are no rules really for how we use our creative spaces. I really like your work by the way and look forward to reading more ❤️

    -Alicia (Soberish)

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks for this Alicia! (Sorry for the delay in response!)
      I have gone back and forth on this – knowing that I don’t have to write about recovery all the time and then feeling that I don’t want to just write about how my day went. I want to keep some form of content without getting too general and vague. It’s a struggle sometimes.


  16. furtheron says:

    I’ve not looked at the stats but I know that I post on my blog at a decreasing rate of frequency… daily went to weekly, weekly to monthly, monthly to whenever.

    However I’ve never called time on it as every now and then the frequency increases. I realised a long time ago I’m no great writer (another dream shattered) and few (getting fewer) read my meanderings anyhow so in the end it’s more like an open journal.

    I wish I’d realised there was a formula to make it more readable… doh! Too late for that now, you’ve all seen through that shit with me!

    1. Paul S says:

      Hey Graham,

      I for one enjoy your blog. You write from the heart, and I can see how much effort you put into your family life and being there for them, and also following your dream of being a counselor. That says a ton more than pontificating about things and stringing Pulitzer prize winning prose (a dream for us all!) You inspire me because I know I can improve in the attention I give my family, and also about trying something new. I would love to leave my industry, but have no real dreams or interests to follow, something tangible that I can learn and make a living from. Fear! But you show me that it’s possible…so for that, I thank you.

  17. You’ve said this before. =) And I ask again, “Why do you have to keep talking about recovery?” Besides, if self-talk is (determines so much of) everything, you don’t want to keep yourself pigeon-holed as a recovering anything. How about a thriving, bumbling HUMAN being like the rest of us?

    1. Paul S says:

      You are right, of course, D. I am rethinking it all right now. I thank you for asking that question again!

    2. very true. your posts paul are read by many people, new to recovery, you betcha, (ive come across people talking about you on lesser used streets of twitter) and older hands.

  18. The answers are here in the comments. You don’t have to write only for yourself. Write for others. Write for those who need you to share. Write unselfishly for others who enjoy what you have to offer. Write something from a different perspective. Observations about others. Commentary about what’s going on in the world. But write. Don’t stop. Change your formula if need be and grow as a writer and a contributor to these spaces. The formula isn’t law. Create the unexpected. Please show us the next level. Thank you. Looking forward to what comes next.

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