December 02, 2008
Ann Althouse: Born to Blog
Posted by Gordon Smith

Ann is a natural-born blogger. Her interview in connection with the ABA Journal 100 is short, but it reminds me of sitting across the hall from her, talking about blogging. She really hasn't changed her attitude about blogging in over four years, and that's pretty amazing ...

ABA Journal: How long did it take you to find your voice?

Althouse: I think I had my voice on the first post. From day one, it felt like I'd been dying to do this.

ABA Journal: Tell me about some of the biggest hurdles to doing regular posts.

Althouse: I have none. I wake up every morning ready to blog, and I do that before anything else. During the day, when I can, I go back to the blog. The real problem for me is overblogging, not underblogging.

ABA Journal: Have you ever experienced burnout or writers block? And how did you get over it?

Althouse: Blogging is energizing for me, and I never feel burned out. Sometimes it takes me a while, reading through things, to find something I want to write about, but I consider that part of writing. You need to read with a flexible, open mind and have an eye for the bloggable. Once you see something that is bloggable, start writing. Let it flow. I like to write to see what I think, to observe my mind at work. I free associate, and since I'm pretty old, I have a lot of material to weave in. Another thing I do is photography. If I take a photo-walk, I come back with things I can make into posts.

ABA Journal: What have you learned from the blog world regarding direct, immediate feedback? Does that cause trouble for you in your day job?

Althouse: I'm fortunate to be a tenured law professor and to work with people who appreciate nontraditional writing, including a lot of writing that is only tangentially about law (or not about law at all). As for the direct feedback, I love it. I'm always checking the traffic statistics, seeing who's linking, and reading the comments. Even when people get mad at me, call me a fool, and slander me, I love being one of the characters on the Internet stage.

ABA Journal: Would you encourage other legal professionals to blog? What advice/cautions would you share?

Althouse: If you want to blog, blog. Otherwise, don't. If you don't find it intrinsically rewarding to live freely and continually in writing, on display to the world, then don't waste your time. If you're contemplating a website that will work as PR for your legal practice, I don't care what you do. I'm not interested, and I won't read you.

The last paragraph is a classic: If you want to blog, blog. Otherwise, don't. Substitute any intransitive verb for "blog," and you have some pretty good life advice.

As for the dismissal of PR blogs, it's all about authenticity ... if that word is not too dated.

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