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Political writer Andrew Sullivan: Blogging ‘was killing me’

Sullivan made a startling confession during an interview Sunday: In order to keep living, he needed to stop blogging.

 

Josh Katzowitz

Tech

Published Mar 30, 2015   Updated May 29, 2021, 4:51 am CDT

A few months back, Andrew Sullivan—one of the preeminent political bloggers—surprised his readers and tens of thousands of subscribers by announcing that he would end the Daily Dish, his blog of the past 15 years.

His reasons, he wrote in January, were two-fold.

“I’ve now been blogging daily for 15 years straight,” he wrote. “That’s long enough to do any single job… There comes a time when you have to move on to new things, shake your world up, or recognize before you crash that burn-out does happen.

“The second [reason] is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged.”

Apparently, there was also a third reason. As Sullivan said in a discussion at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan on Sunday night, via CNN,  the blogging lifestyle was beginning to threaten his health.

“The truth is, I had to stop primarily because it was killing me,” Sullivan said Sunday night at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. “I used to joke that if blogging does kill someone, I would be the first to find out.”

His writing schedule, he said, was maniacal.

“Forty posts a day — every 20 minutes, seven days a week,” Sullivan said.

Ultimately, he couldn’t keep up that pace.

His announcement that he was ending his blog—which had been housed previously on the websites of Time, the Atlantic, and the Daily Beast before he took it completely independent in 2013—was surprising, because the site, which was funded by his subscribers (full disclosure: I was one of them), seemed to be doing well financially. And even when Sullivan went offline for a few days, his small staff produced the same quality of work.

Though he’s been HIV positive for the past two decades, Sullivan said that illness had nothing to do with his recent health struggles. Now without the neverending deadline of blogging, Sullivan said he hopes to spend more time exercising, meditating, and getting a good night’s sleep.

And actually conversing with people in real life—something that many of us bloggers and Internet journalists who work from home don’t get to experience as often as we’d like.

“I spent a decade of my life, spending around seven hours a day in intimate conversation with around 70,000 to 100,000 people every day,” Sullivan said. “And inevitably, for those seven hours or more, I was not spending time with any actual human being, with a face and a body and a mind and a soul.”

Though he’s shut down his site, the Dish was a success.

“I’m intensely proud of having 30,000 subscribers to a site, which is 30,000 more than BuzzFeed will ever have,” Sullivan said. “That’s my one response to BuzzFeed. When you get 30,000 people willing to pay you 40 bucks a year to read this, then my hat’s off to you.”

Photo via aspeninstitute-international/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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*First Published: Mar 30, 2015, 9:55 pm CDT