Living Life vs Just Writing About It


There’s a disparity in the blogging community between the number of people writing about living and the number of people out ACTUALLY living.

It’s great when people are so enthused about lifestyle design and minimalism and travel and entrepreneurship that they decide to spend a good portion of their day sharing what they’ve learned with the blogosphere! This ‘paying it forward’ mentality is exactly what the world needs, and these people have the right idea about how to build strong relationships over time.

That being said, there is also an unfortunate trend toward regurgitation and ‘me-too’ blogging out there right now (and maybe always), where people get so excited about a topic, they forget to actually DO anything before writing about it (and attempting to become experts or gurus on the subject).

This isn’t the most terrible thing in the world – I think most of us started out this way at the beginning of our blogging careers – but the difference between people who stick around and make something of themselves and the folks who just kind of disappear (due to a lack of readership, lack of things to write about or lack of interest on their part) is that the first group go out and live life, while the second just stays in and writes about living.

If you’re living life, you’re experiencing new things, solving new problems and adding to the conversation.

If you’re writing about living life, you’re adding your opinion to the conversation, which is valuable, but because you’re working off information that already exists, you’re not really adding anything new.

This is definitely not meant to be criticism to anyone out there that hasn’t hit their stride yet, but I wanted to say something about it in hopes of nudging along anyone who’s been sitting on their hands, afraid to or forgetting to move forward.

I sincerely hope you stick around and continue to share what you’ve learned with the rest of us once you’ve started to get out and really live, because that’s when the good stuff starts spilling out.

Either way, if you have to choose living or blogging, choose living. You may not be Internet-famous, but you’ll be much happier in the end.


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  2. Good point. This is why I make it a priority to write about the stuff I'm actually doing, not just thinking about. I also only write about once every 5 days, because that's the amount of experience I need to have enough experiences to write a post.

  3. I'm really glad you wrote this, it's so true. I was thinking the other day how there are so many “inspiration” blogs (not just of the minimalist, travel, or business type, but also art, fashion, etc) — but if people get “inspired” and then don't do anything with it, has it really served a purpose? All the things that get re-blogged ad infinitum; sure it's good as an idea or an image, but if you're still sitting at your desk, just clicking through dozens of these a day, it doesn't (as a british friend would say) really “do what it says on the tin.” To feel this burst of inspiration but still in practice remain unchanged can actually, ironically, just make people more anesthetized to real life, more comfortable getting nowhere.

  4. I choose to live, Colin! A free, happy, memorable life, filled with abundant experiences and love. :)

    Thank you for reminding us the importance of actually living vs. just talking about living.

  5. Thanks for the reminder that what makes the blogsphere really interesting and provides experience and perspective is really what happens offline. The longer we travel and blog, the more we realize that there are a lot of travel bloggers who don't really travel much even though their site may indicate otherwise. That's fine, but the the best experience (and way to gain authority) is being out there doing it – you'll realize that some of the assumptions and expectations go out the window when you're on the road.

  6. So true. And I've noticed the same regarding travel bloggers especially…I'm still very new to the whole scene, but just being out and about in the world has shown me that a lot of what's out there doesn't pass muster, at least partially because the folks writing it either seldom travel or have only experienced one kind of travel, and therefore are only familiar with that sort.

  7. Very well said.

    Though there are a few blogs out there that compile interesting things really well, if everyone did this, then there wouldn't be anything new to compile, would there?

    Even stranger are the people who view these creations and get all excited for a few minutes, but then go back to the humdrum lifestyle they're living without applying anything they've learned.

    Inspiration without action is just escapism. You heard it here first :)

  8. Interesting point about taking the time to accumulate material before writing. I think sites like Problogger and Engadget have convinced bloggers that they need to post several times a day to really optimize their site, and I would say that simply isn't the case.

    So long as what you write is meaty enough to be worth the time, any duration between posts is acceptable.

  9. Bingo. That realization is what prompted me to make AskExperience – I haven't seen a whole lot of life yet (comparatively speaking), so I wanted to let others give me their experiences. In the meantime, I'm out doing my own thing, seeking my own challenges, and getting my own experiences to report back on.

    This is also evident in the personal dev community. Everyone writes about how you're supposed to live life, but unless you're throwing yourself out there and actually are living, then all that blog reading you've done is worth nothing. (As a side note, this is why I love Jonathan Mead: his low frequency of posts lets us all know that he's out living life along the way, not in front of a screen all day)

    I'm trying to stay succinct in my comments, so that's all for now. Great points as always!

  10. I started blogging as an impetus to start living more fully. I got tired of hearing about people doing awesome things and wanted to start doing them.

    That said, when I focus on 'doing' so much I can forget to reflect. I think there's a delicate balance between the two and I've actually found my blogging to help facilitate that balancing act.

  11. Was going to say something along these lines. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who start actually living and as a result, the blog takes a back seat.

    Sometimes you get so entrenched in what you're doing that you just don't care as much for blogging. Sometimes, you're pumped about blogging, but you end up talking more than doing.

    Hard to find the middle ground.

    David, Scribnia

  12. Thats similar to what I try to keep in mind, Knowledge plus action is power. Without action it's just clutter.

  13. For those of us with with ADD tendencies, it's easy to get distracted and forget about living life. We all know how the internet is like crack for the easily distracted.

  14. Well vomit blogs are here to stay. It comes from people being sucked into one niche like make money online, or minimalism, or mommy blogging or whatever.
    They follow their respective thought leaders. Then they decide to start their own make money online, minimalism, mommy blog because they saw someone else doing it and having success. Just how it is. They die off rather quickly for lack of passion and authenticity.

  15. It's true, and honestly it's good that people try their hand at blogging, even if they don't get past that step. Few people start out as revolutionaries, at least not until they've been around long enough to know what needs to be revolutionized!

  16. That's a fact. Any time I start drifting away from living, I ask myself 'is this what you're working so hard to be able to do?' If I feel the need to ask myself, usually the answer is no, and I go eat some Doritos or attend a theatrical performance or move to a new country to remedy the situation.

  17. Yeah, I find the same these days. When I first stared blogging this wasn't the case, but I've found that point of balance that works for me.

  18. I especially like the point you make that once you get out there and “do stuff” that generates something *real* to write about. To have something useful to say on weight loss, you need to have lost weight, to say something useful about Thailand, you have to have lived there (or at least visited), to have something useful to say on simple living, you need to have gone from a materialist life to a simple life (or be in the process). My advice is always get out there and, like Nike said, just do it! That gives you some real feedback to work with, not to mention material for your blog!

  19. Hey Colin, I find you have to limit your information input, get out there and find your own unique voice to broadcast, instead of staying tied to a computer screen – it's as bad as TV addiction if you're not mindful

  20. you have to life your life in order to life about it.
    and if you don't, well you'll end up writing about what you've read on the internet and not your own opinion.

  21. Totally!

    There's definitely value to be had from intelligent reprocessing of existing information, but few and far between are the people who do this well. Just doing it tends to lead to much better work and useful information.

  22. It's true! The Internet's great because it can be a two-way stream of communication (as opposed to TV, which is just one-way), but unless you actively participate by adding something to the conversation, it may as well just be TV.

  23. Exactly.

    What's unfortunate is that the school systems in many countries (including the US) encourage this kind of 'read and regurgitate' learning and interaction, so most people don't even realize there is another way.

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  25. Keep living! Its always the better option. As for me blogging started as a journal, to keep track of what I was thinking about. But I'll just add whatever comes along and see where it takes me!

    I agree, if you have the time to blog, you should at least be doing something interesting with your life, and trying to make a difference for yourself. Not everyone is meant to go the same way, but as long as you pave your own path all is cool.

  26. Sometimes the more things I DO the less time I have to write about said things…luckily I write in advance a lot.

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  28. Good job planning ahead…it's tough to find time for both sometimes, or at least when you NEED the time. Making sure that you can fit it in when you've got the time is one of those little things that makes a big difference.

  29. For sure. And the more you pave your path and share it with the rest of us, the more we're able to see what it would be like to walk it with you.

  30. truth is, I do both.

    Creating blogs and cool digital ideas is part of what I LUV to do – which makes it part of my life.

    I agree that so many people write about stuff they have never experienced themselves. You need real life experience if you want to shape your mind, but lately I have found out that there aren't really that many interesting peeps in the real world.

    The conversations keep repeating themselves, people crying about the same problems – blahblah. In the online world, you have access to all the fabulous peeps from around the planet, and concentrating your precious energy on your work will lead to creative results.

    The real world is overrated.

  31. I think it is really good to live life. I think each of us has our own reasons if we want to live life and write about it or live life and not write about it. But then, it is always good if we write about something that we know so well or we write about something we've been through because writing is easier when you have every bit of information you need.

  32. “Either way, if you have to choose living or blogging, choose living. You may not be Internet-famous, but you’ll be much happier in the end.” Excellent quote Colin! Before I started blogging I was excited by all that I read, (and I still am). The most exciting blogs were those by people actually living and getting out there. Cody Mckibben, Karol Gajda, Sean Ogle. I've talked about action vs discussion before. Action is key. Without it, life just passes by with talk about what could have, should have and would have been. This is a great post Colin. And again seriously great quote man. I've seen bloggers that I follow that have gone long stretches without posting and then post an apology for not posting in a while. I don't think they need to apologize for anything. They were simply out there traveling and living life. Isn't that what it's all about? Living life to it's fullest? The regurgitation and me too blogging I don't think is a problem. Many people have to start out like that as they find their voice. It becomes a problem when that switch to action never happens. It is also incredibly annoying when someone preaches from a guru like pedestal and never gets off their ass and does anything. Inspirational words are great and have their place, but action is everything.

  33. Thanks for another nugget of wisdom. I have read a few of your blog entries now and found them to be quite valuable. I will have to dig through the archives for more life living commentary and advice. I am not sure if you have commented on this subject previously, but I am curious to know your opinion on blogging about one's personal life and whether or not you have certain personal boundaries you have created for your public life on the internet?

  34. I hear ya man. I haven't been moving around nearly as much as I would like lately. I kind of feel like I'm paying my pennance for all the moving I did since i was very young.

    It's true that I lived in Chile for 8 months ('99), Helsinki for 6 ('05), and Queenstown for 2 ('06), and been to Europe once or twice a year since then, but that seems like ages ago. Ok, I was in germany in April, but still… I've got the itch.

    This economy has got me grounded (no excuse) and I started blogging to jumpstart me back into action, but I need to get busy living more than I have lately, before I forget why I started blogging in the first place. I need to get creative until things take off.

    truth is I ant to do a road trip, or move somewhere back up north (NYC) or West (San fran), but i've been sitting on it.

    Thanks for the kick in the ass!

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  36. We're Gen Xers (Brad and Lisa) who traveled a lot while in college and just after…then it stopped. Get married, buy a house, two dogs, and a wonderful little girl (2 1/2). Well, if you've stopped living…you can definitely find your way back. We sold the house and the material things and all of us…the whole clan
    (including the dogs) are living in Uruguay (about 18 months) and next month off to Patagonia for the next leg of the adventure… We're guilty of falling off the blogging wagon from time to time, but it's been a great ride so far and great to hear other families aren't afraid to jump in as well. Never too late to choose your path. Thanks to the Gen Ys for pushing us.

  37. Hey Colin,

    I definitely agree.

    Blogging is a great way to declare your intentions to the world but you have to get out and do something. There are thousands of cool people all over the world who have fantastic lifestyles but would never think of interrupting their perfect lives by spending hours in front of a computer screen talking about it.

    You can meet these people everywhere. They are the ones who bought a yacht and are doing diving tours in tropical countries. Some have bought small hotels or bed and breakfasts in beautiful locations. Others have created their dream restaurant or are doing their art full time in paradise.

    While there are some great bloggers living large, most seem to be dreaming about some future paradise.

  38. As a travel blogger – I think it’s really hard to balance the time traveling with the actual work of travel blogging. I try to make a point to be on the road at least 8 months out of the year – out living life!
    Nice post – thanks for talking about a subject I’ve thought a lot about as hrs disappear on twitter!

  39. Long story short, I recently wrote a blog about people saying that they’re going to accomplish one goal and, years later, have found a perpetual series of excuses to defend why they’re not accomplished their set task. Take a read. I’d love your opinion.

  40. I totally agree…If you’re into blogging just to get ‘internet-famous’, you’re not really doing it right…

    The site I run is about travel, adventure, and entrepreneurship…not because I’m trying to solely build any internet fame, but because those are three things I’m passionate about, and they’re a HUGE PART OF MY ACTUAL LIFE!!

    … In fact, I started the whole thing to chronicle my adventures and share my ideas …and that’s all I really do…and I love it.

    Great post on an intuitive topic.


  41. I was just wondering if there’s anyone out there writing about the life of an exile, being one myself. Sometimes it’s good to know that you’re not alone in what you’ve embarked on and I think that’s one of the reasons that makes blogging relevant. Otherwise, what’s the sense in all of these…

  42. What a classic. What about writing the life that you live, given that it’s extraordinary?

  43. Colin, this article could not have come timelier for me. I’m in the middle of a ‘move’ in the blogsphere and a return to the blogging that I love and not the one I’m trying to be.

    Thank you for writing this; deep heartfelt thanks.

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  45. I completely agree. Before I write anything, I always make sure I only talk about what I’ve experienced. My blog following me completing my bucket list, but I write about what I learn from crossing each thing off the list, from living an Funemployed Lifestyle for 4 months, to spending time in a commune, to travelling Asia and Europe.

    It’s all to easy though, to spend so much time working on the blog, and NOT getting out there and living, which is one of the main challenges of this whole ‘lifestyle’ area.

    Great post, Colin :)

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  47. Thought inducing read (maybe even action provoking). So busy living, that I’m an inconsistent blogger. Have enough life already to write for years. Just hope I don’t forget first!

  48. It’s funny, I wish I had been blogging for the past 10 years when I was off on crazy adventures and playing around with different careers! At least it gives me lots of good content to go back to now, years later when I’ve had time to reflect on all of it.

    Not that I’m not still out there living… Just bought a sweet conversion van I’ll be living in for the better part of 2012, blogging from the sweet little fold down table in the back, on my rest days from climbing. It will be interesting working and writing from the road. Hoping it will force me to work smarter :)

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