15 years is enough, he says

Sullivan quits blogging: “I’m a human being before I am a writer”

When it comes to professional blogging, there aren’t many around who have had the kind of longevity or success that Andrew Sullivan has: after starting with his own blog in 2000, the political commentator moved to Time, then The Atlantic, then The Daily Beast, and finally launched his own crowdfunded site, which ultimately raised close to $1 million. But now, Sullivan says he is going to stop blogging and try to spend more time with his family and friends, in part because of the toll he says daily blogging has taken.

In a note at The Daily Dish, Sullivan — who is 51 and has dealt with HIV and other health -related issues in the past — says he arrived at this decision because he has had enough of the daily grind of blogging after 15 years, and wants to spend more time reading (and writing) books, and other pursuits that don’t really mesh with a full-time blogging career, including spending time with his husband of eight years, and his parents:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”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. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me.”[/blockquote]

The non-stop blogging lifestyle has turned his husband into a “blog widow,” Sullivan says in his post, and has also had health effects — although he says those aren’t necessarily related to HIV, which he has been dealing with since 2000, but are more just a result of getting older and the stress of always-on digital deadlines. “These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real,” he says.

The blogging lifestyle

Sullivan is not the first to suffer from the health effects of blogging and the stress of running a startup based in large part on a blog: Gigaom’s founder, my friend Om Malik, had a heart attack in 2007 that he has said was at least partly a result of an always-on lifestyle and the stress of building a company. Last year, he withdrew from full-time writing to focus on being a partner at True Ventures (although he has continued writing at his personal blog and on a new site he started called Pi.co, where he posts interviews with interesting people).

It wasn’t immediately clear what Sullivan’s decision will mean for the future of the Daily Dish website, which has more than 30,000 paying subscribers contributing close to $1 million in revenue a year — a successful paywall/crowdfunding model that makes the blogger and his small team fairly unique in the new-media landscape. All he said in his post was that:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”We’ll have more to say – and we’re sure you will as well – in due course… for the time being, auto-renewals have been suspended, and the pay-meter has been disabled. While we’re in this strange, animated suspension, I just wanted to take one post to thank you personally, the readers, founding members and subscribers.”[/blockquote]

While not everyone was choked up to hear that Sullivan won’t be blogging any more — some of his political views and his occasionally argumentative tone have not sat well with many readers over the years — there were also many messages posted to Twitter and elsewhere that talked about his impact on the political blogosphere and on the larger world of online writing as a whole, and how many of his readers will miss him. And then there are those who don’t believe (or don’t want to believe) that he is stepping away for good:

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