Blogging as exhaling: long truths of personal blogging from Nora Ephron


Nora Ephron, screenwriter, Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and much more.

Nora Ephron got the point of personal blogs — the freedom, the autonomy, the lightness, the speed, the whole democratic shebang. It’s a long trail back to her piece in the Huffington Post in 2006, and here’s a taste:

[…] one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.

I second that. Then 13 years later Daniel Gray quoted from Norah Ephron’s post  and added his own two bob’s worth:

It’s startling how quickly we’ve taken for granted this incredible new freedom to publish something, anything, nothing. I’ve fallen in love with blogging again; my own little corner of internet that I can spill my thoughts into without fear of them being washed away by the social media tide. I’ve been exhaling here for fifteen years, and although most of it is inconsequential whatever, it’s my inconsequential whatever.

I second that too. Then today (11 February 2019) Sameeer Vasta referred to Daniel Gray’s piece in his own blog, Flashing palely in the margins. He added his personal response, which may elicit a sigh of recognition.

I have been holding my breath for too long. I don’t write as much, share as much as I used to, and part of that is because I have been waiting to have something to say before sharing. After twenty years of always having something to say, I have recently forgotten the concept of blogging as exhale, the notion of using this space as a place to breathe ideas and thoughts into existence.

I have been holding my breath for so long that I have forgotten how to exhale. The next few months will be an exercise in breathing, for me.

Do read Nora Ephron’s original piece — she makes other crucial points about blogs that are all-too-easily forgotten, for example:

I thought the whole point of the blogosphere was that it was a big wide open place like the world itself where everyone was welcome.

So did I. So for today, I will just leave it at that. And exhale.

28 thoughts on “Blogging as exhaling: long truths of personal blogging from Nora Ephron

  1. Oh, my, Rachel! This is stunning! I’m so new at this that I almost forgot the real joy of blogging. I shall think of the exhale every time now! I feel better already!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Joy of blogging. Without that, why bother? So glad this was a timely reminder for you.

  2. Sadje says:

    Very interesting. It is indeed true. A great sense of freedom to write whatever and whenever you want to!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      It’s a privilege too, don’t you think?

      1. Sadje says:


  3. JOY journal says:

    Nora Ephron’s writing was just plain fun. The opening chapter of “I Hate My Neck” made me laugh so hard it hurt. 🙂

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Aha, I need this!

  4. Claudette says:

    Oh Rachel I love you for sharing this! We are struggling so much to find quality content in blogs today, everyone is monetizing and trying to sell crap I don’t want or need… I wrote about it in Brain Rot on my blog and I talk with blogger friends who are feeling the same way. Now I see this and it reinforces my views. It truly does feel like exhaling, doesn’t it.

    This is wonderful! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      On the other hand, Ephron applauds the fact that a blog enables you to just say hello. Which is probably what all those Instagram accounts are doing. Different needs, and we are not their intended readers. Can be hard to find our way through the clamor, indeed!

  5. Katrina says:

    I have found blogging to be very cathartic. I don’t lay bare my entire soul in my blogs, but I share enough of my opinions and stances, as well as my ‘warts and all’ self, to feel the freedom that comes from doing that.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh yes, we have freedom to express ourselves—and also to control our level of disclosure.

  6. Thank you so much for sharing these pieces. I find it sometimes complicated to remember why I started blogging in the first time. And although it has helped me considerably to overcome a feeling of isolation, I fear it might be a navel-gazing sort of hobby sometimes.
    Love from France,

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Dear Vero, it is good to hear from you. Which in many ways is the point of having a blog instead of a paper journal. Feel free to gaze at your own navel and mine, metaphorically.

      1. 😂 I will. I feel lighter! Thank you.

  7. JT Twissel says:

    She was a truly unique writer. Exhale is a great way to put it.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That word is calming even to read.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I had never seen this writing by her and enjoyed it very much. Who cares how many people keep a blog anyway? Is that supposed to make one less valuable? Millions garden; does that make gardens superfluous?

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      What a wise perception. It’s the public nature of blogging that confuses people and they respond accordingly, I think, as if they had paid for a magazine.

  9. Gallivanta says:

    Great articles by you and Nora. I had forgotten that we are the pyjama people. Made me laugh. And exhale.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:


  10. Gabe Clay says:

    This is what I always thought that blogging was about and that’s why I started blogging in the first place. I just let people convince me that I always had to have something to say or I shouldn’t even blog. This posts is so reassuring and with posts like this I can get back to blogging and feel good about it again. Thank you for this beautiful and eye opening post! 🙂 Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you Gabe and best of luck.

  11. joaredJoared says:

    Nora Ephron’’s writing — so entertaining! I think blogging is what each of us wants to make of it. The writing of mine has served differing functions at times, I think — including stimulating me to do some other writing outside my blog but just for myself and family with memoir. Though I write mostly to please myself, the exchange of thoughts with readers can be stimulating as is reading your blog. .

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I am flattered to hear that, because the satisfaction inherent in writing whatever whenever however we want is very great.

  12. Erica/Erika says:

    I had not thought about blogging as exhaling until now. I think many bloggers have stories ruminating and percolating for a long time. This “little corner of the internet” is actually “a place to breathe ideas and thoughts into existence.” Thank you for a great post, Rachel.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks Erica. I’m sure you’re right about stories taking their own sweet time.

  13. ctkb04 says:

    I’m starting to see this sentiment more and more in the blogsphere. People are tired of the shallow noise of social media and looking back to blogging for a deeper and more personal connection. As a relatively new blogger, I came to that conclusion very quickly and left things like “niche” and monetization behind. Now it’s truly enjoyable, and I look forward to writing every day.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I am thrilled to hear it

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