September 02, 2013

Rekindling My Love for Blogging, Or, Is the Thrill Gone?

Sometime over the past year or two, the whole blog thing became a chore. Posting, commenting, writing book reviews, "maintaining an online presence"--it wasn't so much fun anymore.

I hate to admit that, because I really threw myself into it for a while there. And I truly think blogs offer something of value, not just in general, but to the particular cadre of readers we accumulate over time. Blogs are mini-communities; groups of (formally or informally) interconnected blogs extend that community even farther and bring together people with similar interests, making us all part of a larger discussion.


That only works if you're taking part. As a reader, as a blogger, as someone piping up with a comment now and then. And I really have not been doing that. I haven't even been regularly visiting friends' blogs or the core blogs I've always gravitated to, unless you count the NPR News iPad app. Sure, I've been posting regularly as always, but here's the thing: rather than regular posting being a discipline, a commitment to something I enjoy, it's become onerous. It's become work, not play. The posts are there, but I feel like I'm phoning it in. My reviews of books feel dry and listless. The thought of reading blogs feels overwhelming.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I was going through a period of ongoing depression and anxiety for a while. This is just a thing that happens to me every so often. So I was having one of those not-so-pleasant spells, and I was thinking, well, maybe my feelings about blogging are just another symptom of that, just another spindly branch on the dead tree that was my apathy.

FOX owns this image, I'm sure. Please don't sue me.
But I've mostly gotten past the bad spell for the time being, and I find myself wondering why I still think of blogging as a chore; why, when I think about having to write a post, I feel like Homer Simpson being told he's supposed to do some household task.

I think what I need to do is find the love. I'm still going to post regularly on Mondays and Thursdays.  know I will still discuss books and literature and writerly stuff here, and random crap over on my personal blog. I'm just not entirely sure what form it's going to take. It may just be freeform for a while, until I figure out what works. So, yeah. Just so you know.


Gail Gauthier said...

My blog has become rejuvenated for me over the last year and a half or so because of features I've started doing--A weekly time management for writers feature, a weekend project on writing process for new writers, a monthly calendar on local children's/YA appearances. Of course, all these things require research and so time is an issue. But I also feel as if I'm doing something specific.

On the other hand, I've noticed that I've been doing a lot fewer responses to books. This is probably because I have to spend some of my reading time researching for the other types of things I'm doing at the blog.

Also, I have come to think of blogging as short-term nonfiction or flash nonfiction. I'm interested in essay writing, so I feel blogging enhances that aspect of my writing.

I value blogging highly. However, I have to say that among the writers I know, not many people seem to feel much love for blogging.

Jen Robinson said...

I think everyone goes through periods of blog burnout, Sarah. I mean, fun as it is, it's also this long-term, time-consuming activity for which we are not (appreciably) paid. For me lately, when I haven't been feeling well, I've found it very difficult to write reviews. So I haven't even been reading children's and young adult books at all (so that I won't feel guilty about not reviewing them). But I think that the palate cleanser of reading adult books for a while is going to help me to get re-energized for kids' books. Eventually.... I hope...

Sarah Stevenson said...

Gail: Time management for writers! I definitely need to check that out. I have chronic issues with that, although I've learned a lot over the years and gotten a little better.

Jen: I have that problem when I'm reading a lot--I get behind on reviews and then feel guilty about it. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do about reviewing books. For a while, the structured approach was working, but I'm not currently digging the regimentation so I may change things up a bit.

I think I would like my blogging to be a bit more creative, so I can enjoy the actual writing more instead of feeling like I have to be entirely goal-oriented. The cartoons are good for that, but those require a bit of forethought and time investment.

There was quite a long period of time where I was hoping the blogging of reviews might lead to some sort of work doing actual, formal, professional reviews, but the likelihood of that seems to be minimal, and my interest in doing that type of review has also dwindled. So that's also got me rethinking how I write about books...

Unknown said...

Clicking through sheepishly to say I understand, and I wish I were better about commenting. I appreciate comments so much on my own blog and am grateful for the small community of regulars who continue to chime in, in these much quieter days of blogging. Remember how lively it was around 2006?

This blog is one of my longtime faithful reads. I get a little jolt of happy when I see that one of you has posted. FWIW, you haven't at all sounded like you were phoning it in. ;)

I understand the blog-slump, though, and the feeling like it has become a chore. For me that happened when I accepted too many review items and began to feel a sense of obligation and/or guilt -- and frustration that these sort of made-up assignments were cutting into my writing time. I had to think back to when I started, how I used the blog as a way to transition from the homeschooling-mom part of my day to the novelist part...writing about my kids for 15 or 20 minutes was the perfect transition into writing mode. When I had this epiphany, I made a shift back to my blog-roots, as it were. Stopped thinking in terms of "I need to write that review" (obligation, guilt, procrastination) to "what do I feel like freewriting about today?"

But the other piece of it was realizing how much I missed the camaraderie and community of the early years. I realized that rekindling that takes a different kind of effort...and time. Taking time to click through and comment. Even on a small scale--a few comments a week. I decided I couldn't let IT (commenting) become another source of guilt or obligation, but aiming for a very lowkey kind of participation seemed manageable. I'm still sporadic about commenting, though.

I look forward to hearing more about where you're headed, mentioned rethinking how you write about books. One light bulb that went off for me is that I'm most interested in talking about a book WHILE I'M READING IT. Once I'm finished, writing about it can feel like homework, and anyway, I'm already on to the next book. But in the middle of a book, I'm dying for conversation. I realized I'm kind of a social reader in that I long for discussion with other people who are reading or have read the same book. I suppose what I want is a book club, but that's something I haven't been able to fit into the schedule since oh, two or three babies ago. ;)

tanita✿davis said...

@Melissa: I think the same is true of me - I could write exclamations and all sorts of reactions when I'm reading a book. Maybe the trick is to think of oneself, instead of a book reviewer, as something else - as part of the conversation, instead of trying to formally pass judgment.

Some good words - I will be thinking on these.

Gail Gauthier said...

From Melissa--"...these much quieter days of blogging. Remember how lively it was around 2006?" Oh, my gosh yes. I consider that to be the frontier era, when children's lit blogging, at least, was exploding and new ground was being broken. And, yes, I agree that a lot of the community of the early years is gone. It's gratifying to hear someone else say these things.

Hmm. Perhaps I feel a blog post coming on.

Anonymous said...

It got so I couldn't do book reviews anymore, for a lot of the reasons you all have mentioned--feeling overwhelmed and feeling obligated. I also found that publishing a book my own self made it impossible for me to be as critical as I perhaps should be.

I have a hard time keeping up with blogs, too, and get overwhelmed by that sometimes. I try to remember to tell myself to take a deep breath and do what I can. I wish I could keep up with everything I want to (not just blogs--there are so many things!), but I can't. I've been making an effort to sit a little easier with that knowledge.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Melissa: agreed. I'm most interested in talking about a book while I'm reading it or just after--let more than a day or two go by and it starts to seem like a chore, not something I'm excited about. I've been thinking a lot since you posted your comment about how I can leverage that excitement when it's happening...

Adrienne: YES. It's been a struggle to feel like I *should* keep up with everything, while at the same time knowing it's impossible and I can't expect that of myself. Learning to figure out and accept what I can realistically do and not do is something I have to focus on more, I think.

Susan T. said...

I totally appreciate this post, especially as someone whose blog is in desperate need of rejuvenation. I keep figuring the answer to "what to do" will come... but so far it hasn't! The early years. Sigh. Weren't they wonderful? I started CS in 2005--that was a while back.

I still love reading y'all's work.