I was ready to give up blogging at the beginning of 2013. I figured I would try to change a few things and see if it made a difference. It was make or break. As you can tell, I’m still here! so my changes worked. Mostly. I’m not blogging consistently and I still have days…ok weeks…where I would rather be a contributor on someone else's blog than run my own, but mostly, I’m happy and content with reading and blogging again.
So many of my favorite bloggers closed down this year or cut way back on posting. I totally get it. This is way harder than you could ever expect going in. There are amazing perks to this hobby but there is no doubt that it’s a lot of work.
I thought I would share what made things better for me. It might help you get through the slumps – or you might have your own suggestions. The important thing to remember is that blogging is not a one size fits all kind of thing – so - DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. If you want to blog 7 days a week – go for it. You want to mix animal/family/music/pet rock collections on your blog – DO IT. I think most of us blog to connect to others. What better way to connect than sharing what we love. Do you cut off a certain pet rock collection hating group? Maybe – but being yourself is much better than trying to force yourself into a rigid blogging formula that will burn you out in a year.
So anyway….here are a few changes I made that helped me out of my reading/blogging slump.
I stepped away from the ARC: I think this is probably the #1 cause of blogger burnout. We can’t live another day without that ARC, request it (& a dozen others), get approved and then go….um – I’m not in the mood to read that right now. Ooh shiny NEW book I can’t live without…clicks – request different book – repeat.
To get myself out of that cycle I banned myself from requesting anything new until I got my Kindle e-book and BEA collection under control. Once I did, I now limit myself to two requests per month. If I read AND review them – then I allow myself to request another. It seems to keep me on track with a number that’s not overwhelming but allows me to get more if I’m on track.
I stepped away from the hype: Before blogging, I knew exactly the type of books I would like, just from the summary. My reading tastes were all over the place. Once I started blogging I got caught up in OMG BEST BOOK EVER – LOOK AT THAT COVER hype. While I discovered many great books and authors that way, I also read approximately 200 books a year that I hated and felt like an idiot being the lone reviewing dissenter. I knew these books weren’t for me right away but everyone else loved them so I forced myself. Not every book is for every reader – let it go. I still feel like I’m missing out on ALL the books but I’ll get to it when I get to it.
I stopped reading: I went through the reading slump from hell and desperately tried everything to get out of it. The main advice was to go read an old favorite again or read a different genre. That didn’t really work for me. Reviewing books turns you into such an analytical reader that you start to lose the pleasure of it – even with old favorites. What worked for me is to just stop reading for almost a month. It gave me time to clear my head and wipe out all those repetitive tropes. It made me desperate to pick up a book again to escape – which leads me to…
I don’t review everything anymore: Other than taking time off from reading – this helped me the most. Let that reviewer brain take a break and read for fun again! I usually leave a one or two sentence review on Goodreads, just so I can remember what I thought at the time but sometimes a book doesn’t need to be dissected to death. I also have started writing more mini reviews. I enjoy writing them and my followers seem to enjoy reading them. Win. Win.
I learned to lighten up: This was hard for me. When you read so much, things get repetitive or you start to hold books to a higher standard after you’ve read a similar book that blew you away. I needed to realize that a book doesn’t need to be – and most likely won’t ever be – perfect & that’s ok. It can still be a good book.
I take time off: This is another thing that was hard for me to do at first. I blogged 7 days a week for almost two years. Near the end I was basically posting filler which is lame. people can tell it’s filler. I’ve decided to not worry about it. If I have something to say I post it. If I don’t – well – I don’t. I may post 5 days a week or randomly take 2 weeks off. I made a personal decision to return this blog to more of what I originally intended, a place to talk about things that interest me. My stats went down (& I don’t even check them anymore) but my interaction and conversations with other bloggers went up so it was worth it to me.
I don’t let the drama get me down: There are rude authors. There are rude bloggers. You don’t need to get in the middle of every frenzy and a handful of authors/bloggers do not define the rest of the community. If you think the blogging community is not supportive – then you’re not talking to the right bloggers/authors.
Vent. Vent. Vent.: I couldn’t have made it this year without my blogger friends. You are NOT ALONE. Talk to other bloggers!! You would be surprised at how many of us feel the same stress and pressure.
This isn’t a competition. You don’t have to do it perfect or not at all: I think almost all of us want our blogs to be as good as we can make it. It’s a refection of us but I think we can take that to the extreme. If we can't blog to our exacting standards we feel like we’re disappointing people and end it. I was so incredibly sporadic with posting this year – yet people were always there when I came back. This is a hobby. Sometimes I’ll be really into it and sometimes I won’t. If deep down, you’re still having fun with it and will miss the community, then relax and enjoy, blog when you can. Your followers will stick around. If you had fun while it lasted but you’re ready to move on – that’s fine too. It’s not a failure. It just ran it’s course. But don’t let some unrealistic blogging standard be the deciding factor.
So that’s what worked for me. I’m 100% out of my reading slump and about 70-80% out of the blogging slump.
A few things I would like to accomplish in 2014.
~ Find a way to review books that’s easier and more fun. I’m getting bored with the standard reviewing style and formatting a post is the bane of my existence.
~ Add drop down menus so I can start sorting reviews by year. Add a favorites page.
~ Organize my Goodreads shelves. I only used to do Want to Read and Read. I’m trying to add more categories that are helpful to both myself and those who may be reading my reviews.
~ Talk more about music, TV and life in general. I like the discussions it generates. Plus those posts are easy for me to write for some reason.
~ Get a custom header. I switched to this basic design and I love it – but I want to add my doggies and Figment back in there.
~ Discover new to me book blogs and comment more.
~ Read and review older books and from genres that aren’t my usual reads. Like non fiction for example.
What are your struggles/goals regarding reading & blogging? Any tips to dig our way out the deep, dark pit of blogger despair?