How I Got Through Blogger Burnout to Stay in the Game
I wrote this as a response to both the recent New York Times article on blogger burnout as well as a host of posts I’ve read recently about blogging becoming a pain-in-the-ass; posts that appeared both inside and outside our infertility community. I talked about it myself on my 8th blogoversary this summer. Being in the burnout portion of blogging is a difficult place to be, and I’m not sure if I have anything intelligent to say about it, but here are my thoughts gleaned from 8 years of continuous blogging without a break.
Yes, blogger burnout was recently an article in the New York Times, but before it hit mainstream media, I was already seeing post after post about people who had hit a wall with blogging. Carpicious Reader asked how we solve a problem like blogger burnout. Estella’s Revenge explained that she’s not just in a reading slump; she’s bored with book blogging. And Bookfoolery not only talked about the future of her blog, but pointed out others who are talking about this very same thing: blogger burnout.
When you find that sweet spot of blogging, it seems unbelievable that you’ll ever hit a slump. It’s like any relationship that gets past that new phase and settles into that happy/getting to know each other/everything is beautiful phase. You know you like the person. You know they like you. There is a predictable sense of rhythm. You know that you’re going to have plans every weekend. You know that it’s worth shaving your legs because it won’t be a waste: there is sex for the taking if you want it. Life is good.
When we’re in that stage, we can’t believe that we’ll ever hit a time when the habits of the other person will start to annoy us. Or that we’ll put out a lot of effort and not see a lot of response in return. We can’t believe there will be a first fight that will make us question the stability and longevity of the relationship. But that the day will come in every relationship when the shininess will wear off, and then it comes down to either weathering through or walking away.
The same goes for blogging.
When you first find your blogging groove, it is a beautiful thing. You’re writing posts, people are reading them, they’re leaving comments. You’re popping around the blogosphere with more blog post ideas than you’ll ever have time to write. It’s fun; it feels like a big party online. And then comes the day when you notice that your readership has dropped despite doing everything exactly the same. People are no longer regularly commenting. Your first troll stops by to crap on your work. You notice how long it takes you to prep a post vs. what you receive in return when the post goes up, and it makes you question how you’re spending your time.
I’ve been blogging for over 8 years. Pretty much every single day for 8 years. I’ve never taken a blogging break, never slowed down my posting.
But I’ve felt blogger burnout.
I’ve felt it deeply and wondered why the hell I was blogging when there were dozens of other things that felt as if they had a bigger “payback” for energy expended. It’s work to write a post. I feels like I’m giving part of myself away to let people in, and I often wonder if I’m holding back enough for myself.
Each time I’ve felt blogger burnout, I’ve reminded myself that like every relationship, this is just a phase just as the golden time of blogging is a phase. And that — like all relationships — if I see the worth, I need to be able to weather the good times and the bad times.
Sometimes people walk away. Sometimes they come back and keep setting up blogs so they can feel the golden time of blogging and walk away again when the experience hits a valley. And that is certainly one way to do things: to try to only experience the positive points of an activity or relationship.
But I prefer to stay and experience the whole, messy world of blogging. I can’t say that I enjoy the valleys, but I know that every time I emerge from one, I hit higher and higher peaks. Peaks that those who walk away never get to experience because they don’t do the slog through the valleys. I see it as my reward for sticking through it, collecting wisdom, putting in my time.
I think blogging makes me a better writer. I say that as an author with four published books under my belt. Getting those book deals wasn’t an end point in my writing career, a plateau to land on and remain on, declaring, “I’ve figured it all out.” I am always in a state of learning though my blog: what works with writing, what doesn’t work, how far can I push an idea before I lose the reader, how far do I need to push before I blow their mind, how can I write something that touches someone’s heart, how can I know when to step back from an idea and let it float away?
Blogging is a relationship like every other relationship. Regardless of how big or small your blog is, you will hit valleys and peaks. I like Design Sponge’s response to the New York Times article, explaining that so much of the stress is our perception instead of a message coming externally. She also has her own take on the situation: bloggers need to evolve. Blogging changes and we need to change with it.
There are too many people writing about how we now need our blogs to be more visual due to Pinterest or how we need to be active on social media to drive traffic, but not enough people saying the opposite: do what makes you happy and fulfills you as a blogger instead of drains you.
So I’ll say it.
Blogging is like one of those finger traps, where the harder you pull, the more you strain to keep up with blogging trends, the more you turn it into work, the faster it turns into a slog. So release yourself and release your blog. Look at today as just one moment in a long relationship. Blogging may feel great or it may feel like crap, but that is neither here nor there. If your goal is to be in this for the long-haul, then note where you are right now and then take a deep breath and write.
I promise you, however you feel today — good or bad — will not be the same way you’ll feel several months from now. That is the only promise blogging and relationships bring with them; there will be good times and bad times, and you need to choose whether you’re going to stay in the game.
I’m staying in the game.
cross-posted with BlogHer