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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.

burnout

Image: By Jake Givens via upsplash

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

20 comments

1 Tiara { 10.07.14 at 9:37 am }

Very well said. I have thought a lot about quitting blogging this year. I reminded myself why I started in the first place…to have my story out there that someone like the me I was when I first discovered blogs would find it & read & to have a record of life for Elena. I never imagined I’d have a large readership nor was that a goal for me. Then I did get more & more readers & more & more comments…then they started to drop off & I was disappointed. I started to wonder what I had done wrong, how I had offended “them”. Then through some self reflection, I reminded myself why I’d started in the first place. I reminded myself that the comments were gravy on the already satisfying turkey of putting my story out there. So now I blog again for me & am glad of where I am now.

2 Valery { 10.07.14 at 9:39 am }

There is my Mel,who invented the you-shaped hole for your blog. A space only you can fill…
Still loving to read you.

3 Suzanna Catherine { 10.07.14 at 11:10 am }

Great post with very good advice. Thanks for mentoring so many of us out here in the blogosphere. Yours was the first blog I found back in ’06 and I’m still reading and learning. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

4 Jen { 10.07.14 at 12:08 pm }

Thanks for the comment on my recent post; glad to hear it does indeed get easier!!!!!

5 Peg { 10.07.14 at 12:26 pm }

Thanks for keeping on. It’s a highlight of my day. For me, it’s often a matter of time or the emotional fortitude to get out on the screen how I’m feeling or describe what is going on.

p.s. Let’s go Nats!!!!

6 Sharon { 10.07.14 at 12:58 pm }

Mel, great post. Yours was one of the first infertility blogs I ever read, even before I started my own five years ago, and it led me to many others.

For me, writing my blog has been both a form of therapy (getting my thoughts out in writing helps me get them clear in my head) and a way to connect with others going through similar situations. So to the extent that I still have a need for either of those things, I will continue to write.

7 Heather { 10.07.14 at 1:32 pm }

I guess I had a bit of a long stretch of a blogging slump. It took the Microblog Mondays to get me back and in the groove. Like you said, the less pressure I put on myself the better it feels.
Not every post is a masterpiece. So, I hit publish and just let it all go.

8 Morgan { 10.07.14 at 1:52 pm }

Oh my gosh, it’s like you read my mind yesterday! I even asked my hubs if I was wasting my time… Rest-assured he encouraged me to keep going on. But, what a great post!! Thanks for sharing this!! Seriously, such an encouragement.

9 nonsequiturchica { 10.07.14 at 1:55 pm }

I haven’t felt the need or want to stop blogging, especially because I want to document my daughter after working so hard to have her. But I certainly have cut back on the number of posts every week. I couldn’t do it on a daily basis- kudos to you! I do think that the Microblog Mondays is a great thing- less pressure to write a long post and I look forward to reading the short posts on Mondays as well!

10 Geochick { 10.07.14 at 2:44 pm }

Thanks for reminding me of why I do this! I’m transitioning in my life and blog. It’s hard but I don’t want to quit.

11 noemi { 10.07.14 at 2:58 pm }

It’s funny you write this today, just when I needed to read it.

I would say that starting new blogs is probably not the answer to the valleys. I actually think it’s really hard to start in a new space and I feel like I am struggling in mine. I wonder every day if I should have played it safe and stayed where I was, but I wanted to challenge myself and so I keep writing.

I have not yet installed a stay counter in my new space and I don’t intend to, at least not for a long time. I don’t want to know how many people followed me. I don’t want to know how many are reading my writing. My few die hard commenters are still showing up and for that I am forever grateful. And so I keep writing and hoping that I get better and remembering why I ultimately do this. It’s hard but I have to believe it’s worth it.

Thanks for providing inspiration for those of us who don’t want to give up.

12 Rachel Lewis { 10.07.14 at 3:26 pm }

This post is spot on. I’ve only been actively blogging for 2 years, but there have been ups and downs. I’ve had blogger envy of the “success” of others. What always bring me back down to earth is that I need to think in terms of people, not numbers or stats. Even if just one person reads a post, and it encourages them, or makes them feel less alone in this world … Isn’t it worth it?

13 earthandink { 10.07.14 at 6:02 pm }

I’ve been blogging for four years, only since April at my current blog however. There are real life, non-bloggy reasons for me having switched my blog around a lot.

I have so much to say about this I’ll probably post a response on my own blog, rather than completely hijack your comments.

I have loved blogging, hated blogging, and been indifferent. But I agree completely that it’s one of those things that I think has huge value.

Now to sit down and figure out the specifics of why and write a post myself about it! But I love what Rachel, just above me says. “If just one person reads a post, and it encourages them, or makes them feel less alone in this world” yeah, it’s definitely worth it.

14 Mali { 10.08.14 at 12:52 am }

I’ve been blogging now for almost eight years. (Wow, when I realise that, I am amazed! The time has flown.) Sometimes I wonder why I still blog, but mostly, blogging is its own reward. You have helped in that Mel, simply by talking about blogging as good writing practice. I at least feel I’m doing some good writing exercise when I blog. Though I know sometimes I blog when I should be working on other projects. And sometimes, blogging (and reading and commenting) is simply an exercise in investing in my community, in being part of a group, in friendships. And that is always worth it.

15 Justine { 10.08.14 at 2:55 pm }

I have been experimenting just a little, posting sometimes without the “form” I’d established before, trying to figure out if I can use my space again, and whether I can be OK with it not being perfect. Like getting comfortable with getting older in the body I’ve got. Yes, this: “So release yourself and release your blog. … 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.”

16 Bronwyn { 10.08.14 at 10:26 pm }

Thanks, Mel. This is good timing for me, as I’m currently in the post-project slump of a big collaborative blogging project. It was a lot of fun and earlier in the week just before we published we were all so excited. And now the buzz is already dying down (it takes so much longer to build things than it takes for people to stop paying attention) and… you know, I should probably say something to the group just to let things down a bit more slowly.

It’s like in Apart at the Seams after the big awards night 🙂

17 Krysta { 10.09.14 at 11:06 pm }

Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

I have always blogged…privately. Now, I decided to write a blog for all to see. I have many things in mind, and I am just on the beginning of this journey. I also enjoy reading posts on the BlogHer community. In fact, I just joined. (Which by the way, how do you get a picture to show in the preview posts on your profile…can’t figure that out).

18 Jamie { 10.19.14 at 11:57 pm }

Thank you for this very thoughtful post. It breathes life into the motivation to keep writing. The Times I have questioned continuing my blog have been wondering aloud if I have said all there is to say. I think I have found that my blog evolves with me. It tells a story about me and part of that is infertility and how my life continues to unfold. Infertility does not define me, but my blog is also place where I can process these feelings and thoughts. Overall, I think about it less, so there is less to write. Like any grief, it does not disappear, but it becomes different. I also try to write about other things as a way to show myself that I am more than. Also, I have had some changes and transitions in my professional career that have been a larger focus this year. I tend not to write about work in my blog to keep a professional boundary, so I have written less this year. However, I hope to get back into a more regular habit, which also means finding more blogs to read and leave comments. Thanks, Mel, for being a consistent and encouraging voice in the blogging community. 🙂

19 alexandra { 10.24.14 at 2:05 pm }

Timely.

Thank you.

And blogging will forever by something I won’t quit. I love the writing, I love the power of publishing, and I love the serendipity of meeting new people.

20 alexandra { 10.24.14 at 2:06 pm }

Thank you.

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