#BBAW: Day 5, Avoiding Burnout

Today’s topic:

“One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?”

Several years ago after a bad break-up I quit blogging for several months. I will say there was some alcohol and poor decision making that led to the demise of my first blog, The Blog Jar. My frustration was two-sided, on one hand I’d lost my reading mojo and had a backlog of book reviews that I didn’t really want to write. On the other hand, I felt my blog was too personal to be a “real” book blog and there were pictures and posts with my ex-boyfriend in them. I didn’t feel close enough to anyone in the book blog community to splay my life open and say, “hey the dude I’ve been dating for six years just cheated on me for the fifth time and I finally had the ovaries to kick him to the curb and I’m not reading right now because I feel stupid, hurt, and slightly scared of being the only adult in the house.”

So I deleted the entire damn thing.

When I went back to blogging I made several decisions. One, I cannot be a straight-up, books-only blogger. Feeling like I had to do a review on everything I read or berating myself for not reading faster and finishing more killed my creativity. Not a single soul in the blogosphere ever put that kind of pressure on me. I did it to myself because I’m a crazed perfectionist with a mean competitive streak. No more. I would blog books but on my terms.

The second decision is I decided to grow-up and own my truth. I can self-edit my life to a certain degree. My readers don’t see all of my marriage, my work-life, and I’ve found myself keeping things my teenager tells me private. Some stories are mine, but not mine to tell. When I wrote about telling my daughter about my depression for The Mighty I talked to Hope about it first. I even told Sam I would be alluding to “the sex life we used to have before the little kids came along” in a post concerning a cake recipe. But if I want to write something and it doesn’t cross a boundary then I am going to write it. In other words, I’ve developed better boundaries. I wibble and wobble with how much to share on occasion, but for the most part I’m sure in myself and the purpose of Fig and Thistle.

Purpose. I’ve wrestled with the point of this blog before:

“I NEED TO TREAT MY BLOG AS LEGIT WRITING. What I do here is valid and important even if it is just for me. I should treat this time and space as important and this applies to other things I do for myself: crocheting, reading, exercising. It is important because even though my life is filled with beautiful souls I care for deeply, at the end of the day, at the end of my life, I’ve spent the most time with ME. When everything external is scraped away I’m left with myself, my thoughts, my words. I don’t want to coast. I don’t want to put my children to bed and spend every evening staring at a wall or watching Spongebob (although some Spongebob is totally fine). I want to do something, even though that something may be small like this blog, or unseen like my journal, or temporary and delicious like my scones.”

And that is how I avoid burnout. I blog for me. Not for hits, shares, publishers, or stats. I write about my life and all I love about it and all the ups and downs because if satisfies that insatiable need I have to find and appreciate meaning in my life.

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12 comments

  1. You’re one of the only other bloggers I know who went and deleted everything. I kept my reviews (most of them, anyway), because they were on goodreads or other locations, and that enabled me to pull them all back together when I chose to return, but I lost everything else. All the posts and discussions and events and everything. On the one hand, I wish I’d been able to take that break without deletion. On the other, it was what I needed. Only after I discovered that I *wanted* to blog and review books even without an audience, on a private blog no one could see or knew about, did I feel safe to come back, and secure in what I wanted to do.

  2. >>Not a single soul in the blogosphere ever put that kind of pressure on me. I did it to myself because I’m a crazed perfectionist with a mean competitive streak.

    This? Could be the tl;dr for like fifty percent of the posts I’ve seen today. Bloggers are so hard on themselves, way harder on themselves than any of our community would ever be on an individual. Realizing you can let go of those expectations you’ve placed on yourself is so freeing.

  3. I love this! I’m sure there are so many of us who have wanted to scrap everything and start fresh….myself included! I really need to remember that, like you said, my writing is legit even if it is just for me. Great insight =)

  4. LOVE: ” NEED TO TREAT MY BLOG AS LEGIT WRITING. What I do here is valid and important even if it is just for me.” Oh, you are a wise lady. And I’m glad you started again and decided to share some of your reality…I struggle with that one. I’ll be following along your journey now–so glad to discover your blog this week!

  5. What a beautiful, heart-felt post. I admire your honesty and strength. I often think about taking my blog to the next level, writing more about my personal life, but I often am plagued by self-doubt and afraid of going public. And then there’s my day job, which I can’t talk about at all.

    Those self-expectations can be killers, can’t they? I know them all too well. Letting go of some of those has definitely helped me with regaining my footing on my little patch of the book blogging community.

  6. I like how you said your blog is legit writing. It is. I had to teach myself that as well. As a Freelance writer for companies, websites, and magazines I thought y blog time was frivolous but that is not true. Any time I have the opportunity to write, even when I am just being me is strengthening my skills as a writer. Just because I enjoy blogging and connecting so much is just a bonus. 🙂

  7. YES. I blog for me, too. It’s a blog about whatever I’m thinking at the moment. Lots of bookishness, because that’s who I am, but I don’t consider myself a book blogger. I have trouble categorizing myself other than that. And boundaries is what I am constantly renegotiating as my kids grow up, my Ex and his family play roles in our lives, and my new guy and his son have taken up residence. It’s a good problem to have…mostly! 😉

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