Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Keep Calm and Keep Reading.

We've all been through it.  Ruts, slumps...ennui.  There are probably hundreds of posts on the topic, even more tips of how to beat it.  We post about it, tweet about it, talk to our friends about it and sometimes take a hiatus or even quit blogging altogether.

I don't know what I'd call what I've been experiencing since the summer, but it does seem that I'm slowly emerging from whatever it is...was.  Rut...slump.  It wasn't that I didn't want to blog, I definitely did and still do.  And it wasn't that I didn't want to read, I never stopped.  I think a lot of it was that I just didn't want to formulate my thoughts and physically type them out.  I contemplated making vlogs instead, but ugh...there's a lot of work involved in that too.

My blogging...um, slowdown started when I got back from New Orleans in June.  I was there for about 10 days and it was a wonderful trip that combined the World Horror Convention and then a vacation with a friend.  I really never want to return from NOLA, so when I got home, I decided I wanted to recreate a version of the beautiful gardens and plantlife that spill from balconies and are abundant in almost every corner.  In the past, my gardening and plant keeping efforts have resulted in dry, dusty, dead plants or hurt limbs (the plant's and my own).  But I wanted my NOLA garden dammit.  I spent a lot of time researching, planting and taking care of my new project.  The result was a lovely little garden that made me happy, but at the same time, I just slowed down blogging significantly, which left me feeling guilty.  It wasn't just the garden that was keeping me busy.  My husband and I would often take walks with our dog or go out for ice cream. September and the start of the school year brought a very busy work load.  October is my own personal uber busy month due to Halloween festivities and with all my commitments, it was hard to keep up with everything I wanted to do on the blog.

The other issue is work.  Lately, after sitting in front of computer all day, I just don't want to sit in front of one when I get home.

Myself, Karen from What It's Worth and Jennifer from the Book Den were lamenting about our blogging situation one evening.  Karen simply took August off.  Here is just a snippet of our conversation.

Jennifer summed it up and although I can't find the original Tweet, she basically stated that she is so over writing reviews in the same way.  I think that was my problem too, plus the self imposed rules that many bloggers set upon themselves.  I had gotten into a habit of posting a book review two times a week.  When I couldn't keep that up, I became frustrated and disillusioned.  Also, I felt that my reviews were stale.  I felt that I was writing the same review, but it was just for different stories and characters.  I tried to make sure that I included certain elements, like characterization, plot, writing and narration when it called for it.  I started to feel as if I were writing school assignments.  Bleh. 

I feel like I am slowly (very slowly) coming out of this rut.  I don't know if it's because winter is approaching and it's the time to hunker down inside, if I just feel I have more time, I'm more in the mood or what.  I'm also finding myself reading other blogs more now and chatting on Twitter.  I know I have loyal readers, and of course I would love more, but I can't put that pressure on myself or worry or feel guilty.  It's just silly in a way.  I started my blog for fun and I need to keep it that way.  I don't call my best friend every day to talk about books or even twice a week.  When I finish a book and we're together I talk about it.  So, when I finish a book and I want to write about it, I will.  My reviews may be shorter, and maybe even less frequent until I can get in my 2 book a week groove again.  But hopefully, I'll get there and if I don't I'm telling myself I can't stress about it.  (Maybe I still will a little.)   I also think I'll stop biting off more than I can chew.  That means less challenges for 2014, less Read-a-thons, less blog hops.  I already have a couple of my own that I want to continue.  Of course, this may change depending on all the pretty buttons and the excitement of joining events.

I know I've been lacking in the blogging department lately especially when compared with other blogs.  But it doesn't mean I want to stop.  I just have to make some adjustments.  I didn't know all the cool things I would inevitibly experience when I first started and who knows where my blogging endeavors will lead me from this point on, but I do know that I'm going to try to...

Image credit: innocent / 123RF Stock Photo 
Image credit: blotty / 123RF Stock Photo


Kimberly @ Midnight Book Girl said...

I'm pretty much in the same place! Since starting my new job I've been overwhelmed with new job things and at first I was forcing myself to blog a bit but that just turned out crap so I took a step back, and while I've missed it, I'm also glad I did it.

I've still been doing a lot of reading, I just have a hard time sitting down and writing a review. As stupid as it sounds I think all day and I just don't want to think at home right now.

I'm glad your coming out of your rut (even if it's slowly)! I also agree about the pressure we put upon ourselves and our blog. This is just a hobby for me too and I want it to be fun, not work.

I keep telling myself that I am not going to sign up for any challenges or anything next year, but every time I see a new one pop up I get excited. It's a disease lol.

TP said...

I'm glad you didn't quit :-) Like you said - a lot of the pressure is self imposed. There's no rule that says we have to do things a certain way. Plus - I'd love to see pics of that NOLA garden :-)

Tanya Patrice

Unknown said...

I totally understand. I'm in a bit of a slump right now as well. I want to blog but there just doesn't seem to be time. I even have a list of topics I want to write about. I'm really happy about having a co-blogger, who is maintaining the blog when I'm busy. What I find weird however is that I may be one of the only people who enjoys reviewing. They're my easiest posts. It's just finishing the book and putting the time in that is killing me.

Your garden sounds really cute though and the priority at all times should be on doing what will make you happy.

-P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

TP said...

Way to go with the garden!! I'm so jealous ... and motivated for when Spring comes back around :-)

Unknown said...

I totally understand you. I've been blogging for about eight months only, but after a few months I realized that even though I love reading, I don't like to write reviews.

So, after thinking about it for a while I had to choices: stop blogging or take a different approach to book blogging. Since I love to search the web for cool and original literary gifts, I decided to close my book review blog and start a new one dedicated to sharing my literary gifts findings.

And I must say it was the best decision I took. It’s still a lot of work, but I really enjoy searching the web for cool stuff and sharing it on my blog.

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

That garden is sooooooo gorgeous! I can't wait to see it in person!

I feel like I've been in a blogging slump for a year, but it's not because I'm not reading or because I still don't love the community. I don't feel that guilty anymore, I'm working full time now, where I used to be just part time, and my schedule is finally set and dependable. Maybe this will mean a surge in blogging- I hope so, I missed it! I don't have reading slumps anymore, but I do feel that guilt that comes from not reviewing all the books I read (which is just an overwhelming idea!) and not commenting like I once did. So I'm hoping that this month brings me back to at least interacting more with the community. Now that I'm kind of in countdown mode to BEA, it's helping to motivate me.

What a great post, Pam! I think you captured the blog slump feeling so well. However, you were away doing some pretty wonderful things, traveling, spending time with friends, creating a little piece of NOLA heaven, spreading terror throughout October, and earning your fae wings. I blog because I love books and I love connecting with people that love books- it brought me to you, afterall! But I also love other things, as do you. I am officially waving my wand and clearing the slate for all of us. :)

Karen said...

Pam! That garden is gorgeous!!! I saw the pictures from when you first planted but it turned out beautiful and it does look like a NOLA garden. I'm so happy you can have a piece of your favorite city with you. (at least int he summer)

As for blogging...I'm not sure why we all (including myself) feel that blogging has to be done a certain way or not a t all. I'm really trying to get over that and just have fun with it. No stats can ever compare with the friends I've made the past few years and I always try to keep that in mind when I get that guilty blogger feeling.

I would LOVE to come up with a better/easier way to review though.

And I think this is happening to so many of us. Several of my friends have either quit or taken time off. AI also read a few posts that said page views were done for everyone so I think maybe we've just hit a saturation point with blogs.

Aurian said...

Nice post Pam, and there is nothing wrong with focusing your time and energy on something else you like to do, like gardening and spending time with your husband.
It is hard not to feel guilty when not posting every day as I really want to, but sometimes there is just nothing flowing out of the keyboard when I need to write reviews. But as it is still a hobby and not a paid job, I had to get over that or I would have started resenting the time it takes.

Perhaps the best option is to share the blog with someone else. I have asked three non-blogging friends to share what they have read in a month, so that are three days covered. It is not a review, just something different, which is fun as well.

Jenny said...

"I think a lot of it was that I just didn't want to formulate my thoughts and physically type them out."

YES!!! That's exactly what I struggle with too Pam. Ditto on the self-imposed rules for blogging. I backed myself into a corner with the type of reviews I write, setting them up more essay-style with intro and concluding paragraphs with two support paragraphs in between, and while I know it's only me that's limiting me to that particular format, I get all flustered just thinking about changing things up:)

It's just so easy to let the blog take over and suddenly become this main focus, so I think it's awesome that you shifted your attention to something else, and look how beautifully your garden turned out!!! I'm glad you're finally emerging from your rut, and I hope the new year brings new perspective and new changes that help you keep your love for this blog going strong:):)

Midnyte Reader said...

@Kim-I'm sorry you're going through this too, but I'm glad to be in good company. A new teaching job takes a lot out of you...I can understand how other things fall to the wayside.

@Tanya-You are right...there are no rules...I think it's just how we compare ourselves with other. Also, thanks for the reminder to put up the garden pics.

@PE Mari-That is great you have a co-blogger. That must take a lot of the pressure off. I would love to know what you love about reviewing. I love talking about books, maybe I just need to change my formula.

@Rosa-That is great you were able to figure out what you really wanted to blog about and what works for you!

@Kate - Yes, I can't tell you how glad I am that blogging has brought me to you! : ) The people are really what makes this endeavor wonderful.

@Karen-I don't know why we all impose these rules on ourselves too. I guess we're afraid if the blog gets too stale we won't have any more interaction. I have noticed a lot of people stopping or being in slumps...maybe it's kind of a natural progression. That is a beautiful way to put it "No stats could ever compare with the friends I've made..." Ditto!

@Aurian-I love your idea of sharing what your friends have read. I agree with everything you said, and yes, I have to remember I'm doing this for fun!

@Jenny-It's so hard to imagine you feeling you backed yourself into a corner b/c you write SO beautifully. Your reviews are eloquent and articulate. But if it's stressing *you* out or any writer, I guess that's something to think about. Thank you for your kind words!

Jen said...

Your flowers are so pretty!!!
Karen and I have discussed the slump several times. I haven't hit a serious one yet but I have only been blogging 2 years. I'm pretty picky about the books I request and I also don't have a review format -- I just kind of focus on whatever about the book interests me-- so maybe that helps. And I agree that the interaction with people is what keeps me going. Meeting friends like Karen has made it all worthwhile :)
Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase said...

Beautiful garden!
Yep, I hear ya. I love my blog and I love all that comes with it, except for the guilt and the expectations that we put on ourselves. We don't get paid for this. We maybe get free books and yes, there's an expectation that we'll read that book and review it, and maybe we feel a responsibility to our readers to put out good content on a regular basis, but other than that, there really are no rules. Yet we continually set tons of rules for ourselves and feel guilty when we break those rules or ignore them altogether. It's ridiculous!
So I've gotten to the point where if I don't want to blog that day, even if I'm "supposed" to write a review to have up the next day, I just don't do it. It can wait. Yes, I want my blog to grow and I want to interact with all the other awesome bloggers, and I want my reviews to be fantastic and I want to read ALL THE BOOKS, but it's just not doable. So I do what I can, when I can, when I want to. And if I need to take time off, I do. And when I get back into it, I remember just how much I love things like leaving long, novel-like comments on other blogs and realizing that I'm not alone in this crazy thing. ;)

Roberta R. said...

Great job on the garden Pam. Who knows, maybe you could write your reviews in the open, surrounded by flowers, when summer comes? Inspirational? ;)
I've been really slow myself lately. Maybe it's because I post at my best when I'm alone for some hours, which hasn't happened for a few days, what with my husband being at home from work after a small operation (cataract). Maybe it's just because I've been feeling lazy LOL. Also, it's not like I have this huge amount of followers and commenters who actually care if I take a break. Anyway, I understand the need of doing something different from time to time - or simply doing the same things in a different way...

Jen | Book Den said...

I LOVE your garden! It is so wonderful and gorgeous. *hugs* to you. I'm half slumping/half crazy with some of the stresses in my life. I'm hardly even reading right now so the blog is getting left behind. YOU are one of the things I love about my blog - the friends I've made - and a big reason I'd like to get into a sustainable pattern of keeping up the blog. I'm not ready to quit, but I may be on a hiatus until things settle down again.

~Sara @ Just Another Story said...

Awwww- you're little garden is beautiful! I have also been experience some what of a blogging slump. I have sort of been feeling like my blog content is boring (whether it is or not... who knows). SO I have been posting less often and reading a bit more (less review books, more my books). It's been nice. But I do love blogging and I don't want to stop (I feel you there).

I am glad that you are figuring out what works for you as far as reading and blogging go. That's something to celebrate!

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