Friday, May 28, 2010

Armchair BEA/Book Blogger Convention

Today is the final day of Armchair BEA, and I have had a lot of fun participating! Today if you were lucky enough to be in New York, it would be Book Blogger Convention day. The topics that are being discussed at BBC include Professionalism/Ethics, Writing/Building Content, Marketing and Social Responsibility. I thought that I woulld concentrate on Writing/Building Content, and talk about ways to avoid book blogger burn out.

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Hang around in blog land long enough, and you are bound to see a post about blogger burn out in one guise or another. It could be that the blogger is feeling overwhelmed by ARCs, or perhaps they are feeling isolated and alone, or perhaps one or more of your favourite book bloggers have just disappeared without a trace. I don't profess to know all the answers of how to avoid this feeling, but I have been there a number of times, and yet here I still am, more than four and a half years later, so I thought I would offer a few thoughts on ways to avoid the dreaded blogger burn out.

Believe me when I say that I have my own issues around blogging to deal with and by no means do I have all the answers. For example, I have really gotten out of practice at writing reviews, and so now I can find them really difficult to write. And who knows, this time next month, I could be struggling in other areas, but in this post though, I thought I would share a few thoughts about avoiding book blogging blues.

Don't over commit yourself

There's something so great about receiving a lovely new book, and when it's free...bonus! As tempting as it is to say yes to everything it can however become completely overwhelming if you are looking at a shelf of ARCs that you have said you will read and review, and you just can't see how you will get them all read. Then there are all those books that you are going to get to read the books you spent your hard earned cash on - the books that you wanted to read badly enough that you bought them.

Be realistic about how many books you can accept. I know that a couple of bloggers have said that they can accept x number of books for review each month, and once the schedule is full, that's it. No more. The down side to this is that some times there are books that you were offered and said no to and then you start seeing around and think should have accepted that book. Happens to me all the time, but you know what, if I really want the book then chance are my library will have it, or I will want it enough to buy it.

If you do have to a review a book by a certain date, make sure you have that date recorded somewhere. I have all mine listed on the same spreadsheet as my library books due dates, so that I can see in one place which books I should concentrate on in the next week or so. Last minute panic reads are never fun, and writing those reviews in a rush isn't necessarily going to reflect all that well on you either.

Feeling overwhelmed by challenges? Drop some of them. Yes it is disappointing to not finish something you started, but if all you are getting out of challenges is pressure, then they aren't working for you. I always try to only join challenges where I already have books to read for. I don't like to have to add yet more books to the toppling TBR pile in order to meet  challenge requirements.

Try something new 

This year I have started participating in a couple of new things (being Sunday Salon and Weekend Cooking). I can't tell you how freeing Sunday Salon in particular has been for me because I have now got the room to post about a particular topic without it having to be a review. It could be something completed unrelated to what I am reading. In most cases though I find that my post for the week is related to some thought or another I have had about the book that I am reading. I am also conscious though that with both of these posts that if I don't get to it, it really doesn't matter.   Maybe you have another hobby you could post about as well to give yourself a little variety. Post some music, do some posts about where you live, or perhaps you want to do a focus on books set in your town, or by authors who live near you or whatever you like. It is your blog, and you can therefore put whatever content you like on it. I would suggest posting regularly, but it doesn't have to be every day. Chances are that if you like something enough to post about it, other people will like it enough to read it.

Work out a schedule

Maybe you are one of those types of people who works best with a little structure. If that is the case, then work out the structure that works for you and go for it. For example, each week I am participating in Teaser Tuesday because I really enjoy that meme (I know that not everyone does but that's okay), and then on Wednesday's I co-host Library Loot. Come the weekend then I will most likely post something for Weekend Cooking and Sunday Salon, and then I can fill in the gaps with other content. Mind you I am not suggesting that you lock yourself into a schedule that is so rigid that you feel you must only post this type of post on this day but it can help not to be looking at whole week and think what the heck am I going to write about?

Participate in the book blogging community

Participate in events such as Armchair BEA, Book Blogger Appreciation Week or the read-a-thons. Reach out to other bloggers. If there is a blogger that you think you would like to connect to a little more, send them an email and say hi. Maybe suggest doing a joint review or co host an event. For example, if you have an author that you love and you know that there is another blogger who loves them too, suggest doing a guest post swap about that author. If you see challenges or events you think you would like to participate in contact the host. Some times it won't be possible but often you will be made welcome.

When you feel inspired .... write

Some days I could quite easily sit down and write 4 or 5 different posts there are so many thoughts running around in my head. If you have days like that - write. You don't have to post straight away and you can always go and tweak a post in draft before you do finally post it to your blog. Have a few posts saved in draft that you can post in those weeks when it looks like your content is going to be a bit light on. Or perhaps schedule a week and then use that time to write some more posts to have in advance.

It's okay to take a break

Some times we all need to have some time off. Try not to do so without at least putting a post up so that people who know you will know that you are okay and they don't worry. It doesn't have to be a 'I hate blogging right now' post. Put up a vacation photo, or a gone fishing sign or something.  And you know what, it's okay to press Mark All As Read in your feed reader when you come back. Yes, you might have missed out on something good, but is it really worth feeling so overwhelmed? This is one that I need to remind myself about all the time.

Back to basics

Why did you start book blogging in the first place? Chances are it was because you love to read and you wanted to tell someone, anyone about it! Or perhaps you were aiming for a reading journal. Are the reasons you continue to blog still the same or has your blog evolved to something more? Sit down and look at what is or isn't working for you anymore. My own blog started as a review blog only. All reviews, all the time. Over the years it has become more of a general book blog. For a while there I posted about craft (but I haven't done any of that for an eternity), and there have been times when I have struggled with what to do next, but four and a half years down the track, blogging is something that I still enjoy and I miss when I am away from the computer. I am not sure that that would be the case if I stuck rigidly to reviews only. Chances are that if you are getting down about blogging you need to change something.

Blogging for most of us is a hobby. It should be something that you get enjoyment and fulfilment from. You should be in charge of your blogging. It should not be ruling your life to the point that you start to not want to do it, or that you are feeling so overwhelmed by it.

Do you have any other tips that you think help avoid book blogger burn out? Feel free to share them in the comments.

22 comments:

  1. Very nice post Marg! It is hard sometimes to keep blogging in perspective and in balance with the rest of your life.

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  2. What a wonderfully helpful post, Marg. Lots of really great ideas, too.

    I don't think I'm at the blog burnout phase yet, since I haven't been blogging that long, but the reading is starting to feel like...well, like work sometimes.

    But already I've been turning away review copies, because I do have a toppling TBR and I do want to ENJOY reading. I already review for Amazon Vine, so there are a few books a month that I must read right away.

    But I guess the worst thing that could happen would be...well, people would stop sending books. Whew, the world didn't end!

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  3. Thank you for your posts. I'm new to blogging and that post made me feel good about how I want to do my blog.

    Page
    http://asthepageturns-page.blogspot.com

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  4. It's hard to connect with people who read the same kind of books you like, but who also read more and better books than you do....

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  5. Great Article!

    I totally agree on the work at your own pace. Sometimes, you just aren't in the mood to read/blog and you need to recognize this :)

    Reading should be enjoyable and for me, not a job. It is what I do to relax and I enjoy sharing what I thought but don't want it to become a chore--I have enough of those LOL :)

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  6. I took a rather lengthy break when I was pregnant. I was just so sick that I couldn't even think about looking at the computer.

    And, I have looked at my TBR pile before and just thought, there is no way I'm going to get through all this. Especially since I try to support my local library and unfortunately they have due dates. Sometimes the books I buy just sit on the shelves waiting to be read because they have no due date.

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  7. I think what helped me the most was adding a bit of structure. I don't always follow it, but just having the lists down on paper took away that, "what am I going to blog about today" pressure.

    Writing while in the mood is also great. I find that at the right moment, it is much easier to type out a bunch of reviews/posts and put them in the bank, so to speak. For some reason, there are times that words and ideas flow freely and times where I am stuck.

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  8. Oh I so agree with your suggestions here. I cannot imagine the pressure that ARC's can put on a book blogger. I have limited time to read so I never consider ARC's. If I did it would just add pressure like you said. If I had a bit more time, I would enjoy the opportunity but would have to limit them.

    Figuring out what you love most about blogging will let you prioritize all of the options vying for those precious few hours of time in your life.

    I'm with Gwen - plotting posts as a guide took away so much daily pressure and made blogging more fun for me.

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  9. These are great tips that any of us can follow. Thanks for taking the time to impart some of your wisdom that the rest of us can benefit from.

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  10. Great post with great ideas. I find doing features and blog events are really fun and break up the monotony.

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  11. I love reading everyone else's tips and ideas! I totally wish I'd not taken quite as many ARCs and requests as I currently have. Someday I'll catch up!

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  12. What a nice post. You are a good writer. I have sent emails to quite a few bloggers for help and they have all been so nice. What a nice group of people.

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  13. Great post, and yes, great minds think alike! :)

    I have to keep reminding myself that it is ok to Mark all as Read. It's so hard either way!

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  14. Aths, the whole Mark as Read thing is something that I do struggle with but there are times when it just has to be done.

    Thanks Melina. Glad you have found bloggers to be friendly and helpful.

    Melissa, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by ARCs. Hope you find your way through them soon.

    Callista, finding a way to keep things fresh and interesting definitely helps.

    Kathleen, not sure about wisdom, but thanks!

    The Bumbles, I definitely find have a rough schedule for a week definitely makes it a little less daunting, but not being so rigid that it can't be changed is also important as well.

    Gwen, it is always nice when the mood strikes! Thanks for stopping by.

    Emily, I love my library, and so that is why I try to put my review requests in amongst the library due dates so that I can truly prioritise what I am going to read next.

    By Book or By Crook and Shellie, thank you for stopping by and
    commenting.

    Felicia, you are exactly right. Reading and blogging shouldn't be a chore!

    Readerbuzz, connecting could be in the form of just starting to leave comments regularly, or sending a short email, conversing on Twitter, anything really.

    You are welcome Page. Good luck with your new blog.

    Laurel, the world doesn't end when you say no to ARCs! I often experience a little pang of regret especially when I start hearing how good those ones I said no to were, but you have to be realistic as to whether you are going to be able to meet those commitments.

    Daphne, I guess the perspective for most of us is that blogging is a hobby and therefore should be prioritised accordingly.

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  15. Wonderful advice here. I know cutting back on commitments has helped me avoid burnout. I've ended up putting big limits on how many events (readalongs, etc.) I participate in that require a prior commitment. I'm finding it much easier and less stressful to play it by ear and read along or join in if I'm in the mood when the time comes. And after requesting/accepting lots of ARCs last year and not enjoying several of them, I've gotten very choosy and try to limit myself to two a month.

    And I love your suggestion for keeping a few posts in the bank. I really ought to do that for Sunday Salon. I can't tell you how often inspiration strikes midweek but the post idea is gone by Saturday night!

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  16. Teresa, Sunday Salon is one of those that I do find easy to write in advance because so often it is a reaction to something I see or read in a book. My TSS post for tomorrow was actually written the best part of two weeks ago but something else came up, so I am posting it tomorrow instead. It very nearly got postponed until next week! lol

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  17. Good advice and one of the main reasons I don't to challenges. I'm always off on another reading path with the discovery of a new book and I don't like to be hemmed in. Same as for ARC's. What I get from Amazon vine is plenty. Lol, most of the stuff Sourcebooks offers are books I've already read and/or own so I don't even take much from them.

    Any new releases I do want to read outside of that I can happily wait until the library gets them.

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  18. I loved this post, you certainly gave some tips that I'm still thinking about right now. Being new to the blogging community means that there's still so much to learn.

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  19. Great advice Marg! Love the Wiley Coyote pics.

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  20. Good post! I know I have seriously avoided joining most challenges ever since I found out what they were. I only have a couple going. I feel more than that, it is too much like "homework". but some people love them, and that's ok!

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