I’ve been blogging actively here since October of 2012 – more than two and a half years. And in that time a lot of things have changed – not just personally, with respect to college, work, etc. – but also within the community. For at least half a year, but probably closer to a year, I have not been feeling happy about blogging in general. And I’ve known that things needed to change, but due to being busy, I kept putting it off for later – when I have time. But, recently I’ve been getting the itch to quit blogging on a near-weekly basis, and I’ve realized I need to push my plans into action now, before the blog crashes and burns and probably puts a dent in my mental health as well. I’ve realized that mental health should come first.
There are three main reasons why these changes are necessary, and I will try to concisely explain my feelings on them.
The blog seems to have plateaued.
This year, it’s been more or less a flatline, as far as stats are concerned, but other things have put a dent in my confidence. I got removed from my favorite publisher mailing list without any notice after the publicist left. I sent my reviews to the general publicity email but was ignored. And ouch. Now, logically I know that I shouldn’t take this personally. As an international blogger, it’s always been hard. Likely they just had a change in policy and are no longer sending things to international bloggers (at least, that’s my headcanon and no one tell me otherwise). I’m not entitled to ARCs, no, and in fact, I’ve become demystified about them in the last year. Often they don’t really work out for me and I have better luck with backlist titles that I select myself with the help of existing reviews; and so, ultimately, I’ve become more selective about them. But it’s the act of losing something that I had available to me as an option that stings. It’s the idea that… I am no longer relevant.
Relevancy is something that I think we all want to achieve in blogging – be it in terms of publisher contacts, blogging friends, followers, etc. And it’s what I feel is slipping away from me this year. I’ve been pushing myself to put out as much content as possible, but engagement seems to be at an all-time low. Comments are hard to come by, though Morgan from Gone with the Words made a good point that it seems like most bloggers don’t comment that much anymore and only interact via Twitter. I am guilty of this myself as well. Comments shouldn’t make such an impact, but often I’ve been left wondering if anyone’s reading the content I’m putting out at all. I stopped vlogging my book hauls because they got so little engagement and it seemed like no one cared either way – though Mel from The Daily Prophecy said she missed them, for which ♥
Twitter is also a sore spot for me, because due to the time difference and my new work schedule, I’m constantly missing out. I barely have the time to catch up, and when I do all I see are conversations I’m not involved in (hours after the fact) and people growing closer without me. I know it’s not all about me and it’s my own fault. I could reach out more myself, but I don’t have the time to tweet anymore, and I’ve realized that if you don’t, you’re really easily forgotten. I mean, the friendship is still there, but out of sight, out of mind, you know? (For the record, I know I shouldn’t let this bother me, but it’s my social anxiety at work.)
The fact is, the book blogging world is almost overrun. New blogs are starting up every day and growing so quickly in size, and the “older” bloggers from my generation and before are retreating if not quitting altogether. I don’t see myself growing anymore than this. I think the blog has peaked. And so I need to move to a format where this relevancy aspect will not bother me so much and I can enjoy the blog for what it is.
Blogging is a timesuck.
Now, I know you may be thinking, “But Debby, you had a full-time job before this, and you were a full-time intern before that,” but to be frank those jobs gave me a lot of downtime at work. I wrote a lot of reviews at work. At my new job, I’m lucky if I have a spare minute to check in on Twitter – blogging is definitely out of the question. (Which is a good thing – I like being more productive and involved at my job!) This paired with my exhaustion when I get home means that all blogging work is left for the weekend… and it’s taking up almost all of my time. I mean, yeah, I do chores, see family, and sometimes go shopping, but I won’t lie to you: for the past three weekends I’ve denied myself the opportunity to go to see Avengers: Age of Ultron because I’ve had blogging work to catch up on.
What kind of life is that? I like blogging, but it’s becoming almost 100% of my free time. I want to do other things. I want to be able to go to the movies when I feel like it. I want to be able to play a video game for a change (the E3 announcements asdfjkl; omg). I haven’t even touched The Sims 4 since I made my Lunar Sims! I know this is very much my own fault, but my sense of obligation to my blog is just way too intense. I need to get my life back – especially if the amount of time I’m currently spending on blogging is not really getting me anywhere in terms of relevance, growth, or fulfillment in general.
The community has changed.
I can’t handle that amount of negativity in my life. A year ago, this was not as big a deal. There were a couple of blogging scandals, and maybe I tweeted about them once or twice. But now it’s so often and so much. I’m taking Will McAvoy’s mission to civilize to heart. When people are in the wrong in the public sphere, you can call them out on it, but I personally don’t feel the need to add vitriol and make it a public spectacle. I want to remember the humanity of these people and remember forgiveness. We all make mistakes and say things that aren’t as eloquent or well-thought out as they ideally would be… but I don’t think we all deserve to be publicly shamed for them.
Basically, all that this mood in the community is doing to me is silencing me. I don’t want the conflict. I don’t want the incessant debate. It’s making me retreat. It’s making me think, “Maybe I won’t go on Twitter today.” But tl;dr: Maggie Stievater has said it all so much better than me and I agree with her 100%. (This CGP Grey video also has some more educational thoughts on the subject.)
Now, I’m not casting judgment on people who do get involved in these “scandals” or whatever you want to call them. You have a right to comment on whatever you come across on the internet in whatever way you want. But I think it’s time for me to prioritize my mental health and cut the negativity out of my life so that I can find enjoyment and fulfillment in this community again.
As A ResultHopefully I’ve given you a good idea of where my headspace is at these days, so you can support me in the changes that I deem necessary to the blog. I’m not saying these are 100% set in stone, but they are ideas that I will be implementing ASAP and might be tweaking here or there until I feel comfortable in my blogging space again.
1. I’m cutting back on content.
See the difference? As soon as I adjusted my calendar I felt like rejoicing. It means that at most each weekend I’ll have three posts to write – though hopefully when I’m caught up, I’ll have the energy and motivation to do little bits of blogging work throughout the week as well. With my reading speed unchanged, this will give me the flexibility to not write reviews for some books that I read and to finally reread some books (esp. to prepare for last installments in series). I might write series reviews for some of my upcoming binges – to further condense/simplify content – and I’m forced to cut further back on ARCs. And I will probably throw discussions in every now and again – when a genuine inspired idea hits me – but now I won’t be pressured to think of one of those every week.
I might throw in a fourth post when necessary for publisher commitments, or if I find I have more free time left over than I expected. But for now, this is looking pretty damn good to me. It also gives me more time to promo new posts with the gaps in the schedule, so hopefully I’ll feel less obnoxious doing that.
2. I’m trimming down my feedly.
3. Stop adding fuel to the Twitter obsession.
4. No more stats in the sidebar.
That’s It!Wow, that was long. And in case you’re wondering – this post took over two hours to write. But I feel a renewed kind of energy now to continue blogging for the time being. I was really spreading myself too thin and putting so much pressure on myself to put out ALL the content and have ALL the followers and be the PERFECT book blogger, but that’s just not healthy. I’m still obsessive about organization and structure, so yes a calendar is necessary to me, but believe me that this is way more flexible and relaxing than before.
I hope you’ll all support me in these changes, and if not… well, that’s too bad!