Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Burned Out On Blogging?

closed laptop
Today please welcome Jessica Tripler, who blogs at Read React Review. Jessica has a very successful romance blog, which she revitalized after taking a break from blogging. Today she's here to talk about her experiences during her blogging break and to offer some advice for when you start to feel burned out on blogging.

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In August 2008, I started my first blog, Racy Romance Reviews. I was at a point in my life where I actually had time to read for pleasure, and I had just discovered romance novels. When I first started blogging, I alternated reviews with more thematic posts about romance fiction. Pretty soon, I started feeling restricted by the blog name. In February 2010, I changed it to Read React Review, so I could feel less guilty about the non-romance posts. That same year, I moved my site from a free platform, Wordpress.com, to non-free Wordpress.org, and hired a web designer for a new look. I told friends and coworkers about my blog, and stopped trying to be even semi-anonymous. I got business cards and attended my first book conference, RomCon in Denver, CO.  In May 2012, I attended Book Expo America with a press pass. But somewhere along the line, I stopped having fun. I struggled to post all through the summer of 2012, feeling dissatisfied with everything I wrote. Then, in September 2012, fours years after I started blogging, I put Read React Review on a hiatus.

It’s hard to communicate how strong my negative feelings were for RRR when I quit. I don’t really understand it well even now. In January of 2012, I had published a post on Fifty Shades of Grey that was (like anything anyone posted about that series) hugely popular. It is still the post that won’t die. I would look at my stats and see a high level of traffic, but most of it was coming from search engines, and visitors hit that one page and bounced away. Also, I had all of these ARCs, constant emails from publishers, multiple commitments I shouldn’t have made, and the whole thing just felt 100% unfun. The constant hype from authors, publishers and yes, even other bloggers, felt deafening.

But even when I didn’t want to blog, I missed blogging. So in February 2013, I started The Hypeless Romantic, because I still wanted to talk about books. At the same time, I also reached out to Natalie Luhrs at The Radish, because she was doing some really interesting things with politicized critiques of SFF and romance, and she gracefully allowed me to write a few guest posts.

Finally, in September 2013, I moved Read React Review to Wordpress.com, redirected The Hypeless Romantic posts to it, and have been happy ever since.  So, I ended up taking a year hiatus my main blog. During that year, I posted about once a month, but I wasn’t paying for self-hosting, so it didn’t bother me.

I think the time away and the journey through other blogs was really, really good for me.  Much like travel in real life, being away from home helped me return to it with fresh eyes. Here are a few things I learned during my hiatus:

1. You do not need a reason or an excuse to take a break from blogging. If it isn’t meeting whatever need you hope it will meet, take a break. I had a few ARCs I wasn’t going to be able to review. Nobody cared.

2. Leave things open ended.  Nothing is worse than a bridge-burning declaration to have to address if you want to start things up again.

3. Do not, under any circumstances, delete your blog. Close comments, take it off your bookmarks, and for God’s sake if you had a Google alert deactivate it. Set it to private if you must. But leave it there. Your blog may not seem consequential to you, but it is part of a complex network that includes other people’s memories, experiences, conversations, and, less esoterically, links. To delete it creates a tear in the history and meaning of that network.

4. Few of your regular readers will leave your blog even if you take a long hiatus. You won’t be forgotten, especially if you still read and comment on other blogs, Twitter, or wherever you feel like hanging out.

5. Listen to your inner voice. Just because everyone else is doing it one way doesn’t mean that way is right for you. I can enjoy contests, author interviews, cover reveals, listicles, GIF-posts, podcasts, and vlogs, but I don’t have to do them myself.

6. Consider guest posting. Writing for a new audience can help you see yourself in a new way. I started writing for Book Riot this year, and I really enjoy the challenge of writing short and writing for a large and diverse audience. Working in the company of so many other contributors helped me to see how lonely solo blogging can be, and so today I’m not hard on myself if I don’t post a lot, or get into controversial topics as much as I once did.

7. Don’t think of “not blogging” in totally negative terms. While you are “not blogging” you are probably doing a lot of positive things. On my hiatus, I personally spent time focusing on a different kind of writing (my academic writing). You can think of it as a time to re-learn how to read for fun, without feeling the need to highlight or find great quotes. You can think of it as re-charging your creative batteries. The massive amounts of energy that went to blogging are still there, just redirected in some other way.

8. Don’t feel you have to pick up where you left off. Personally, I became sick unto death of the review format. I don’t like writing them, and to be honest I hardly read them. So what? I’ve found new ways to engage with books that work for me. I had a few regular features that I no longer do. And I post less frequently now. Again, nobody minds (are you sensing a theme here?).


Taking a break from regular blogging helped me to rediscover the joys of blogging and to brush off the small stuff. I feel satisfied with my current blogging goal, which is just to share my thoughts about books and communicate with a small number of like-minded readers. After a year of wandering the internet, I came back to my own doorstep, and I’m happier blogging now than I have ever been. Feel like you need a blogging break? I highly recommend you take one.




Thank you for joining us today, Jessica! Remember to check out Jessica's blog, Read React Review, and leave a comment or question.

9 comments :

  1. Fantastic, Jessica. More than once I wish I had heeded that advice but didn't.

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  2. You touch on some great points, Jessica. I have learned a few of those lessons myself over the last three years, even though my reason for taking a break was different.

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  3. All of these are good, but point #3 is so important.

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  4. This is excellent Jessica! You've reinforced things I've thought and put in place for myself, but questioned at the same time. I don't do half the things others do on their blogs, but I wouldn't enjoy it if I did. Much of my time is taken with my family and career. My blog has to remain fun and a practice in writing, as I intended it to be.

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  5. So many great points. Love this post!

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  6. Hm, I thought I had posted a comment, but now it has disappeared! Anyway, the TL:DR of my response is: great post, thank you, I am going to give myself as many breaks from blogging as I need and not feel bad about it.

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  7. I want to echo the part about regular readers finding you when you finally do post. I've been blogging since Feb. 2008 and I drift away occasionally--usually without explanation, as you say--and am currently posting about once a week. No one has seemed to notice or care, and it's enough for now.

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  8. #7 is SUCH a great point to make. "Not blogging" isn't always negative. Sometimes it's leading to some really positive things! I just took the last month off blogging and I'm glad I could without guilt - I was able to focus on moving and finding a new job. That's just such an excellent way to frame it!

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