Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Take a Vacation!

When I graduated college with a degree in literature, I said, “Yay! I don’t have to read anymore so now I finally have time to read!”

True story.

The same goes for blogging.

Blogger burnout is a very real thing. It’s not the same as writer’s block. This is about the demands of a blog too. It’s no wonder with all that a blogger has to do beyond simply generating content. You have to network, which includes copious amounts of time spend on Twitter, reading and commenting on other blogs, and guest posting. You have to keep your pages and sidebar content fresh. You have to pimp yourself out for ad dollars. But the saddest part of blogger burnout is that it takes the hardest toll on our writing.

We mustn’t forget that as bloggers we are first and foremost writers (or cooks or photographers, etc.), creative people who are expressing ourselves in an incredibly revolutionary medium. We’re artists. We create words. We connect to readers. We build community through expression. It’s easy to forget that when you’re worried about churning out content and SEO and networking. Yes, our blogs become jobs, but they are about creativity first and foremost. I doubt you started your blog for ad dollars and to drive traffic. If you did, I doubt you’d be here, looking to challenge your writing skills.

When you burn out, your writing suffers. That’s the true tragedy.

However, blogging is like a job, and every industry in the whole mother loving universe takes some kind of vacation time. So why don’t bloggers? Why are we bloggers so hard on ourselves? Why is it when we go on a physical vacation, we still post to our blogs or plan guest posts? Why not take time off to recoup?

Why not indeed.

We’re simply too hard on ourselves, entirely too demanding. I’ll even go so far as to say that not only should we be kind to ourselves and give our brilliant minds a break (and they ARE brilliant, aren’t they?), but we should be kind to our writing! If you’re such a masochist that you just can’t take time off, do it for your writing.

As writers, we’re told that we need to write every day. That’s how we grow. That’s how we develop our craft. I disagree. That’s a great tool to begin with, but I say that sometimes our writing needs some time off.

I recently found myself with a severe case of blogger burnout. It was horrid. I began hating my blog, resenting its existence in my life; which, let me tell you, was upsetting on a whole ‘nother level. I love my blog! It’s my space that I created and nurtured. It’s my baby. I don’t want to hate or resent it, but I couldn’t balance it all anymore and my writing was truly suffering. I didn’t love what I was writing anymore. My words didn’t make me laugh. I didn’t delight in sharing stories. I‘d lost the original heart of my blog somewhere along the way.

Something had to give.

I tried scaling back my posting, but it still daunted me. I’d scrounge for story ideas. It just started feeling forced and disingenuous to both me and my readers, I think.

So finally I threw in the towel. I announced I was taking a hiatus, just a short one hopefully, a few weeks at most. It’s been wonderful. I simply needed a vacation. As with any job, my mind was fried and I needed a break. Most of all, though, I needed to refocus, to revisit old posts and remember what made me love blogging in the first place. I started seeing the world around me again, noticing potential stories and funny moments. I already have 5 post ideas swimming in my head for when I come back, which will be soon probably.

So please allow me to climb up on my soapbox and smack you over the head.

Take a vacation!

Give yourself a break!

Be kind to yourself and your writing!

Quit blogging so that you can keep blogging.


Today's guest post is from Andy, who you will also find entertaining the masses in 140 on Twitter.

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