Thursday, September 24, 2009

Some thoughts on burnout, BBAW and blogging goals

It’s unlike me not to post on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, so I think can officially say that I’ve caught Blog Angst Flu, as Jen Robinson calls it. Or blogger burnout. Or in my case, maybe it should be called blogger paralysis, because every time I think about writing this post (or any post), I feel paralyzed and wind up doing something else (like reading other folks’ blogs, which is a great way to procrastinate!). Whatever you choose to call it, I’m in good company: Lenore, Wendy, Diane, Megan and Lilly have all recently blogged about this too.

So where to begin? Book Blogger Appreciation Week is hardly the beginning—I’m sure more than a few of you have noticed that I’ve fallen behind on reviewing and am failing to respond to most of the comments left on my blog. And this has been going on for a while now. However, though I enjoyed much of BBAW, I also completely identify with what Megan at Leafing Through Life said:

I see everybody’s sparkly blogs with their zillions of reviews, their thought-provoking posts, their book-reading totals at 100 or above for the year, their thoughtful and numerous comments on others’ blogs, and I know I can’t keep up, and then I wonder why I bother. What do I have to offer in the face of all that awesomeness?

And I know, I know, it’s not about comparing myself to others—I’m not out to write the best of anything; I really just want to add my voice to the chorus of book lovers out there and share my thoughts about books I love (and some I don’t). So what is it? I think it’s panic at the mounting pile of unreviewed (or unread) books, the 1000+ unread posts in my reader, all the comments I’ve received that I’m so happy to read but haven’t managed to respond to—in other words, the general feeling I have of being a bad blogger. And instead of doing anything about my mounting to-do list, I’ve been ignoring the problem. But if BBAW brought the issue to the fore for me, it also provided me with a glimmer of hope: I can set new goals for myself.

And so, inspired by three different bloggers, I’ve come up with three overlapping goals:

1. To keep blogging

Inspired by Lenore’s post, “The Future of Presenting Lenore,” my first and most encompassing goal is just to keep blogging. My task is to ignore the inner critic who says I’m not good enough or not doing enough (or have gotten so far behind as to be hopeless), and, as Elizabeth Smart said, “to bash on regardless.”

2. To reduce my post frequency

Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here recently posted about the kind of blogger she is (“steady, slow and loyal”) and I think I could learn from her example. I’ve therefore decided to limit myself to three or four posts per week: one book review, one “similar covers” post (because I love doing those!) and one bookish post or meme.

3. To catch up on my reviews

The Review Challenge buttonKay at The Infinite Shelf is running The Review Challenge for folks like me who are reading faster than they are reviewing. I desperately want to catch up so I can start the new year with a clean slate. Realistically, I’m not going to manage to review all the books I’ve read this year, but this challenge will prompt me to go through the pile and weed out the ones I don’t want to review (or don’t have to) and narrow my pile down to a more manageable size. Plus encouragement from others in the same boat will help.

Anybody else out there feeling overwhelmed too?

BBAW Appreciated in 2009 button

Given my feelings of overwhelm, I know it’s ridiculous that I’ve added to the 123 blogs that were already in my Google Reader, but I couldn’t help myself (this is what BBAW is all about after all). New additions to my reader include*:

A Book Blog. Period.
A High and Hidden Place: Tales of a Capricious Reader
As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves
Book Addiction
Dolce Bellezza
falling into words
Jenn’s Bookshelves
Jen Robinson’s Book Page
Lit and Life
Nonsuch Book
Raging Bibliomania
Rhapsody in Books
Serendipitous Readings
Steph Su Reads
Stuff As Dreams Are Made On
The House of the Seven Tails
We Be Reading

BBAW is a great opportunity to meet new bloggers, and I’m hoping to find a few more favourites among these!

*I may have missed a few.


  1. I try very hard not to feel like I'm competing with other bloggers, but sometimes it's hard not to. I do think it's important to remember that each blog and each blogger is unique and has something important to bring to the table. Take it easy on yourself and do what feels good/right for you.

  2. We did not mean to put pressure on you or other bloggers LOL

    I feel bad about not reading and reviewing all of the books I accepted for 2009 (impossible, and honestly some just don't appeal to me). But, no pressure right?? this blogging is for us as much as our viewers so FINAL THOUGHT..."do what makes you happy, not what makes you stressed".

  3. Avis I am on blogger you can add to the list. As you might have noticed nothing in reviews for me either. Have to work on that.

  4. For me, I do it at the pace I want to do it, sure I look and read other blogs but it surely isn't a competition for anyone, or at least it shouldn't be and I know that it is or seems hard, but for me, I just do it because I love doing it, not because I am pressured to do it. Sure there are times that I feel stressed, but doesn't everyone at one time or another.

    The only reason why I have reviews up every other day is because I went on a reading rampage, and well fell behind in posting lol

    Like a publicist told me, there is no pressure, choose what you want to read and adore, and if a book doesn't do it for you, then chuck it. There are far too many other wonderful books out there for you to adore.

    Just do what you feel comfortable with, and say no to new books ( I know that sounds harsh and I can hear you gasping at the very thought)

    Hope that helps.

  5. It's almost like being in the newspaper business, the feeling that you have to post regularly. But as you said, you don't, and you don't have to review ALL the books! Keep on truckin'!!

  6. I am going to say something to you that might put it all in perspective.

    You do not get paid to do this.

    We read because we love it. As soon as it becomes a chore, then something needs to be adjusted. Simple as that. There are no rules with blogging. You can do as much, or as little as you want. That is the beauty of having your own blog and it takes huge events like BBAW to remind us of that sometimes.

    From here on out, read for fun. The rest will fall into place.

  7. I do my own thing. I read, I blog and I write poetry too. At my own pace, own time. And I also teach!!

    Weekly Geeks: Why/What makes us go on?

  8. It is meant to be fun. If it isn't fun anymore,then take time to re-adjust to what you feel like doing.

    With the overwhelming amount of books to read before the end of the year, it is worth making a list of the ones you know you will be able to get around to reading and sticking with it. That way it will stop you feeling anxious about all the other books.

    I have felt like that recently too, but I have pushed through it,as I know I don't want to give up.

    You will get there.

  9. The frequency of posting was one of the things that bothered me too,or to be more precise, comparing myself to other bloggers in that regard. I stress out about not posting daily u to a point where I start thinking, 'What's the point?' but you know what, after posting my 'burnout' post and reading the great comments I realized that what I do is perfectly fine and others like to read my posts regardless. So, I try to relax about it and simply post when I have something to say.

  10. Ohhh you are soo not alone in this! I too often get the dry blogger thingy...I've tried resolving that by focusing on why I got into this to begin with: reading books! And there should be no pressure in that:) I've also decided to only write reviews about books I when a book doesn't do it for me- I just put it aside. Writing about a book that I enjoyed is way easier. I do that with material I research too- and since I love history, and writing, well when I have something I find interesting, I share it through a post. I also include a few posting series and just do those when I feel inspired. I don't do the daily writing memes cause I find them too confining and much rather write when I'm inspired. I get alot less bogged down and stressed this way. Great post:)

  11. I've been feeling pretty burned out for awhile now...probably since I got back from vacation this summer. Before I left I was blogging 6 days a week with tons of posts scheduled. Now, I'm completely happy with 2-3 times a week.

    I need to get caught up on reviews too, but I've also decided that I may not do reviews on things I read just for me. It was feeling like too much of a job instead of being fun.

  12. This quote from Megan says really well how I sometimes feel, especially with me being back to university with a lot less time for blogging. I feel like I've been behind, and I don't get to comment on my favorite blogs as much as I wish I would. I think the fact that summer is now over contributes to this feeling: we're back to school, back to work, t.v. shows are coming back, etc. I think it's important to keep it light and fun! I should probably follow your exemple!

  13. Strangly enough, I never have a read but not reviewed backlog. I often feel like writing reviews but haven't finished any books!

    And let me tell you, I am feeling a lot better after my "confession" post.

    It's true - we aren't getting paid. So the stuff that feels like a chore is (for the most part) getting pushed to the side for now.

  14. I need to reduce my post frequency as well... I miss having other hobbies! I think it's good to step back a bit when we're feeling overwhelmed. I'd rather have my blogging friends take a break or post less often than get burned out and disappear completely!

  15. BBAW was a fun week and it certainly added a lot of blogs to people's readers. Take days off and don't feel guilty we all need to !!

  16. It seems like quite a few people got intimidated by all the BBAW stuff -- it's a nice idea, but it definitely has some downsides to it. I'm glad you're committed to continuing to post! It looks like my post frequency needs to go down too, and that's okay.

  17. You've gotta find what works for you and make it enjoyable. I know I'll always be behind on book reviews and I'm ok with that and I also know I can't blog every day. I've got countless other hobbies too :)

  18. It is as if you are reading my mind. I just started book blogging and my original intent was to review books so I would have a way to remember what it was I loved (or disliked) about them. Then it seemed to turn into so much more then just reviews and it has become challenging to keep up on everything. Good luck on your goals!

  19. I feel a little wierd saying this but I can completely understand and relate to what you are saying and I only started blogging in mid-July. Some mornings I start visiting blogs and commenting and I look up and several hours have passed and I realize I don't have time to write the review I planned to write or I work on reviews and don't have time to visit blogs or I try to do both of those things and I have no time to read. But what it comes right down to is reading good books that I want to read and reviewing them for myself and also to share with other bloggers. I'm hoping as I adjust more to reviewing books and commenting on posts things will get a little easier or more organized. I just don't want reading, the thing I love, to become a chore.

  20. I can totally relate to what you wrote -- I go through this every so often, which is why I "gave" myself permission to just write a few posts a week -- ones that interest me. I'm glad that you found that helpful in your quest to get out of your blogging slump. It shouldn't feel like a burden or work. I hope you can find a happy balance and get back to the reasons why you started your blog in the first place! And it never hurts to just hit "Mark All As Read" in the old blog reader every so often!!!

  21. I completely understand how you feel! I'm slowing down this fall/winter too, for a variety of reasons, and I already feel good about it. Enjoy your new "freedom"!

  22. Phew! What a relief to know I am not alone in feeling like this. You see I am getting around to this a week late. Sheesh. I just haven't felt like doing much blog wise at all and that included visiting other blogs. I have already decided that I don't review anything unless I "have to". Books I read just for me don't get reviewed unless I feel like it. Everyone is so right when they say when it becomes a chore, it is time to step back. I think I really needed that reminder. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a very provocative post.

  23. Everything there is to say have been said already here, but I just wanted to tell you that I love your "similar covers" posts too :)