Today is the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and today’s topic is: how do you avoid blogger burnout? The short answer—I don’t.
Okay, so now for the long (winded) answer. The very few of you who have been visiting this blog over the years know that I tend to disappear for long stretches of time. I can think of only one time, back around 2010, when I actually decided to take a break because it seemed like people were fighting a lot over things (some petty, some very serious like plagiarism). Most times, though, I haven’t made a conscious decision to quit, so that’s why I keep coming back.
I stop blogging generally for two reasons: I’m in a reading slump and have nothing to say, or I get behind on reviews because I have BIG IDEAS. But I think about blogging all the time, and I have enough half-written (or even complete) drafts of posts (some reviews, some not) to prove it. I used to do The Sunday Salon and Booking Through Thursday pretty much every week, but somewhere along the line I decided I should “get serious” and only write reviews. But let’s face it: reviews can be boring to write. Plot summary, opinion, wrap-up. Maybe something interesting about the author. Maybe recommendations to similar books. Some people use lists or GIFs or anything to make a review seem less…review-ish. For me the solution was the idea of the bookish essay. I’m pretty sure I decided to do that after finding Lydia Kiesling’s original (now defunct) Widmerpool’s Modern Library Revue (which became The Millions Modern Library Revue). I love the way she writes. And I didn’t want to copy how she writes as much as I wanted to write more deeply/widely about the books I was reading. I have many, many (unpublished) attempts to do this, but they took a lot of effort and were hard to get right. And even when I felt like I got them right, I was terrified to share them. I worried people would think, “Who does she think she is? What does she think she’s trying to do?” So in other words, I did it to myself: I backed myself into a writing corner with a whole lot of “shoulds.”
In these blog revivals, I’ve tried some of my own regular features (Freestyle Friday) or picked up doing memes again (Top Ten Tuesday). But I admit to being wobbly on these as well, especially Freestyle Friday, which was a weekly post where I just wrote about anything on my mind. It got a pretty good response and was fun to write, but I kept wondering if anyone really wanted to read about my nonsensical, non book-related thoughts. (Oh yes, and then there was my ill-conceived The Album Project, where once a week I planned to write little essays about music á la Nick Hornby. Crickets. Probably rightly so.) I’ve also tried joining a challenge here and there, but I suck at sticking to a list (see #10BooksofSummer: Womp Womp).
The other thing I’ve done in the past to try and revive the blog was to jump on the ARC bandwagon and review pretty much only and everything new. This worked well for a while, until I had more requests accepted than I could manage. To this day, I still have unread ARCs waiting for review. I’m sort of ashamed about that, and it was my own fault for getting so overwhelmed, but for the first time in a long time I felt like a relevant blogger. All the popular kids were talking about shiny new books ahead of their pub dates, and I wanted to do that, too! Except…what can blog readers say when they’re reading multiple posts about a brand new book they haven’t read yet? I got more traffic, but it was kind of a conversation stopper. I got a little bored, and then I started to resent the fact that I had to keep reading ARCs when I really wanted to read all the other books I was neglecting.
The truth is, I don’t have any real answers. I may burn out again. I’ll keep trying and probably keep failing. As much as I love to read, I truly keep the blog going because I also love to write, I like to challenge myself every once in a while, and most importantly, I like YOU. I like being part of a community. Even if I only get one Like or one comment, it totally makes my day.
Thanks to all of you who visited this week. I know realistically I may never hear from some of you again (at least until next year’s BBAW…and I hope there will be a next year) as we all retreat back to our corners of the blogosphere and get on with things, but I hope to see most of you now and again, even if just to give a virtual wave!