Blog Burnout: When the Hair of the Dog that Bit You Doesn’t Work

canstockphoto9610173I’ve been a shadow of a presence in the blogging world these last few weeks. It’s the sixth month of a Minnesota winter and I’m pretty sure we had at least four different kinds of precipitation yesterday. I’ve been overwhelmed with work, volunteering, writing, squirrel invasions and attending one event or another. There’s no end in sight for the next couple of weeks. I am feeling decidedly grumpy and my attempts to read other people’s posts on gratitude just pushes the meter from grumpy to downright surly. I do no one any good trying to be a “presence”. I’m the kind of presence that would definitely put a damper on the party.

I wonder if I’m not in the majority, though. I’ve noticed less posting by the bloggers I follow and what is posted, is often halfhearted. Not your posts, of course. Is this cyclical, part of a blog’s lifespan? I have very productive weeks interrupted with occasional breaks, but lately, the breaks are getting longer. I’ve become a bit inured to topics that would, in the past, have interested me. Everything feels ho-hum, including anything I might have to say.

Part of the dullness, all weather aside, is that we become predictable voices. On some days, those voices are a comfort – familiar and friendly. On other days, we’re the chatty neighbor that catches you every time you leave your house. Predictable. Exhausting. I find myself repeating the same phrases and stories and references, just as if the readers of this blog were old friends, accustomed to my usual nattering about my child or job or writing or house. After a year of writing about these topics, I’m starting to repeat and contradict and bore myself.

In the blogging world and in real life, I’m a crust-less sandwich. I have no edge. If my aura had a shape, it would look like an amoeba under a microscope – shifting, but no edge to be found. I envy it a bit in others. Having an edge, an angry opinion, a willingness to say the shocking or the silly, these are things that keep blogs lively. Occasionally I need a nap after reading one of them.

I live about a block and a half from the edge. Close enough to watch others, but far enough away to avoid risk. When I started this blog, I thought the risk was simply writing out loud. I’ve learned, though, that I can manage it, that there’s a relatively friendly place to do it and that, on occasion, I write something of interest to others. Lately though, if I’m boring myself, there’s no reason to imagine that anyone else would find this blog worth reading. So, I’m re-evaluating what I’m doing, looking at ways to refresh things, and trying to find my way back to engagement and interaction.canstockphoto6161461

Feed the Machine. My brain needs more quality input – more books and ideas and inspiration. I went to a museum last week, have picked up more random books to read and am listening to music that I haven’t heard in years. I’m having quiet moments amidst the chaos where I just sit and stare off into nothingness. I might be sleeping with my eyes open, but we’ll call it meditation.

Limit the Noise. I’ve started avoiding mainstream newstainment and news feeds. I have extricated myself from long conversations with people who have a license to drone. I haven’t been reading as much online, because the drawback is that it perpetuates a short attention span until I become as twitchy as a lab rat. I’ve also cut back on my output/ communication – sometimes making my own noise is tiring.

Get in Motion. Nothing gets that brain muscle working better than moving the rest of the body. Workouts have been a challenge this winter for me – mostly because of…me. It is the easiest habit for me to break, but the habit I need the most, because it improves my mental clarity, my overall energy, how I sleep and how I write (really!). Back to the Y.

Go off Road. I’m changing up my routines. Netflix is getting cancelled, I’m rearranging my office, I’m designating one day as cooking day, I’m breaking the patterns up to see if something different works better. I’m saying yes to things I usually say no to and I’m trying to stop saying “I should” in my head, replacing it with “I would like to…”

Imagine away Limitations. Just getting by has put me into a subsistence mode. Personal visions and goals were buried under the snow and I haven’t seen the long view in quite a while. What are my goals and what am I doing each and every day to meet them? What does a great day look like and how do I make it happen? Time for a little imagination and creativity.

And that’s my story. What’s yours? Burned out? Energized? Ready to give it all up or start over?

72 Comments on “Blog Burnout: When the Hair of the Dog that Bit You Doesn’t Work

  1. You’re right, Michelle. I’ve noticed fewer posts, fewer readers, fewer urges to write. I thought it was just me, but perhaps it is the season. OR the sequester (which has everyone so bored that staying out of bed is a grind).

    I felt this way last year, though too. Spring comes then summer. It’ll all work out. I’m going to try the reorganizing thing, though. Oh, organizing. I have never organized for the first time.

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    • I’m a freaky organizer, but that always comes with a level of rigidity that probably impacts my willingness to change or imagine things differently. There’s always a flip side.

      You’re probably right about blogging being a seasonal thing. Most of my Minnesota friends are seasonally depressed at this point! Ah, but how we love the spring! I have a stack of gardening catalogs that I’m trying to get motivated to dig into…maybe tomorrow.

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  2. I have found myself wondering what I’m going to write about on many occasions. My inspiration generally comes from other bloggers; I might read a phrase, a sentence, a word, that sparks a train of thought in my head. I don’t have a set schedule for blogging, and I think that helps, except for my Gratitude Journal which I write every day. I write in my main blog when something sparks my thoughts, and I write in my fiction blog when I think I have something worth posting. Sometimes what I write gets more responses than I thought it would and sometimes there’s no response at all. But in the end, I’m blogging because I like to write. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I love writing, but I have an acute self-awareness when I’m becoming repetitive or unoriginal. Blogging has really made a difference in how often I write, so while I don’t have a set schedule, I do try to post regularly, at least on a biweekly basis. It might just be a combination of factors on my end. It has been a mighty loooooong winter, but still, it never hurts to look at things with a fresh eye.

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  3. I have two comments.
    First: You are never boring. I love reading your blog. Relax and cut yourself some slack. The joy and fun of writing a blog will come back to you because you have a voice. You are a real writer.
    Second: I am coming up on my first anniversary. I wrote my posted my first blog on March 26/12. I’ve kind of said it all and gone through all seasons. Yes, we continue to renovate, but how boring is that? I must redefine the purpose of this blog. Why am I writing? What do I have new to say?

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    • Thanks, Diane, for your kind comments. These days I’m a real writer in that I spend a lot of time whining about it! Sometimes I just have to laugh at myself.

      Congrats on your upcoming first blogging anniversary! I like the renovations pics – it’s always interesting to see how other people live. I also like the very personal posts you’ve written about fighting cancer and your recovery process (the hair posts are so honest and sweet). Some of my favorite posts of yours include the ones about Molly and Warren (love the shoveled path one).

      You’ll find your way. It’s hard to see our own lives of interest to others, but it’s not just our lives, it’s our voices – and yours is unique.

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  4. Try taking drastic action. Stop entirely. Shut down your computer. Don’t read any blogs and don’t write yours. Don’t even think about it. Until you desperately miss it.

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  5. Funk is decidedly in the air these days. When I have only lame, half-hearted ideas, I find what sometimes helps is to take one if those ideas and push it to some extreme, or fuse two ideas together and see what happens.

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    • Extreme? Oh god no. That might be edgy. I was pondering the creative process – some people are outside the box right from the get go. The rest of us, like myself, need to be desperately bored enough to climb out of the box.

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        • Extreme is getting applied to nacho chip flavors, so you’re probably okay with the hyperbole, but you’re right – letting your imagination “what if” an idea is a great way to jump start things.

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        • Mine occur shortly before I fall asleep, never to be thought of again. I tried taking notes, but they looked liked my college class notes – two words and then a line straight down the page as I dozed off. My best singing takes place in the shower.

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        • I know those ideas, that crazy world between sleep and wakefulness. There’ve been times when I’ve managed to hold on to them, etching their dazzling brilliance into my consciousness, only to look at them in the clear light of day and realize, “This is the stupidest idea ever.” The stuff that dreams are made on…

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  6. I know exactly what you’re talking about! I’ve been feeling the same things about myself and my blog on one level or another for a while. On the one hand, my blog is vital to me because it’s an opportunity to express myself to a (hopefully) growing audience. On the other hand, I’m feeling like a broken record (bad analogy for anyone young enough to have missed that part of history). I started a new post this morning, and realized that I could have linked back to at least 3 or 4 of my previous posts in this one. That can’t possibly be a sign of trail-blazing writing on my part.

    I’ve started exercising, and writing some things which will not likely see the light of my blog..

    As for 6 months of Minnesota winter, that sounds a lot like 4 years in a Turkish prison to me. I want to swill vodka just reading about it. You’re tougher than me!

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    • I think it might be a blogging epidemic, since as Ross pointed out, there’s plenty of funk to go around. There’s no trailblazing going on here, but there never really has been, so I need to keep my expectations realistic.

      Writing offline becomes a little more critical when the blogging funk hits. That way you get all the crud out without the public airing, but also, it might allow more creativity without the pressure of an audience. I’m trying to keep the writing momentum going, but it’s less like butter and more like sludge lately.

      Yeah, the winters here are a bit long. I love colder climates, but by March, I’m ready to leave the state. Thank goodness we’ve got some sunlight today – that always helps.

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  7. “I wonder if Iโ€™m not in the majority, though. Iโ€™ve noticed less posting by the bloggers I follow and what is posted, is often halfhearted.” . . . I know you had my photo challenge lunchtime post in mind as you wrote this ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh how your post rang true with me — of course, today, rather than pulling together my tax paperwork I would much rather try to kindle some blog posting inspiration . . . Sometimes I have to remind myself that silence is OK, and if I am not moved to create, I shouldn’t. At least the sun and blue sky just came out here to brighten up the fresh several inches of snow we received (again!) last night. More on its way Monday . . .

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    • I did see that photo challenge, but at least you were self-aware!

      If I weren’t pursuing a writing life, I’d go with “create when I feel like it”, but part of me fears not having the discipline to work through these times. So I do, but I kvetch a lot on the way!

      The sunshine is glorious today. Things feel just a little lighter psychologically and with the study filled with light, I’m a little more motivated to find my desktop again (tax work included). In regards to snow, “lalalalalalala….I can’t hear you.”

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  8. Me too (know what you’re saying)! I used to post every day, sometimes twice (short poems) and felt energized and inspired to write. And now feel much the same way as you describe. Very repetitive. Bla bla blah. And I’m not even close to the one year mark…Many of my favorite blogs (yours is one) seem to post less too. I hope it’s just part of a natural cycle…need to renew, get fresh, lift the spirit, be grateful…he he.

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    • I think there is a definite cycle to blogging. All the “how-to” articles pound us over the head about posting regularly and frequently, but given the choice between being a “presence” or being present, I’m guessing quality wins out over quantity any day!

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  9. Michelle, I don’t think what you’re describing is unusual. I’ll respond to only a few of the points you raise:

    1) What am I going to write about today??? When I was a young newspaper reporter, I needed to produce at least one 15-inch story a day, preferably two, and maybe a couple of news briefs. I often started the work day in panic. My reporter’s prayer was, “Give us this day, our daily story.” When I got to the office and made a few phone calls, something unexpected would often surface. After I was on the job for a while, news sources started calling me with news tips. (Today’s reporters get lots of emails.) If you get paid for producing a story or a column on a regular basis, you wonder what will become of you if one day you simply run out of things to write. For that reason, many reporters and columnists keep lists of story ideas. It’s like hoarding. Most stuff on the list is useless and needs to be thrown out, but a few eventually are useful.

    Of course, stuff to write about is everywhere, you can never run out. The typical city editor can rattle off a dozen story assignments in an hour. He can conjure story ideas just by asking a reporter a few questions. Now, on the verge of old age, I no longer worry about running out of stories. I worry about running out of time.

    2) Sometimes the ideas seem dry. Feeling inspired about the subject you’re working on is another problem. Often it’s easier if the topic is current and timely. Sometimes I’m ready to resort to the story list (where did I put it?) when I get a spark from something in today’s news. Or something unexpected that happened on the way to work, or at a routine meeting, or something the priest said at church. When something sparks a spontaneous interest, I run with it.

    As you say, we need to feed the brain. I do that by reading a lot, but it’s just as important to be aware of what’s happening around us. Our brain gets lots of input if we simply keep our eyes and ears open. Isn’t there something in the Bible about people who “have eyes but do not see, and ears but do not hear?”

    3) I hate winter. Don’t know how you survive that far north. No doubt in my mind that a long winter makes everything harder.

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    • If my living, at this point, were dependent on me writing on demand, I’d be in trouble! You make some good points about practices that can be applied to all kinds of writing, John and ones I’d like to ideally do. I’d love to keep a few things “in the hopper” for times such as these.

      Your second point is a good one. I’ll sometimes have a one sentence summary that I’d like to expand upon for a post and that gets me in trouble. If I can state a POV in one sentence, why turn it into paragraphs? Ofttimes, like today, a post contains sentences from 4 or 5 different drafts. Loved the thought or sentence but couldn’t organize them usefully until I was able to connect other ideas with it.

      I know you read a lot – I have long periods of time where I’ll go through one book after another or times like this one, when I barely have time to sit down and read short story or article. That’s the other reason I want to shake up my routine – to build reading back into my day – I get so many ideas from other writers!

      Part of what makes winter harder is that all this staying warm and sitting around time doesn’t end up being as productive as one would imagine. It can be demoralizing! But in a few weeks, when I’m thrown headlong into gardening, I’m sure I’ll be griping about back aches and sunburn. It’s very midwestern of me!

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  10. I’ve actually noticed less posts from my favorite bloggers as well! Interesting insight. And as for myself, I’m on board with this. In fact, my latest post questions why I even starting writing to begin with!

    I’m also with you on the issue of information overload. I’m downright SICK of the media ๐Ÿ™‚ I think your tip about reading less online content is a great idea. Every time I read something from Yahoo or MSN, I wind up all down and out. (You know another waiter was stiffed and felt the need to post a copy of the receipt online–that makes the news! Or how “sitting” for more than four hours a day is now the equivalent of smoking–well, I’m a writer, I guess I’m screwed). It seems like there is so much talk, talk, talk, chatter, chatter, chatter about…nonsense. And yes, something is up because I’ve been noticing it more lately.

    I think if you follow your own tips you’ll find yourself getting your edge back. I personally think your writing is very open, candid, straight-forward, and therefore edgy.

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    • I love how they’ve equated sitting with smoking – there’s some rare logic at work there. I quit smoking – what am I going to do about sitting? I do it every day, sometimes more than once!

      You are right about the noise. I believe in being an informed citizen, but you have to listen to so much chatter, just to get solid news and even then you have to check multiple sources. It becomes a drain and most of the news, like you pointed out, is sensationalized. The rarest events and statistics are blown out of proportion and generates anxiety where none is useful.

      Taking my own advice would be a lovely turn of events. It was good to think it through and write it down. Now if action will only follow…

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  11. It must be just this time of year….. end of a rather long winter…. not springy enough yet. I have become a bit bored with myself as well. Tired of facebook, tired of blogging, tired of winter doldrums, tired of having no kitchen sink. tired.
    this too shall pass……

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    • That got me thinking about all the little narcissistic things we do with social media – it does get easier to be bored with ourselves! I know this will all pass, but I think John may have had a good point about keeping a list of things to write about during times like these. Although that would require a remarkable amount of foresight on my part…and the minute I read “kitchen sink”, I thought, ugh, need to get the dishes done. Later, maybe…

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  12. My goodness, why would you tell people we are sleeping with our eyes open, I had most of them convinced I was meditating.
    Sometimes I admire the bloggers, and then I mock them. Sometimes I find solace in social media, at other times, I mock it.
    All in all, we as writers need to find a balance between writing and selling the books and learning about writing, and trying to convince everyone we are meditating.
    Una Tiers

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    • Ooh, sorry about that. I also won’t mention my nap time (aka relaxation pose) in yoga. Balance is the big challenge. Of course, everybody talks about it, but rarely do we hear that someone has achieved it. Maybe it’s all a big fat distraction from the fact that life ebbs and flows and you can sit on the beach or ride the wave depending on where you are at. And that’s all the farther I’m going with the ocean metaphor. Because I am a lazy writer today. I’ll work very hard tomorrow. My balance relies heavily on procrastination.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  13. I know exactly what you mean. I think its somewhat to do with the time of year…right now everything starts to become an effort, we’ve had the long winter and now we’re just fed up of it.
    In my case, its also to do with a slight lack of money and a huge amount of work meaning I haven’t had the time to do as much Londoning as I would like – making a blog about London a little difficult!. But I need to get inventive, so I think I shall follow suit and have a shake up of my own…
    Good luck…I always love reading your blog posts, but I hope you find the joy in writing them again. You have quite a comprehensive list of things to do, so I’m sure you will!!

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    • Thanks! I’m grateful that my blog is completely unfocused. If it relied on me writing about a specific subject, I would have burned out about 6 months ago, so you’ve picked a challenge for yourself!

      As for my list, I like to think of it as a guideline – it seems a little less daunting and manageable that way! One step at a time…

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  14. I’m sure you’ll get the bounce back in your step soon. As will everyone else. I, myself, have noticed that I have been spending less time coming up with new blog posts. For me I think it’s just a lack of new information. As long as I write, I’ll have something to say, but my life itself feels like it’s at a standstill. I don’t know if any of that made sense. And I call myself a writer. Ho hum.

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    • I’m sure I’ll be feeling a little more engaged soon. You have something so exciting going on, but tough work ahead with re-writes. That has got to be tough. I’m doing re-writes but only with my own pressure and deadlines. Still – lots of motivation to…procrastinate.

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  15. I find it difficult to read, write and blog at the same time. Well, you know what I mean. I can’t find both the time and energy to do all three. At the moment, I’m writing and blogging. Last week, writing and reading. So long as writing is one of them, I’m happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • There is always the question of time. It sounds like you’ve hit an equation that works for you and it’s certainly something I need to consider. I’m always writing, but not always blogging. Reading has been a little light of late, though!

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  16. Michelle, your post hits really close to home for me… I too, have been completely uninspired to write, joke, comment and explore. Unless it is Facebook. Then I mindlessly sit in front of my monitor waiting for someone else’s exploits, vacation photos or random musings to entertain me. That very well might be part of the reason my blogging has been plunged into a self-induced coma. I love your action plan to get out of the slump – I think I am going to follow your lead and see if that (along with some spring-like weather) brings my blogging mojo back.

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    • I wish it were just my blogging mojo, but the malaise has seeped into nearly every corner of my life (even taekwondo). I’m a walking sigh. I know I’m not alone in this and need to put some SPRING in my step! I’m going to focus on one day at a time, trying to implement more of the things that lift me up. I imagine, in a few weeks, quite a few of us up Nort will be feeling more motivated and energized!

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  17. It certainly sounds by the comments above that we’re all in the same clown car. Though you think you have nothing original or interesting to say you seem to have summed up many others’ thoughts (including mine) quite well. I want to post absurd happenings and funny stories but have none, so I’m laying in wait for opportunities in both those genres in my Walking-Around Life. Perhaps, as creative people, we have burned ourselves out doing the same thing over and over, which describes the act of writing even if we are writing about different subjects.

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    • That is a good point – repetition to the point of burnout. I was thinking that it is ridiculous that I’ve plumbed the depths of my own brain in a little over a year. I love the phrase “walking-around life”. And yes, I think a lot of us are in the same boat. I’ve usually resisted writing prompts for inspiration, but I may have to start doing some of them just to keep up the writing momentum. I look forward to more of your stories when they do come around again!

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  18. Good post. I too have sensed a recent sea change in the blogging world. Unless your’e a born blogger (I’m not) it can become a pressure to keep producing posts which then takes us away from what we really want to be writing. I’ve cut right back on posts and my followers are still there. I’ll rethink when they’re not, but until then I’m enjoying cracking on with my next book. And of course sometimes the old saying ‘less is more’ is true.

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    • I have to keep revisiting the “blogger versus writer” argument. It takes time and energy to blog, but it ultimately is not the writing I want to be focused on. On the other hand, it has really helped me to be more disciplined and consistent writing over the last year. I agree that less is probably more!

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  19. I think it’s cyclical… I find that there are weeks when I’m feeling totally inspired and have loads to say about all kinds of things and there are weeks when I can’t be bothered even reading anyone else’s stuff and am not thinking about anything that would even require an opinion. Let’s hope spring will help!

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    • I’ve found that when I feel really depleted, I avoid online reading. When it begins to feel like a chore, then it’s really not serving any purpose. I really do think spring will help, but where I live, that might be another month away so I have to jump start myself sooner!

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  20. I wonder whether it’s time of year–so many people in northern latitudes seem to suffer from depression over the winter months. This is the first year in many that I’ve avoided it, and I credit taking extra vitamin D all winter. Whatever the cause, though, I agree that it’s miserable. And your steps for combatting it seem very sensible–might I suggest adding “get outdoors for an hour or so each day”?
    Karen

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    • Part of it is definitely the time of year. Going outside is regularly on my list – especially if the sun is out. There are days when it simply isn’t possible or enjoyable (wind chill plays a big role!). I hear people talk about taking extra Vitamin D, but haven’t done it myself. I do try to eat foods that are nutritionally dense. Exercise makes a huge difference for me, which is always why it’s on the list as well. If it’s nice enough to walk or run outside, that’s a twofer!

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  21. Weirdly, I am still passionate about writing my posts, but I have noticed that the amount of post links (from other bloggers) showing up in my inbox has dramatically decreased over the last couple of months, so I think you are definitely not alone.

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    • You’re in the midst of a great project. It might be something for me to plan next year – starting an exciting project mid-winter to pull me through the blahs.
      It would be interesting to see some WordPress metrics in terms of activity. I can see from the responses that I’ve definitely got some company!

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      • Ah, thanks, Michelle. I am enjoying it! Yes, I’d like to see the statistics, too, because it seems like people are losing their momentum. Not all, of course, but many.

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  22. I can relate. If you’re bored by what you’re writing, well…let’s not go down that path. Totally there with you: what a flighty thing, the inspiration. I am trying to train it. I like the steps you laid out for yourself, very pragmatic. Don’t worry about your edge, it’s sharp.

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    • I am making myself write through these times, however painful or awkward. I think it’s useful to write like I read – having several different projects to work on, depending on mood and amount of uninterrupted time, so that at least I am always writing. The blog is a different story, since I’ve always maintained it as a personal essay blog. The sound of one’s voice can get a little tired, but it’s challenging me to resuscitate things a bit!

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  23. It’s so interesting how our perspectives curve what we believe about things. From my standpoint, your blog is innovative, interesting, and always thought-provoking. But I can definitely sympathize with that feeling of same old repetitive feelings for lack of a muse.

    I really do think it’s all part of the writing cycle. Just like with any hobby / career / enjoyment / escape, there are times it won’t align in our souls as perfectly as it did, say one week ago. Here’s hoping this stagnant time passes quickly and you feel motivated and fresh once again.

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    • Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – I imagine things have been a bit mad over at your blog this weekend. Congrats again on the FP nod!

      We’re getting another few inches of snow, but I’m putting on my hiking boots and trekking out in it for the fresh air. That always clears my brain before writing. I think these cycles serve a purpose, or at least that’s the spin I’m putting on it. If we never look askance at our own writing, we never challenge ourselves to improve. My lemons to lemonade thinking at work…

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  24. I have had the same thoughts about my own blog. I had company for a couple of weeks and in the midst of that I decided to remodel a bathroom – complete exhaustion, emotional and physical, followed. I find my photography gets stale right before spring too – being cooped up makes me photograph boring things. I fell off the map for a couple of weeks and am just getting back in the saddle. I think Spring will bring fresh thinking – at least I hope it does. I’m glad I am not the only one feeling this. Maybe I should write about my remodel – my house is still in chaos.

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    • I noticed you weren’t out and about there for awhile. Bring on the renovation pics and post – there’s a nice theme of renewal, which is what it sounds like many of us need!

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      • I didn’t take a lot of shots since I was so busy cooking and running to the builders supply store – I did manage a few though. Last night I finally managed to get the old toilet off my porch for good.

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  25. Hi Michelle. Thanks for sharing your insights … I know exactly how you’re feeling because I’ve got dem ol’ bloggin’ blues as well. I was super-charged right up until Christmas and then I just hit a wall. Is it the time of year? Is it those one-year anniversary doldrums (my blog turned one in January)? I dunno!
    Like you, I’m taking a few steps back, giving myself some space and new inspirations and designing where to go next with it.

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    • My blog was a year old in January as well. I read that the average lifespan of a blog is a little less than 3 years and that many are abandoned quickly after creation. I now understand how that happens! We should be cheered by the fact that we’ve made it this far with relatively active blogs.

      Of course, now the trick is how to keep it a worthwhile, enjoyable experience for ourselves, which will keep it engaging for readers. Your blog, by the way, is fabulous – I have so much enjoyed seeing artists that I would not otherwise have known of or seen. I hope you are able to shake off the blog funk as well and find your inspiration. I suspect that for me, at least until spring here, it will be less about the muse and more about perseverance!

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  26. We all go through this as we mature as bloggers, for sure.

    Limiting the noise is definitely important. Time is a precious resource, and recently I’ve done a bit of a self-audit to free up some time. I’ve given up playing online social games, killed a couple of TV programmes I’ve been watching (difficult to do when you also write a TV blog!) and generally decluttered so that I have time to do what I want to do.

    I’ve even set myself some more rigid goals and structure to ensure that my three blogs don’t become neglected. I write a weekly column for one blog on a Tuesday, another on a Wednesday, and then set myself goals in terms of a minimum number of posts per month I will commit to.

    Now all I need is some ideas! Given that my blogs are five years, 15 months and 3 months in age, some are easier than others …

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    • Sounds like you’ve mastered getting through the “down” times. I’m still evaluating how I spend my time versus how I would like to spend my time, but giving up some time wasters is definitely at the top of the list. I don’t know how you manage 3 blogs! I have to balance between offline and online writing and sometimes one suffers at the expense of the other.

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      • “Manage”? Hahahahaha! I’ve certainly had some down times where I’ve taken a week or two off to recharge, and I’m now in a routine that works for me where I typically write for about 3 hours 3-4 nights a week, with a short break of 3-4 days every month where I won’t write anything but will just read for inspiration or do other things to get my enthusiasm levels back up again. (It’s not quite as rigid as that, but that’s roughly how it works.)

        The worst spell I ever had came off the back of a nine-month spell where I was blogging basically every day and producing upwards of 10,000 words every week (some close to double that). I didn’t recognise the signs of burnout soon enough and I nearly walked away altogether, but it made me reassess my priorities and restores some balance.

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        • I recognize the signs of burnout and haven’t given up the blogging thing yet. I don’t run out of ideas necessarily, but the execution can be quite uninspiring. As I transition out of paying work to just writing and trying to clean up my first novel draft, the pressure is on to produce, which seems to create the opposite and equal reaction of intense procrastination!

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        • Personally, I worry less about the execution the more experienced I have become. You certainly shouldn’t be afraid to either (1) publish a post that is merely ‘okay’ or (2) bin a post that simply isn’t working out the way you hoped. I do one or the other at least once a week, but I figure that if I’m happy that I’m writing 20% great posts, 60% good posts and 20% mediocre posts that’s an acceptable ratio.

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        • Good points. That’s where I struggle – I want everything to be great or don’t want to do it at all. I’m working through it, since I’ve found that approach to be completely untenable (nothing would ever get written!).

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  27. I can relate. I have plenty of material, but I’m struggling with the fact that very few (if any) seem to find it as interesting and worthwhile as I do. I can’t help but notice that blogs devoted to science have few readers and fewer comments, while blogs that are “social” and don’t really require anything from their readers are very popular.

    And I don’t like that my blog has become to feel like a “project” I need to complete rather than a joy. (I’ve announced my intention to take early retirement in June, and I’m hoping my mood will change then.)

    And per your comment directly above, I think we share that drive. Either our work is of the highest quality, or screw it. I have a hard time treating my blog as a casual “diary” rather than each post a mini work of art (not saying it’s good art).

    I dunno. I’m feeling incredibly unappreciated at work (and so I’m leaving). I’m also feeling incredibly unappreciated in the blogsphere, so….

    As the song says, “Do I stay, or do I go?”

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    • It sounds like you may be suffering from the malaise that is hitting many bloggers on and off line. I think it comes down to evaluating what you really want to get out of a job or blogging or whatever. It may be that it no longer suits your needs or that your objective has changed. Your mood will likely change (as will your amount of free time) once you’ve unburdened yourself of the job, so maybe you can find the joy in writing/blogging again. Your readers are still here.

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      • I’m hoping retirement restores my desire to blog. I am clear on my objectives here and at work; my problem seems to be they are not reasonable or achievable.

        The Germans, perhaps not surprisingly, have a very good word for what I’ve been feeling: Weltschmerz (“world pain”). It’s basically the conflict between the ideal world of the mind and the impossibility of achieving that in the real world.

        As an aside, I’ve always thought many liberals have the seeds of Weltschmerz. It starts with the idea that, “The world would be a better place if people would just do X.” But the reality is that people will never do X, because it’s just not human nature as we know it. Once the dissonance of that really sinks in: Weltschmerz is the result.

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  28. Pingback: The Dog Days of Blogging | The Green Study

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