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