Saturday, February 25, 2012

An existential blogging crisis: Or, Is it a blog or a blah blah blah-g

I feel like I'm having an existential blogging crisis (can you tell I've been reading too much John Green?)

I can't exactly put my finger on what is bothering me about blogging lately. I've tried to puzzle it out repeatedly. If I could divide it into three subcategories it would be:

  1. Finding time to read blogs.
  2. Finding time to write blogs.
  3. Deciding what is the true purpose of blogging. 

Let me address them one-by-one. I'm an academic, it's kind of our thing.

1. Time for Reading Blogs. I'm busy, and some days I truly despise seeing that blog reader with hundreds and hundreds of listings I know I'll never get to. It seems to compound the stress I'm already feeling.

I tried to address the overwhelming nature of it-- I divided all the blogs I follow into one group of between 40-60 blogs (primarily people who comment on my blog, or whom I feel I "know" on some level). Then I subdivided that group into four sections, putting between 10-15 blogs in each group. My intention was to then check in on those blogs  over the course of four weeks (one section for each week of the month).

---it seemed like a good idea, but the weeks-long process of organizing all those blogs made me so exhausted that I haven't even implemented my system yet. Lookin' at you, March, for SUPER PLANNED BLOG SYSTEM ROLL OUT 2012.

I'll let you know how it goes.

2. Time for Writing Blogs. The more I blog, the more I feel like less blogging is more, for me at least.

It's like Stella McCartney's line for H&M. The idea was that she would bring down the prices of her products substantially (from Haute Couture levels to H&M levels), but to maintain the mystique she produced very few numbers of each piece. Those clothes were, therefore, not special in that they were extraordinarily expensive (as they often are) but because there was a limited number.

Clearly I am not Stella McCartney, and I am also not really considering myself as a marketing project.

That being said, I think there is something in the idea that in a blog-riddled world, one way to stand out is to post less, and make the posts better/more interesting/more painstakingly created. This is not to say that I believe I've created some kind of superior product at all, in fact, I'd say I've changed nothing except that I'm posting less.

Or maybe I only want to legitimize my lack of time. When I look at my multi-page to-do list, I just want to mark things off of it. I have so little time outside of work, family, and sleep-- I want to spend that time making art and writing.

This brings me to question three:

3. What is the true purpose of blogging?
When I started blogging, it was a way to hear about books, learn about craft, get scoop on querying and agents. More than all of that, it led me to my "writer friends" (who my husband still calls my "pretend friends")-- though they are real and true and have already helped me through some major crises. And by that I mean as recently as THIS WEEK. :0)

And I continue to love to meet new writer friends, and hear about the books they love and maybe those they didn't love so much.

But if I'm supposed to be writing, and they're supposed to be writing, and my circle keeps getting a little larger and a little larger with each passing year (which I consider a GOOD thing)... then how are we going to keep at our writing in a way that will lead to success?

A lovely writer friend gave me a real A-ha moment recently when she referenced the movie Julie and Julia. She said, Julie sits down every day at her blog to watch all the comments rolling in-- but you never see her bothering to check out or comment on someone else's blog.

It really made me question what the point of blogging is.


I'll be the first to admit this is a first world problem.

I've started and stopped this post at least four times since January, because I didn't want it to sound whiny.

Truly, I am not complaining. I simply want to know if there is a better way.


What say you,  fellow bloggers?

How do you balance writing your own blog, with reading and commenting on the blogs of others?

How do you balance blogging and writing?

How do you define the purpose of blogging to you and your writing?

16 comments:

  1. I totally hear you. I used to only blog a few days a week, but now it seems like I'm blogging more and more. I'm also following way more blogs (I tend to follow back) so it takes me that much longer to read all the posts. By the time I'm done reading, commenting, blogging, answering comments on my posts, I've seriously cut into my writing time. And then I'll write a post that I'm super proud of (put in some time on it) and hardly anybody comments. I confess, I find it kind of depressing. I know that's pathetic (blog comments are like crack), but that's just how my brain works. I need to make sure I'm sticking to a schedule, or using the blog world as a reward for getting work accomplished in my writing. I still haven't exactly figured this (1st World) problem out either. Thanks for your honesty.

    It's definitely something that has been on my mind as well.

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  2. I'm having the same issue. Mostly I feel like I'm sorking really hard on my blog and I'm not seeing new followers or more hits. I had a new plan for my blog and but now I'm feeling sort of Meh about it.

    Like right now at this very moment, I should I be blogging but I'm not.

    Really the only reason why I'm still blogging is because I feel like I owe it to my Writer Friends.

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  3. I'm glad you wrote about this because I'm having similar thoughts about my own blog. The blogging itself is time consuming, but between responding to comments and hopping around to comment on the blogs of other people, I feel wiped out before I've ever opened my WiP document. The thing is, I ENJOY blogging and I love the people I've "met" through my blog. I don't want to quit, but I most definitely need to find a balance. Please do share your solution when you find it. :)

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  4. Well, I'm struggling with this, too. It's reassuring to hear I'm not the only one! Sometimes I love writing blogposts, and I am grateful for all the friends (they are *real* friends, too!) I've made through blogging. I appreciate the new ideas/perspectives reading other blogs provides me with, as well as industry news and reading recs. But, I work full-time (more than full-time, lately), am trying to put writing manuscripts first in my non-work time, and have the rest of "real life," including a fiance and some (thankfully very low-key) wedding plans. I so know what you mean about opening Blogger and seeing 20+ posts to read and comment on and just feeling overwhelmed. I try very hard to leave a comment for every one I get, and that takes a lot of time.

    In trying to find more balance and protect my precious writing time, I am finding that I need to spend less time posting and reading blogs. So far I don't think I've posted fewer, but the quality has probably decreased of what I do post. One thing that has helped is scheduling ahead--sometimes I'll stock up 3-5 post ideas, sit down on a Sunday afternoon, and schedule a week or two worth of content.

    Sorry this is the longest comment ever. If you figure out good ways to balance blogging, writing, work, and life--please do share!

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  5. Since the new year and moving on from Genre of the Month, I've scheduled the myriad posts I had lying around and then when I finally ran out I ended up just not posting. And it's okay, because I didn't have anything to say that day. But now I'm at the place where I need to figure out why I'm blogging. And it's too long for a comment, so I'll make it a blog post. So thanks, KO! One more week taken care of...

    Short version: Friday Favourites will continue for the foreseeable future since they're low pressure; I'll aim to post each Monday but not beat myself up if I don't; and I skim blogs and only read if they seem useful and only comment if I have something to say or it's one of the ten-ish blogs by a friend.

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  6. Oh yeah, I feel you. Big time. I'm struggling with this a lot lately too. As far as writing blogs go, I'm finding that I just don't have anything all that interesting to say lately. Every once in a while inspiration strikes, but in the meantime I struggle and wind up not posting anything. And as for reading, yep. Feel you there too. I have far too many blogs in my Google reader. I have them organized into priorities, but even then it's overwhelming to try to get through them every day when I have so much else going on.

    So yeah. I do love interacting with the people I've met, but something has to give and I'm not sure what it is. If you figure it out, pass it alone! ;)

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  7. I think blogging can be overwhelming when things get busy.
    I enjoy the interactions but know that my writing needs to be the most important thing.
    I try to connect with my readers either by responding to their comments via email or by commenting/reading their blogs.
    I participated in a challenge in January to leave five comments a day on kid lit blogs. I think that was actually easy and still left time for my own writing.
    I've been busy so of course I'm catching up on blog reading/commenting on the weekend.

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  8. Ladies, your comments make me feel so much better.
    Jaime,comments are like crack, huh? I like your idea of using it as a reward.

    Erinn, I know what you mean about writer friends. Very true.

    Katy, exactly-- I also like blogging. And reading the blogs of others. I'll keep you posted.

    Rebecca, I will be stealing your post ahead idea. :) I will keep reporting on this. It makes me feel a lot better to hear I'm not alone.

    Can't wait to read your post Soph! Not beating ourselves up about it in general is a great idea.

    Meredith, I will share. I may even reduce the number I read regularly to less than 40-60 per month... Because I don't want the new improved plan to also be overwhelming.

    Carrie, that connection is so important, and it's what makes this a community. Five a day sounds do-able. I'll keep that in mind.

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  9. Jaime, just reading how my comment back to you sounds in my head... Like I reward myself with crack! LOL.

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  10. I totally understand what you're saying. My solution to this has been to cut back on blogging. I used to blog 3 times a week and now I only write 1-2 posts a week. It gets tough sometimes to keep up with other blogs but I try to prioritize the ones written by my writer friends. Sometimes I mark all the others as read if it gets too overwhelming.

    I originally started blogging because I wanted to connect with other writers. I'm doing that, so I'll keep at it but put less time into it if it gets to be too much. You have to put writing first.

    I hope you're able to find a good balance!

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  11. I think you're aware that I agree! Pam & I are brainstorming social media options that are not too time consuming- hope you find a solution, too :)

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  12. I am trying to find this balance, too! I started blogging 5 days a week (most weeks) in January, after reading that the most successful bloggers blog daily. I'm trying to build a readership, right? But it IS time-consuming, and it does take time away from the writing I SHOULD be doing. I'll be staying tuned for further discussion on this!

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  13. oh, this is so well said (or well questioned).

    I feel the same way. I often wonder the purpose of my blog, feels stressed about not having time to comment and visit other blogs and yet I love how I have made real friends through blogging.

    it is exhausting, though, at times. When I started, I honestly had NO IDEA just how much of a huge blogging community there is. My mind still boggles :)

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  14. This is an excellent first world problem. And one I think we all have gone through. My blog has turned into a funny thing wherein I tell funny stories, rant about politics, and occasionally talk about books. I have no idea who or why I do it so I am like Stella on the "less is more" side too. I don't really think I'm promoting anything per se. And yet, I do think there is so much value bc I have met awesome people this way.

    But yes, I have actually divided my blogs up too and then I take a day or two a week and power through the ones that seem interesting to me. I assume others do that for me also.

    And in the end, I started and continue to blog so that I don't have to call my parents as often. I'm sticking with that:)

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  15. Well said Ghenet, I think balance is the key.

    Quita, we should brainstorm at WofA!

    I hear you, Susan- I'd not heard that about daily blogging. Food for thought.

    So true, Nomes-- it's the friendship aspect of it that I love!

    Christa- it's true, the feedback and community with other bloggers is a huge part of it for me. Well said.

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  16. Blogs. Twitter. Social media. We are looking for connection; agents are looking for "platform" and "brand." The conventional wisdom says "you must!" I realized long ago "I can only..." I blog on average once a week, usually on a Thursday. But I don't delude myself that anyone is holding their breath, waiting for me. I hop on Twitter from time to time, but in the beginning, I lost hours there. The reality is, my job is writing. I love you guys, and I have made such great friends, but Kat, you're right, we can't keep expanding the circle without paying a price. And that price is too high if it means we're not writing.

    I'm lucky in a way: Blogger won't let me follow anyone. I'm not sure why. It tells me I'm following, but then nothing shows up. So I don't have that moment of horror when there's a million blog posts I have to read. I have to go seek out the blogs I really want to follow. Like you, Kat! :) Which is why I'm only here once a month or so... sorry! :(

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YAY for comments! Thanks for adding to the conversation.