Lots of things catch my eye as they make their way around the blogiverse, but sometimes it takes me awhile to get around to doing something with them myself.
Part of the “assignment” for the final day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week was to consider blogging goals:
“Tell us in 50 words or less where you want your blog to be by the next BBAW!”
Since it’s no longer BBAW, to heck with the 50-word limit! And I’ve mentioned previously that I have a conflicted relationship with the whole idea of “goals:”
“It’s not that I don’t have goals, but as an attempting-to-recover control freak, I try not to get too caught up in them. And when I do have them, I tend to keep them to myself – telling someone about them, or writing them down, means I’m accountable for them now and have to take them seriously.”
I also think it’s important for goals to be something that will be achieved primarily through my own actions, so I feel the need to keep them pretty conservative. Goals that depend heavily on action from outside factors are goals I can’t control…so maybe it’s better to just call them “hopes” instead.
I’m actually pretty pleased with where my blog is right now. I like the new layout; I’ll probably still tweak it now and then, but I don’t foresee big changes for awhile. My subscriber base has grown a lot over the last year, and I hope to see that continue – I care more about cultivating a regular readership than spiking my search-engine traffic, although I doubt I’ll ever get tired of seeing which posts Google Analytics says are visited most. Aside from the subscriber numbers, I’ve gotten much less hung up on my stats in the last year or so, and that’s a relief.
My biggest hope for the blog is to engage with that readership better. There’s a small group of regular commenters here – and I love y’all for it! – but I’d always like to see more people de-lurk and join the conversation. I respond to all comments on the post where they’re left since I do feel that’s more conversational, but sometimes I’ll e-mail back too. I’m just not sure exactly how to get more folks to come in and comment. Let me know if you have suggestions on that – if there’s a magic formula, I’d like to know what it is!
I’d like to think my writing has improved over the two and a half years I’ve been blogging here (along with the year I’ve also been contributing to the LA Moms Blog), and that’s an ongoing thing (what we call CQI at my workplace – “continuous quality improvement”). I will try to make my book reviews more concise, and I want to write more “think pieces” reflecting on themes and topics in my recent reading – I’ve been enjoying those. I think my content has become more bookish recently, and I’m happy with that, but this is never going to be an exclusively-books blog. I like being a “hybrid blogger” who can go off in any direction.
“Personally, after such weeks, I feel almost burnt out and think, ‘Why am I doing this? I’m not getting paid for this.’ Do you ever feel the same way after weeks like the ones mentioned above? If you do, what do you to counter it? How do you keep going? Do you take a break from posts after that, or do you just ‘soldier on’?
Or if you don’t feel burnt out after such weeks, why not?”
I think that not being exclusive in my content is one thing that helps me avoid burnout, really. If I don’t have anything book-related to talk about, I’ll post about TV…or something in the news…or music…or something my dog did…or come up with an unnecessarily wordy response to a meme or writing prompt. I do all my post-drafting in Google Docs, and I open a new document whenever I get a post idea. Luckily, I haven’t run out of those documents yet. One of the great things about BBAW was that it did offer prompts for daily themed posts; they were optional, but helpful, and gave me the opportunity to prepare my posts in advance. When I’ve found enough time to write that I have posts scheduled out for several days to come, I feel pretty good.
Something close to burnout hits me when I don’t have that nice backlog of posts, however – but I usually call it “anxiety.” If I haven’t finished any books lately, there aren’t any reviews to write, and there are times when I just don’t find inspiration in my usual sources for prompts. That’s when all of this starts to feel too much like work, and I just get stalled. Unfortunately, those occasions often seem to coincide with a time crunch, and that can lead to one of my “you may see a little less of me for awhile” posts. But I never seem to end up going away for more than a few days at a time. I’m sure part of the reason for that is fear of disappearing readers, but truly, I just can’t keep myself from doing this for very long. Most of the time, it’s just too much fun.
I get more burnt out sometimes with reading other blogs than with writing, I’m sorry to admit. But I’ve changed my Google Reader habits a little recently, and that’s helped; I’ve also chosen not to feel guilty about judicious use of the “mark all as read” button.
I think “avoid blogging burnout” may be a pretty good goal, actually. What do you say to that?