29 July 2013

Are Book Bloggers Too Hard On Themselves?

Currently, I'm in the middle of the biggest blogging slump I've ever had.  It was only in April that I offloaded all my angst about blogging and for a short while after that, I felt like I was back on track.  I was reading, commenting, posting and just generally immersing myself in books under my own terms.

But less than four months later, I'm back in exactly the same situation.  It's not that I'm falling back into the old pressures that had me reading books I wasn't passionate about, but more that I'm feeling the pressure of blogging full stop.  And I'm starting to wonder if this is pressure is something that book bloggers in particular are more susceptible to than other bloggers.

After all, lets be blatantly honest here, book blogging is REALLY competitive.  There's the ARC stalking, the follower number obsessing, the pressure to post every single day, and to write unique, quality posts or think up an amazing feature/meme/competition.  There are literally thousands upon thousands of book bloggers, and comparing yourself to someone else is almost inevitable - why does that blog get all the followers, the award nominations, the fandom?  What makes them better than me?  I work hard to do all of those things above, and yet, I don't feel like a PROPER book blogger because I'm not posting every day, reading every ARC before the release date and thinking up fabulously amazing posts that no one has ever thought about before.

Yet while I'm wallowing in my own self pity, I've noticed that for bloggers in other 'genres' (see, even in this post I can't get away from the book thing!), that pressure just doesn't seem to be as intense.  Lately I've been spending a lot of time on fashion blogs.  Not the big ones, but the ones that an individual pours their heart and soul into and their passion really shines through.  And I've noticed that when a fashion blogger doesn't post for a day, or a week, or even a month, they are, quite rightly, pretty unpreturbed.  They post a quick update and just move on with their blogging.  They don't post about hiatuses or slumps or pressures - they simply enjoy blogging at their own pace, and in their own style.

These bloggers receive things for review too, and although you could argue that reviewing a nail polish or a pair of shoes doesn't take the same amount of time as reading and reviewing a book, that is even MORE of a reason that as book bloggers we shouldn't feel guilty when we fall behind schedule.  Yes, we have an obligation to follow through with our promises, but would a publisher want us to write a negative review of a book we forced ourselves to read due to obligation?

There are lessons to be learnt from bloggers like this.  I shouldn't have to feel guilty about the fact I simply haven't felt like reading a book, or talking about it, or writing a post.  I shouldn't have to worry that my ARC pile is threatening to smother me to death.  I'm one person, I need to eat/sleep/work/leave the house occassionally - and I don't want to beat the love of reading out of myself.  

Maybe getting all this out there won't make the pressure disappear, or even make it lessen, but I had to get this out - I can't keep ignoring it and hoping it will go away on its own.

So for every other book blogger out there that is in the middle of a blogging slump, for every book blogger who has ever had a blogging slump, and everyone that has one in the future, please don't beat yourself up about it.  Take time out to enjoy other things in life, go shopping, go on holiday, play computer games or watch movies until you can't stomach the idea of them for another second, and just relax.  The world won't end if you don't read that book, post that review or have the most mindblowing idea for a post ever. And now, I'm off to play a mindless point and click game.  BECAUSE I CAN!

42 comments:

  1. You are right, Kat. I feel a little bad when I DNF a review copy, but it's the right thing to do. I'm not going to force myself to read something I hate. You're right. The publisher would rather there not be a negative review, I am sure. As for you, you are doing it right. You don't have to post every day, and though we usually do, I don't feel obligated to do so anymore. I have a life outside of blogging that I would like to maintain. And my health too!

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    1. I hate DNFing as it is, let alone when it's a book I've asked for! But I'd much rather to do that than force myself and throw a tantrum LOL!

      We definitely need to have the right balance and embrace real life.

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  2. I think we book bloggers beat ourselves up way too much over other "bigger" blogs, what ARCs they received, follower number, etc.
    I have been blogging a lot less during the last weeks because here life just got a bit hectic and because I am less than motivated to write blog posts in this heat. And that's okay! I love my little corner of the internet and wouldn't want to miss it but it is neither my job nor my whole life. When I see people with the loveliest blogs struggling and beating themselves up about ARCs and Followers I feel so sad because that shouldn't be the things that matter. As long as it's fun we should write posts and if we don't feel like it we shouldn't - WE ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO ANYONE (well to ourselves but that should be kind of the point here)!

    We should all take a moment to think about our priorities again and if we don't blog for a longer amount of time I am sure we'll be missed by our readers but they won't go away. And if they do ...

    Kat, I hope you'll find your inner happy book blogger again and I can just promise that I'll be there for as long as you blog.

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    1. You are so right, as always :) we only have an obligation to ourselves in the end, and the beauty of it is that we can decide on our own obligations.

      I've learnt to let go of the posting every day thing - I just can't do it, and honestly, I don't even notice when other people skip a day - we really shouldn't be so hard on ourselves.

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  3. Oh Kat, just don't pay attention to anyone other than yourself. Enjoy life, sweetie! Read what you want and post what you want. You don't have to look up to anyone, you are one of a kind and your readers love you for that :) *bi hugs and game away*

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    1. Thanks Kara! I've definitely moved towards posting whatever I want - it's fun!

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  4. Do I ever know how you feel right now! I too am in my biggest blogging slump ever. I think a lot of it has to do with new, more important priorities in my life, and not having the ENERGY (creative and otherwise) to blog when I have the time.

    I have let the guilt and pressure slowly fall away over these past months. I have an emotionally stressful job, and I'm going to be a mother in January. I cannot let the blog enter into the stress space of my life right now, so I just have to suck it up and let it be what it is.

    I will blog when I can, or when I feel like it. The blog will slack for a while, and have some posts for a while, and go back to slacking. I'm finally ok with this. I'm not a full-time blogger who gets paid, and I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot live life like I am.

    I hope you can find happiness and a balance. Your fans will always be here, and would rather receive quality content from you rather than quantity. Keep your head up! <3

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    1. Oh my gosh, Smash! Your entire first paragraph is exactly how I feel right now too.

      One thing that I'm doing to help me with my blog is start a new feature. This feature is NOT going to be centered around my books. And maybe that will throw people off, but I absolutely need to focus on other things right now.

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    2. Thanks Smash, you always say these type of things so well ;) and yes, you've DEFINITELY got other (very super exciting) priorities right now - blogging is a hobby, not a job!

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  5. One way to look at it would be to give yourself the same advice you'd give someone else in the same situation. We ARE too hard on ourselves, but we also are more forgiving when it comes to other people's situations.

    And in a way, posts like this are helpful too: they remind us we're not alone and that sometimes, it's worth letting ourselves to something non-book related.

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    1. I'm definitely getting better at telling myself off ;)

      Knowing that we aren't alone when we feel like this is what really helps - maybe book bloggers are too hard on ourselves, but we are great at supporting each other!

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  6. Kat, your blog is amazing. I will follow it if you only post once a month! I will follow it if you post every other week! I just love you and I know other people do too.

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    1. Awww thank you so much Ashley! Days like this remind me why I love blogging so much :-D

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  7. I haven't been in a slump but due to it being summer I've definitely found myself waiting til the last minute to do things (write reviews or put together posts). I learned a long time ago I have to blog for me first. If that means kicking my review pile in the nuts and reading half a dozen books on why faeries make the best lovers then so be it (j/k about that I don't know if they do) If I worry about everyone else I'll drive myself insane. Sure I sometimes get bummed over things but in the end if people like me they'll come back and if they don't then I hope they step on a 100 fire ants I mean uh....I hope they find a blog they like.

    Now on a side note what point and click game did you end up playing??

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    1. LOL! I wonder what kind of lovers faeries make...hmmmm...

      I've got all kinds of ecclectic stuff coming up, all of them books I bought and very specific genres - but I enjoyed reading them which is what counts!

      I played some version of Diner Dash. The control freak in me loves that shit!

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  8. I'm actually pretty relaxed. I don't care about followers/numbers/stats. I just enjoy blogging and getting comments. I think we must keep reminding ourselves that we are doing this for the fun :)

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    1. I'm WAY more relaxed than I used to be - I just think it is a shame that some people are guilting themselves into obsessing about it.

      FUN is THE key word!

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  9. I had a chat with a PR person at London Book Fair and she was all "I'm really happy if you just mention the book on your blog". And when you look at other bloggers, they do get the chance to receive a product, look at it and write about it...without investing hours in it. I have mountains of review books but I am quite honest about not reading everything and it makes it so much easier. I think I only start to stress when I see others stressing...especially when they complain that some people hog all the review copies. I don't *mean* to o_O

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    1. And hey, as far as I can tell, you're also great in sharing books you've read (: That negates all the possible review-book hogging

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    2. Oh that's interesting, Ellie - I've always wondered about that - after all, at least if I'm talking about the book, I'm giving it more publicity than if I just secretely hoarded them all under my bed!

      Thanks Celine, I feel bad for the books - like unloved toys!

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  10. Bravo!! I've felt the same things you have for SO long. I try so hard to not have blogger envy, but it's hard to avoid sometimes. All it does is lead to unnecessary stress. I decided awhile ago to blog on my own terms, and it's been so much better. It saved me from quitting and in a way, gave me permission to just be me.

    Kudos to you for taking time for yourself and doing other things that you enjoy!!

    Ems

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    1. It's really easy to get envious. I tried the whole 'oh they must be under SO much pressure' line of thinking and it kinda worked. But I refuse to feel guilty about wanting to enjoy reading :-D

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  11. Do you think it's because we are more of a community? Meaning we're all friends (albeit virtually). It seems like other people blog for themselves and aren't so insular as we are.

    There have also been so many "how-to" posts which are extremely helpful to bloggers but it doesn't mean we need to do all those things. I think we feel the need to be the best blogger or not blog at all.

    For me...I've stopped chasing the ARC's, read for fun and I never check my stats anymore. I'm not sure where that will take me but I'm happier. I just like talking about books again and that's enough.

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    1. I'm not so sure - from what I see on Twitter, they are just as close as book bloggers - I think it is perhaps because there are far less of them, although that also could work in reverse.....

      I used to read all the how-to posts, and then I stopped because I was just stressing myself out about stuff that I didn't understand nor actually really WANT to do. So I shall leave my Facebook page unlinked and manually post the links.

      I sometimes get a twinge of envy still over ARCs, or disappointed when I'm rejected for an eGalley, but I'm pretty quick to get over it - one look at my creaking shelves brings me back to reality!

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  12. I agree that we can put too much pressure on ourselves for sure. And the competition is out there, but I think that's again something we place on ourselves. I agree with Ashley, I'd still follow your blog whether you took a break from it or decided to scale back your posts...do what you've got to do.

    One person suggested to me that I write a blogging manifesto so that I know why I decided to start blogging in the first place. I've yet to do just that, but it boils down to the fact that I started blogging for me. And whenever I forget that and get wrapped up in the numbers and the competition, I just have to remember that's not even why I started blogging in the first place.

    You'll be fine. Just do you!

    Sandy @ Somewhere Only We Know

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    1. The silly thing is, I know very well I don't have time to dedicate to blogging like other people do, and that's what is probably making the difference. I could read YA book after YA book, and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with that for people that love YA books, I just can't without getting grumpy and cynical.

      Just do you is the best advice anyone can give :)

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  13. great post!! I totally feel like that sometimes, but really, blogging isn't about having followers. For met at least it's really about meeting people who loves reading as much as I do. Who cares if that book was published ten years ago or last year? Or if it's an ARC? If I loved that book I'm going to read it and review it and share my love with other people.

    I tend to stay about with requesting too many ARCs just because I know I'm such a mood reader that sometimes I just won't feel like reading a book, even when it's about to be published. Besides, publishers have so many bloggers that their book will get hyped even if I, as one person, failed to publish my review on time. I sometimes do just take a few days away from reading and blogging and just watch TV and play games. There's nothing wrong with it.

    I know it's been said before, the the point is to have fun and spread the love of reading. Hopefully that takes the pressure off a little!!

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    1. I LOVE when people post reviews of 'older' books - I'm pretty aware of the upcoming new releases, but older books tend to fall under the radar - I've discovered some awesome books that way.

      I'm sure I'm not the make or break point of a marketing campaign, and I do my best, which is pretty much all anyone can ask.

      I've started taking more days where I don't do any reading - and then I'm so ready to read again that I'm far more productive than if I force myself - it's all about balance!

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  14. Your blog is one of my favorites. I enjoy your reviews. But I can totally understand how much pressure it can be.

    If it helps, I'm cheering you on.

    Rhiannon

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    1. Thanks Rhiannon, much appreciated :-D

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  15. Great post. I've been feeling the same way. Like you almost put life on hold for blogging once you "get right into it" or you feel like you've abandoned it if you miss too many days. I've been picking away at my own pace lately, I've read a lot but am behind on reviews.

    This weekend I finally sat down and wrote three that I spaced out enough to make me feel like I have something on my blog.

    I love that you reference fashion blogs in this post and that seeing how they function has helped you write this post.

    I hope you find a new groove in this blogging world. Everyone should blog at their own pace and not feel too much pressure. :)

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    1. It's hard to find the right balance - I could spend hours a day blogging or not touch it for two or three days in a row, all depends on my level of motivation.

      I'm in awe of fashion blogs, they work super hard but don't kill themselves over it. It's fun meeting other kinds of bloggers!

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  16. I used to feel the pressure and competition too - but then I did some real hard thinking about why I blog. I'm not in it to become world's best or popular blogger. I love all my loyal followers, and love talking about books, but that's it. So when I want to take a break, I take a break. I don't need to apologize for that to anyone.

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    1. We take breaks from school and work, so we should be able to take breaks from blogging, reading, Twitter, whatever. Having time away from something can only be a good thing when it makes you eager to get back in the swing! I love bloggers who do their own thing, hurrah for uniqueness!

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  17. THANK YOU for posting this! And yes, I've had blogging slumps-- slumps I've never had when I used to blog regularly in the past, and I keep wondering what's different from then and now. And this is it. I yearned to blog back then, rather than force myself because I have to.

    Awesome post that set me at ease.

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  18. AMEN! You've pretty much just taken the thoughts right out of my head. Honestly, I'm getting to the point where blogging and reading aren't fun anymore. I think it's because I'm a total perfectionist and I set these super high standards for myself that simply can't be beat by comparing myself to more established/successful bloggers. Now I've managed to cull my ARC requests but I feel INCREDIBLY guilty about my lack of posting and reading and commenting. I feel like I'm being a bad friend and I'm afraid that if/when I come back, none of my buddies will be there. I suppose these are fears we all encounter during a blogging slump though.

    Unfortunately, work and life has a tendency to get in the way (more often than not these days) and I don't want to pull a 12 hr day at work and then have to force myself to read and blog because then my posts won't be the best they can be. I always told myself I'd do this for the fun of it and when it stops being fun, I need to take a break. You're absolutely right in that we should have NOTHING to apologise for if/when we take a step back. And you pose an interesting question --- why is it that we feel so guilty for enjoying life outside of blogging? I think I'm going to take a page from your book and just mellow out for awhile. At the end of the day, we all have to do what's right for ourselves.

    And if you're ever looking for some new fashion/lifestyle blog recommendations (I was a lifestyle blogger before I was a book blogger), I'd be happy to throw out some suggestions! :)

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    1. The perfectionist thing is really hard to overcome - I feel terrible about not commenting enough, or that my comments are lame....but I can only say what I think!

      You always have quality posts - it's obvious how much work goes into them, so never feel guilty about not posting every day!

      Some days when I come home from work I just want to lay on my sofa and watch terrible television - my brain is just too tired to do anything else.

      We definitely shouldn't feel guilty for having a life outside of blogging. When it starts to pay me as much as my real job, I'll be all over it, but still, I have to get away from my laptop sometimes.

      I'm having so much fun exploring different kinds of bloggers - it's so addictive!

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  19. Personally, I don't think posting daily is needed and once I had accepted that I felt a lot happier with my blog on a whole. Every now and then I may end up with a week when there ends up being a post a day but thats purely by how things fell, I also allowed myself to take part in memes every other week so they weren't cluttering up - one week I do Wishlist Wednesday the next I do my book haul and thats it, it leaves a Wednesday and Sunday free each week where if needed I can post a review or whatever :D I think what we all need to remember at times is to fit our blog to our lives and not what others can manage or take on.

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    1. You know what? I think very very few people would even notice that we don't post every single day. And if they want to judge me for that, judge away my friend!

      I have at least one scheduled break day a week now (often two) and it's so less stressful - my schedule now works for me rather than the other way around!

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  20. I actually have no idea if other bloggers set more or less pressure on themselves, but I just have to agree with everyone above and say that numbers don't matter! Do what you want to do and if you don't get that arc you've been wanting, then so what? Life will go on :) The only other bloggers I follow are running bloggers...I don't know about their competitiveness but sometimes I envy them, because there's so much more to running than there is to reading. They post their everyday lifes and routines, recipes, things they saw on their runs, cross workouts etc etc.
    Sometimes it's variety that I miss with blogging...

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  21. Hmm, I've really never given thought to other sorts of blogging. I would assume there's competition for followers there as well, but the ARCs seem like they could be a gamechanger.

    I would really love to see input from publishers on how they feel about DNFs. If you've accepted the book for review, would they prefer you to finish it out or just DNF and do a giveaway?

    I've not really had a blogging slump, though I almost never want to write the review when I finish the book. I just do it and move on. BUT I know that I'm sort of weird about blogging. Like, reading things for review and things I've chosen are totally different for me. When I'm choosing on my own, I have a lot of reading slumps and DNF books left and right because I'm so moody. Reading things for review, I just keep plowing ahead.

    What I have been struggling with is finding a balance between reading and other things. I'm trying really hard not to force myself to read when I don't want to. Sometimes I need a break and that's fine. I might not read as many books as some people, but I read plenty and it's for fun, so I need to not force myself when I'm not feeling it.

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