Sunday, September 20, 2009

Catching My Breath

On Weekly Geeks, Unfinished Person asked what keeps us blogging, and whether we get burnt out by events like Book Blogger Appreciation Week.

Having returned from vacation Sunday night, with my blog reader overflowing and my family ready to settle into our fall routine, I was probably not in the best mindset to appreciate book blogging. To be bluntly honest, after spending nearly three weeks mostly away from blogging, as we launched into BBAW I found myself questioning whether the benefits of frequent blogging outweighed the cost.

The benefits:
Participating in a vibrant online community of bloggers
Participating in a real-life community of readers and writers
Keeping track of my reading
Feeling proud when something I write makes has an impact on others
Helping authors get the word out about their books
Being more "in the know" about new books and authors
Discovering wonderful books I wouldn't have known about
Being a better advocate for reading (quicker to recommend books to friends, etc.)
And let's not forget: fun

The costs:
Time with my family
Time and energy to write non-book-blog stuff (fiction and my other blog)
Time and energy for other creativity

Okay, I came up with far more benefits than costs, so I guess that answers the question of why I keep blogging. But, could I get those same benefits with fewer costs? What would happen if I didn't review every book I read? Or, wrote fewer full reviews and more mini-reviews? What if I dropped the Twitter time-suck? What if I stopped accepting review copies and participating in book tours altogether? Would my readership go down? Do I care if my readership goes down? Why?

Those are the questions I've been wrestling with this week while avoiding writing reviews and the posts I've promised other people, avoiding even catching up on blog-reading. But I don't feel burnt out, I just feel like I'm living my life and it's not focused on the blogiverse at the moment.

Do you go through phases with your blogging or other hobbies? Ever given up a hobby entirely because the benefits didn't outweigh the costs?


  1. Gosh, lots of great questions there. Not ones that I have the answers to, but great questions!

    Twitter..I have said it before, but I totally do not understand how people have time for it. Something must be suffering.

    ARCs...I am on the fence on that one. Sometimes I would just like to be reading something I want to read rather than a book I feel obligated to read. On the other hand, I have read a number of great books that way that I would never have read on my own.

    Blogging, as with all things, has to be a balance.

  2. That's what I say. Balancing is important.

    I blog yet I manage to read 10-12 books a month.

    Weekly Geeks: Why/What makes us go on?

  3. I don't think your readership would go down if you started writing more mini-reviews and/or stopped accepting review copies. Do what works for you!

  4. When something I'm supposed to be doing for fun begins to feel like an obligation or is too intrusive on the rest of my life, that's when I drop whatever it is . . . or at least find a way to keep it manageable, if that's possible.

    What is "balance" today might not be a month from now, so I find myself re-evaluating fairly often the things I want to do and adjusting as needed to feel balanced again. Sounds like that's about where you're at right now :).

  5. My reading definitely suffered during BBAW. I love my blog because I just don't get that interaction about books with people in IRL. But I do find myself on the computer more than I would like.

    And I can't even remember the last WG post I actually responded to.

  6. I used to paint a lot, and veered between spending my free time in art, or reading. Never got much feedback on the art, though. Then discovered the book blogs- so much more rewarding, as there's so many other book bloggers who love to talk about books! I hardly ever paint now, but recently moved to a house with a large garden. So now gardening vies books for my free time...

  7. Yipeee! You voiced my toughts exactly... I hae these phases... my goodness... and then there are these phases when I just DON"T BLOG... just to ee what happens :) :)

    Now, unlike u, i dnt review ARC's... i m not on a deadline here... but i am also tormented by the fact that my readership will go down if i dnt post or read other blogs totally regularly...

    starting of sept, 1 whole week i didn't post... i felt good... i didn't read.. i just whiled away my time doing things i like... relaxing ;)

    well i dnt know how that "perfect" balance is created... and i dnt tweet... yeecks... it is so draining for me :)

    i just go in and out of these phases... and i m perfectly ok with that ....

    ohh my dear... i so understand you :) :) :)

  8. I totally relate to what you're saying. I definitely go through phases with my blogging. Honestly, some weeks I'd just rather be with people or just ignoring the computer in favor of the great book I'm reading or just have a lot of other responsibilities that keep me from the computer. I think I'm learning that if I just roll with them (instead of feeling guilty) and do what I'm feeling like doing, I do ultimately *want* to come back and blog and enjoy it more for having spent a little time elsewhere (not being a prisoner to my blog!). At the end of the day, it's not about my stats or the review copies I should be reading, or the posts I'm making or not making, it's whether I'm enjoying myself pursuing a hobby that should, in its very nature, actually be enjoyable. ;-)

  9. These are definitely thoughts I've been having as well, especially since my husband has lately been resenting all the time I spend on reading and then writing my blog - though I know it's more the obligations he resents - when I "have" to post because I've made a promise to a blog tour (for example). I'm struggling to find a balance now. I hope you find yours.

  10. I'm definitely going through a phase. I was blogging a lot in the summer because I didn't feel like puttering with my other hobbies, but once fall hits for real, I plan to divert my time and attention to some long-neglected other hobbies and the holidays.

  11. Oh, but the first step might be an Analytics intervention. I've been tapping that "traffic sources" button like a lab rat looking for crack all summer because it's been fun watching the numbers of readers increase.

    So I have to get back to thinking about my blog as something I do for myself, and not stress about audience. Then I can make the break and pursue other hobbies.

  12. So nice to feel understood! :-)

  13. I've noticed several bloggers doing mini reviews. I kind of like that, as after all if it's a great book, I don't want to know all the details.

    I use to work part time, and for the last 5 months have not been working. I told my husband, "I don't know how I had time to work"; i'm so busy~~~admittedly the computer, blogging and reading fill my days. (I do stop to shop, clean and prepare meals, so what's the problem...right??)

    Good luck finding that happy balance.

  14. It sounds like a lot of bloggers out there struggle finding the right balance. I've been considering if Twitter is worth all the time it consumes. I'm not sure that I'm getting much out of it. Something to consider.

    Good luck to you in answering all those questions!

  15. Great post, Ali. I am just today trying to catch up a bit on posts I've missed...and since you came over and commented on my post about this subject, you know how I am struggling too! I tried Twitter...and I have more or less given it up. It moves too fast, there is so much chatter, and I quickly felt overwhelmed trying to keep up. I don't miss it. Finding the balance can be really hard sometimes.

  16. I stopped crafting as uch this year, just because I was feeling I didn't have enough time or energy to give to it to make good things. Thats part of why I started my book log this year, because I missed having hobbies, but needed to be doing something that was more central to my life, less about making a big space where I could do something (reading is central so talking about books seemed the obvious way). Probably the best way is to cut out the Twitter and facebook etc etc suck and concentrate on what you want to be focused on instead of what the world say you should be interested in.