Monday, June 24, 2013



The Sunday Symposium is a weekly feature in which I'll be discussing various bookish topics and asking for your commentary, as well.  This week, the symposium will be less of a discussion and more or less me telling you guys what's up.  But I want to discuss how out of control this hobby of mine has gotten, and I welcome all feedback on the topic.

Um, yeah, so I was supposed to have this post up yesterday.  Truth be told, I had this topic, or a very similar one, scheduled for last Sunday.  But as it often does, life happened, and family obligations took precedence.  Er, not really obligations, but my family wanted to do something fun, and I wasn't going to let my obligation to the blog thwart our plans.  But this is what always happens, and no matter which activity I pursue -- the one with the family or the one with the blog -- I feel guilty.  When did I have to start choosing between my hobby and my family?

And that's the point of this post.  I've been feeling more and more lately that the blog has become a duty, a responsibility, an obligation.  But it wasn't always that way.  I think it became what it is now when I started participating in weekly memes and blog tours instead of just reading and chatting about books with fellow bibliophiles.  Now, it's a constant stress to put out content daily, to be the best.  And I don't mean that in a competitive sense -- though, I am a terribly competitive person -- but in the sense that I want the blog to be the best that I can make it.  I'm constantly asking myself how I can change and improve it to be the best reflection of me, as a reader and as a person.

attribution
Upon closer inspection, an answer came to me:  stop commercializing.  I stopped with the book blasts when it became obvious that I was one of many bloggers posting the exact same content on the same day and readers were ignoring it because they'd already seen it a zillion times already.  My blog is not an advertising space.  I also haven't signed up for any blog tours past the ones that just wrapped up this month -- as far as I can remember, anyway.  If I get invited to one for a book that I've just been dying to read, I'll consider it, but tour posts take me a lot of time to work up.  Posts in general do, actually, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I won't publish a post until I'm sure every aspect is flawless.

You've probably also noticed that I haven't been around much socially on the interwebz.  I rarely tweet, post on Facebook, or even update my status on Goodreads anymore.  It's not that I don't miss you guys -- 'cause I totally do! -- but work has been hella busy lately, with a big project finally winding down this month, and office hours were usually the time I spent the most perusing the social networking sites.  (I'm bad, I know.)  Even so, other projects are picking up momentum, meaning I still don't have much time for that sort of thing during the day.  I've barely been able to reply to comments or visit my favorite blogs lately.



I thought bringing Mendy on as a co-blogger would prove beneficial, but she actually knows how to balance her life pretty well, and pretty much everything wins out over blogging.  And I'm not judging her for that...actually, she should take that as praise.  (But maybe we should call her what she is...a contributor to the blog, rather than a co-blogger.)  I'm jealous that I can't seem to master that balance and make blogging my hobby once again.  But a big part of it is because I really wanted the publishers to notice my blog -- and therefore me -- so much in the beginning.  And now that I have a modicum of acclaim, and despite that it's nowhere near how well some other bloggers are known by readers and publishers alike, I'm okay with it.  I'm actually pretty ecstatic about it.  I feel like I'm at the point where I can maintain the relationships I've already formed in this industry and still go back to just doing my own thing without risking my integrity.

I mean, that's what it all comes down to, how it all started:  honest, informative reviews that led to great bookish discussions.  But the blog is also my personal outlet, where I can discuss various leisure pursuits, not just reading.  I'd like to start doing more of that.  For instance,  we took our 5yo daughter to see Monsters University over the weekend, and I'd kind of like to share how cute the movie was, even if it's not book-related.  I usually only review movies that are adapted from books, but as I don't really watch all that many movies, anyway, I don't think a few exceptions to the rule will hurt anybody.

Basically, here's the situation:  it's the last summer before my kiddo starts kindergarten, and I want to spend every moment I can with her before sending her off into the world.  Which means some stuff on the blog may fall by the wayside, particularly blog tours and potentially memes.  Much as my Katiebug has decided to only draw book covers when she feels like it, I'm going to post what I want when I want.  No more feeling obligated to post something just because I've done so every week prior to this.  Of course, there will still be plenty of reviews because, well, I can't just stop reading.  ;0)

So, what do you do to keep the balance in your life?  If you're a blogger, have you noticed that blogging has become less like a hobby and more like a chore?  What steps have you taken to ensure that it doesn't become a second job?

Any and all commentary, chastising, and public flogging is welcome, as per usual.  And thanks for stopping by!  Also, be sure to check out Let's Discuss to find more bookish discussions all over the interwebz!

20 comments:

  1. Because my blog is only a couple months old, I don't know if I have much to contribute to the conversation, but I definitely feel pressure to post something everyday (although I've already decided to give myself Sundays off). I've been going through a pretty big book slump lately, and I think it has at least some to do with feeling the pressure to get through the galleys I've requested (which is, of course, nobody's fault but my own). I do want for my blog to be something that I do for fun. I hope it never becomes a burden because I truly do love being a part of this community and owning my own little slice of the internet.

    I've not requested to be a part of any blog tours and it really isn't something I'm interested in. I do usually skip over those posts when I see them, especially when I see several of them on the same day.
    I do like participating in memes--especially TTT, WoW, and StS-- but have decided to limit myself to only those as I don't want every post I do to be a meme. I want people to come to my blog expecting to see thoughtful reviews of books and movies.

    Anyway. Great, thoughtful post, Jen. As always, I enjoy your thoughts and writing!

    -Natalie @Natflix&Books

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like you've got this balance thing figured out already! I think my reading slump often has a lot to do with how many review books I'm working on versus how many owned and unread books are waiting on my shelf. But I've been better lately, and I'm only requesting the books that REALLY interest me. :) Thanks for sharing, Natalie!

      Delete
  2. Ive noticed this too i have changed my own policy and hours. I only stick 3 posts a week on my calendar. Once a month i take a week off, either saving posts or having some guest posts. I also only post during the week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I really should take the weekends off, but as long as I can get those posts scheduled during the week, I'll put them up when I can. As long as I keep the blasts, cover reveals, and tour posts to a minimum -- and request only the books that I really want to review -- I think I'll be okay.

      Delete
  3. Oh my goodness, I completely agree with you on everything! Especially the part about book blasts/tours. I used to jump at the chance to participate in them, but they're such a hassle. I don't like having a set day I need to post something - I kind of just like to do my own thing, so that's why I've stopped participating in them.

    Great post! And you should definitely do a post on Monsters University. (:

    - Tabitha @ Tabitha's Book Blog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! I prefer the freedom to post what I want, when I want. I hate having to hold off posting my review just because that's the post I was assigned for a tour. I want to talk about it NOW! :P Doing your own thing can be its own reward. :) And if I find the time, I'll definitely gush about Monsters U! It was so freaking adorable.

      Delete
  4. I think you're doing a great job! :) And I agree wtih you completely... this (meaning book blogging) should never feel like a chore. I'm like you... I have a full-time job where I work a minimum of 40 hours a week, plus I have a child and family at home. Add into that the long commute each day and the busy weekends and it's a shock I get any time to read at all! Some of the bigger book blogs are able to spend more time during the day reading and reviewing books, which is probably why they are so established with publishers, etc. I need to constantly remind myself of this so I don't get discouraged. Though I would love to be home reading a book a day, that's just not my life... so I can only do my best. I'm okay being a smaller blog... I'm a lone blogger and I post what I can, when I can... and that's all that can be expected of me, right? :P I do tend to take on too many books for review, but I'm learning from that and trying to get more organized. I even have calendars and spreadsheets to help me this year! :D

    Sorry, I digress...

    So yes, keep it fun. Keep it something you enjoy to do. Don't let it become a second job... that's the last thing you want to feel, is stress from a hobby.

    I'll end it with this... Well said, my friend, well said. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, Lisa, this is why I love you. Because out of all my blogging buddies, I think you get me best. We have similar situations and can relate to one another. I guess for the longest time, I did let myself get discouraged when I saw other, bigger blogs doing better, and I was trying my best to get to that point, but you're right. I'm a mommy and wife first, then an employee, then a book blogger. I wish I could switch the order of those last two or just make that middle one go away altogether, but such is life. I'm glad I have you to discuss the ups and downs of it with. :)

      Delete
  5. *hoots and hollers* Yes! I haven't blogged as long, but I continually notice that it's becoming more of a responsibility now that I have online school during the summer and just started a job and would like to actually have a social life with my friends in the town I live in. I find myself letting the reviews go, while that can be good in some aspects to not review everything, I know it's bad for me in the long run because I used to extremely enjoy it! I just completely agree with everything you said and while I hate it that you have a problem, love that I'm not alone in it and also love that you're setting boundaries. Your daughter should feel very proud and loved :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Life outside of the interwebz should definitely take priority. I love that we're not alone in this, too, Sunny. I don't want to assume that all of us are getting burnt out, but it does seem to be headed in that direction if we don't make some changes. There's just so much pressure to post, post, post...is it all internal or does the external pressure really exist? Sometimes I wonder if it's all in my head...

      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for this post! I've had a similar problem recently... or more like it's been dragging on for months. I still love reading and discussing about books. But blogging just takes soooo much time. I review maybe every 3rd or 4th book I read because writing that review takes 1-2 hours for me. I feel like I'm half-assing my whole life by trying to squeeze too much stuff into too little time.
    I also noticed that I'm barely on twitter (which used to be something I LOVED) because catching up on tweets is too time-consuming. Same with tumblr. I've also cut back on book blasts for the same reasons you mentioned - few page views and it feels like I'm just filling up a day when I have no other post. Now I only sign up if the book really sounds great to me.
    When I first started, I never planned to post daily, but I just started feeling like I had to in order to be considered for review copies etc.
    And I 'only' have a part-time job and university and social life to juggle... I can't imagine how you do it with a family and household to manage! Don't feel guilty about missing a posting day. I think we all understand wanting to spend time with your daughter before she's off to kindergarten and school life.
    I also undestand wanting to maintain what you feel *just* got going though. I have no personal relationships with publishers (never requested any print arcs because I don't think I'd get them as an international blogger) but I'd want to keep up that level too. It's just a dilemma either way :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! When I first started blogging, I did maybe 15 posts a month. And that was mostly reviews. Actually, it was pretty much all reviews. Like you, it takes me a good hour and a half to two hours for each post, so I definitely feel bad when that's time spent away from my kiddo. Sometimes I get my blogging done during downtime at work, so that helps, but it's not always feasible.

      It sounds like you have just as much to juggle...university is a job in itself, one that you don't get paid for but will pay off later. I mean, maybe it's a bit more flexible, but still, all those papers and projects and such. I know you've got to be busy with all that. ;) And yet you do pretty well keeping up a presence online. And you take amazing trips! :D

      Delete
  7. I hear you! With a full time job, two children and a dog I struggle with my blog sometimes and also finding time to actually read. When I first started my blog in April I thought I should try and post everyday and I managed that sometimes but I really don't have the time or the original content to do so. I don't often get time at the computer over the weekend so any posts that go up on Saturdays or Sundays are scheduled. I also try to schedule my TTT's a couple of weeks ahead as they can be quite time consuming. Other than that I really try to post 2 reviews a week but at the moment I can't even keep up with that as I've not been reading as quickly as I'd like.

    Sometimes I do find myself wondering what I got myself into when I started my blog...then I remember all the other bloggers out there and how much I enjoy reading other people's reviews and posts like this one that make me realize I'm not alone!

    ReplyDelete
  8. It is really hard to fit everything in and I think the biggest thing I learned was to let things go when I need to. If I'm tired and busy with work, friends or family then I let myself just post once that week and not feel guilty since it is a hobby and so many other things have to come first. I cut back a bit on the blog tours too well also I haven't seen many tours for books I'm dying to read. But even if I am dying to read it I prefer to be able to read on my own schedule then have to have the review up on a certain day because sometimes that ends up with me up all night trying to finish in time.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm going to try to do the same, Jen. May and June were busy on my blog but I need to slow down and go back to only posting 5-6 times a week, TOPS. I think I put pressure on myself, wanting the blog to grow. There's some goals I haven't reached yet and I'm starting to feel at a stalemate. But I'm working on letting that go and just being happy with what I've already accomplished and focusing on reading and fun. Also, I want more time to actually read! Blogging takes away A LOT of the time and I miss it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jen. And I hope you enjoy this summer with Katie before Kindergarten! It's such a big step for her and you!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sorry I missed this!
    Your blog is amazing. But if you cut back a post or two in a week, it would still be amazing.

    I enjoy blogging 90% of the time and I'm sort of in a groove, but as all moms know, just when you think you have everything under control, chaos strikes -- someone gets sick, everyone needs you all at once, etc.

    I had a really bad blogging month back in the spring. I'd requested too many e-ARCs and I felt behind and cranky and obligated to do too many things I didn't want. Since then I'm trying to be a lot more picky about what I take on -- it's hard to say no, but I'm happier in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have slowed way down on blog tours and I don't do cover reveals or blasts anymore for the same reasons. One being the time limit. I want to post what I want to post when I want to post it. I find I run out of time to comment, to read, and to review. I do still sign up for select blog tour. The ones that really interest me but not many at all. I am basically winding them down to and I want to focus more on just reading and reviewing. I feel I am always in a rush to get that one book read before the deadline. I also notice that blasts and cover reveals get ignored because they they are posted everywhere. I know I don't comment or read every post that is the same one on the same day. So it is understandable. I hope you get lots of time with Katie before she set off to school. My youngest is a junior this year and it makes me sad. Although my gradnson is due is August so a new on on the way.... less time for my blog. :) can't wait to start reading to him!

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...