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Five Ways to Avoid Blogging Burnout

January 1, 2013

IMG_1073Last year I decided to subscribe to a new-ish blogger who was addressing workplace management issues. I generally don’t subscribe to more than a handful of blogs since I tend to get overwhelmed by the information overload, but I must have been in an expansive mood that day.

What I didn’t know was that this blogger, an anonymous middle-manager in some nameless corporation, was determined to post a new 500-word post every single day.

I suppose he had gotten this hyped-up advice from some blogging expert and naively figured this would be his ticket to success – a way to edge out a name for himself, to grow his audience, to showcase his brilliant writing, followed, of course, by book deals, sponsorships, and paid public speaking events, all of which would somehow culminate in the reclamation of his damaged self-worth so that at long last the vast, empty abyss in the center of his soul would be filled.

Typical early-stage blogging delusions.

Predictably, after a few weeks, the quality of his content progressively deteriorated to meaningless blather, words written for the sake of words. I eventually stopped reading it altogether and began the countdown to his blog’s demise. Really, how long could he possibly keep this up?

After a few months I noticed those email alerts that I ignored for so long had stopped appearing in my inbox. I wondered with a snarly grin what had become of this wayward blogger, and my morose curiosity got the best of me.

After 350 daily posts, I have stopped blogging,” he wrote with a dull thud in his final blog post. “I have nothing left in me, and I can’t explain it, but I don’t care anymore about writing.”

He had imploded under the weight of his own expectations.

Blogger burnout.

Well, I could have told you this would happen. The combination of unrealistically high expectations along with the self-imposed grind of daily word counts pushed this tender blogging soul over the edge.

After my own four years of blogging I can tell you first-hand, the burnout factor is real.  There are plenty of other reasons for it, aside from over-zealous posting. Boredom, for instance. Or disappointment. Or the dawning realization that it’s a colossal waste of time. Whatever the reason, for all you bloggers on the verge, here are some tips on how to avoid blogging burnout:

1. Don’t overdo it. It’s one thing to maintain a strict discipline of writing, but unless you’re a full-time bestselling author, it’s also a sure way to start to hate writing — especially if you have the demands of another job and family caretaking also under your purview. I barely post something once a week, and when I don’t feel like writing, or I don’t have the time to do something quality, then I’ll secretly re-post something from years gone by. Nobody remembers.

2. Tone down the expectations. Despite your delusions, no one really cares that much about your blog, at least not the way you imagine they do. People read and follow each other’s blogs mostly so they can get someone to read and follow their blogs, and maybe once in a while for some random inspiration and entertainment. Sure, you’ve made some friends while you were at it, and you are certainly interesting in your own way, but let me spare you any misunderstanding: blogging will NOT make you famous. Blogging is something you do for fun, to make friends and share ideas with like-minded people — not to accumulate a massive following. If you are looking to build an empire, you are only going to end up disappointed.

3. Write only for fun. Blogging is supposed to be fun, right? Right? It’s like a little writers group you joined with a small circle of friends sitting around the chairs in a library classroom. There’s a certain joy to expressing your thoughts in writing and then tossing your words out for your friends to read. Don’t ruin it by setting targets for how many readers or followers or publicity you think you should get in order to make it worthwhile. I always roll my eyes when I hear a blogger start making references to “My Readers,” as if there a throng of people are hanging on the edge of every word they write. If you have a dozen people regularly reading each of your posts, it should be enough.

4. Stop the ulterior motives in reading other people’s blogs. For the longest time I only read and commented on other blogs in order to get them to visit and comment on my blog. Ridiculous, isn’t it? Although I did make some good friends that way. But after a while it’s impossible to keep up the pretense, let alone the time commitment. Stop the madness, and only read or comment on blogs because you feel like it, or you truly want to —  not to sustain a blogging pyramid scheme.

5. Quit Blogging. The surest way to overcome blogging burnout is to stop doing it. Trust me, the world won’t stop spinning on its axis, and you will be no less valuable as a person or a writer. Life is bigger than that. Perhaps you’ll find something more interesting and important to do with your time.

Or, you might come raging back with a brand new, fresh attitude, and find that you are finally blogging for all the right reasons.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura McGrew permalink
    January 1, 2013 11:04 am

    Reminds me of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity”. I was reading a blog yesterday of a twenty-something whose faith has never been truly tested yet, and she already had all the answers for all of us! Two thoughts I had (and I am not a blogger) 1) it is so narcissistic to think people really care to hear your very green blatherings, and 2) you will one day look back and feel so ridiculously shallow. We all do. Let’s talk then! You might be really interesting by that time.

  2. January 1, 2013 11:08 am

    For two years, I have been juggling a very ambitious seminary program which includes original languages. This has affected my blogging. Often at the end of the day or the week, there is nothing left. I have not forgotten my friends. I enjoy reading their thoughts when I get a chance. But I cannot be present in the same way I was before seminary. I decided not to close The Moonboat Cafe, although I have thought about it more than once. I guess I just did not have peace in my soul with closing down the conversation.

    It’s like this. Although I live in a faraway country now, I relish an occasional letter or card (both sending and receiving)…And now I think this is going to be my next blog post. Look for a link back to you soon on The Moonboat.

    May your 2013 be glorious.

  3. January 1, 2013 11:41 am

    For me, I view blogging as a form of ministry – even though that’s probably quite naive to think that I’m really making a difference. But it does help me pedal through the times of burnout. And then occasionally you get an Email from someone saying that your post was quite helpful, and that makes your day.

  4. sawyerspeaks permalink
    January 1, 2013 11:49 am

    I find that in blogs, as in government forms, classified ads, résumés, annual reports and this-way-to-the-bar mitzvah hotel signage, the first sniff of confused syntax, creative spelling or unsanctioned grammar sends me on my way. No doubt much to the delight of those who stick around.

    But then, here is what Macbeth wrote about my own blog: “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

  5. January 1, 2013 12:15 pm

    I’m definitely not a blogger….I can’t even get people to comment on my FACEBOOK replies! That said, I DO enjoy the blogs of others – especially this one. It always adds a new perspective to my day or way of seeing or thinking about something in my life. For that, I am thankful.

  6. January 1, 2013 12:19 pm

    I’m DEFINITELY not a blogger. I can’t even get people to respond to my FACEBOOK statuses!! That said, I do enjoy the blogs of others, especially Shrinking the Camel. It sometimes adds a new perspective to my day or the way I think or feel about something. Other time, I simply enjoy the humor because I can relate SO well….

  7. January 1, 2013 12:24 pm

    Good thoughts, my friend :). I’m stopping in wish you the sweetest of New Years…hoping to see you in 2013!

  8. January 1, 2013 1:09 pm

    1. Sometimes… someone does notice your re-posts. hehehe.

    2. Fact: No one does anything for all the right reasons.

    3. Happy New Year 🙂

  9. January 1, 2013 1:32 pm

    I agree that writing motivated by illusions of “book deals, sponsorships, and paid public speaking events, which somehow culminate in the reclamation of damaged self-worth” will likely to lead to burn out. Like so many things in life writing is an effort to create something of intrinsic value in a market dominated by manipulation of people’s emotions and their ambitions. I’ve read enough of your posts to know that you write for the same reasons you do business. Creative, productive effort is satisfying for its own sake. The great thing about blogging is that it makes interesting people accessible, and browsing what they write overwhelms the blockheads writing for money who formerly monopolized publishing.

  10. January 1, 2013 3:33 pm

    Wait. You mean the world didn’t stop spinning while I was on my little December blogging break? How is that even possible.

    Just stopping by for a little fun. Happy New Year!

  11. January 1, 2013 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the reminders as I continue on year 2.
    I may even reblog this since I enjoyed it so much and I am struggling for content… does that count? 🙂 You once again helped us keep it in perspective. Happy New Year.

  12. January 2, 2013 10:45 am

    I can’t keep up with bloggers who do it daily and realistically wonder how they can. I wait until inspired and then do it for fun as you’ve said but I likely read too many and that is an area where I can improve. Happy New Year Jim Bradley!

  13. January 2, 2013 11:10 am

    You’re a sage, Brad. Love the intro to this post because it paints a clear picture. Thanks for the permission and for your usual honesty.

  14. January 2, 2013 12:51 pm

    dear Mr. Wood

    I am still thinking a bit about the reasons i read other people’s posts.

    It differs for each blog. Depending on the content and the person, i relate differently, and read for different reasons.

    For instance; i read this blog to keep up our thin thread of relationship so that i can encourage you to write poetry more often, which is really what i want to read.

    sincerely,
    poetry boss

  15. January 2, 2013 3:33 pm

    Wisdom here. I only write what I love, when I want or feel led. I wish I could harness and direct my writing – once I found blogging, it was an immediate instant gratification high every time I hit publish! Still learning but for me it’s all one unexpected adventure…when it’s not, I will depart. Happy New Year.!Stopped by when Deidre shared you.

  16. spaghettipie permalink
    January 2, 2013 3:45 pm

    You know, I am so with you on this.

    You are awesome. Jim-tacular, in fact.

    • January 3, 2013 10:04 pm

      Tagging with that Spaghetti chic to say, yes and amen! (and I shared this link on THC FB wall just now.)

  17. January 3, 2013 12:03 pm

    JB — really solid advice here and my own recent experience verifies it. Between my day job and family and moving to another house over the holidays, something had to give — and it turned out to be blogging. My posting dropped from weekly to every 10 days or maybe worse, and I decided to stop reading all blogs for a few months. This post is the first one I’ve read since then, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear. Think I used the phrase “my readers” the other day and felt some cosmic eye-rolling somewhere. Must have been you.

  18. January 8, 2013 3:56 pm

    Jim, I’m thinking of our editor chat by the Frio and smiling as I read this. I love your advice to new bloggers; it’s right-on. I have found that since giving myself permission to not blog as frequently, I have more ideas and more excitement, and I enjoy it more. Sometimes, my inspiration is for other kinds of writing, and sometimes my blog is the right place for those particular words at that time. Keep up the good work, friend!

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