My first Weekly Geeks post! I couldn't resist this week's topic: bloggerly burnout/why we blog.
This past week wrapped up Book Blogger Appreciation Week, in which I'm sure many of you participated. In two weeks will be Banned Books Week, in which I'm sure some of you also will participate. I'm also sure that many of you participated, and will participate, with at least a post per day, if not more, on your respective blogs.
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? Also why are you a book blogger? From what I've seen and experienced, it's certainly not the fame or the glory that you get. So what is it? Why? Why? Why?
I didn't experience any sense of burnout from BBAW. But then, I wasn't involved in organizing or running the event; I simply wrote a couple of posts, visited new-to-me blogs listed on various Mr. Linkys or touted by other bloggers as their favorites. I entered a few giveaways although I've apparently won nothing but a slot on some publicist's mass mailing list. I didn't take the awards portion of the week seriously enough to get upset when my choices didn't win; I came to grips a long time ago that my tastes are outside the mainstream. Plus I had a day's break from all computer activity due to working at the polls last Tuesday and by focusing on book blogs instead of obsessively checking in with all the political sites the way I ordinarily do the rest of the time, last week probably lowered my blood pressure thereby improving my health. So yay Book Bloggers Appreciation Week! I appreciate you greatly.
But as for burnout in and of itself, I admit that I've been feeling a low-grade version for longer than many have been blogging and I seriously thought about throwing in the towel earlier this year.
Next month Pages Turned will turn five; I had a mostly-reading journal at LiveJournal for more than a year prior to that. My daughter was responsible for setting up the LiveJournal; I could never figure out how to post images there and Pages Turned was created originally as a vehicle that would allow me to post some of the vacation pictures we'd taken the previous summer, although I knew from the outset that I'd use the blog as a reading journal and a commonplace book. I admired the LitBloggers who posted reviews and analysis of professional quality, but I wasn't assembling clips and contacts for future employment; in fact, I regarded my own blogging as not writing. Writing was dialogue and character development and plot; blogging was goofing off with other people who loved and recommended books. Book bloggers in general seemed an accommodating bunch--links, quotations, full or capsule reviews, bookish chitchat--and the bloggers I connected with certainly were what they seemed. And we were all united against the professional reviewers who thought us as a bunch of pooters with 18 cats.
But then the publishers and publicists and authors began to take book blogging seriously, and while that is a change for the good, the tenor of the community changed in the process. I now felt somehow obligated to abide by the as yet unspoken but somehow understood Neighborhood Covenants even though these standards hadn't been in existence when I'd put my key in the lock and my books on the shelves. I would postpone writing about books until I had the time to do a full review instead of a quick mention--and lose any desire to write about the book at all. I would hold back on linking to interesting articles--because isn't microblogging the province of Twitter now? Why bother routinely nudged aside oh, this would be cool to post.
Then in the spring, after a slew of articles and discussions by publishing insiders on how to write a proper review, how to properly request review copies, a book blogger with quite a lot of prestige twittered that bloggers who kept reading journals were pretending to be what they were not, that there ought to be a way for people--presumably those in charge of distributing the freebies--to differentiate between those deserving of ARCs and those who aren't. And, because real life was particularly real and raw at that point, instead of snorting through my nose and thinking Isn't that rich coming from someone who maintains she isn't in it for the free books, and keeping that person's opinion in the proper perspective, I dwelled on it, burning out even more thinking, Well, if this is the direction book blogging's going in, ferreting out the commie slackers among us marching to our own drummers, I don't want to be a part of it anymore. You superbloggers can take your full-fledged reviews and your networking with the stars and you can--
Except there are enough bloggers who don't get caught up in these positioning games at all, or who bow out of them when they realize that's all they are instead of getting out of blogging altogether. There's no reason to read the review copy before you tackle Proust if Proust is what you're in the mood for; it can wait on the shelves with the rest of your books. There's no reason to think no one will be interested in reading a book you love unless you spend hours on a review; I'm more often intrigued by a mere mention of a book by someone whose readerly sensibilities I value or know are aligned with my own; when I was an Amazon associate I saw how I sometimes sold obscure books by merely listing them in the sidebar in my year's reading and not writing one word about them.
It is truly a matter of keeping a proper perspective, of following one's own instincts and inclinations, of not turning reading or blogging into a competitive sport, that can put the joy back into an activity you've burnt out on.
And it certainly helps if this is your theme song, to listen to it on a regular basis!