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4 Reasons You Should Stop Blogging (Or At Least Slow Down)

34

July 31, 2016 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

Peter Beard. "I'll Write Whenever I Can." Self-portrait in mouth of crocodile, Kubi Fara. (1965). Check the "lot notes" for an interesting story about this picture.

Peter Beard. “I’ll Write Whenever I Can.” Self-portrait in mouth of crocodile, Kubi Fara. (1965). Check the “lot notes” for an interesting story about this picture.

Writing has always been my way of making meaning out of experience.

There are many advantages to the practice. It makes you pay attention. It clarifies your thought processes. It allows you to reflect on your emotions; if you are Wordsworth, you get to do so in tranquility, and the results will be poetic.

But there are times, as I have mentioned before, when you can write too much. When you may have to slow down, or stop altogether. Even for a blogger. There are actually good reasons for doing so, reasons that have nothing to do with procrastinating, being undisciplined, or not having enough motivation. Here are four.

1. You are getting your house in order.

In my case this is both literal and metaphorical. I moved in April. After four years sharing the homes of two generous friends, I once more have my own. Though I have had periods of loneliness, it is a loneliness I need to feel. There is a strong feeling of retreat here, of hermitage.

OK, not this much of a hermitage. But I'm not St. Sava, either.

OK, not this much of a hermitage. But I’m not St. Sava, either.

I have a lot of inner work to do. But there is also something about getting this house in order that reflects that inner work. If there is clutter, or I am too tired at the end of the day to straighten up, I cannot blame a toddler or a spouse for the mess. All is me.

Not that the chaos of other people doesn’t come with its own joy. But my current circumstances have a blessed elegance to them. Every time I pare down my possessions, I am saying something about what I deem essential to my life. Every time I add something, this is true as well. Doing so thoughtfully takes time.

If you need to take time to get your house in order, take it. This, too, is creative work. In the long run your writing – and your blog – will benefit.

2. You have ignored essential aspects of self-care.

I spend a lot of time staring off into space these days. It gives me a ridiculous amount of pleasure to do so on my tiny balcony that faces downtown, particularly if I can drink a decent Irish whiskey while ruminating – alone, or in the company of a friend. Often I contemplate the light display on the top four floors of the Target building, which changes every week or so.

I can lose myself in that fish tank. [Granted, for you to get anything like the same effect, you have to turn the sound off.] I don’t even have to clean it. Instead, it cleans me. Cleans my mind.

With a new place – and a milestone birthday – comes a desire to form some new habits and routines, and to recommit to a few older ones. To get enough sleep. To prepare and eat healthful meals. To meditate. To take more walks.

The older I get, the more I find I need physical activity to offset the sedentary nature of my job. I am at a desk all day. I cannot spend all night there as well. Burning the candle at both ends is a sport for the young. And I like walks. I probably need a little gentle yoga too.

I said gentle. I'm no Roma Blair.

I said gentle, Roma.

If reeconnecting with your body has become important, pay attention. Writing is an embodied act. Respect the instrument. Your body of work – including your blog – will thank you.

3. You have to earn a living.

There is some irony to the fact that my retreat, my hermitage, is on a major one way thoroughfare out of downtown. Hennepin County Medical Center is eight blocks north. Ambulances with their sirens wailing are frequent interruptions in the midst of the quieter rumble of traffic three stories down, punctuated by the occasional bad muffler or hotshot drag race.

Still, in some very real way this reflects how I live my life, each work day, as a grant writer in a large social services organization. There is always some siren wailing. Learning to be calm before, after, and during these emergencies is a needed discipline for me. Giving my best is important too.

I have spoken before about the difficulty of doing my own writing after a full day of writing for someone else. It is particularly difficult now. The day job has been extraordinarily challenging. It is sometimes hard to extricate myself from that work.

American film actress Veronica Lake, illustrates what can happen to women war workers who wear their hair long while working at their benches, November 9, 1943. AP photo courtesy The Atlantic.

American film actress Veronica Lake illustrates what can happen to women war workers who wear their hair long while working at their benches, November 9, 1943. AP photo courtesy The Atlantic.

If you, too, have a day job, and that work drains you all the time, you may want to find a different line of work. But if the situation is a temporary necessity, don’t beat yourself up. Bring your creativity to the marketplace, and when you come home, relax and renew yourself. Spend time with the people you love. The blog will be there when you get back.

4.You are writing on the wrong platform.

Courtesy Libreshot.

Courtesy Libreshot.

Bloggin has been my platform of choice – I have no other writing I am promoting – but I can’t really follow the rules of bloggery right now –weekly publication, reliably giving people something they can use in their daily lives, clickbate list posts with numbers in the titles. (Well, okay. I managed this week.) I can’t be bothered caring about maintaining page views and a consistent social media presence. The stakes are higher now.

There have been some big changes recently in my parents’ lives. I hinted at this in my last post. Things are relatively stable now, but the last three months – coincident with both my move and my milestone birthday – have been very rough. There are things I need to write about – for exactly the reasons I outlined in my first paragraph. To pay attention. To clarify. To reflect.

Some of my deepest online connections have come from people who have responded to posts about my mother’s Alzheimer’s, and my father’s caregiving. So I know the work is meaningful to others as well. But this kind of writing can’t really be churned out like blog posts are supposed to be churned out. I need to tell this story. If you can stick with me, you will be reading it. But it must be written at its own pace.

Slowing down to tackle a difficult piece of writing does not mean you have lost interest in blogging. It may instead mean you have regained a little perspective.

Or so says my current, erratically blogging self.

What say you?

 

34 thoughts on “4 Reasons You Should Stop Blogging (Or At Least Slow Down)

  1. Stacy Moore says:

    I believe firmly in slow writing. It tends to be about things that matter and have the power to transform both writer and reader. Taking time matters. Warm thoughts as you care for your parents.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Diana says:

    I very much enjoyed this post — and the accompanying visuals. That giant “fish tank” is lovely! I was really tempted to turn off that annoying music, but didn’t bother. If/when I go back to view it again I will silence that. The blowfish (?), in particular, was lovely.

    Any blogging on my end is still in planning stages. So I can’t take a sabbatical from that yet — but I do know others who take regular breaks.

    Getting my house in order has been compromised by my need to also be dealing with Mom’s affairs, and her multiple decades of collecting much-loved items (that filled a 4-bedroom condo) while at the same time taking multiple hours every week to reassure and care for her (or at least attempting to).

    And I look forward to your report on the changes in your parents’ lives. My heart, and my prayers, are with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Diana. The disposal of things is a poser. My father has begun to worry that no one will want the things that meant so much to him – all the old furniture from the farm, for example. And many of those things mean a great deal to me. But do I have a farm house – or even a house? No I do not. Plus I am 1061 miles away. We will figure it all out, of course. But there is a sad tenderness that surrounds the very fact that he is beginning to make sure statements, when for years all we would ever hear is “you’re going to have to carry me out of this house in a box.” A house they built themselves. A house I remember when it was only a frame of 2 x 4s.

      Like

  3. Janika Banks says:

    Super ditto!!! This was perfectly said.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. DeeScribes says:

    Taking time for self-care and healing is important. When I broke my leg earlier this year, my blogging schedule went by the wayside. Regaining independence, returning home from rehabilitation, coming to grips with my new “normal,” hiring new home care staff – all became priority over writing. I consider it a success if I manage to churn out 4 posts per month. Forget about the book I was hoping to write this year.

    Do what you need to do for you. I guarantee the audience will wait for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Judi Lynn says:

    It takes energy–emotional and mental, as well as physical–to write. I understand what DeeScribes is saying. I broke my leg in the middle of June, and sometimes, the energy–one or the other–isn’t there. It’s like being a giver. You have to care for yourself so that you have something to give, or else you burn out. That said, loved to read a new post from you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. srha1987 says:

    For me, weekly blogging has always been a challenge because of a hectic and demanding job. To preserve my own enjoyment of writing and also to go easy on myself, I have determined to write about what I wish to write about. If others follow, then they are my tribe, but if not, the act of writing itself has been both therapeutic and cathartic for me, somehow restoring my perspective.

    I recently left the job that took all of my creativity and all of my writing energy, and I am learning once again how to connect with my inner muse and also cleaning up my mental and physical space. I wish you much success in both the blogging and in making your space your own. I hope you keep writing your blog. I really enjoy reading. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. jan says:

    I think bloggers who only post when they have something to say are far more interesting/entertaining than those post merely to post. I don’t generally write about my mother and her situation because she actually reads my blog. She’s unbelievably fragile right now but her mind is sharp..

    Liked by 4 people

  8. wccunningham says:

    My wife has often made comments that my time would be better spent on my WIP rather than blogging. Finding that right balance has been challenging.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Agreed. On many levels. Churning out posts, writing just to write, checking blog stats and so forth. Never been for me. Also, I have to start really focusing on self-care.

    I love this: “Slowing down…may instead mean you have regained a little perspective.” So much yes. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • At first I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to “do” blogging “right.” It was a problem solving exercise. But when things get compulsive and/or prescriptive, the challenge quickly becomes less interesting. Hence the capacity for perspective. So I guess I should be grateful for being able to observe my compulsive tendencies, and let go. Thank you Sarah. I always appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. elainemansfield says:

    I get all of these. Thank you, Paula. I think of you and your parents often because I know these situations don’t get easier. Why do I keep chugging along with weekly blogs? It keeps me writing about new things while I work on a longer (a second book?) piece that’s slowly emerging without much structure except an intuition or a dream that tells me what to write next. My weekly writing class provides a great place to write short surprises. When I wasn’t writing for publishing or for putting it out on a blog, I still wrote to understand myself and life.

    1. I’m slowly clearing out my home where I’ve lived since 1972. It isn’t overflowing, but it’s a big house. A little each day, hoping to get through the first round in a year or so before it’s time to move. 2. I can find many ways to by-pass self-care, but at the moment, I’m on track. Today is a long walk day, tomorrow strength training, the day after a short intense walk, then another long walk. I have a plan. Gardening every day keeps me out of this chair, too. 3. Ah, I don’t have a living to earn and this is a big deal. I thank my husband and my own earlier efforts every day for the retirement account and house with no mortgage. Good luck played a big part, too. Finally, 4. I agree blogging may be the wrong platform as something else emerges. The clamor of voices gets exhausting. Too many good things to read. I wasn’t blogging when I wrote the first drafts of my book. I have to face the distraction factor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, these situations don’t get easier, do they? But they do make it crystal clear that each day is a gift you cannot count on receiving again, and must be appreciated for what it is, and not what you hoped or expected it to be. When you do that, you open to new delights as well as new sorrows. And the old sorrows soften a bit.

      I wish I had a weekly writing group. Not that I know where I would fit it in! But if it were a stimulating and receptive group, I would find time, the same way I find time to eat. Of course such a resource is not going to magically appear, Paula. And the truth is that while I am blogging weekly, the cohort of other bloggers who really pay attention is, in some ways, that group. But I need to look for something that allows me to work with things more as they are emerging.

      I find your posts a real blessing, both in observing how you structure them and the way you story us through your experience and the insight gained. And you create sustained dialogue in your comments, which is a community in and of itself. Thank you for allowing me, in my more sporadic way, to be part of it.

      Like

  11. I say YES. Blogging will always be there, when or if you return. Doing what feels right to you is way more important than offering meaningful content to strangers…unless, of course, that feels meaningful to you. The urge to write doesn’t go away. Maybe it will just lay low for awhile, and you’ll take care of yourself, and your loved ones. Sounds like that’s what you’ve decided, and what you need, and I wish you wellness, Paula.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course the thing I’m also aware of is that a number of people who read this blog – and you are among them, Jann – are no longer strangers. In fact, as I mused with Elaine, most of the people who comment have become a community for me. One I am very grateful to have, when I’m not exhausted by what seems to me the “rules of the games.” I’m glad the folks I have come to care most about care more about me than the rules. Thanks, Jann.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. digbydigz says:

    Two out of four of your reasons apply to me now. Yet I can’t seem to let go of my once-a-week posting!

    I keep saying I’ll only post something when I’ve got something worth posting. And then I’m madly trying to force something to get that Sunday post on my blog.

    You’ve given me much to ponder. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never read anything that you have posted, Diane, which was not worth reading. So you are probably working your plan without realizing it. Having read your recent tips on revising a novel, I suspect that blogging is both a way of dealing with anxiety, perfectionism and overwhelm, and a distraction from it. And I’m not so fully indoctrinated as a Buddhist that I miss the value of distraction; in can, in fact, show us how to break a larger overwhelming task into smaller, more manageable parts. So ponder away – but if publishing as you ponder helps manage those squirrels in the doohickey, then it all be good.

      Like

      • digbydigz says:

        Thanks, Paula. You’re right about the distraction. I feel obligated to blog. Rewriting the novel is more for me, so it gets shoved down the list of priorities. Hmm. Something to think about.

        Like

  13. Akhila says:

    i never thought of a conscious slowing down.. you gave a great insight..glad to meet you

    Liked by 1 person

  14. rosannebane says:

    Great post Paula! Would you be interested in reslanting this as a guest post on my blog (BaneOfYourResistance.com) with a focus on how to tell the difference between legit reasons to take a break from writing and giving in to resistance? If yes, email me at Rosanne @RosanneBane.

    Like

  15. Vic says:

    This article is worth sharing ❤

    Like

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