Last 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.
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.