As a group, we spend a lot of time pumping ourselves up about the how great blogging is and what we can (should) do to keep enjoying it. There are a lot of great things about blogging or none of us would be doing it at all. It’s a place to be creative in our own way, time, place, and space.
Except the more successful you are at blogging, the less your time ceases being your own. Blogging takes over. If you are an obsessive writer, photographer, artist — whatever it is you do — the blogging takeover can be so gradual you barely notice it. First you’re writing one post a few times a week. Then you start posting every day. Maybe, because you write and take pictures, you start posting twice — once mostly photographs and another mostly words. You decide to try a few challenges. While you’re at it, you figure if you want people to read your stuff, you ought to read their stuff too. Fair is fair, right?
One day — maybe now, maybe a few years from now — you look back on the past and all you can remember is your blog. It has eaten your time. You hardly noticed from one day to the next, but when the lockdown arrived, your life hardly changed. That was when you finally realized your life is blogging.
It turned out everything I do is blog-related. The pictures I take, the stuff I write. It is all blog fodder.
WordPress is always urging you to follow other people’s writing. Except I have more than 15,000 followers. Clearly, I can’t follow all of them. Even the regular people who I consider friends, if I read just one blog from each of them, there won’t be enough hours in the day to write anything or take any pictures, much less process the pictures or edit the writing. Life becomes a desperate attempt to somehow fit everything into a day and include time to have a conversation, cook dinner, and occasionally do something non-blog related.
Impossible. Simply can’t be done.
I began to resent my blog — and whose fault is that? It isn’t like someone is forcing me to do it. It was my idea. No one is holding a gun to my head. No one was demanding I read every post from every blogger. I felt I should be reading all those blogs, that I owed it to my friends. That I should be writing, that I owed it to my audience, whoever they may be.
I’m a fast writer, but a slow editor. Today it took almost five hours to put together one post combining text and photographs. Writing a first draft, assembling all the photographs, figuring out what additional photos I needed. Processing a few new pictures. Reprocessing photos using better tools. Editing the text again. Changing pictures for better photos. And here I am, writing another post — and who knows how long this will take.
I don’t want to give it up, but I don’t want to continue doing the same thing the same way. I want the good stuff and I want some time to just “be.”
What’s the answer?
Taking a break is not an answer anymore than taking a vacation is the answer to an unsatisfying job. When your vacation is over, you are back where you were before. It’s not whether or not you can continue to blog. Of course you can. It’s about what kind of life you are going allow yourself to have other than blogging — or is blogging going to be your life?
I don’t have an answer. I love writing and photography. I also love reading and my online friends who really, these days, are my only friends. Nonetheless, I want to read, watch a movie, sleep. I’d like to watch a TV show and know what’s happening without asking Garry what I missed.
Sometimes, there are no simple answers. If the question is complicated, the answer will also be complicated. I read what other people say about this and I realize most of them are relatively new to blogging. I’m not new. I wasn’t new when I started this blog and now, ten years and just under 12,000 posts later, what do I want to do? And how shall I do it?