Have you ever been on a phenomenal blogging kick before? One where you’re posting comfortably and consistently at whatever speed works for you and it leaves you feeling fantastically accomplished and productive? Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, when you sit down to concoct the next best piece, you discover that your brain has gone utterly blank? Try as you might, nothing formulates. You’re just staring at a blank document with white noise within your headspace? Well, if you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, today’s post may just be for you!
This year has been both a huge source of motivation for me just as much as it has been a colossal pain in my arse due to the array of unexpected things that have been popping up almost back-to-back. No matter how many ideas keep sprouting into my brain, I can’t seem to cohesively place them into blog posts, at least not in a timely manner. For example, this week, I had a full load planned with two to three posts schedule to go out every single day. Yet, if you take a gander at my posting this week, you’ll notice that I barely got one post out a day; a clear indication of my blogging slump surfacing like a ferocious kraken ready for the kill.
Today, I wanted to sit down and discuss the frustrating beast know as blogging slumps. When I created an outline for all the things that can cause writing ruts—all from personal experience as well as based off conversations I’ve had with blogger mates—I ended up with an outline that was numerous pages long. I figured no one really wants to read ten-thousand words in one sitting (I know I couldn’t do that with my ADHD), so I’m going to be making this a multi-part segment. For the first instalment, I shall be chatting about the two things that have been the most prevalent in my own blogging difficulties, and two things that seem to be quite common around the community in general: stress factors and writing burnouts.
The Strength of Stress
The biggest element that affects us in nearly every aspect of life—from our hobbies, to our social interactions, to how well we preform specific activities or workspaces—is stress, and it can influence all individuals in drastically different and personal ways.
For some folks, it can be a dominating presence that takes over completely, while others may deal with it silently behind closed doors, and lastly there are the people who tend to be in denial about the stress they are facing (oh look, it’s me again). However, it makes one-hundred-percent sense that such invasive components would be rather debilitating.
The variety of stress that tends to be most common are ones pertaining to school and work, mental health, financial, and family life. My friends tend to be my family, and as such would be tossed into that mix for me personally, however, loneliness and companionship are other common factors.
School is a big one because of how time consuming and mentally draining it can be. After spending such intense blocks of time and energy on studying, preparing for exams, and ensuring that you’re learning the material that you pay unbelievable sums of money for (or get into debt for) it can be damned difficult to spare an ounce more to blogging. I know for sure that when I began my school semester in January, my concern for maintaining a blog while trying to achieve straight A’s was a humongous source of stress for me. Work stress can be quite similar in that regard, particularly if there are negative and harmful workplace politics, deadlines and expectations, or complex changes (to name a few) that is going on.
Family and emotional-centred causes of stress can be far trickier because—depending on the person—they can be far more consuming and in subtle and unexpected ways. School and work aspects are more apparent and easier to be aware of as they come up. Yet, when you’re dealing with things that involve them mind, it’s a different case. Unbearable feelings of loneliness and social disruption can leave you feeling lost and empty, which can trigger depressive episodes, or make you lose the will to do much of anything.
These things can take a long time to become obvious. Usually it’s far easier to ignore that you’re struggling in life by distracting yourself. Nevertheless, that only works for so long before it begins to disrupt other parts of your existence.
An excellent example of this for me would be most of 2019. My sense of loneliness has been immensely stifling. It has been pushing my Depression and my insomnia into over-drive. Because of that, my mind is constantly pre-occupied leaving very little room for me to concentrate on other tasks. The challenges that I have been facing with succeeding in school have also been shoved all the way to the hardest setting, so to speak. If I’m to be candid with you, I’m surprised that I have been able to focus on any of the content that I’ve thus used for pushing out blog posts this year, let alone how much blogging Ive physically been able to do.
A second example would be my paternal grandmother passing. I was able to keep myself very distracted by taking care of my mum after my dad left the country for a week. This prevented me from processing the discomfort that had begun pooling in my gut from my significant lack of grief at her passing. But then my dad came home and everything I was avoiding fell into my lap like a hot potato, except I had nowhere to toss it to. All I could do was take a good look at the pieces and try to find a way to deal with it. Hence the sordid week of posts.
Stress occupies the brain and uses all of its processing power. More often than not, it can be impossible to recognise that this is happening. You’ll stare at the blank canvas and wonder what has happened. Maybe just yesterday or earlier in the present day you had an influx of topics to discuss. Then as you sit down, they elude you wholly. It can be aggravating, depressing, and possibly even make you wonder if you’re finally reached your blogging peak. The answer usually is no. We just need to find a way to free up whatever is consuming all of your energy.
The Bludgeon of Burnouts
This next one is far less heavy and daunting, but equally annoying, if not more so, and that is the beautifully damned curse of blogging too much!
Before I dive in, I want to make sure to state that blogging too much is very much respective to the individual. For some creators, it could be blogging every single day with multiple posts a day, yet for others it can be far less frequent. I’m one of those who like to multi-post on a daily basis and as such, burnouts like to sprout up and bitch-smack me every now and again.
When you are creating so much content on such a regular basis, it is natural for your brain to combust with steam and demand a break to recharge. Some of the common feelings that come with burnouts are being overwhelmed and exhausted. Blogging can begin to look like a chore; this daunting errand on your list of tasks to complete that doesn’t bring you joy or a sense of reprieve. There could be a list of topics or subjects that you want to chat about—anime reviews, books reviews, giant recommendations lists, a plethora of video games to play, or films to watch, and more—that seem to tower over you, instilling within you an atmosphere of inadequacy. No matter how many times you try to talk yourself through it, blogging just ain’t going to happen.
Significant burnouts were quite an experience for me, a first no-less, that came up for me last year. I had done some 30-day anime challenges and fell in love with the sense of accomplishment that stemmed from being able to put out a fresh-off-the-presses post every single morning. That lasted for approximately two months, nearly three, before I slammed face-first into the wall of fatigue. No matter how passionate I was about sharing this book review or that anime first impressions, no matter how much my fanhumanning heart sought to watch this simulcast season title or that old school film, I couldn’t do it. Simply contemplating those projects would cause hot air to escape my ears and I’d want to bang my head on my desk. I hated it. As a workaholic, I loathe not being able to be productive with my days. I remember there were days when I would finally find the motivation to write one post and then after it was posted, my feet would land back onto square number one.
There were many times during periods of burnout that I thought of hanging up my blogging beanie. I’m sure there are even a few posts floating around on BiblioNyan’s cyberspace about me announcing a hiatus here or there, or even a post or two on how I had reached the end of my shenanigans. Clearly that didn’t last, just like my burnouts. They aren’t forever.
How to Find Inspiration in the Face of these Blocks
Take a Break
Oh yeah, I’m busting out with the biggest kitty right from the start. Originally, my plan was to mention this after all of my other suggestions, as it’s usually a last resort for many people out there. Then the more that I thought about it, I wondered why? This is the best and easiest solution in face of both stress and burnouts A break is a breath of fresh air in the hot, steamy ocean of humdrumness, and you know, there is absolutely nothing wrong with stepping back to take care of yourself and it’s not the lazy person’s way out!
There is this misconception out there that if you take a break from your blog that you will fall away into the dust. Yes, it’s true that traffic and stats will decrease, but it’s quite temporary. The friends and followers who take the precious time to interact with you by reading and commenting and sharing will always be there for you when you return, especially if you’re willing to be honest and upfront about what is going on. I say this as a consumer as much as I do as a content creator.
When a person can make themselves vulnerable enough to chat about what is going on their lives to prevent them from being a blogger, whether short-term or long-term, I respect them and feel very grateful for them. It takes a lot of guts to come out and say, “I’m dealing with so much shite right now, I can’t do this.” Prioritising your mental and emotional well-being and your real-life problems should never be viewed with a negative lens. My experience has shown that people are almost always understanding and empathetic to life being a brat. Maybe I’ve been blessed with the blogging community I fell into. Nevertheless, I’ve a feeling if you gave this a shot, you’d be surprised by the people who support you out there and the capacity of which that support can blossom to.
Taking a break is an important part of blogging because it can allow you to step away and get refreshed. Take care of those pesky school projects or work politics or other issues and then do something that helps you relax. You’re allowing your brain to avoid feeling guilty about prioritising other things, which will prevent it from being stretched so thin.
If you’re merely suffering from burnout, then this method is all the more necessary. Watch something just for fun, with no analytical expectations whatsoever (same can be said for books and video games or cooking, etc.). Just enjoy it for what it is. Your brain will recharge and return feeling like a whole new healthy and happy mass of grey-matter.
One of the things that I do personally to avoid the randomness and inconvenient occurrences of blog burnouts is scheduling in breaks. You’ll see under my blog schedule that I have one very specific post to go out on a designated day. Then the other slots that I have reserved for whatever posts that fit my fancy are also accompanied by “Break” options. That way if I’m starting to feel too exhausted, I can comfortably take the morning, afternoon, or evening off without feelings of guilt or anxiety. Plus, my readers know exactly what to expect. The only time I would make an announcement for breaks is if they are going to be extended, such as for health reasons or even a vacation. If they are arising via emergency situations, like these past few weeks, then my announcements will be made on Twitter and Instagram as it’s far more convenient.
I recommend that you try to schedule breaks into your blog routine as it works best with your other obligations. Can’t hurt to try, right?
Coping with School/Work Stress
School as taught me the importance of short breaks, particularly when it involves other pursuits that I currently have going on.
If I have a ton of homework and I know I’m going to studying all evening, I make a point of setting alarms on my phone for short breaks, usually ten to twenty minutes long, hinging on how my mental state is at that time. If I know that I have a blog post that needs to go out in the morning, but it’s not ready, I’ll take my break via an episode of a show I’m watching with a comforting snack or beverage, and then sit down and get that post out. This is far easier if that content revolves around an easy subject, such as Top Five lists.
Additionally, I’m always open to switching posts around to match whatever business I have with life. If my morning post is an in-depth anime review, I will typically post-pone those so I can ensure I don’t half-arse it. Instead, I will share art that I have currently worked on, or books that I’m currently reading. That way I still feel productive and meet my schedule demands without wearing myself tissue paper thin.
Occupational stress can be a bit more troublesome to deal with. The method that has worked the best for me is prioritising what I have control over and what I do not. Recognising the portions that I have very little to no control over immediately gives me the chance to remove it from my headspace immediately. There is no point in me fretting over things that I legit cannot impact in any shape or form. Making myself sick or mentally distraught won’t help me accomplish the myriad number of other shite I need to get done.
If there is a project that I’m in charge of, I will break that project down into small digestible sections and take it one at a time, pretty much ignoring everything that comes after that section as much as I am able. You’d be amazed at how much it lessens the burden and provides room to breathe, making it far more psychologically accessible for things to get finished promptly.
Facing Stress Head-On
Lastly, and the most demanding, is learning to become aware of what your body and brain are telling you. The largest fuel for stress is when you aren’t able to recognise that you’re feeling stressed out, or not being able to recognise the source behind it.
My health coach helped me with this last year and, out of everything else that we worked on together, it is the one thing that stuck with me the most. Your body has ways of informing you of what’s happening and potentially why. It’s important to learn to be able to read those signs so that you can find solutions in healthy and comfortable ways.
Financial stress is one of the most psychologically attenuating things that I face every single day of my life. It had gotten to the point where I started losing interest in everything that brought me solace—writing, reading, watching things—as well as the things that I needed in order to live such as eating and sleeping. My health coach helped me connect the dots between my insomnia (specific kinds, which I never realised there were varying sorts) and an array of other physical symptoms to financial stress.
It took me months to be able to understand and catch these things as they came up. However, with much patience (a virtue I severely lack) and practise, it finally began happening. Then I slowly implemented the techniques I’ve mentioned above and with that came morsels of pleasure again. Creating blog content was the big one that I was looking to find my way back to as I use it to treat my Depression and Anxiety disorders.
The lessons that I learned in regard to grappling and noticing financial stress symptoms, I used in other stuff that came up, and it became a reliable companion for me, especially in making sure that find my way back to blogging or writing in general whenever I started to lose my way.
I can’t say that these suggestions will work for everyone. I can’t even say that they are the best ones out there. What I can tell you with certainty is that these were my experiences—the good, the bad, and the helpful—and I’m hoping that they can bring some level of comfort and amenity to anyone who may be battling some fort of blogging block or burnout of their own.
Blogging is very difficult. It requires dedication and passion, and an intellectual devotion unlike anything else. There’s a ton of hard work and heart that goes into talking about things that we love, whether it’s about food and mental health, or anime and video games, or the social injustices of the world. Whatever the speciality is, the amount of energy and effort that goes into creating engaging and interactive content to support that drive is stunningly astounding. Because of that, it should be respected and the tools necessary to make it happen need to be taken care: your mental and emotional well-being and the strength of spirit that keeps you coming back every day.
My bottom-line advice is that if you are struggling, take a break. If that isn’t something you wish to do, then just listen to yourself and try to take it one step at a time. Blogging slumps and burnouts don’t have to be the end of the world, or even the end of your passion. It just means it’s time for self-care and some re-prioritising. So, don’t give up. Believe in the me that believes in you. 😉