Earlier this week Irina posed an excellent question in her post when she asked whether blogging breaks work? It was an excellent post, in case you missed it, and one that got quite a few people talking. When Irina first brought this post to my attention, I absolutely loved it because it was something I’d wanted to write about but just hadn’t really figured out how and so I decided I’d write a follow up to Irina’s post.
The problem though is that I still don’t really know where I want to start with my thoughts on this one. Because I don’t know what the best options are I only know what my experiences are. In the end I decided that didn’t matter and I should share them anyway, but forgive me if this post seems a little more rambling than normal.
First of all, for those newer to my blog, I should probably point out that in three years of blogging I have only had one month where I did not post every day. From the very start of this blog until April of this year at least one post was published everyday, even when I was on holidays. I’d diligently prepare posts ahead of time, whether it was answers to a thirty day challenge or similar, to ensure content continued to exist on the blog.
However, that was my choice.
See, I’m very much a creature of habit and for me having things work relatively consistently is a very important part of my enjoyment of them.
At first I posted everyday to make blogging a part of my daily routine. And then, it was a part of my daily routine. It felt unnatural not to log into my blog in the morning before work or in the evening to check comments for the day. I may not have written posts everyday, doing the majority of my writing and drafting on weekends or on days when I watched a number of anime episodes, but I ensured I scheduled posts throughout the week and over time I found my balance at three posts per day.
That was what I found worked for me and as part of my routine and habit, maintaining that, mostly, is fine. There are some weeks when the day job is exhausting me or I have actual real world social engagements (they do happen), or over the last year my health has been a little less than stellar causing me to need a little more actual rest than normal and I find that routine a little tiring, but mostly I enjoy it and find it comforting.
It is definitely part of what has helped me maintain my energy and focus as a blogger. It is just a part of my routine, a daily habit, like brushing my teeth or feeding the cat. It is something I miss when it isn’t there and fondly return to once I have access again.
I’m certainly not saying every blogger needs to blog everyday. Everyone has different circumstances and is blogging in their own way.
But I do think, however much you blog, you need to make it a habit in order to maintain it. Whether you blog only on weekends, every second day, the third Tuesday of each month (that would be odd, but sure), making it a habit and part of your routine can make it significantly easier to handle.
Unless you are one of those people who find routines make things dull in which case stick with what works for you because the last thing you want to do is kill the fun of blogging. I couldn’t handle blogging without a routine. I certainly couldn’t have kept the blog going consistently for the last three years without it becoming an ingrained habit. But that is me.
Then we get to April of this year.
Yep, I went to Japan. It was a trip that came up relatively unexpectedly because the person I stayed with only had a few months notice and then I had a couple of months before I went to visit. That might sound like heaps of time (we are talking months) but for me an overseas trip is something that nearly a year’s worth of planning goes into.
I also didn’t know what anime, if any, I’d be able to access in Japan and it was the start of a new anime season so I didn’t even know which shows I’d pick up to watch.
Throw in some poor health in the months leading up to the trip and my work getting incredibly busy, and I had to make a few choices.
One of those was to not work to schedule posts for while I was away.
That was a really tough decision.
I agonised over whether it was the right decision. Just short of the third anniversary I was going to not post daily? It seemed like a crazy thought and yet less crazy than pushing myself to the limit writing fast and poorly thought out content just to claim I maintained a daily posting schedule.
That wasn’t what I wanted for my blog.
Still, I definitely worried whether I would lost momentum by not blogging consistently for nearly a month.
In terms of blog growth and views, I definitely did lose momentum. April was one of the poorest months ever for my blog and each week the views and visits shrank even though I did post a few updates from the trip.
Understandable if there isn’t new content going out and people are starting to review the new anime season. Why visit a blog with limited new content and not covering the new season?
The other loss of momentum I worried about was losing my habit of blogging. However, there were two things that I think made sure that didn’t happen.
The first is that I had a definite time period for which the posts were stopped. The time that I was in Japan and the time it took for me travel home. It was a clear and obvious end to the ‘break’.
The second thing that really helped was that I wasn’t taking a break because I disliked blogging or had lost my love for my blog. While I did enjoy having a small break, and will probably schedule at least one break each year from now on as it probably will help keep me going, by the time my plane landed back in Australia of all the things I was eager to get back to, my blog was fairly high on the list.
Interestingly enough, the first couple of days were a little challenging, and I’m certainly out of future drafts that I used to have saved up for weeks when I was busy, but my habit and routine came back swiftly and May was a fairly solid month for the blog.
I find it interesting though that we always talk about losing momentum or steam. We seldom discuss the opposite. Gaining momentum. Over three years of blogging I have noticed that views and growth tends to come in waves but each time in my blog they have gotten that little bit higher. Consistent posting and being present in the community has meant that slowly but surely growth has happened and momentum builds on itself.
My break in April taught me a lot of things. First, I don’t just write my blog because it is habit to do so. I made it a habit because I loved it and I wanted blogging to have a place in my life. Second, when you take a break from blogging, you certainly do lose momentum, however that isn’t an irreversible thing. Just as momentum can be lost, momentum can be built. And finally, if you are considering taking a blogging break, have a plan for when you return and returning will be significantly easier.
But as I said at the start, this is just my experience. It won’t be the same as other people and people take breaks for all sorts of reasons. Still, if you are looking to take a break, as Irina said in her post, maybe look at the reason why. Maybe changing something up would work better than a break. Or maybe you actually do need a break.
I’d love to know your thoughts about blogging habits, momentum, or taking breaks from the blog so leave us a comment below.