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 on blogging habits.
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.
Blogging habits, like all habits, only form through repetition and a desire to continue the practice.
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.
Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
25 thoughts on “Blogging Habits and Losing Momentum”
Sadly, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to claw out time to blog, despite being just a weekly blog. The main challenge for me isn’t finding the time to write, which remains relatively the unchanged, but in no longer having time during the week to watch much anime. Most of my watching is now done during time previously afforded to writing. . .still, the increased workload is something I chose, so that kind of severely limits my right to gripe. . .
Time is always the one thing we have to work within. There’s only so many hours in the day and there’s plenty of things we have to do. Hopefully you are still enjoying what you are doing.
Thanks for the encouragement!
This got me to thinking about my own blog. Three original posts a week is about my limit. (Right now I’m down with an injured foot from crawling around in my attic so I could probably do more. I heal a lot more slowly these days.) I can do four if I add a low effort post every now and then.
I have seriously thought about multiple blogs just to separate the nude stuff and self-care from everything else.
I don’t think I could handle multiple blogs. I’d end up confusing myself or missing comments because my attention would be too diverted.
I definitely agree about the consistency. It’s something I’ve never been good at and my posting was way too sporadic. Now I try to make sure I at least have 1 post scheduled for Monday-Friday which I set up on Sunday. Ideally then during the week I’ll work on drafts for the future, but if anything comes up last second I know I at least have the scheduled ones at the ready
I’m with you. I used to have a couple of weeks worth of drafts for lists and features but I’ve run those out over the past couple of months so now I work week to week and make sure I’ve got all the non-episode reviews pretty much ready to go and scheduled by the end of Sunday for the week. I also put as many episode reviews in as I can and then just catch up with the ones that come out during the week when I can. But yeah, ideally I don’t like to leave myself too much writing during the week because I never know what is going to happen with work.
Over the years I’ve thought about taking a break from my blog many, many times, but then I always get to the end of a season, look back over all the shows I’ve been watching and go ‘yep, I want to review them’, and I do and the cycle goes on. I don’t know if that will ever change, but then again a friend of mine did refer to me as a ‘force of nature’ when it comes to writing because it’s something I am constantly doing.
The pattern I’ve fallen in to is, because I do series reviews, I write up all my reviews at the end of the season, usually straight after I’ve watched the last episode. That then gives me couple of months to recharge and relax before the next go round. I don’t think I’ll ever do episode by episode reviews and I do marvel at those that are capable of it, like yourself.
This years been a bit more hectic than most, between other writing projects and my Digimon reviews and a bunch of other special reviews I’ve got coming up later in the year. For the first time I’ve actually planned out each of my reviews and as it stands I already have a review for each weekend of the year and a couple for January. That does mean most reviews will come out well after a series has ended, which will be interesting to see how that affects things.
That’s really great that you have such a clear plan for what you are doing for the rest of the year.
I’m still working through whole series reviews of the anime I watched in Winter (given I only post one series review a week). Normally I’m done with the previous season a couple of weeks before the next season ends and I throw in a few reviews of older anime before I get into the next batch of new anime to review but with my break this time I’m still going to be reviewing winter anime when the spring anime will finish so this could get interesting in terms of when I finally catch up.
Yup. Consistency is really important to building a following. (Leaves me out!)
Views and visits are spike-decay phenomena. By posting regularly and frequently, the interest hasn’t decayed very far when the next spike comes along. Post every day and there is no decay at all. Post every week… and your spikes fall off because they have to climb up from zero residual interest in you instead of starting off some of the previous spike’s energy.
If you make a habit out of posting consistently, (leaves me out again) the people who enjoy your writing also get into the habit of reading it. Habituation goes both ways.
Burnout can take many forms. You might decide you just don’t enjoy blogging anymore. You might want to change subject matter. You might be cruising along normally but realize that the work you are doing has lost that inspiration. Creativity has been replaced with punching a clock and doing a job.
If you want to keep your viewership high, you can manage a break with a quick explanation and simply disappear for a couple days. That runs into spike decay issues and loss of reader habituation if it goes on longer.
You could (and did) keep your face out there with autobiographical, humorous or inspirational or placeholder posts, work you could stockpile for the future. You could try a tease campaign, dropping little hints that something big is coming. You can also keep your profile up by commenting liberally on other blogs with overlapping readerships. Occasionally find other blogs that are exemplary and simply share them with a touch of commentary.
Burnout itself is inevitable. You can only things to delay it and manage it. Watching that much anime would drive me nuts. On many days I can only manage an hour or two. And writing a post takes a couple hours at a minimum. There are many other days when I say to myself, “Time to get my arse out of this chair and have a real life!”
Writing about other stuff keeps me from getting bored with a narrow range of subject matter but probably limits my followers since most people are ONLY interested in a narrow range of subject matter. Other subjects dilute their interest. Anime fans really don’t care about naked bike rides. Nudistas don’t usually care about anime. Neither one gives a hoot about my biography or political philosophy.
If you are in this for the long haul and really want to leverage it into some kind of profession, treat it as an actual job. Employers don’t care if you are burned out and neither do readers. Take time at the end of the day to decompress. Walk away from the keyboard and do something completely different. Leave your work at work. Deliberately schedule weekends off and use them to recharge. Periodically take a week or two weeks away to explore the world and have completely unrelated experiences. You have the freedom to pick your days, something most salarymen do not.
Fall in love. Or just madly in lust. Even if it fails miserably, you are better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. (Yeah, I stole that line.)
Regular physical activity is important for your health, your emotional well being and keeping your mind sharp. The names of authors and scientists who use walking to stimulate new ideas and to allow their minds to wander are legion. Weight training is surprisingly good at generating endorphins.
Taking it a step further, since you are young, this is the time of your life you should be exploring the world, expanding your mind and doing the things that only the young and free can easily do. Taking loosely calculated risks. Maybe a serious adventure or two might be in order. My wife backpacked thru Europe and spent a year in Israel. My sister in law wandered all over SE Asia, Australia, and Hawaii for years. That kind of experience shapes the rest of your life very much for the better. Travel broadens the mind. (Stole that one too.)
I drove across the US a few times, visited Canada and Mexico and joined the military. Not nearly as exotic but I was flat broke and did what I could afford. You live in a pretty exotic corner of the world. There is adventure all around you.
Experience makes you a better writer. All of it, good and bad, happy and sad. Angry and depressed. Terrifying and lustful. Can’t honestly write about something you haven’t felt yourself. Twenty years from now I doubt if you will still be writing about anime. With your discipline, you will be writing novels and scripts.
There are many other things I enjoy doing that compete with blogging. Many even involve clothing. At the end of my life, I have no driving need to blog nor do I desire a new profession, so maybe my suggestions won’t fit you. You have a very long life ahead and will be able to explore many options. It is too soon to limit them.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. In my mid-thirties, I’m not all that young these days but I certainly have a lot of things I still want to do and will hopefully get to sooner rather than later. However, I’d like to think I’ll still be blogging about anime into the future even if I also pursue other writing avenues.
Close to double your age. You are still a young whipper-snapper with a majority of your life ahead of you, yet you are old enough to know a little bit about life. Old enough to know what you are doing but young enough that all options are still on the table.
Thirties is a very good age
“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.”
Not only is the routine itself comforting, but it gives me something to look forward to. I review anime sites every Friday night to write Other Posts to Crow About, and I’ve been looking forward to that all day.
“Consistent posting and being present in the community has meant that slowly but surely growth has happened and momentum builds on itself.”
Can testify in support! I’m surprised how much higher my numbers are after trying to post six days a week this season (well, except this week — thanks for being delayed, One Punch Man!).
“Just as momentum can be lost, momentum can be built. ”
I’ve been thinking about this sentence, and I think it might be the most hopeful thing I’ve read in awhile! I’m going to remember that the next time my stats take a dive or I get sick or something. It’s so easy to focus on the “ohs noes, I’ve lost steam!”
“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.”
Yet more good advice! It amazes me how hard it is to learn how to be the most creative! It doesn’t help as the answer shifts as I get older and/or gain more experience.
I like reflective posts like this. We should start a Aniblogging Guild Tag for Honing Craftsmanship or something.
I definitely think hearing from different bloggers about how they handle things like burn out or feeling like they are running out of ideas or steam would be very helpful to the community as most bloggers go through it at different times.
I’m glad you liked the comment that momentum can be built. I just feel that too many people focus on momentum only when they are losing it and not on what they have previously managed to build. I know I certainly notice more when things take a slump rather than looking at the gradual growth over many months. It takes stepping back and looking at the big picture to see that even when things are a bit slower they are still so much better than when I first started.
I was looking forward to your follow up and I’m glad you decided to go with a personal take. Great work!
As I said, it was something I wanted to write about after taking that break in April but hadn’t really figured out how. Your post finally gave me the kick I needed to put some thoughts together.
This is probably my favorite post from you because I relate way too much. I kind of DID fall away from the blogging habit I had when I first started. I started and found it really, REALLY fun. I posted everyday and worried I was posting too much and run myself dry.
I’m only posting on Tuesdays and Fridays nowadays, but I hope it has led me to lean towards more in-depth topics I can actually talk about. I can’t do daily because I tend to ramble.
Adding onto my other thoughts, I will follow your advice on making blogging a more consistent habit. Routine isn’t my style usually, but stability is something I need right now.
Rambling can be fun sometimes.
I kind of understand routine doesn’t work for everyone but for me it is something I couldn’t do without. There’s calmness to be found in stability and with so many things out of my control, having a routine I can rely upon really helps.
I definitely agree that there should be a schedule when it comes to blogging, so there’s some kind of habit and for followers to expect something on this day or that weekend. I’m sorry to hear about some of your health issues though. I hope things are better.
Many doctor visits and blood tests later ( as well as many months) and they finally decided that my condition was not going to improve on its own and I needed to be medicated, but that only started when I got back from Japan. Now we get to play trail and error with doses and types of medication for a few months to see what is actually going to work. But mostly I’m managing. I just have some days where I have a lot less energy than others and I’m susceptible to pretty much every bug going around because I’m already over taxing my system. That said, even though this has been going on and on I’m just trying to get on with my every day life and try to let it interfere as little as possible.
Ouch! That sounds rough with the medical tests and medicine. I hope things improve for you from here nonetheless. At least you’re doing your best to keep persevering.
I remember last year I had a round of blood tests right in the middle of watching Cells at Work and I remembered feeling really bad for all the red blood cells that just got ripped away from their friends.
However, as you said, we just keep persevering and getting on with things. No sense worrying over the other stuff until I have to.