Do Blogging Breaks Work?

There’s really only on gif to use for this occasion, isn’t there?

You know guys, when you’ve been around the blogosphere for a while, you start to recognize certain patterns. Signs if you will. When you pay attention, you can sort of tell when a blogger is no longer as excited by their blog as they use to be. Then again, some bloggers really manage to take us by surprise. One day everything is business as usual, next thing you know, they haven’t posted in a month and you have no clue why!

I’ve been reading a lot of “how to blog” posts from my esteemed colleagues(?)… fellow anibloggers, as of late and I noticed that quite a few recommend taking breaks to avoid burnout. On paper, this makes perfect sense. I cannot think of a single reason why this wouldn’t be great advice and in fact, it may be great advice.

In practice, however, every time I’ve seen a blogger announce a hiatus it’s usually followed by another, then another until they become indefinite, if the blogger comes back at all. As if once the momentum is broken, it becomes exponentially more difficult to get it back.

Since the anime blogging community is quite dear to me, this state of affairs makes me a little sad. And I do understand that blogging burnout is definitely a problem for us. As such it would be great to have a solution. But if taking a step back from your blog isn’t it, then what is it?

Inquire 3
accurate depiction of how I feel 70% of the time

Again, I’m not saying a break isn’t a good idea, I just think there’s just a bit more to it.

I can’t and shouldn’t speak from personal experience here. I’ve always been a give it your all sort of person and never look back. If I stop blogging for any span of time, I’m much more likely to just pick up a new hobby than come back to this one. For people like me “break” might as well mean ending. And that gets exhausting.

I have found a few tricks that work for me. Instead of slowing down on posts I might pick up some collabs. I find collaborations very motivating and I have been lucky in that the bloggers I’ve worked with are a great source of inspiration. I’ll also take a step back from all the extra blogging stuff. I won’t get involved in debates and maybe ignore twitter for a bit. I’ll read posts but if I disagree, I’ll keep it to myself instead of trying to start a discussion because I know I’m not in the best headspace for it. Things like that. I’ll also write “just for me” posts. The posts I personally want to write because I find interesting, but I know will be ignored by everyone else. They don’t require much aftercare but make me happy and remind me what I like about blogging even when I feel like I’m just talking to myself.

However, these strategies aren’t going to work for everyone. In fact, they might not work for most people.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya crying
wait, we’ll figure this out

Whem thinking about it carefully, the taking a break from the blog approach does seem to work much better under certain circumstances. One of these is the “planned break”. I read Bliblionyan’s post on the subject (I had seen this advice before as well but sadly I couldn’t find the links again. Please feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly add the link), and I really liked this idea. Basically, instead of a loosely structured “break” until you feel like coming back to your blog, you can take blogging vacations. Like a week out of every month or a specific month off that you can announce ahead of time. I’m a strong believer in sharing my schedule with my readers, it makes me feel like we’re part of a team and holds me a little accountable. I have a reason to come back, people are waiting for me (even if it’s just in my head).

Another way I have seen that makes breaks more viable is to pepper them with regular check-ins. If you’re studying for exams or changing jobs and you simply no longer have time for your regular blog posts, you can replace those by short diary style posts. Like little emails to tell your readers what’s up. It’s a lot less time consuming and makes you feel like you’re still part of the community. Plus, it lets readers know what you’re up to. Like dropping a text to friends you don’t have time to see as much anymore.

I send my friends super cheesy pick-up lines like “Baby, if you were words on a page, you’d be fine print.” Out of the blue and without context or explanation. I have gotten a few in a bit of trouble that way… But I always like seeing one of those pop up a Tuesday at 3pm on my phone for no reason.

In a way, a blogging burnout isn’t always about the workload. Sure, you may just be too busy to actually post but if you still enjoy doing it, you’ll probably come back to it. Burning out can often come about because you’re just not having as much fun as you use to. Whether it’s because you feel like you’re not achieving the goals you set for yourself and are “wasting your time” or because the feedback you’re getting isn’t what you need right now. In those cases, just going away for a little while probably won’t change the core problem. It may make the experience less frustrating if you’re not putting as much effort into it, but it might also make it feel less rewarding.

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Fireworks
so how do we change that?

So these are my general suggestions, take them with a huge grain of salt:

  • As I mentioned, plan vacations instead of spontaneously going on hiatus.
  • Keep in touch if you can¸.
  • If you start to feel burnt, try figuring out why:

o   Not enough connection to the community? Maybe try doing a collaboration with a fellow blogger, starting your own tag, joining a blogging group or doing a community project;

o   Not enough views? How about brushing up on SEO and divide your time between creating content and advertising your blog (as in create half the content then advertise it in the time you would have spent creating more), learn about different platforms;

o   Not enough feedback? Make sure you interact with other bloggers, comment on their posts and talk to them in discord or twitter. People are much more likely to talk to you once they get to know you a bit. It’s always awkward to just leave a comment to someone you’ve never talked before out of the blue so forming a connection can really encourage others to interact;

o   No inspiration? This one is a tough one. This is where I get my inspiration, the comments are also great on there;

  • And just remember that breaks don’t have to be all or nothing. You can add shorter sillier posts to your roster. Mix in picture posts if those are easier for you.

This is really all the advice I can think off. I hope some of it is useful. And please, if you have any other suggestions, leave them in the comments. I’m sure it will be a great help to your fellow bloggers.

Amazing7b

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

You can also check out Karandi’s follow up post on Blogging Habits and Losing Momentum.

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Life Movie Review

Overview:

The international space station has just received a sample of a life form from Mars and decide to try to wake it up under strict containment protocols. Of course something goes wrong and an angry life form must be contained and prevented from making it to Earth.

Review:

I don’t get to see movies at the cinema very often so I was really happy that this was out during my last trip to a city. I actually saw a few movies over a couple of days including Ghost in the Shell so I’ll have to get around to writing up reviews of the others that I watched while I had the opportunity. That said, of the movies I watched, Life was probably the one that had the greatest impact on me in terms of emotional response while viewing. It doesn’t really do anything that similar movies haven’t done before, but just because it isn’t treading new ground doesn’t mean it isn’t affective at what it attempts.

Life2

The posters would have you believe that this is space horror, close quarters claustrophobic inducing tension. In fairness, there is a little bit of that but the problem is this movie goes through three distinct phases and they don’t quite manage to make an overall cohesive viewing experience. By far the weakest phase is the last one, which is unfortunate given that is what you are left with when the movie ends.

Phase 1 is the discovery phase. We meet the members of the team, suitably international in their representation for an American film and when there is a fairly small cast. Each member has different skills and backgrounds which we learn about through interactions, reports, and communications. The issue with phase 1, is that it is pretty dull. Sure, if you want to know about life living on a space station this is a nice tour (in fact they give a tour on camera to people on Earth) but unless you have watched the trailers and you know how it is going to all go wrong, there’s nothing really interesting going on.

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Fortunately, I had watched the trailer, so literally every time anyone was near the later named Calvin I was tense just wondering if this was when things would get started. This movie really highlights the importance of the audiences’ expectations and how that will affect their viewing. There is nothing sinister about any of the early scenes with the life form and yet you begin looking for it and feeling tension that really isn’t there because of your expectations of where things are going to go. In this case, the trailer showing future scenes actually adds to the viewing experience.

Then we enter Phase 2. Originally there’s an accident that makes the life form seem dormant and when the guy in charge attempts to prompt it back into life, it takes that as an attack (which is fair enough but the reaction is a little extreme). Phase 2 is arguably the best phase of the movie. It is that space horror you were expecting where you are constantly on the edge of your seat and every sound effect and pause makes your heart pound. It works because Calvin is small but deadly. Highly mobile, hard to see, smart, and he can force his way inside a human and tear them apart from the inside (gross and effective given once he got in there wasn’t anything that could be done).

Life5

During this phase they are struggling to track him, reacting without thinking through consequences (which leads to some interesting issues later), and highly emotional. One of the best scenes was when the Captain was outside the space station and Calvin had latched on to the outside of her suit. I really wished she hadn’t just stayed outside but had actively pushed off at that point. Then again, there was always a chance she’d re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and they were never entirely sure if that would kill Calvin or not.

Which actually brings me to an issue I have with a lot of ‘alien’ life forms in science fiction. I get that space and other environments are a little more hostile than Earth, but what is with all these super creatures that can handle hot, cold, poison, lack of atmosphere, etc, etc. I could understand a creature being stronger against one or two of these things, but being practically invulnerable is kind of crazy. Admittedly, I’ve not met any aliens that I’m aware of so maybe these incredible creatures do exist but really Calvin was just a little too unkillable for my liking. It made the ending more or less inevitable from the beginning.

Life4

Phase 3 of the film really begins when we are down to the final two crew members. At this point, the space station is literally falling apart and they make the decision to use the escape pods. One will return to earth, the other will lure Calvin into the pod and then manually override the controls to point themselves into space. Nothing could go wrong with this plan.

For me, phase 3 was the most pointless. During phase 1 I had anticipation of what was coming to keep my emotions running high. Phase 2 genuinely had me hooked with the tension and fear for the crew. By phase 3, Calvin is now large and standard monster size so a lot of the tension had evaporated as we went into more standard monster fare. More importantly, given everything else that had happened, the pitfalls with the plan were pretty obvious so all their fancy cinematography to try to confuse you as to which pod was which was ultimately just making me dizzy rather than tense.

Despite the ending which was okay but not amazing, I really had a lot of fun with Life. While there were a couple of brutal deaths, it didn’t go overboard on the gross out factor and kept the horror to the mostly psychological rather than visual. For me this is more affective because generally speaking gross out horror with buckets of blood just makes me laugh (yes, I am strange). The actors all sell their characters. None of them are startling performances, but they are all solid enough and you can believe them for the duration.

Life1

Mostly, if you tend to like science fiction or creepy horror, this movie will work really well for at least two-thirds and even the ending isn’t too much of a let down.

If you’ve seen Life, let me know what you thought.


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Karandi James.

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Friday’s Feature: Life as an Anime

The discussion this week is not intended to be taken in any way seriously. That said, I want to use the post today to muse about what life would be like if you were the protagonist in a standard anime. I’m sure other people have thought about this so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Stage One: You would begin life unremarkably. You might be the ordinary guy/gal next door or the ditz or the loner, but you aren’t interesting enough to really make any kind of impact on anyone. For example:

  • Look at Serena/Usagi from Sailor Moon. She was just an ordinary, blonde girl with below average test scores.
  • Ichigo Kurosaki in Bleach? Other than a crazed father and a penchant for violence, his life was as unremarkable as they came. Even his seeing ghosts didn’t really get a rise out of most bystanders.
  • Sakura from Cardcaptors? While she’s unfortunately cursed to forever be attached to the 90’s Rollerblade craze her day-to-day life held zero interest.
  • Shibuya Yuuri from Kyou Kara Maou. He’s an ex-baseball player with a conscience which leads to his head being flushed down a toilet but otherwise there’s nothing of note about him (something that even other characters in the show remark on at times).

Stage 2: Some person or event occurs that changes your life forever. Maybe it was a preordained act of destiny, or maybe it was just random chance, or it might be some weird combination, but once the change occurs there is no going back. Some examples from anime:

  • Serena meets Luna who awakens her as a Sailor Scout.
  • Ichigo meets Rukia, who after being injured by a hollow gives Ichigo her Shinigami powers so he can save his family.
  • Sakura releases the cards and is then recruited by the guardian to captured them.
  • Yuuri is flushed straight into another world where he meets Konrad who tells him he is going to be the next demon king.

Stage Three: You undergo a dramatic transformation while fighting to hold on to your own sense of identity. This transformation is sometimes quite literal as the magical girls of the world know all too well, but other times it is a transformation of purpose and drive. Our examples:

  • Serena becomes Sailor Moon, Champion of Love and Justice. Well she has a cute outfit at least. She does eventually evolve into a champion.
  • Sakura’s transformation is more subtle as it is more about the direction her life goes in and how she deals with things. The outfits are simply a ‘perk’.
  • Ichigo transforms into a shinigami (kind of). While this allows him to fight low level hollows, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride before he reaches his true potential.
  • Yuuri transforms literally and metaphorically. He is made the demon king but has to keep working to keep war from breaking out between demons and humans. However, make him mad enough and the maou really will appear and he definitely isn’t a push-over.

By the way, Sakura isn’t forced by magic to wear those outfits. No, she is the victim of an overly nice friend who really just wants to help her capture the cards, and video tape Sakura in cute outfits.

Stage Four: Now you have transformed you must face your destiny. It is nice how destiny always appears just when you are ready to face it. Whether it be an enemy, a politcal ideal, or the saving of a friend, you must rush onward to save the day. And just note, the consequences of failure are too horrendous to even discuss, so don’t fail.

  • Yuuri, just save the world for humans and demons and keep a war from breaking out, and while you’re at it, save all of your closest friends from having their various body parts snatched so that they can be used as magic keys to boxes that will somehow destroy the world. No pressure.
  • Serena, kill Beryl. She only destroyed the entire Moon Kingdom and your far more talented mother, but you can do it.
  • Ichigo, Rukia gave you her power and now they are going to kill her. Fight your way through every single one of the Shinigami until you can somehow save her.
  • Sakura, you let the cards escape and now you have to catch them so that the magic doesn’t run amok. Yeah, there is a greater story in here as well but really it’s a magical scavenger hunt.

Helpful Hints for your anime life:

You are the protagonist in an anime. You won’t die (and if you do it won’t be overly permanent) so feel free to wear your ideals on your sleeves and never back down.

Keep in mind, if you insist something for long enough, even when backed up with no actual evidence, somehow your passion and faith will make it a reality.

You are going to suffer pain. Amazingly enough, for every good thing that happens, you will probably have overcome at least three really awful ordeals, or had to save others from them. Let’s be honest, the more tragic your past or present, somehow the more power you are going to end up with and the cooler outfit you will get to wear once you find your power.

And, if all else fails, believe in the power of friendship and your own strength and somehow you will evolve once again into an even shinier version of you who can in fact save the day.

Some final random thoughts:

How many buckets of blood does Ichigo actually have anyway and why does he need to be near death before he manages to win any fight? Wouldn’t being that close to death actual hinder his success?

Why is Serena more powerful when she transforms into a really long, white dress? Surely that would hinder her combat abilities?

Your Thoughts:

So back to the original reason for the post, what if life were an anime? Share your thoughts.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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