It’s going to happen.
The passion you felt when your blog was new will cool. You’ll get busy. You’ll have a major story deadline. You’ll go on vacation. You’ll get married, have an accident or a baby, get a bike, a dog, a different job or a new hobby.
Whatever the reason, you’ll hit a wall. You’ll wake up one morning and think, “Not today, I can’t do it today.”
Welcome to blogging burnout.
If you’ve blogged for any length of time, you’ve been there.
By late last week, as the 2010 WordCount Blogathon approached the half-way point, a lot of participants were talking about how tired they were – of writing, their blogs, of blogging in general – in posts, comments on Twitter and the Blogathon Google Group we started.
As with any relationship, it’s no surprise that the early heat you felt died down after the newness of checking your blog stats every day wore off and the reality set in that, for better or worse, you were in a committed relationship.
So what to do? You could decide blogging wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and post only when you feel like it, or abandon it altogether. After all, reasons for starting a blog vary from person to person. If it was to learn a skill so you could market yourself as a blogger and you accomplished that goal, maybe you don’t need your own blog anymore. Maybe you were using it as an online diary to work through a troubled patch of life or work that’s now passed.
Talking to other writers and based on what’s worked for me, I’ve come up with 10 sure cures for blogging burnout. If you’ve got a go-to solution for beating the blogging blues, please share it in the comments so other burnt-out bloggers can learn from your experience.
1. Put ideas in drafts mode – When you get inspired for a post, create a draft in WordPress or whatever blogging software you use and write down whatever it was that came to you. Do it a lot and before you know it you have a bunch of ideas that you can add to and tinker with one’s ready to be done and turned into a post.
2. Pre-write at least a day in advance, more if you can manage it – With one or two exceptions, I’ve pre-written every post for the past three weeks. It’s amazing how much less stressed I feel getting up in the morning knowing that the day’s post is already done.
3. Plan a week’s worth of posts at a time, more if you can - Before the blogathon started, I created a calendar and charted what I was going to write for the better part of six weeks: one week before the blogathon, the month of May and a week’s worth of wrap up after. I haven’t ever done that before and it’s working well. I’ve decided I’m going to try blocking out a month’s worth of posts from now on – giving myself room to change subjects if something comes up in the news I want to tackle right away. I started a twice a weekly paid blogging gig in April for SecondAct.com and realize I need to plan ahead for that one too or it saps too much mental energy during the week.
4. Use theme days – The only way I can blog and be the head blogathon cheerleader is by careful programming, running the same type of content certain days of the week. Friday’s it’s a list of recommended reading for writers I happened upon that week. Saturday’s is my Around the Blogathon round up of interesting posts by other blogathoners. Sunday’s I’m doing a Best of WordCount, and running links to 4 to 6 older posts that revolve around a single subject. On Mother’s Day it was juggling work and life. Yesterday it was a list of posts about writers on writing. Knowing in advance what’s coming up I do a better job of keeping an eye out for material, and when I see it, I create a new post in draft mode to save it.
5. Write when your energy’s up – I’m a morning person. I love getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. and getting my blog writing out of the way for the day. Somehow writing when I’m “on” doesn’t feel so hard.
6. Find friends to swap posts with – Funny how helping clean up after dinner at someone else’s house isn’t the chore it is at your own. The same holds for blogging. Invite someone to write a guest post and offer to do the same for them. Unless their blog covers the same exact subject as yours, you’ll likely be writing about something different from your usual or taking a fresh approach to familiar territory. Either way, the newness of the situation will put the pep back into your writing.
7. Run a Q&A, list, poem, photo, poll, video clip or other snippet of something – Posts don’t have to be linear or even written. They could be anything that tells a story, including a photo essay of someplace you’ve been, a video clip of something funny related to your blog or a piece of writing you did long ago but never published – what better venue to help show it the light of day. Readers like variety, use it to your advantage.
8. Keep it short and sweet – Thanks to Twitter, haiku’s made a comeback. A three-line post – why not?
9. Use your comment on someone else’s blog post as the basis for a post – I find commenting on other people’s blogs sparks ideas for things I could write on my own. I’ve gone so far as copying a comment I left on a blog and pasting it into a new draft on WordPress. In fact, this post was inspired by Katie Jett Walls’ Creative exhaustion post on her blog One/Week. If you read my comment on her post, you’ll see it includes the kernel of this one. I left it Friday evening, thought about it over night, went back the next day and copied what I’d written to start this post.
10. Give yourself a break – If you’ve committed to blogging 7 days a week, pre-write posts to cover the weekend so even though the material on your blog will be new, you can enjoy some much deserved time off.
Now it’s your time to share – when your passion for blogging runs low, what techniques or tricks do you use to keep the love alive?