Break From Blogging W/O Breaking Your Biz
Motivation by fear is an age-old tactic. Its adages begin with “Don’t” and twist with “or.”
“Don’t steal from your neighbor, or you’ll get your hands cut off.”
“Don’t turn in your paper late, or you’ll fail.”
“Don’t leave work early, or your boss will think you’re a slacker.”
To which we can add the common commandment in blogger morality zone:
“Don’t take breaks in blogging, or your readers will leave you.”
But maybe there are legitimate reasons to break from your blogging. That’s what I’m wondering: When you take a vacation, do you still bring your professional blogging and iPhone with you? When do you take breaks from blogging? When might it be wise to do so?
Like many motivational claims by fear, the one above contains a grain of truth. Obviously, if you don’t show up for your readers, your readers won’t be compelled to show up for you.
But the don’ts simply skim the surface of true drive. By true drive, I mean – what are you doing anything for? Are you blogging to keep and build readers? Is that the main motivation? If so, then follow the fear adage: Don’t take breaks.
But maybe what really leads you to the keyboard is something else.
– You get excited to share ideas and help people on their journeys.
– Telling a story well gratifies you.
– You find joy in trying to master a new potential art form – the blog piece or article or essai or whatever your “post” might resemble.
– Your blog offers a compelling face to your business and your persona.
– It articulates what you’re about and what you offer.
– You love connecting people, and your blog is a forum for you to connect your right people with other remarkable thinkers and entrepreneurs and artists and consultants.
I’m not suggesting you get lax. I’m adamant about self-discipline, creative persistence, and organic systems to sustain creative momentum.
But if something meaningful drives you to write your blog – something more than racking up big numbers – then maybe, and I do mean the tentative “maybe,” it would be wise to break from the blog you’ve been building.
The #1 sign you need a break: Your blog is feeling like a burden. If you catch yourself saying or thinking, “Oh, Jees! I’ve got to write another article to keep my right readers happy and linking and liking and RTing!” then maybe it’s time to back off and re-set your priorities.
Blogging is about freedom not self-shackling.
Taking an intentional break for a week, even two weeks, from your blog could have big benefits.
You get perspective. Instead of posting every day or every two days or three times a week, make space for your mind to ask these questions:
- What am I blogging for? I mean, really blogging for?
- How does this blog enrich my life (personally and / or professionally)?
- How does this blog add juice of my right people’s lives?
- How could I approach my blog in a way that keeps my energy balanced among professional and personal, public and private ventures?
- What fresh angle could revive my enthusiasm and that of my right people?
- What fresh approach to this blog might take the field of blogging itself in a new direction?
You get mind space. When you’re blogging or reading others blogs and comparing your blogs to theirs and fretting about your blog’s viability day after day for hours at a time, then your body gets tired, your breathing constricted, your mind shrinks.
Because your autonomic and central nervous systems get challenged, you get nervous.
If you like nervous, fine. But prolonged nervousness will fry you and your nerves. And fried nerves leads to classic burn-out. Prolonged nervousness also shuts down most people’s ability to think and resolve problems with flexibility. Your sight shrinks. It feels as if your brain shrinks, too.
Nervous doesn’t serve me.
Taking a week, two weeks, three weeks off from blogging gives you mind space. You step out of the blog chamber and can imagine again. You absorb the radiant physical world that is the source of creative and intellectual thought. You can connect with other people. You can remember the value of lived experience.
You test the fear adage. You’ll see who your real right people are. If you take a break, they’ll come back. I’m a writer. By nature, I have my social cycles and my hermit ones. When I’m engrossed with a project or with leading workshops, I tell my friends, “I’ll see you in a month or two.” They get it. They’re still my close friends even if I haven’t called them in two months. They don’t need me checking in every few days to let them know I’m still their friend.
Your real right people will be the same. If what you offer and what you write is authentic – if it comes from the authority of your own lived experience and your own lived thinking – then they’ll be right there ready to pick up where you last left off.
So try it when the time’s right. Here are a few tips for smooth breaks:
Break with intention if possible. Let your right readers know you’ll be taking a break and for approximately how long.
If possible, sketch some questions to sit with and explore. But don’t fret about them. Just keep a favorite pen (like the uni-ball super ink) and a pocket Moleskine or other notebook nearby. Make notes.
List fresh topics or a brand new approach.
Return with more clarity. Maybe a simple word or phrase will sum up how you want to approach your blog or what it’s about for you and your right readers.
Taking a break from your blog won’t necessarily end your business. It might actually help you begin it again with a fresh perspective.
Drop in the Hut
My fun colleague Gwen Bell takes her well-coined digital sabbaticals, and my “Make Ideas Happen” colleague Scott Belsky makes time for deep thinking.
What about you? Do you take breaks from blogging? If so, what stories and wisdom do you have to share? Have you wanted to break but fear doing so?
See you in the woods,
Very timely post, Jeffrey — for me and, I suspect, for many others. I’ve been hearing many more such reflections on bloggers’ motivation, priorities etc., and I, coming up on my first anniversary producing One Man’s Wonder, am taking a hard look at how to make year two even better, not just for my audience, but for me. Thanks for the food for thought!
Jeff – First, congratulations on approaching OMW’s first anniversary. I’m glad the post is aiding your reflections. I, too, am hearing more and more bloggers and clients question “the drive to post.” It’s easy to get caught up in the mania of instant feedback and the numbers game. But stepping back and getting to the heart of matters helps me feel more easeful with blogging. I look forward to seeing what happens with OMW in year two.
What a great post, Jeffrey, thoughtful and informative. Thank you for giving us permission to step back at times.
A couple of months ago, when I started my MFA program at the same time as formally launching a new business, I thought about shutting down my blog. Naturally, I wrote about it on the blog! http://artistsroad.wordpress.com/2011/07/19/when-a-blog-post-goes-viral/ In the end I decided to cut back from three times a week to two, which has reduced my traffic a bit, although it’s hard to tell with the usual summer drop I’ve seen on every blog I’ve been a part of for the last seven years. Ultimately it’s about quality, not quantity, and I can give more to my readers with this new format.
Patrick: Even with the new format, I still admire your consistency – both in terms of showing up and in terms of value/quality.
Jeffrey, what a lovely post. I admit to being “not-a-good-self-promoter”. It goes against my inner tug toward solitude and toward letting people find the work who are seeking it. I know we play in a different game now, but if we play that game and it’s inauthentic, what good does that do anyone? I only post a blog when I actually have something to say. I talk about the pitfalls of mindless chatter in my books, so if I engage it in in social media, that’s kinda goofy. 🙂 I’ve all but given up on FB – my account got hacked into last year & I’ve never quite felt OK about it since. People do e-mail me there & it can take months for me to see them. I have come to a place where I have to ask what things benefit me and my writing and what things are supposed to benefit me and my writing. Sometimes the distinction is harder to notice than you’d think! 🙂
Laraine: Funny, just this morning a novelist-client told me in essence the same thing about FB (minus the hacking – sorry to hear that). She took a break in July and returned unimpressed and not compelled.
“I have come to a place where I have to ask what things benefit me and my writing and what things are supposed to benefit me and my writing.” Love that distinction. Those “supposed to”s sound eerily like disguised “shoulds.”