Today is Day 5 of The Armchair BEA. I’m a little late posting today because I was doing a book tour and did not want to post competing content. But it is the end of the day, and I thought it was safe to post now.
The Book Blogger Convention is happening in NYC today, and so the Armchair BEA organizers have asked those of us at home to share something about blogging. I decided to talk about finding the balance between blogging and one’s personal life.
Last year when I was at the BEA, I was a little astonished that authors and publishers did not understand that the vast majority of book bloggers actually have a life away from their blogs (I wondered if they pictured us sitting in a dark basement, glued to our computers, pounding out our reviews in between reading 3 books a day). The truth is, most bloggers have very full, rich lives which include families, pets, jobs, hobbies, and travel. Learning to balance all of those “real life” things with the time spent keeping up our blogs can be a challenge.
I will readily admit that I sometimes find the balance in my life seriously out of whack. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking when I committed to five (or more) review books in one month. One night I found myself up at midnight, after working a ten hour day, trying to craft a coherent review for a book tour. So, finding that perfect balance is not always easy.
But, after five years of book blogging, I am starting to develop some general guidelines which help keep me sane and remind me that there is a life far removed from my blog which I need to enjoy.
Keeping a Reading Schedule
This is really simple. I have a loose leaf notebook organized by month. I list books by title under the month that I either committed to reading them, or when I hope to get to them. This gives me a visual reminder of how many books are in my TBR pile each month. I *star* the books that I MUST read that month or if they are due to be read by a certain date (example: book club reads, book tour reads, etc…).The idea behind my binder is to give me a reality check. I honestly cannot read more than 8-10 books a month, so if I get tempted to commit to another book review and I already have 8 MUST reads on my list, it is that much easier to just say “no.”
When I have extra time, or if I just feel like writing, I create posts for a “rainy day.” Sometimes I create a post with a title and jot a few notes on it that will remind me of my posting idea. Other times, I craft whole posts and save them. For Mailbox Monday, I start a draft each week and as books arrive, I add to my draft so that on Monday it is ready to go.
Shutting off the Computer
Yup, sometimes I do this. I completely power down. Doing this keeps me from constantly checking email or Facebook. It allows me to spend time with my husband and animals without the ghostly glow of a computer screen intruding.
Limiting my Social Networks
There are hundreds of social networking sites. It is very tempting to open accounts all over the place…and I did that initially. But, now I am very, very selective about the sites I am on. I love Library Thing, and I do have a Facebook account (although I try to keep my “friends” manageable by only adding those people who are truly friends – not just followers of my blog). I have a Twitter account, but I rarely go on there and only opened it because several publicists asked me to tweet reviews. Other than that, I don’t do a whole lot of social networking. That is one area of blogging that can eat up HUGE amounts of time that could be spent on doing other things.
Oh, my…this is a huge time-suck. Lately I have been trying to delete some of the blogs I follow – blogs that are not really active any more, or ones that I find myself marking “all read” more often then reading them. I used to feel like I had to read every single post. Now, I skim. Sometimes I just mark them all read and start over. I no longer feel like I have to comment on every single post – I comment when I really have something to say. This is probably the hardest thing about blogging to balance – and I am still working on finding the right balance between connecting with other bloggers and feeling completely overwhelmed.
Finally, Just Say No
No one can do it all. I certainly can’t. And it is okay to admit that. Sometimes I just am forced to prioritize and let things go. Sometimes I just have to say “no, I can’t do that.” I have learned that it is more important to focus on my family, my crafts, my “down time” from work, and say no to some of the temptations in the blogging world. Too much digital content can start to feel like overload. So sometimes I say no. I bake a loaf of bread, or work on a quilt, or take a walk, or simply sit and read a book that I want to read (not one that is scheduled). It is good for the soul…and ultimately good for my blog.
How about you? How do you balance blogging with real life?