More Changes Are Coming to the Blog (Plus, Why I’m Excited About the “New” Direction)

more-changes-banner

Some of you might recall that I’ve been struggling with blogging after a crazy-busy August. Not with ideas or visitors, but with time and energy. This week, I’m feeling the best I’ve felt physically and mentally in the past two months, but I only have one post scheduled instead of two. So, in a way, the results of that “burnout” are starting to show.

I’ve also been thinking about the time I spend on this site. I already cut back on my blogging schedule earlier this year because I couldn’t keep up the aggressive pace I’d set. Back then, I figured, “Blogging twice a week should be fine.” And for a while, along with writing every other month for DIY MFA, it was.

The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back, So To Speak – and What I Learned from It

Then came August. I went to New York City for my second Writer’s Digest Conference (and loved it!). I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding, and was hurrying to prepare myself amidst last-minute changes. I visited with family, got together with friends. And, being fiercely protective of my novel-writing time, I kept up with editing my WIP. Then other sources of stress and uncertainty swooped in… and by the end of the month, my energy level had shattered. (So had my brain – well, it felt like it had.)

And what suffered most during that time? The blog.

In hindsight, I should have taken a hiatus. But I had so many posts already prepared for the month that I didn’t see the point. Again, I thought it would be fine to take a week away from the site while I was in NYC, and I’d be able to catch up. But once the fatigue set in, I could barely focus. I almost didn’t finish Character Evolution File No. 12 on time, and have only recently found my groove for No. 13. I also got a late start on my next DIY MFA article (though I submitted it before its deadline). Somehow I dug myself out of the hole… but not without exhausting myself further.

I know. I’m a repeat offender of a lack of self-compassion. This time it comes from my high expectations for myself, and now I know to take things easier. But how can I do that without backtracking on this site’s growth, and when it’s still growing each month? (FYI: This year’s blog stats have already passed last year’s. HUH?!)

I’m also a believer that everything, even misjudgments and failures, happens for a reason. Sometimes they prompt us to reconsider things by forcing the issue. And after some reflection, I think that’s the case here. Even as my offline life returns to normal and my energy comes back, it’s no longer a “maybe” that blogging twice a week was too demanding. It’s a definite.

Blogging should be fun. It should be enjoyable and rewarding not only for your readers, but also for you. It shouldn’t be taxing or have that obligatory, disengaging feeling of “homework.” I learned a while ago that when something starts to feel like homework, it’s time to either change things up or move on. But I’d never dream of closing this site now. So if it’s not the latter option, then it’s the former.

What Does This Mean for the Blog?

Starting on October 18th, new articles will post every Tuesday. Newsworthy items will go up as needed, and guest posts are always welcome. I’m still figuring out other specifics, like how to notify readers of new DIY MFA articles or writing worksheets. But for the most part, I’m relaxing my schedule so it’s easier to maintain without compromising quality, and so I can be more open to new opportunities. (I actually have news on the latter coming on October 11th, hence why I’m delaying the start of the new schedule until after then.)

Unfortunately, this means certain monthly series will be going away. This includes Recent Reads (book reviews), Time Flies (monthly wrap-ups), Beautiful People (character interviews), and most blog awards and/or tags. I feel bad letting these go, but these are the most logical choices if I’m going down to weekly posts. Plus, I’ve learned what kinds of posts I enjoy writing most, and I’d like to give myself more time to bring those ideas to fruition.

That being said, some of these departing topics might be revived in other ways (i.e., keep an eye out for a survey launching on Thursday, October 13th). Plus, I’m always happy to talk about books and other things on Twitter, Goodreads, and blog comments. So feel free to chat with me about them anytime in those spots.

What can you look forward to reading here in the future? The main themes will be:

  • Writing (tips on craft, musings on the writing life)
  • Reading (discussion posts about literature, reading habits, and interesting or common themes in books I’ve read)
  • Fantasy Literature (another angle on the first two bullets, and since it’s my genre of focus)
  • Character Evolution Files, since they’re among my most popular posts (hopefully on a monthly basis again, too)
  • Chronicling The Craft, since I love that series too much to end it (FYI: WIP progress reports and craft-related posts will still post separately, on Tuesdays and Thursdays)
  • General Creativity (inspired by ideas or questions posed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA Book, and other places)
  • Miscellanea (I have several ideas for editorials, so now I’ll have a chance to work on them *big smiles*)

In truth, this isn’t a brand new focus. It’s a revision of the previous one; the vision I have for it is clearer and less sprawling, but its heart is the same. It’s funny, because I used to be opposed to having a true blogging niche. I thought it would confine me too much. Now I finally understand – and accept – the value of a blogging niche; and I’ve realized it might not be as bounding as I’d assumed. In fact, these changes might be quite liberating.

Thank You for Your Continued Support and Enthusiasm

Like I said the last time I downscaled my blogging schedule, I hope these changes won’t deter readers from coming back. Your encouragement, shares, and input mean so much to me; and everything you do has made this blog the success it has become. (I’m not joking. I take very little credit for it.) I’ll always be here to interact, ask and answer questions, and learn with you. If I believe anything about blogging more than “Quality trumps quantity,” it’s that the greatest asset of any blog is the human connection between blogger and reader. And that connection, when it’s present and maintained, is a beautiful thing.

What are your thoughts on the new blogging schedule and revised “niche”? Have you ever needed to rethink or adjust your website’s direction to fit your personal schedule, energy level, or desired direction? 

Also, if you like reading my DIY MFA articles and other posts outside this blog, what would be the best way to notify you of new ones: via italicized text on my normal weekly post, or a separate quick post of its own?

Original photo credits: Anthony Tori (banner)

40 thoughts on “More Changes Are Coming to the Blog (Plus, Why I’m Excited About the “New” Direction)

  1. Very understandable, you really do have a lot on your plate. I’ve given blogging a bit of break, too, because it does become stressful… And it’s not like we’re exactly getting paid to do this. Blogging is fun, but at the same time, I think we impose a lot of stress on ourselves for something that should be just that: fun. Some of us are gifted at it and have the time and resources to do this very often, but I think that many of us don’t have that convenience (though I wish I did!). Coming up with a few hundred/thousand words, let alone making it educational or intellectual, doesn’t come so easy. Especially when there’s a lot going on in “real life.”

    And I’m of the notion that “real life” kind of takes more precedence than the interwebz..!

    So don’t stress *hugs* We’ll always love you, and your blog will always be a wonderful and pleasurable visit. I’ll miss your book reviews though T.T But that’s okay! Do what you gotta do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for understanding, Jessica. *hugs* I remember you saying recently that life’s been a bit stressful for you, too. How are you doing? Are things going better (less stressful) now?

      *sigh* Wouldn’t that be wonderful if we had the time and resources to not just blog as often as we’d like, but write in general? But yeah, like you said, it’s not realistic for all of us. So we have to place limits on what we can do and then stick to them. And it’s often better to start slow so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

      You know what else is difficult, besides sticking to blogging limits? Listening to our own advice. XD I mean that seriously too, though!

      “And I’m of the notion that “real life” kind of takes more precedence than the interwebz..!”

      Absolutely! I’m rarely here on the weekends now, regardless of whether I’m at home or visiting my parents on Cape Cod. And it’s healthy to step away from the blogosphere and Internet in general some days, because it reminds you of life outside that thing called a computer. 🙂

      About the book reviews… I’m still posting them on Goodreads and Amazon, so you can still catch them there. But I have an idea: What about a seasonal round-up of my favorite reads from the fall / winter / etc., with one short paragraph for each book? That would not only be manageable, but it would fit right in with my once-a-week routine. Then we can still discuss what we’ve been reading recently and whatnot.

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    • Thanks, Mogsy. 🙂

      Quick idea on the review front: Instead of doing monthly round-ups, I might do a seasonal one instead, sharing my favorite reads from the fall / winter / etc. and giving one short paragraph about each (and linking to my full reviews on GR and Amazon). What do you think?

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  2. Assessing and adjusting is one of the hardest things for us I think. I’m glad you’ve been able to get some distance to look at what you need to do to make things easier moving forward. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Angela. I think “assess and adjust” has become one of my themes for 2016. First, changing my writing routine due to a lifestyle change, and now this. But all of the adjustments have happened for good reasons, and worked out well in the end. And I’m very excited about what lies ahead now, too. 😉

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  3. There’s definitely something addicting with blogging that pulls us to do more than we reasonably should, given the time commitment. Whenever I’ve put restrictions on myself, I found myself wanting to break them and blog more. Hold strong! Your schedule is the most important tool you have. And it’s better to miss your blog than have it feel like a noose around your neck.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, I’ve never really thought about blogging as an addiction before… And you’re right, Leanne. It sort of is. And if we let it get out of hand, it can take the enjoyment out of it entirely. Hopefully this more relaxed schedule will help once it’s truly underway in a couple weeks.

      Thank you, Leanne. 🙂

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  4. I think you’ve taken a really sensible approach. At the end of the day, your writing is the priority and while the blog is enjoyable AND a useful way to promote yourself and your brand (whatever one of THOSE is…) it’s the writing that has to come first. You’ve built a loyal following by dint of a steady stream of quality posts that aren’t going to disappear if you pare back your blogging schedule a tad. Hope you enjoy the new regime and manage to replenish your energy for the things that really matter!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Aw. I’ll miss BP and Time Flies, but I get the feeling of having to trim down. I know it’s helped a lot to trim my posts down to only three days a week instead of five. I hope this schedule allows you to feel more energized!

    toritorigrace.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • :/ Yeah, I know. I especially feel bad about quitting BP, but apart from the few people who were interested in those posts (usually you and other writers who were participating), those weren’t getting many hits. I might continue using those questions offline (in my character profiles), though, because they’re so helpful.

      And thank you for understanding, Tori. *hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really like the “niche” you are building for yourself, Sara. While I will miss BP and Recent Reads, I understand that energy and time are limited things, and also, a part of me is excited to read what new themes you will be writing about! I’m curious about the “Miscellanea,” your ideas for editorials, and about October 11… I’m being held in suspense here! ^_^ In a good way, of course. *hugs*

    I will have to rethink my blog schedule this winter, as my WIP nears publication and I set up a site for it. I think it’s great that you are rethinking yours to better fit your schedule and energy capacity, now. I will have to do like you and find what my own creative “niche” is, and focus more on that.

    For me, it really helps when you reblog or link to posts you’ve written outside the blog to here. I’m not on social media enough to know when someone shares a post they wrote outside their blog, so chances are if you only linked to it on Twitter for example, if I miss that Tweet, then I’ll miss reading that post. But that could just be me. I’m not sure how it is for everyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for understanding, Elizabeth. 🙂

      I actually have a new idea to replace Recent Reads: maybe doing a seasonal reading round-up, listing my favorite reads of the fall / winter / etc., sharing one short paragraph about each book, and giving links to my Goodreads and Amazon reviews. What do you think?

      And I’m leaning toward keeping up the reblogs or separate posts for DIY MFA articles and other things. It’s like you said: Sometimes we miss what our friends share on social media, and getting the news “directly from the source” can be more convenient. I’d rather not let those readers / friends miss out.

      “and about October 11… I’m being held in suspense here! ^_^ In a good way, of course. *hugs*”

      Hee hee. I like keeping people in suspense. 😉

      Eeeee, yeah, I can imagine how huge of a task it’ll be to create a whole other website for your book / series. Maybe that can be your project while the story’s with beta-readers? Is that your plan, or do you have other things in the works while you’re waiting for feedback?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the seasonal reading round-up idea! It sounds like that will fit with your new schedule very well. I know I’ll enjoy reading it. 🙂
        Yes, I am planning on working on the website, as well as some artwork, while I wait for feedback. We’ll see how it goes, *eep*. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I think you’ve made a good decision if it’s what sits comfortably with you. Blogging should be fun, as you said. I think it’s interesting, as I was reading I was thinking that’s its kind of like editing a story – paring it down to find the heart of it. And I think when something’s focused then it shines even brighter. I’m not sure I’m making sense but they’re my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, it does make sense. Refining your blogging focus is a lot like editing a story. You’re using similar principles in different ways, and on different mediums. So I understand what you were thinking there.

      Thanks very much for your support, Phoenix. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve always been told that we have to do what we love. If we force it, others will realize it and it will lessen the impact of our work. It’s great that you recognize what you need to do Sara for yourself and for this blog. No one benefits when we run ourselves down to the wire. I’ve come close to burning out on so many occasions because I didn’t know when to say no.
    I will be looking forward to each week’s post, whatever it may bring. Right now I’m highly anticipating the 80% Chronicle 🙂 Hope those last few edits are going well for you my dear! Stay well and thank you for the amazing journey you’ve taken us on so far with this blog. I look forward to whatever comes next ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Faith. *hugs* It’s been really heartwarming to read people’s responses to this post. And your point about forcing things is spot-on. Because if we force ourselves to stick to a schedule we can’t keep up with, it will burn us out before long.

      The 80% Chronicles are coming next week! I’m still pairing them on Tuesdays and Thursdays despite the new schedule. And why not, because they’re both ready to go! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I can completely understand the need to change things. I never really set a schedule for my posts, but it’s bugging me that I’ve been so busy I can’t complete the last character study for my Jungian Archetypes series yet. Hopefully before the end of the year, but the grad program is keeping me preeeeetty busy (though I love it in every way!)

    As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy with the series that you are keeping, and understand the discontinuation of the others. The character interviews were always the hardest for me to follow, because the book isn’t “ready” for consumption yet, so I had no connection to them (though you did a very nice job!)

    In all things, just be mindful on your own mental health and definitely strive for blogging being “fun”…. it’s not really worth it otherwise!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can only imagine how busy you are right now, Ariel. (I almost called you Alex, btw. It’s going to take some time to get used to your real name. *blushes*) Anyways, one of my other writer friends is in her first semester of her MFA, and I know her schedule has keep her away from her blog more than usual, too. Just do what you have time for, and your readers will understand. And whenever you get to your final Archetypes post, I’ll be more than happy to read it. 😉

      “The character interviews were always the hardest for me to follow, because the book isn’t “ready” for consumption yet, so I had no connection to them (though you did a very nice job!).”

      That’s the sense I got from other readers who also weren’t interested in the character interviews and Beautiful People posts. And I’m OK with that, because I can see it from your / their perspective. I feel badly for the people who enjoyed reading them, but I do think letting go of that blogging topic was a good decision.

      Thanks as always for your support and encouragement. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. I’ve always thought your blogging schedule was incredibly ambitious, even after you cut back the first time. Plus, things change and adjustments are necessary. As for letting your followers know when you have posts on other blogs, I’d suggest making a separate post on your blog that links to the post on the other. That way no one will miss it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *lol* Yeah, it was still ambitious then, I agree. But I learned my lesson now, and I’m not interested in pushing myself like that again.

      As for the “other blog post” idea, I think I’m going to stick with the separate post for notifying people. Like you said, it’s the easiest way of ensuring readers don’t miss it.

      Thanks for stopping by, Heather. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  13. Aww, I’ll miss the Time Flies and Beautiful People but I’ll look forward to what you choose to post. The General Creativity idea has caught my attention.
    Also, I’ve heard that scheduling the publishing time for the posts help with time management for blogs. Maybe that could help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for understanding, Zezee. It was a tough decision, but a necessary one, since I felt like I’d been running myself into the ground blogging-wise. But the new schedule feels a lot more relaxed, and I’m finally getting to some article ideas (including the General Creativity ones) I’d put off for months. So I hope readers will enjoy those and we can have some great discussions as a result. 😉

      I’ve been using the pre-scheduled publishing tool for a while. So yes, I agree that’s very helpful.

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