Honoring Your Reality When You’re a Blogger

If you’ve been blogging for a period of time, you’ve probably kept at it because you enjoy it. You’re passionate about your subject, have a strong desire to write about it, and find joy in communicating with like-minded people. Maybe you’ve blocked out time in your schedule for writing your posts, responding to comments, and catching up on friends’ blogs. In short, blogging has become part of your routine, and it’s impossible to imagine your life without it.

That is, until something happens in your offline life, and you have to put your blogging on hold.

This isn’t uncommon. Recently I took about 2 months off from blogging here. Yep. Two months of not blogging, except for writing articles for DIY MFA and Writers Helping Writers. Why? My day job was much busier than I’d expected it to be during that time. Then my best friend’s father passed away suddenly, so I took some time to attend his memorial services and support my friend. Finally, just as things were slowing down, I went on vacation. All of this was happening while I was trying to maintain a normal routine of poetry / novel writing, traveling every other weekend to visit my parents, and taking care of other real-life responsibilities.

(*whew*) Did reading that make you tired, too?

The point is, I didn’t have enough time or headspace to blog. Some days I was fine with this, because I knew that whatever needed my focus just then was important. But on other days, I was frustrated. And I’m not alone. Several of my online friends have taken unexpected hiatuses from blogging due to work, school, illness, or family emergencies. Perhaps you’ve experienced something like this yourself.

This is one of the realities of blogging: Despite how much we enjoy it, we can only give it the time and attention that we give our other hobbies. Believe me, it PAINS me to call blogging “just a hobby.” Doing so undermines the value of the articles I’ve written and the relationships I’ve forged as a result. But it’s the truth. Our offline lives should take precedence over our online lives. Even if we think we’ve achieved a kind of balance, there will be times when our real-life responsibilities, either everyday or unforeseen, will throw that balance out of whack.

So when this does happen, we should remember this phrase:

Honor Your Reality

It’s a term I first heard from Gabriela Pereira, my boss at DIY MFA. When we honor our reality, we recognize that both the real and creative aspects of our lives matter, but that we can’t ignore the real (our jobs, our health, children / family, etc.) when it needs our attention. Sometimes this requires us to make temporary or permanent changes to our creative lifestyle. In fact, I shared my own examples of honoring my reality for DIY MFA here last year. So, as you can see, this is a struggle that all writers (including bloggers) will run into at some point. Which makes the idea of “honoring your reality” all the more important.

Tips on Honoring Your Reality as a Blogger

So, how can we apply the idea of “honoring your reality” when life requires us to take a break from blogging? Here are some suggestions.

#1: Accept Your Circumstances

Sometimes we try to “power through” a situation so we can maintain the status quo. But that’s not always possible. Moving to a new home, dealing with the death of a loved one, starting our first semester at college – these and other events are important, and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. So take the first step in honoring your reality by accepting your circumstances. Acknowledging the presence and purpose of the obligation that has led to your hiatus, and remember that it’s only temporary. This acceptance will make it easier for you to adjust your attitude in other ways so you get through this stressful period.

#2: Practice Patience When Thinking About Your Comeback

Yes. I know. You want to get back to blogging – right this very minute! But impatience is often the source of any stress and frustration you experience during this kind of hiatus. And nobody likes stress, right? 😉 So be kind to yourself, and practice patience as you prepare to return to blogging. Here are some suggestions on how to do this:

  • Keep a two-column list of ideas for future blog posts. Put the two or three most timely or inspiring ideas under “High Priority” and the rest under “Low Priority.” That way, you’ll have topics to write about when you come back without feeling overwhelmed. You can also maintain this list once you’re back to blogging as a way of prioritizing those ideas and keeping track of new ones.
  • Wait to schedule new posts or commit to a comeback date until you have at least one post ready. This will help you avoid the temptation of promising yourself or your readers that you’ll be back on such-and-such a date when, in reality, you have little control over when your schedule will actually free up.
  • Give your comeback post the same amount of time and attention you gave your previous posts. Don’t rush for the sake of getting an article out there. Quality is more important than quantity in the end.
#3: Try Not to Fall Victim to “Blogger’s Guilt”

When we unexpectedly fall behind on our blogging, we might experience what I call “blogger’s guilt.” In other words, we feel a sense of having let our readers down because we haven’t posted anything new, replied to comments promptly, or visited friends’ blogs recently. And anyone who’s experienced blogger’s guilt (myself included) will tell you that it downright STINKS.

But here’s the good news: Your readers and blogger friends will most likely understand. They’re human beings just like you and me. They have jobs, school, children, and other real-life responsibilities. So they know what it’s like when life goes haywire. Which also means that, if you have to break from your weekly blogging schedule for a month, they won’t feel betrayed. Concerned? Yes. But angry? No. In fact, they’ll probably welcome you back with boundless enthusiasm and a virtual hug.

#4: Be Positive

Having the right attitude is essential for honoring your reality. One of the best ways of doing this is by looking for the silver lining. What benefits can you find in your time off from blogging? How can you change any toxic emotions (frustration, anxiety, “blogger’s guilt,” etc.) into something more positive? In my case, my recent hiatus allowed me more time to spend with my friend when she needed me most and a chance to relax, write poetry, and immerse myself in my vacation travels during. I was so calm and fulfilled by how I spent that time that not once did I worry about blogging. Plus, that sense of contentment helped ease some of my work-related stress – and I’d never complain about that!

#5: Take Care of Yourself

Ever notice how much better you feel after getting a good night’s sleep? Or when you make time for a favorite hobby even when things are crazy? Taking care of yourself means tending to all aspects of your health and well-being. So when real life calls for a blogging break, make sure you pay attention to your own needs while addressing your responsibilities. Use small snatches of time to read, nap, journal, dance – whatever lowers your stress levels and brings you joy. This and other means of self-care will help you feel refreshed, enlivened, and motivated when you finally return to blogging.

In short, honoring your reality as a blogger is often easier said than done. Your real and creative lives are equally important to you, which means they’re bound to conflict from time to time – and the creative won’t always win out. But with patience, self-compassion, and a flexible, positive attitude, you can get through a sudden blogging hiatus and know that, eventually, you WILL be back. 😉

When was the last time you took an unexpected break from blogging? How did you honor your reality during that time? What other tips would you add in addition to the five listed above?

29 thoughts on “Honoring Your Reality When You’re a Blogger

  1. I guess it depends, I personally don’t think calling blogging a hobby undermines it in anyway 🙂 Though I suppose it’s because I know people with very expensive and time consuming hobbies, lol! If you put your heart and soul into something, whether it’s restoring an old classic car or writing an article, then it means something, so don’t lose heart! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a good point about different kinds of hobbies. I guess, for me, the word “hobby” has a slightly negative connotation, since when I was growing up I was frequently told how writing was “just a hobby” and “not as important as other things.” But you’re right – hobbies are meaningful to the participants, and that matters more than what other people might think of those hobbies. 🙂

      Thanks for your comments, Mogsy!

      Like

  2. I’m always frustrated by the constant stream of interruptions from home and work. A half here and t hr were to write is not enough. Recently I discovered escaping to the library so laundry and what’s for dinner tasks can’t find me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some great advice there, Sara. Sometimes I get busy or tired and take a break, which I think is healthy to do. For me, I call blogging a hobby because that’s how I make it manageable and not place too much pressure on myself regarding it, but I see your point there and agree with you too that amount of time and commitment that goes into blogging makes it more than a mere hobby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’ve noticed you do that from time to time. And it’s good that you recognize the need to take a break and then act on it. It saves you from a lot of stress in the long run.

      Mogsy made a good point about hobbies in her comment, though. Blogging isn’t the only hobby that takes considerable time, effort, and commitment. And when you’re passionate about that hobby, then of course it’s going to seem like more than “just a hobby”. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Zezee!

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  4. It’s definitely important to priorities real life over online life. As much as I wanted to continue blogging and writing at the same level i was when I started college, I found it just wasn’t possible. And that was frustrating. I’m never as consistent online as I’d like to be – there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day – and I sometimes feel bad about missing posts on sites I follow and love. You’ve given some great advice here, do what you can, and don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t. We’re all only human. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • ^^ Exactly. And I’m like you – I feel badly about missing certain posts and not having enough to visit my friends’ blogs and respond to comments as often as I’d like to. But I’ve also accepted that this haphazard, fitting-it-in-when-I-can blogging routine is probably going to be my new “normal” for a while. And I’m OK with that. It’s better than not blogging at all. 😉

      Glad to hear you liked the tips, and thanks for stopping by, V! (Silly question, but I think I give you a different “name” every time I reply to your comments. What would you like me to call you? *blushes*)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it’s my main writing that gets pushed out of the way. For some reason when I’m tired and stretched I can still write non-fiction, but fiction is beyond me. So when life gets awkward the blog generally rolls on, but the book sputters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmmm, that’s interesting. Even when life gets busy and I put blogging to the side, I can keep plugging along on fiction and poetry. But every writer is different, so it makes sense that our ways of managing our writing – or, rather, what we feel most compelled to work on – when life gets busy would differ, too.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deborah. Do you think the tips might still be helpful even though your situation is a little different than the one I focused on in this post?

      Like

  6. Great advice! I took an entire month off of social media after my book published because I had set so many things aside in order to make my deadlines (plus I started a new job) and it felt so good to not feel guilty about allowing time to honor my reality. And now I’m back and even though my life was busy, I am creatively refreshed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sounds like you made some wise decisions on how to honor your reality during that time, Emily. 🙂 Btw, congrats again on the release of Crowning Heaven! What’s the response from readers been like so far?

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  7. Oh, this is so good. It’s a relief to hear (or read, I suppose =P) someone talk about the necessity of taking blogging breaks because of real life. I think we need to talk about that more openly on our blogs instead of either pretending breaks never happen or over-apologizing for them. I know I fall prey to blogger’s guilt and feel like I can’t call myself a writer if I let real life take priority sometimes. But you’re right that blogging really is a hobby—which doesn’t undermine it (hobbies are important) but helps take the pressure off it.

    Because of my arm pain these past two years, I was forced to take an unexpected break. It was really hard, but knowing that there would be a group of people to welcome when I got back, even if it took a long time, helped me not stress. I love what you said about having patience before coming back, too. I need to remember that still. Thank you so much for addressing this and for the great tips. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Between you and Mogsy, I really have to thank you ladies for putting a (much needed) different perspective on blogging as a hobby. I grew up with the word “hobby” having a negative connotation, because the people around me called my writing “just a hobby” in a way that felt condescending. But you’re right – hobbies are important to us, but we have to remember to not put so much pressure on ourselves when it comes to those hobbies. 🙂

      As for the rest of your comment… I love it, Aberdeen, and I’m not quite sure how to respond other than with a great big hug. So here it is. (*big virtual hug*)

      Thanks for stopping by! And I hope your arm (or arms?) is doing better.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve definitely heard hobby used in a negative way, and I’m sorry that your writing was spoken about like that. =/ But I think that, as long as you keep your priorities straight and are balanced, hobbies are really important. They’re part of what make us who we are. I don’t think we can be our best selves if we don’t honor that part of ourselves. Anyway, I’m glad we can give you a new, more positive perspective on it. =)

        And aww, thank you so much! Hugs are always welcome. *hugs back* I know I rarely comment at all, mostly because of my arms, but I do read and enjoy everything you post. You have such great writing advice and I love your clear, thoughtful style. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I disappeared from my blog for an entire year after getting sick. I didn’t mean to stay away so long – it just happened. When I felt up to it, I simply returned and that was that. I lost a couple followers and picked up some new ones but generally, everything was more or less the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Fortunately I haven’t had to take an unexpected hiatus in a long time thanks to scheduling. But it is refreshing to take an annual hiatus at the end of the year to refuel. Sometimes I run out of post ideas if I work myself too hard. I had this happen recently so I caught up on tags instead and now the ideas are flowing again. I think it’s always good to keep a list of post ideas too. It helps when you get stuck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, it’s a good idea to take scheduled hiatuses (is that how it’s pluralized?) now and then to recharge and/or focus on other things. I usually take mine around travel vacations and Christmas / New Year’s.

      I’m glad that you recently found a way to re-inspire your blogging when you ran out of post ideas. Which reminds me – I need to get on the Old Journals Revisited Tag you nominated me for! Thanks for the indirect reminder. 😉

      Like

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