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?