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Random Thoughts: Pressure

Book bloggers do this for fun. We do it for free. We do it in our spare time. We do this because we love to read books and share our opinions about them. We do this because we want to be a part of a community. So it should be easy, right? It should be stress-free, shouldn’t it? It should. Ideally. But it isn’t always either of those things. Most of the time, actually, it’s not.

It’s complicated. It’s hard work. It’s stressful. And there is a ton of pressure.

Pressure to create our daily/semi-weekly/weekly posts. Pressure to stay on top of what’s going on in the publishing world, what’s happening with our favorite authors, what’s being buzzed about and what’s going on in the community. Pressure to read the books on our piles. Pressure to produce new, original and exciting content. Pressure to keep readers coming back to our sites. Pressure to be social. Pressure to write informative and honest reviews. Pressure to respond to comments, questions, emails, review requests. Pressure to do it all, really.

Most of us are not seeking to be writers. We are not all out-of-the-box creative thinkers. We are not, all of us, skilled marketers. We read books because we love them. We take a chance and share our thoughts. We hope to keep up with, at the very least, our blog posts. And we try so very hard to stay relevant.

But the pressure to perform can be enormous. And the pressure to continually improve, to come up with new ideas, new post topics and new features, and to continue to churn them out day after day, week after week, can be overwhelming.

Add this to the pressure most of us feel because we think we need to keep up with those bloggers who have more time, better ability to market themselves, better social skills and a seemingly easier time creating their posts and reviews, and the pressure can be overbearing.

How can we hope to be creative when we’re bogged down by all these internal and external pressures? How can we hope to keep doing what we do when we’re feeling too overwhelmed? How can we hope to find joy in what we do when we’ve heaped on so many responsibilities, expectations, stressors that we can barely breathe let alone smile?

We can’t.

But how much or how little pressure we feel is up to us. It’s our choice. No one is forcing us to do any of this. No one is holding that proverbial gun to our heads. We can choose not to focus on any other blog but our own. We can choose to keep doing what we’re doing without adding any new gimmicks, features or other lures to get new readers in. We can choose to refrain from the social.

We can choose to take a break.

While we feel a responsibility to our readers to keep posting content, if the content we do post suffers because we’re forcing ourselves to do it, is that the best thing for our readers?

And while we feel responsible to the authors and publishers whose books we accept for review, if we’re under too much pressure to enjoy those books in the way we might if we weren’t under the gun to get those reviews posted, is that being fair to them, either?

If the pressure we feel is causing us to lose our passion for books, dulled our love of reading or taken away our positive outlook toward those books before we’ve even read them, are we even the same bloggers that those authors or publishers thought they were reaching out to?

And if the pressure we’ve put on ourselves to keep up has caused us to behave in ways we never would have otherwise behaved – snarky, unkind, jealous – or have resorted to things we might never have otherwise thought ourselves capable of – lying, cheating, stealing – is it worth it?

If we don’t have time to blog daily, we don’t have to. If we don’t have time to read all the books we’ve accepted for review, we also don’t have to, though letting the authors or publishers know why is a courtesy they deserve. If we want to reduce the number of features or memes we do each week, we can. And if we want to limit our time spent responding to email, comments, Facebook messages or Tweets, we can do that too.

Not that there won’t be consequences for our actions. We may lose a few followers. Our traffic may slow. We may get less interaction on our blogs than we once did. We may find we get fewer new followers than we otherwise might have. And we may get quite a few less requests for review.

But is this a bad thing? No. Because those followers that do stick around are interested in what we have to say. They understand that we can’t keep running as fast and as hard as we have been without burning out and they’d rather see us in it for the long haul.

Fewer comments also means fewer responses we’ll feel guilty about not having the chance to give. Slower traffic is just that. If we’re posting less frequently, it’s only natural there will be fewer site visits. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the number of readers who visit our sites has decreased.

And unless we are trying to grow our blogs to such a level that we’re making money from them, fewer new followers and slower traffic aren’t the end of the world. Besides, if we can’t handle the books we do have to read, we probably shouldn’t feel the need to get so many more from authors and publishers.

While some pressure is a given – we can’t possibly expect to do this without feeling some pressure to keep us forging ahead – it doesn’t have to be of the lung-crushing variety. It doesn’t have to make us hate what we do. It doesn’t have to turn blogging into an all or nothing endeavor. And it doesn’t have to make us dishonest.

It’s a choice. All of it is. The choice to blog or not to blog. The choice to feel pressured or the choice to feel relaxed. How much pressure we choose to incur is all up to us. So, the question really is how much pressure do we choose to put ourselves under?

26 Responses to “Random Thoughts: Pressure”

  1. Nina Reads says:

    I feel like I am finally getting better about controlling the amount of pressure I put myself under. I am no longer pushing myself to blog seven days a week, in fact I have weeks where I only post 3-5 posts, and am okay with that. I am limiting myself to not requesting/accepting more than 6 ARCs per month, so that I won’t have as much pressure to read things in order, to write reviews of everything I read, and so that I’ll have time to read just for fun as well.

    And I have long ago realized that I don’t have the time, energy or creativity to ever become one of those huge bloggers who’s names everyone knows, and that’s really never been my goal either. Like you say, slowing things down might mean less traffic, less comments, but that no longer matters nearly as much to me as it used to, because I am still reading books, discovering new authors and making friends with other book lovers, and that’s really why I got into blogging in the first place:)

  2. I have been struggling with this more and more this year. I think attributes also to blogger burn out too. I want to read and enjoy the books.
    I have a pile of review to read but now I am not in the mood. I have been reading books from my kindle.
    I am trying not to stress myself out and haven’t been posting as much , but I still feel the pressure to review the books that I do have.

    Its a tough blogging and reviewing. I have made some wonderful friends. I have found some new authors, and trying to enjoy reading because that’s what I need to enjoy this hobby.

    Word on all these thoughts πŸ™‚

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      So sorry to hear about the burnout. Taking a step back, slowing things down, reading what you want and choosing to post (or not) a review really does help. Reading for the joy of reading and not worrying about sharing your thoughts for each read can really help. Choosing not to accept any review books also can help with the pressure.

      I’ve always found I got far more feedback when posting a review for books others have already read than books that no one has yet read. We readers love to talk about books and those early reads or review titles aren’t always ones everyone can join in the discussion on.

      I’m sure authors understand pressure and it’s always an option to reach out and just let them know you’ll post the review when you can but that you are one reader with life priorities and can only do what you can.

      It’s so great that you have made friends, discovered new authors and still somewhat enjoy reading, because those are the very best parts of this.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your blogging situation with everyone. I think there are so many of us that totally relate to this.

      Oh, and if you’ve accepted a book for review that you don’t feel like reading right now, grab one that you do want to read now, and it might just be that in a book or two you do find you’ll want to read that review book because the pressure is off. Chances are that review book is one you thought you’d be interested in. At least that’s a trick I use for myself that seems fairly successful.

  3. A few times in the past I felt overwhelmed by the pressure to post everyday. But I realized that I blog for fun and all the pressure was unnecessary. If I can post everyday then I will but I won’t feel the need to stress myself out. If I don’t have the time or the energy to post then I won’t.

    I love blogging but I don’t want it to become so overwhelming that it completely stresses me out. As long as it stays fun and I enjoy what I’m doing I will continue to blog.

  4. kindlemom1 says:

    I think it is easy sometimes to lose sight of the fact that we do this because we love to read and we want to share that passion with others. It is easy to get sucked into how many followers we have or comments we get on each post or if we are getting the latest and hottest ARC out there to review.

    And with that comes the pressure of wanting to be great and be big and sometimes losing something along the way.

    I know I worry about things I shouldn’t and sometimes forget to read something simply because I want to, not because I have been asked to.

    I think we all have to remember that it isn’t a contest and really, it shouldn’t ever turn into one.

    I think this post was very well said and a good reminder to stop every once in awhile and remember to smell the roses. πŸ˜‰

  5. Great post, you said it so perfectly!
    I never realized the pressure that blogging would cause when I first started almost two years ago. I thought I would just be writing about my favorite books and it would be easy. There is a lot of work that goes into it like you said there are emails, commenting, posting often, and keeping up to date on authors and publishers. It can get pretty crazy some days and it gets stressful at times. When it gets too much I step away for a few days because I don’t ever want to lose that feeling of loving to blog and talk about books.

  6. Nicely well said post. I kept nodding along to everything you had to say. I’ve only been blogging and reviewing books for about a year and some odd months, and there are times where I feel so discouraged, and want to quit.
    With all the recent drama, authors behaving badly to bloggers, and like you said, all the pressure we put on ourselves, it does tend to be a bit overwhelming. I try to post frequently, but am only now just starting to accept that it’s okay to not have to post as much as you think you have to. I love the fact that there’s a world out there where I can share similar interests and find new friends who love doing what we do as well. Great post!

  7. Ellen says:

    What a great post. I’ve only been blogging about 8 or 9 months now, but I feel really bad because I have so many requests for reviews from indie authors that I just can’t get to. I’ve even considered asking for other bloggers to do some guest reviews of some of these books, but I’m not really sure if that is appropriate, since the author has asked me. I’d be interested in your thoughts, or anyone else’s thoughts on that.

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      Thanks Ellen! It’s a tough question to answer. Some authors may want only your review because they like your review style. Some may like your blog and the exposure it might give so would be happy with a review from anyone on your blog.

      You could always reach back out to the author to let them know you are too booked up but that you may have a guest reviewer for your blog that might be interested and see what they say. I’ve had mixed results from doing that so I stopped. But my guest reviewer was a friend of mine, not another blogger.

      If you know another blogger who would be interested in reviewing a specific Indie Author’s title you could always ask that other blogger and if they’re okay with it, you could forward their details to that author and let them make the decision whether or not to reach out to them for a review.

      I hope this helps. I’m curious to see what some others think!

  8. Another great post! I love your random thoughts posts because they are always so well articulated and thought out.

    I completely agree. It is easy to spread yourself too thin and then you start feeling the pressure. It’s hard to get all your review books read right away when you have other life obligations. And it is nearly impossible to do as much marketing and social interaction via twitter, and commenting as I would like to.

    But you have to find a balance between what you want to do and what is possible. It takes a while, but hopefully each person can develop a pattern that works for them.

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed this post

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      Thanks Michelle! I try to think them through just a bit more than I do my rambles on the other blog. I’m not always successful, but hey, I suppose that’s okay. Can’t be perfect all the time. Too much pressure. πŸ™‚

      Yes, those pesky life obligations like friends, family, job, pets, chores, sleep… I sometimes forget about those things because blogging can be a 24×7 gig.

      I agree it takes finding a balance. And I think it differs for everyone which is where pressure comes in as some people can juggle more than others due to different life situations and those who have less time try so very hard to keep up. But I hope that’s the case too, that people can find a balance that works for them and worry less about how it compares to someone else.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  9. miki says:

    very good post. But i also think that part of this pressure is new due to all the problem that have arisen in the blogging community these last month.That part of the pressure shouldn’t have existed, no reader or blogger should be threatened because of his/her opinion or insulted….i don’t understand what is happening but today i’m really sad because a blog( The hippies, beauty and books oh my) that i followed and liked because the bloggers were kind and very attentive is shutting down. Why? because the pressure was too hard and i understand them i do they told us there were going to take a break so they could read what they liked and enjoy their reading. It’s perfectly normal i mean we should read because we love that and the result is that a part of people started to insult them and more…why because they are human being? that’s not right !
    i understand them for wanting to leave that behind but i’m also sad we could give them the support them needed

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      I had no idea that Hippies Beauty and Books was shutting down because of the drama in the community or because of pressure. I know one of another bloggers I enjoyed visiting had shut down but I’d no idea anyone else had decided to close up shop. People insulted them because they wanted to slow things down? Well that’s terrible!

      I hadn’t known those bloggers and only heard of their blog recently as they were on a tour I was visiting. But I believe you when you say they were nice and would not deserve insults or rudeness. That’s terribly unfortunate. And I am sorry they didn’t get the support they should have from their loyal followers and friends in the community.

      I don’t know what happened or what motivated people to be cruel, but I hope it didn’t leave them with such a bad feeling about the community that they might not return some day. That is sad.

  10. I love this post! πŸ™‚ I think the pressure is more on the blog owner. I think “we” ourselves really create our own pressure. It is probably best that we make reasonable expectations for ourself…but I think that a when there are more than one blog owner, the pressure may seem less, but I think that it ends up being more because you have to live up to someone else’ expectations as well.

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      It is totally on the blogger. We take on too many responsibilities because of our inability to say no, we worry about not living up to some standard we’ve set or we feel is expected of us, etc. Setting reasonable expectations is where it starts, but even if our expectations are reasonable we still often feel pressure to live up to those standards, too.

      With two blog owners that doesn’t make it simpler. Just more complicated, IMO. I’d worry I’d be letting my blog partner down if I didn’t keep up with their pace. I’d stress if they weren’t keeping up with what I expected of them. I’d stress if we had different policies about the books we accept for review. I’d worry if one of us was more social than the other, had a bigger online presence, had more (or less) time to read, review and blog. Ugh. I couldn’t imagine taking on a blog partner. It was hard enough when I had Nic as my casual blog partner on MRP.

      She stopped reading and writing reviews so she was kind of out. LOL.

      The only thing having a blog partner does is help with the amount of posts that need to be created. But unless you totally trust and can rely on that person as much as you can trust and rely on yourself it’s just as stressful.

  11. With school right around the corner, I start back up on Monday, I was seriously spinning myself out with all of the pressure. I really needed this post to deal with all of the upcoming anxieties and pressures. Thank you for writing it and reminding me that feeling pressured is a choice, and one I most definitely do not choose to feel any longer. I’m feeling a lot better now. :]

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      With school you have pressure that’s unavoidable, you definitely don’t need any self-imposed pressures from blogging. Focus on school, do what you can for in terms of blogging, your blogger friends and loyal readers will always be there to support you and when you have more time you can get back to it more fully if you choose.

      You’re so welcome. And I’m so glad it helped even just a little bit! It’s hard to remember that pressure from blogging is a choice. It feels so much like it’s not. But it is. We all understand that there are life demands – school being a huge one – and one that’s much more important in the long-term. You don’t get do overs for school. You can get a fresh start with your blog.

      This community can be totally supportive if you need it. And if you ever need a hand all you have to do is holler and someone will be there to help. πŸ™‚

  12. I was about to pour my heart in this comment, telling you all the relief this post gave me…
    But then…

    “_______”
    I looked up…
    Your header is SO FREAKING GORGEOUS!!
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    -le dies with style-
    #1Stylished-Stalker

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      LOL! And isn’t it? Kinda sexy. Maybe a bit too sexy for YA. But I freaking LOVE it. Parajunkee is amazing. πŸ™‚

  13. OMG RACHEL! Seriously, this post is AMAZING!!! I just read it, then read it ALOUD to hubby at 1:30 AM!

    I KNOW that all the pressure and stress and OVERWHELMING sense of pending failure I feel is self induced… because I’m just like that.. But no matter how many times I tell myself that I will SLOW DOWN- I just never do. :/

    You alright dollface? I’m here if you need to chat! <3

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      Oh thank you and wow! I hope your hubby wasn’t too mad! Talking pressure at 1:30 a.m. is never fun! πŸ˜‰

      It really is. We bloggers put ourselves under a ton of pressure. In March 2011 I said I had to slow down, I was feeling way too much pressure. Two months later I started a couple more blogs. Yeah. Slow down? Pssh, it’s impossible! We just should recognize it’s totally self-inflicted, self-induced and that if we didn’t do so much, work so hard, put such demands on ourselves, it would still be OK!

      I’m okay, the topic actually popped into my head because I was feeling pressure about coming up with thoughtful sounding Random Thoughts posts, LOL. The post just took off from there. I have about 40 of these saved in drafts, but I always feel the topics are too silly.

      Most of my blogging pressure these days will end as of next weekend. I’m moving so it’s added a bit of a stress factor. But I know it’s all me. I put myself under pressure all the time so I’m used to it. But it’s nice to remind myself, too, with these posts, that it’s more internal and less external than I imagine it to be.

      And thanks for the offer of a chat! I may take you up on that offer at some point! Nothing like fun twitter convos to totally take the pressure off. πŸ™‚

  14. Lauren says:

    What a great post! I was talking to another blogger about this exact thing last night. I find everything so overwhelming now that I have started blogging.

  15. This is totally me! I’m just an extremely stressful person. No joke! My friends are always telling me I over think everything which leads to me stressing majorly. But, that’s just the kind of person I am! I’m a a major perfectionist which adds to the stress, but it’s ok. I love blogging & I’ve decided that I’m not going to be posting everyday once school starts. If it’s no more fun & all stress, then I have a problem! But, the experience has been AMAZING so far!

  16. Coranne says:

    I 100% agree with you. I decided to pull back when I realized that blogging was simply not fun anymore. If it isn’t fun, then I am not going to do it- I only have so many days in my life and I don’t want to waste them on things that stress me out and don’t have to.

    I don’t worry about if I have content up every day- I just try to work through my stack of books and get the reviews up online.

    I used to give myself goals- I want this many page views, this many followers, and then I decided for myself- what is the point? I get books from some pubs- but not all… who cares? I can still get those books at the library. I have taken the pressure off myself and I have found it to be much more fun!

  17. Liz says:

    I will probably be on repeat with what people said above, but amazing post. I really need this, more than you know. I started blogging about 4 months ago purely for the fact I was barely working, had all this free time and wanted to meet other book lovers. Fast forward to this month and I work more hours than I can sometimes handle and feel terrible at times for not putting out the content I use to. I realized though I have to do what makes me happy. I never want to quit, and I completely agree, the ones who stick around are the ones that truly care and want to see what I have to say.

    I love you for this! Made me realize I am only happy, and my blog exactly that…my blog. πŸ™‚

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  1. Required Reading: 8/26/2012 - Sliced Open Reviews - [...] Random Thoughts: Pressure – [Fikt]shun [...]
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