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Random Thoughts: Performance Anxiety

Random Thoughts

There are many ways that bloggers can be made to feel pressure and stress. One of those ways, in particular, is the pressure to perform.

When a blogger has achieved a certain standard with their reviews or posts, they’re expected to meet that standard from that point forward. Their readers come to expect that level of information and insight because that blogger has reached that level in the past.

If that blogger has been labeled the “go to” blogger for information about any number of subjects, they’re expected to have that information at the ready for all. If they’re labeled the most insightful reviewer, all reviews must therefore be insightful. If they offer up the most interesting topics for their memes, ask the most interesting questions for their author interviews, put forth the most interesting discussion questions, invite the most interesting guests to post, then time after time they will be expected to perform as they have previously.

While labels like “best” or “most” or “top” or “expert” offer a great boost to the ego, they also serve to heap on the stress and pressure to consistently be the best, be the expert, perform at top, and give, be, offer the most of whatever it is that’s expected of them.

And that expectation can lead to performance anxiety, bad blogger behavior or even failure to perform altogether. None of which are particularly good. Not for the blogger. And not for the blog’s readers.

Being anxious about how a review or post will be received will always be a part of blogging. But if the blogger perceives they must meet a higher standard for their posts or reviews, that level of pressure can be crippling. And for those who blog daily, the expectations – whether self-imposed or external – can be unrealistic.

Bloggers can’t always be expected to put forth “perfect” posts. They can’t always be expected to have original content. They can’t always be expected to be thoughtful or insightful or fluid with their thoughts or words. Especially not if they blog daily.

When writers have an off day, they put down their laptops and find other ways to occupy themselves until they get their mojo back. Bloggers don’t always have that luxury. But they do have alternatives.

They aren’t as stuck as they might think they are. They don’t always have to perform at the top of their game to appease their readers. They shouldn’t feel the need to resort to idea theft or to hide from the interwebs until they can deliver what they feel is expected of them.

Especially given the fact that, for the most part, the level of expectation isn’t as high as the blogger perceives it to be. And while we, as bloggers, can’t always properly gauge what level that is, or adjust our own expectations for ourselves down, we can do things to combat that pressure to perform instead of resorting to extremes.

So what can be done when faced with a bout of performance anxiety?

Mix things up.

If it’s our reviews that are causing us stress, change up the format once in awhile and gauge our readers’ reactions and interest. It’s likely they’ll appreciate the variety rather than the same old-same old.

If it’s coming up with serious topics for our discussion or meme posts, then add some levity, fun or silliness. Not everyone wants to think about, read or participate in those hard-hitting topical discussions all the time. Opening up the discussion to favorite character archetypes, love triangles, cliffhanger endings can take the pressure off and can invite different readers to contribute to the conversation.

If it’s our weekly features that are causing us to hyperventilate, change them into bi-weekly or monthly round-up posts. Change up the day of the week we post them every so often, so as not to lock us in to one particular day each week we provide that specific content.

Don’t wear the “expert” mantle.

If your readers or followers try to pin the label of “expert” on you, consistently make sure you negate that label. If you don’t want the pressure to perform at the level an expert would, don’t take it on.

Being an expert will make you the “go to” blogger for information about whatever you’re claiming to be an expert on. Whether it’s in the way you reach out to publishers and authors, the way you conduct yourself at blogger events, the way you earn income on your blog, the way you handle review requests, the way you code your posts, if you claim “expert” status you will be expected to be the expert.

Aim lower.

If you really can’t handle being at the top, if trying to be the best is making your ideas and creativity dry up, aim just a little bit lower. Do what you can do, not what you think you should do.

If you’re having one of those off days where the words just won’t come, but a review or post is expected of you, just put down those words that do come to you. It’s better to perform than not perform at all. It’s better to have met your deadline than to have missed it, leaving those counting on you in the lurch.

As tough as it might be to lower your own expectations of yourself, the pressure will come off if you aren’t expecting greatness with each and every post or review.

Find something new.

The easiest way to get rid of your stage fright is to find something new – a new blog feature, a new review format, a new meme to participate in.

While coming up with new content might be a challenge in and of itself, the newness of the idea will definitely get those creative juices flowing. And without any previous posts to compare it to, there will be no prior expectation, by your readers at least, of how great an idea it is, how well-written it is, how well-executed it is.

Which can definitely help when performance anxiety has you in its grips.

So…

If you can’t manage your own expectations for yourself or those perceived expectations from your blog’s readers, then try to make a few tweaks here and there to see if it will cause that performance anxiety to diminish.

While a little fear is natural, feeling like you’re a deer caught in headlights when sitting down to write those reviews and posts isn’t helpful and will only get worse if you can’t find a way to get beyond the stress.

***

Do you have performance anxiety when it comes to writing content for your blog? Has it gotten worse the longer you’ve been blogging or has it gotten easier?

How do you get past your fear of not being as good as you once were, not achieving those same levels of excellence, not being as exciting, entertaining, interesting, topical?

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