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Random Thoughts: Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Random-Thoughts-1As a book blogger it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of participating on tours, accepting requests for reviews, coming up with new features and challenges and memes. It’s so easy to go from being a happy book blogger to one who feels that maybe, just maybe, they’ve bitten off more than they can chew.

When you first start out blogging all you want is to be noticed. You want to make a name for yourself. So the idea of saying “no” is preposterous. If you say no, then maybe you’ll never be asked again. If you say no, then maybe you’ll be seen as a snob. If you say no, then maybe someone will ask why not.

But after awhile you find your groove, you’ve created an identity and those initial opportunities which were few and far between are now too numerous for you to handle. You’re drowning. But you still can’t find a way to say no without feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt.

Or perhaps the opportunities are once-in-a-lifetime or too good to pass up. So you say yes, even though you really should say no. And now you find yourself in the unenviable position of having too much to do and too little time to do it.

So you scramble. And you stress. And you create posts that don’t meet your previous standards of excellence. Your excitement levels begin to wane. You find that things you once looked forward to, you now dread. Things you once spent time and care on you’re now just copy/pasting. Your heart isn’t really in it any longer because you’ve become so overtaxed. You’re basically just phoning it in.

Sometimes you find that you’ve taken such a big bite that you can’t handle what you’ve bitten off. You’ve said yes but now can’t deliver on what was promised. You won’t have that book reviewed on time, or at all. You won’t have your tour post up by the requested hour. You won’t have your meme or feature posted on its typical day. You will be letting down the author or blogger or publisher who is counting on you.

And you don’t know what to do. You’ve waited too long to reasonably bow out without looking bad, without causing someone to have to scramble due to your inability to say no in the first place, without leaving those meme participants in the lurch.

You’re not a bad person. You don’t leave people high and dry. You had every intention of getting it done when you agreed to take on the responsibility. And even though things have changed, even if it’s not humanly possible for you to do so, you’re going to try. Because it’s the thought that counts, right?

Not exactly.

Sometimes, unfortunately, motivation and intent don’t matter. Only the result does. And if the result is that you’ve failed to meet your deadline then the fact that you wanted to doesn’t much matter.

Biting-off-more-than-you-can-chew

So what can you do when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?

Admit defeat. Unlike many of the characters in the books you read, you are in fact human and you can’t do everything. Own it. Ask for help. There are any number of bloggers who would be happy to step in and give you a hand. That’s one of the most wonderful things about this community.

If you’re scheduled for a tour that should include a review and you just can’t review it, reach out to the hosts and beg forgiveness. Ask instead if you can create a spotlight post of your favorite quotes or one in which you talk about what you like best about the author’s writing. And if you don’t even have time for that, offer up an alternative blogger to take your place. Reach out to a friend and see if they can do it, then ask the hosts if they’d be willing to include your friend’s blog on the tour instead of yours. While it’s not ideal, being responsive and being proactive will likely keep you on the list for future tour opportunities instead of being banned.

If you’ve agreed to review a book for an author or publisher, reach out to them, let them know that it’s not the book but life that has caused you not to have that review written when promised. Maybe you won’t be given the opportunity to work with either again, but if you ignore it altogether you can pretty much guarantee you will never be given a future opportunity.

If you’ve agreed to write a guest post or participate in another blogger’s event and you just can’t do it, let them know. As early as possible. While they might not be happy about it, they might just understand. And they’ll certainly be less upset than if you simply ignored their emails. No one likes to be ignored.

If you can’t post your meme on its expected day, create a short post giving your apologies and adding a linky list for those participants who have created their posts on time. They’ll likely be more than happy that you thought of them, and will continue to participate in your feature, even if you were too busy to add your two cents. It shows your appreciation of them and your commitment to the feature.

When you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, don’t hide and ignore it – because it won’t go away. Don’t be dishonest or resort to measures that are even more drastic like idea theft – because your reputation can never really bounce back from it.

Believe it or not, people can be incredibly understanding, as no one is perfect. We all make mistakes and we all have been in a situation where we just can’t do everything we promised to do. Sometimes life happens. Sometimes technology fails. Sometimes we fail.

But making up false excuses, because it’s harder to admit to the truth, isn’t the answer. The truth, as difficult as it might be to admit to, is something people will understand. It’s something they’ll respect. And chances are those real excuses are ones people can relate to.

Ultimately, though, you’ve got to learn your limitations. Know that you can’t possibly be the super human you wish you were. While some might assume that you do, in fact, have super powers, you really don’t. You have a life outside of your blog. You have people in real life that count on you too. You have to eat and sleep and relax. You probably have to work or study or take care of your family. You even have to have fun.

You have to learn to say no. As hard as it is. As much as you may not want to. As much as it scares you to do so.

Because if you don’t say no now and again, if you continue to bite off more than you can chew, you won’t be happy. You will fall out of love with your blog. You’ll begin to resent it. You may already be feeling that way.

On a personal note…

I am forever getting in over my head. I actually drafted a post back in March 2011 that’s been sitting in drafts with this very same title. I was overwhelmed back then, I’m even more so now.

While I haven’t missed a tour stop… yet… and hopefully never… and I haven’t missed a deadline to deliver a post or interview to a blogger I’d agreed to do, it doesn’t mean I’m not drowning.

I am a bit too obsessive-compulsive for my own good, so I won’t fail to deliver on an agreed upon post. But the same can’t be said about writing those reviews. In a perfect world I’d read every book I wanted to and dash off those reviews in a heartbeat. But I’m a slow reader and an even slower reviewer. And the words don’t always come.

But I know my limitations and I try to accept as few review requests as possible, because I know how much of a challenge it is for me. Especially when I know someone is expecting it.

It’s one of the main reasons why I never turned one of my features into a weekly meme. The idea that someone or someones might be relying on me week after week is way too much of a stressor. Creating a short-term challenge is one thing, creating something that has no end point is a bite that I know would be impossible for me to chew.

My biggest bites actually come from things outside of my blog Fiktshun. I am the co-owner of Rockstar Book Tours, which, given my obsessive-compulsive issues, causes me endless numbers of sleepless nights. Co-hosting the month-long Authors Are Rockstars Tours brings more of the same.

My constant need to turn ideas into realities forever exceeds my ability to fully execute and sustain them. And because I’m a bit of a control freak, they are often short-lived. Which is why I’m so surprised that I’m still blogging here at Fiktshun after all these years.

Currently I have eleven blogs… nope, make that twelve. Of course I only really blog regularly here at Fiktshun. But in my perfect world scenario I’d be able to actively blog on all of them. I have three Facebook pages, two Tumblr blogs and three Twitter accounts.

And no, those totals do not include the blog, Twitter and Facebook for Rockstar Book Tours.

However, I am finally ready to take my own advice and admit defeat.

I will be closing several more of my blogs so that I can enjoy blogging on just the one… or three. I will be taking breaks from putting together tours so that when I do take on a tour, I can give it my undivided attention.

As exciting as it once was to be able to do a little bit of everything, I really want to focus on doing just a few things, doing them well and enjoying the heck out of them.

And I will forever want to remain that blogger that can be counted on to do what I’ve promised to do.

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