Friday, November 14, 2014

Sometimes You Just Gotta Shake It Off

Friday, November 14, 2014 with 29 comments
If you've been by the blog lately, you've probably noticed that April hasn't been around as much. But if you've been around the blogosphere much at all, you've probably noticed this is kind of a trend among those of us who've been blogging for any length of time. Whether it's the recent author drama, real-life stuff, or just a serious reading slump, we all need a break every now and then.

Jen: And that's the point I was at earlier this year, when I saw April mention on Twitter that she wished she could just co-blog with someone else to alleviate some of the stress. I had honestly been contemplating a hiatus of my own at the time because blogging had become more of a chore than a hobby. I didn't want to take a break, but I wanted blogging to be fun again. So, when I saw April's tweet, I jumped at the opportunity without any real deliberation. (You can read more about that here.)

It's worked out beautifully as far as I'm concerned. We're there to help out when the other has things come up that keep us from posting on our scheduled day. We've got each other's back when drama rears its ugly head. And our different styles and preferred genres provide some much-needed variety on the blog. Plus, it's fun again! I love our joint reviews and discussions like this!

But what do you do when you're BOTH kind of in a funk? I'm not in a reading slump per se, but it's taking me forever to finish a book these days. I used to read three books a week, stay up till 2am doing so, and never think twice about it. Now, I can barely make it to 10pm before my head hits the pillow, which means very little reading is getting done each night. I'm still flying through some audio, though. That's really been my saving grace.

April: I feel terrible for this. I feel like I let Jen down the last couple months. When we started out blogging together, we were both fed up. I was so ready to shut my blog down and say goodbye. Blogging here with Jen was fun again and gave me a new life in the blogging community. Now I'm back to barely posting. It sucks, but it's unavoidable. I barely have time to email with Jen; this week will be the most we have emailed in months and that makes me sad.

It goes to show you how quickly life can change. Early this year when I joined Jen, I was working part time at a company I had been at for almost 10 years. Then I was told I'd be laid off this winter, so the job hunt began. Now working full time with a ton of new responsibilities, reading and blogging have taken a back seat.

I've never been one to stay up until 2am reading. I value sleep too much but I used to read a lot in the evening. Now I'm too tired from work, and Aubrey wants my attention and she is most important. I'm having trouble finding a balance now. Half the time I don't even want to read.. I'm just not into it. It's become such a stress to me, and I think part of the reason is that I feel pressured to read. My turn to review a book on the blog is two days away. I'm 10%. And it's not even a review book, so it's not the stress of reading for publishers. It's the pressure to read for review in general. I miss the days of leisurely reading.

Jen: April has no reason to feel bad...this is the beauty of the co-blogging relationship: we pick up the slack for each other whenever life has us otherwise occupied. I mean, just this week, I caught whatever is going around and ended up laid up on the couch with nothing to post. Luckily, we usually schedule our meme posts a week out, so there was something on the blog each day, but this will be the first week ever that we've not posted a single review.

And you know what? I'm kind of okay with that. Reviews take me the most time to write because I want to sound intelligent while getting my point across, and yet, those are the posts that see the fewest comments. Oh, they get loads of views, but I know from experience that I rarely comment on reviews myself unless I have something worthwhile to say that hasn't already been said. The posts that get the most attention are ones like this -- discussion posts where everyone wants to voice their own experiences and opinions.

I've been forcing myself for months now to review everything I read and listen to each week, and it's really starting to drain me. After my forced mini-haitus this week due to illness, it's even more apparent to me that I've got to read for the pure enjoyment of it or I'm going to burn out that much quicker. I've essentially turned every book I read into a review copy, and that's just sad. It's one thing to post a short review on Goodreads for every book so others can gauge your enjoyment of a story, but to full-on review every book is kind of ridiculous. I wish it hadn't taken getting sick to realize that, but it is what it is.

I'm going to take a break from reviewing every book. Sure, I'm still going to post a review or two a week for upcoming books that I'm excited about. But I also want to focus more on discussion posts and other creative outlets on the blog since those do seem to garner more interaction with readers. And I know I've been terrible at that lately, but maybe taking a break from so much reviewing will give me more time to socialize with everyone. It's been at least a month since I've visited any of you, and I feel absolutely awful about that.

April: Oh my gosh, yes to turning every book into a review copy. I've been doing the same. Even the books I want to read, I have been viewing them as review books. It is sad, because it really takes the fun out of reading. We should read because we want to, not so we can form an opinion and have a post to schedule on the blog.

I agree with taking a break on reviewing. I've pretty much already been doing that, but I feel like we haven't had time to do fun creative discussion posts. And that's one of the things love the most about blogging with Jen. We need to get back to that stuff. When I posted earlier this week about not being able to get into books, a lot of you suggested we take a break to avoid getting burned out. I've been stewing over it all week. I would miss it too much I think.

Jen is on to something for sure though, with the whole creative outlets idea. I just had my computer redone and I'm dying to get back into making more SIMS videos. There are so many amazing books I've read over the years and wanted to put into video. Also, the holidays are coming up and I love doing crafts with Aubrey and sharing our creations. My only concern with that is would people want to see those things?

And I'm 100% with Jen on socializing more. If we aren't so pressured to post time-consuming reviews, then we can venture out and visit you all. I cannot remember the last time I've sat down and just browsed through blogs. It's terrible, because I love doing so, but there just hasn't been any time.

I'm ready for a change, but I'm not giving up, Jen. No way. ♥ We are in this slump together and we will come out of it together!

Jen: I think we owe it to ourselves to take it down a notch, to make this blog what it originally started as: a place to connect with like-minded individuals. I hate how competitive blogging has made me, especially since I'm competitive by nature. I hate comparing what we've got going on here to what else is out there and vice versa. I just want to talk books and ships and fandoms with people who get me. I don't want to worry or feel left out when I didn't get this advance copy or that one. I don't want to worry about not getting invited to the bigger tours or not being able to attend conventions and hob-knob with the publishers at events. Because I have plenty of unread books on my shelf as it is and I'll be able to read that book I'm anticipating soon enough. I don't think I'll ever want for reading material again, ya know?

How did it come to this? How did I let it get to this point? April seems pretty well-adjusted, but I've somehow let blogging consume me. Stressing out about reading and writing reviews and keeping up with the schedule -- in addition to all of the other stuff I've got going on -- may just have contributed to me getting sick this week. Stress isn't good for anyone, but I've always tended to take it a step too far, until it reached an unhealthy level and I was forced to take a step back. (Senior year of high school, I tried to juggle 4 AP classes and two part-time jobs and nearly gave myself an ulcer because of it, just to give you an idea of how I tend to let stress rule me.)

I don't want to take a break. I don't have it in me to take a break. Taking a break would feel too much like giving up, and I'm no quitter. Though, sometimes I have to admit it would feel like kicking an addiction or bad habit rather than giving up a hobby. :( Still, at the heart of it, I do still love blogging. I think we just need to get it back on track and stop forcing ourselves to crank out reviews and focus more on what we loved about it in the first place. And like April said, maybe branch off into other, sort of related hobbies. I like photography, and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I like to take pictures of my books. April likes to make book trailers featuring SIMS characters on her YouTube channel. And we both seem to love these discussion posts, though we haven't done many recently.

So, I think for the rest of the year, we focus on the good things, the things that brought us together in the first place. I have a ton of review books piling up for 2015 already, but I'm almost done with those for 2014, so I plan on reading what I want. Reviewing just what I have to. And spending more time with friends, visiting your blogs and hanging out on Twitter and such. I think it's high time we made time for the fun stuff.

This was going to be one of my blogging resolutions for the new year, much like it always is, but I think it's time to really work on it, and I think April will keep me on track with that now that she's here. She'll hold me accountable. I don't worry about her so much...she's pretty good at prioritizing real life versus blogging. I could learn a thing or two from her, actually. ;0)



I think what we're both saying is, we just want to go back to being READERS. There's just something about opening a book with no expectations, without having read 20 different reviews first, without having Tweet-stalked the author, without knowing the publicist for the book. No worrying about whether so-and-so has already read a book or whether their opinions are going to influence ours. No forcing ourselves to finish a book just to review it or stockpiling DNFs for a later date just because we can't get into them now.

We're taking it back to the days of reading for the sheer joy of it. If we get a few reviews done each week, so be it. But we're not putting that pressure on ourselves. This is not a job and there's zero reason to stress out about it. (Someone please remind me I said that in a few months when I let all of the 2015 titles start to freak me out.)






29 comments:

  1. I think "reading what you want" is definitely the best thing you can do. That way you are giving both yourself and the book a fair chance as far as the review goes, And you are more likely to get sucked into the story. I have been in a slump on/off for about two years now. Working Full-Time has really altered my reading pattern, and now that I've expanded my blog into music/beauty/style posts I find that I just don't have the time to read so many books anymore.

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    1. Yes, exactly....I think having to consider certain aspects from a review standpoint makes the reading experience something I have to slog through instead of enjoying. I've been working full-time the entire time I've been blogging, but I've taken on extra responsibilities at the office in the last few months, and it's really starting to wear on me. I'm so tired and the only reason I'm making it through more than one book a week is because I listen to audiobooks while I work. Thanks for your thoughts, Natalie!

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    2. It's funny because when I started my own blog, I was working full time.. Then I dropped to part time for a while. Now that I'm back to full time I can't imagine how I was doing it! lol. It's an adjustment, and since it's still new, I'm hoping that I'll slip back into a groove here soon and find more time to read. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I feel like so many bloggers I know (myself included) have gotten into terrible slumps over the last month. I think some of it may have even been the drama with KH, but also personal lives. I know that I had a lot going on, and after that, I just didn't have the passion to blog. So, I took a two week hiatus, changed my name, revamped the design, and I'm back to it. And it feels SO GOOD! However, that break was much needed, and I honestly really liked it. Sometimes, you just need to take a step back to put things into perspective and help lessen the stress. I think we've all been where the both of you are at. I know I have.

    I actually have never reviewed every book I've read since blogging. It's very rare when I post a full review for a "me" book on my blog, and even less for Goodreads. Most of the time, if it's not a review book, it gets a few paragraphs or maybe even a few sentences on GR. And I'm okay with that. I don't have the energy to write over a 1,000 words for every book. And I definitely couldn't post all of them on the blog, considering how many books I read a month/year.

    I hope the both of you get out of these slumps and find the passion for reading again, without all of the stress of reviewing. I also hope you get to a better place with your blog, because it's just no fun when you don't feel like writing posts. :)

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    1. Just having this week off because I was sick was a welcome relief. I just can't imagine being away from the blog for much longer than that, though...I know me, and I'd still have to check on my baby, ya know? :P I've been here before, and I know that taking a step back helps, but it's the making yourself DO that that's the hardest part sometimes. We appreciate the sentiment, Holly, and we're glad to know we're not alone...and to know that it gets better. :)

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    2. That's awesome that you were able to take a break and get back into it! I have faith that Jen and I will get through it too. We just need to tone it down for a while. :)

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  3. WOOT! GO YOU TWO THEN!! I know heaps of bloggers at the moment who are taking hiatuses or just feeling burnt out or in slumps. I think it's awful to force yourself to blog in ways/styles/days that you don't want to....or don't have time to. Blogging should be fun, really. READING SHOULD BE FUN! I think you're both pretty wise to cut back and just get to the fun and heart of it again. *nods*

    I do review every book I ever read, but that's actually for me. I FORGET. I have a notoriously bad memory and the reason I started reviewing in the first place was for me. But when they're not review-copies, I don't worry about sounding intelligent or being logical. hehe. I just let go and use gifs and have fun! It does make me sad though, that my blog is always full of review-books and not books I actually pick out from the library/buy myself. :( I feel like I'll be requesting less ARCs next year.

    I hope you guys make blogging fun for yourselves again. And I seriously hope you don't quit! I LOVE YOU GUYS.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Cait! We love you, too! And we're SUPER sorry we haven't visited YOUR awesome blog in ages, but we'll be by soon, PROMISE. :) And you're absolutely right...READING SHOULD BE FUN!!!

      I think that's partially why I was reviewing nearly every single book...I read a ton and it's easy to forget what happened in the last book you read once you start another, let alone the previous book in a series that you read a whole year ago. Maybe instead of reviews, I should just make notes for myself if I know I'm going to continue a series? And I wish I could say I'll be requesting fewer ARCs next year, but my 2015 review list is already over 20 books. I'm just going to be pickier with which of those I actually set aside time for.

      Oh, I don't think we'll ever quit for real. It would be too hard to say goodbye and we'd miss interacting with all of you...especially YOU! :D

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    2. I pretty much review every book I read too, just because I don't read as much as Jen, so I have to or I'll never have any posts! lol.

      and yes!!! Like Jen says, we will be by soon! I havent' been visiting anyone and that's so shitty of me.

      There will be no quitting. Just maybe some laziness. lol.

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  4. I know what you mean, ladies! I haven't been blogging a lot, but I've been reading. There's something so freeing about not forcing myself to blog about every book I get excited about. I've taken back the feeling of just reading for the pure fun of it, and saying no to several book review requests. I just want my reading and blogging life to be fun, and not to be a chore. I'm happy to see you girls are staying in :)

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    1. See, I want to go back to that...blogging a little and reading A LOT. I've never been one to accept a lot of review requests...no, I'm the girl seeking out books to review, lol. I'm going to try to be better next year, but I've already got a lot of 2015 titles on my pile. They're all books I'm pretty excited about, and I think I'll slack off on requesting for awhile so I can read some stuff from my own shelves, too. I hope you continue to be freed by your reading choices! :)

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    2. Reading for just pure enjoyment is amazing. I'm so glad and Jen and I are going to start doing some more of that. :) Once it becomes a chore, it's no fun anymore. And that just wont do!

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  5. Thank you for writing this post. This is exactly how I've started to feel about blogging and reading as well. I decided to take a break until Thanksgiving to read books from my non-review stash. I forgot how fun reading could be, and how much enjoyment I could get out of it when I don't have a deadline to work with. This couple weeks off has probably saved my blog from shutting down, and put a whole new perspective on reading again.

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    1. I thought about a break from Thanksgiving to Christmas and just reading to my heart's content, but that might be a bit too much for me. I'm kind of addicted to this blogging thing, lol. I think, for me, the trick is dialing it back some and just easing the pressure I put on myself. I'm glad the break has worked for you, though, and given you a new perspective on it all. Sometimes, that's just what we need. =) I've seen quite a few blogs shut down recently and it makes my heart hurt because I'll really miss those voices, but I understand that this is a hobby and doesn't take precedent. I hope that what you've achieved with your break carries through and you continue to enjoy blogging!

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  6. I can relate..lately the community seems to be in a slump :-( I think time and remembering why we blog will help to get us all out of it. I get stressed too and constantly have to remind myself that this is FUN and a HOBBY. We don't get paid, we do it because we love books. I start feeling guilty if I've not read a certain book by a certain day and really that's just sort of silly. I hope you both start feeling more inspired and less stressed. We love you! <333

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    1. It does seem like a community-wide slump, doesn't it? But it helps to know we're not alone. And the reminder that this is not a job is key...my husband sometimes jokes about it being my second job and it makes me wince because I know that it means it's taking too much time away from my family. I've just got to learn to stop stressing about it. I've already been better about not worrying about those looming deadlines -- except when it comes to tours -- for release dates and I know that I can't read every book, even if I did request them. I'm getting better at prioritizing and not forcing myself to read novels just because they're on my schedule. I've just got to stop forcing myself to *review* all the books now. I used to be so worried because I was 10 books behind on reviewing, and now I can't stop the insanity, lol.

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, Kristen! I think just venting about this has helped a ton and the inspiration is sure to follow. :D

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  7. I haven't been blogging for a long time but I understand what you mean. I don't even have that many review books but I feel the pressure to review everything I read. I started to read not as many books as I used to because the number of reviews I need to write pile up. It gets a little depressing but I just love reading :) Your blog is lovely and I hope you both feel better!

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    1. Oh, I remember the teetering pile of books that needed to be reviewed....I always had a ton, which led me to reviewing almost immediately and then reviewing EVERYTHING. I don't think it matters how long you've been blogging...it's easy to let it become this overwhelming thing. I hope you find a balance that works for you, Eileen. Thanks for your kind words!

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  8. I definitely have been through this funk before, ladies. I soon realized that I need not apologize for not being around so much because blogging is a hobby. However, this might not be the same case for us because I don't get ARCs and publishers don't really come to me for book tours and such. I'm a reader nowadays, so pick and choose what goes up on the blog.

    I also decided that just because I read a book, it does not necessarily mean I have to review it on the blog (or anywhere else, for that matter). In the end, you need to do what makes you happy. The less pressure you put on yourselves, the better.

    All the best to you guys! <3

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    1. You are SO right....the less pressure the better. That's the part I have to work on most. I love getting advance copies, but wow, it has really changed the way I read. I should really change that so that I'm just a reader again, too. :) Thanks for the encouragement! =)

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  9. I totally understand. Especially with all the review copies I'd get, I would just felt pressured to read, review, and blog. Then I ended up with all these books to read but no time to do it. I would work, sleep, and sometimes see family/friends. Cyn was a doll for taking on the bulk of the blogging during that time.

    I've learned that taking a step back and remembering this is supposed to be for fun has totally helped me wiggle more reading time in as well as more blogging time. :) (Though, finally finding that balance with work and life helped as well.)

    It's hard to find the balance. But I hope you girls are able to find something that works for you both. <3

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  10. 'I used to read three books a week, stay up till 2am doing so, and never think twice about it. Now, I can barely make it to 10pm before my head hits the pillow, which means very little reading is getting done each night. I'm still flying through some audio, though. That's really been my saving grace.' <<----This is me right now. I read one book a week if I'm lucky.

    I dont worry too much about arc's. I read them if I feel like it and skip it if I don't think I will like it. If that makes me a bad blogger too bad, but it also makes me a happy blogger and I am 100% fine with that :)

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  11. I think this is definitely an issue with the blogging community. At times blogging feels like a job when it really isn't. It's just a hobby. I know I've really let myself go in the sense that I pretty much stopped paying much attention to when ARCs were being released. I just read what I want when I want because life has been too overwhelming, and I couldn't have reading/blogging be overwhelming too.

    I'm sure you'll find a good balance! :) Good luck & Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Awwww I totally love this post !! You gals are amazing <3333

    I haven't been blogging for nearly as long, but I've been feeling the shift in my blogging too. I'm a junior in high school, which is the hardest and most crucial year, and it's so difficult to keep up with that and my blog. I've been getting emails to do promos, and I'm not very good at saying no sometimes... Now I feel I've become more commercial on my blog and less personal. It has become more about posting frequently and posting what others want as opposed to posting what I want to post.

    I feel like stepping back is a great idea for us both! Best of luck, ladies!! You two are wonderful bloggers <33

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  13. Great post! I totally get what you're saying and I think that has been part of my burn-out lately. I've took on too much and with life in general being hectic lately, it's just overwhelmed me.

    I wish you both the best and hope enjoy your break!

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  14. I have seen a LOT of these feelings around the blogosphere. Seeing the general public reaction to the drama made me question how much of my time and energy I am spending on blogging. Yes, I know that a lot of authors and publicists love and appreciate bloggers, but I began to see the relationship between all of us as sort of dysfunctional too. And I began to question my role in the whole YA publicity machine.
    All in all, I think this has been a net positive, because it has made me more resolute about not reading books I don't want to read, saying no without guilt, and asking myself a lot more: "is this something I really want to do?"

    Hope you guys stick with it! And lol I just got a review request that said "Dear Jen and April." It made me laugh. Either someone mixed us up, or we are next to each other in the J's on some list...

    Jen @ YA Romantics

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  15. I've never seen a blog post like this, but I love the way you both bounce off one another. I for one know it's super easy to get caught in a blogging and reading slump, but I think it's cool you at least stop to examine it than simply break off. But yes, going back to the days of simple pleasure reading sounds AWESOME, and I wouldn't mind the transition myself... Regardless, I hope your choices satisfy you!

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  16. I have no idea what it's like to be a book blogger, but I always imagine bloggers must feel pressure to keep up with "this month's releases," and I can't see how that wouldn't turn into a chore. Blogs are not jobs...you're not paid to do them. Given my own reading patterns, one in-depth review a week would be a lot for me! Your posts are so thoughtful, if I were a digital marketing person at a publishing house I'd still want to send you books, even if there was no guarantee that you'd review them, simply because if you chose to write about any one of them, the review would be thoughtful and intelligent. I guess this is a long-winded way of saying, if you feel pressure from the industry, you shouldn't. Quality always trumps quantity.

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  17. I understand where you ladies are coming from. And I support you!!! Read for the fun of reading :)

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