The Benefits of a Blogging Break

Arches National Park, Utah – near my parents’ home.

I’m back from Colorado! Two weeks felt like a month, and though it was wonderful to be off-line, it feels good to be back.

 

Blogging Breaks seem to work miracles for me in avoiding burnout and reinvigorating my enthusiasm for this time-consuming endeavor. Seeking balance has been an ongoing challenge as my blog grows and worldwide friendships form with people I care about. It doesn’t help that there’s wonderful content all over blogland, too. It’s hard to look away.

 

A couple years ago, I tried taking weekends off from the blog, and it didn’t work. Notifications amassed, and I spent my Mondays staring at the laptop until my eyeballs shriveled. Days off due to other commitments had similar results – a constant stream of busy-ness of one type or another and days of playing catch-up. My writing time suffered, and my husband started looking like an abandoned puppy.

 

The question that frequently rambled through my head was, “How does anyone keep this up and not burn out?”

 

The answer to blog management, for me anyway, seems to be in taking longer breaks than one or two days. Dollie Freeman wrote a short article on the benefits of blogging breaks that rang true: “Avoid Blogger Burnout With Blogging Breaks.” I encourage you to read the full article, but here’s the gist of her advice:

 

  • Don’t work for your blog – let your blog work for you.
  • Don’t sacrifice your home life, health, and relationships for the next post, the next series, the next promotion, the next…
  • Schedule one week per quarter where you will NOT post anything on your blog. Write ahead and schedule if you’re inspired.
  • In addition to one week per quarter, Freeman gives herself 4 additional weeks of unplanned ‘floating’ time to catch up, get ahead, work on a new product or just soak in the things that make her life meaningful.
  • Stay grounded and humble. Although your readers are interested in your blog, they aren’t hanging on to your every word. They’ll survive without you.
  • Life is too short to live it in front of a screen.

Back to my break!

No major adventures to report. It was too hot to go outside except for some early morning weeding in the garden. I read some great books in lieu of naps and will post reviews over the next few weeks.

 

Due to the lack of excitement, these photos are all from my last trip when I visited my brother down the road in Utah.

 

I’m looking forward to visiting everyone. It’s going to take a few days to make the rounds, but I’ll be by.

 

Happy Solstice!

On the Road without WiFi

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Sunset near my parent’s home

This summer has been a busy one and finally it’s time for a break. I’m headed to the high desert of western Colorado to visit the folks, help with chores, go over paperwork with my dad, and talk talk and talk with my mom who is blind and loves to fill her hours with visiting. We’ll spend several days organizing stuff, a favorite pastime for both of them.

The last time I was there, I helped pack up the house for an imminent move to Oregon to be closer to family (me), and then my parents wouldn’t move because they didn’t want to uproot the cats. My dad will want to do something adventurous like driving out into the backcountry and getting the car stuck in a gully. And I’ll probably clean the refrigerator, among other things.

The folks don’t have WiFi, and in their little town there aren’t any cafes where I can hang out for hours and blog, so I’m going to be incommunicado for a couple weeks. It’s an opportunity to focus on my parents, a daughterly must especially now that they’ve reached their mid-eighties and health concerns intensify. I plan to write but will limit my fantasy forays to early mornings before they’re up, nap times, and after they’ve gone to bed. It’s all good, all part of life.

I don’t plan to post and won’t be able to visit blogland to peruse your wonderful posts or respond to random likes, comments, and follows. I’ll catch up when I return to the best of my ability.

Have a lovely couple weeks. Enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. Make time for the ones you love. “See” you when I get back.

The folks last summer

The folks, last summer

 

 

 

 

Ways to Support the Author in Your Life

Writing can be crazy-making. We read posts making fun of the writing life, our quirks and insecurities, our endless search for balance. I’m blessed to live with a person who supports my passion, values my work, and stays out of my creative way. Charles Yallowitz wrote this great post with another take on how to support the writer(s) in your life. In case you missed it…

Legends of Windemere

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Many of us have seen the above picture and it’s right.  That is a great way to support an author that you enjoy and want to see them continue.  Yet, there is another area of support that I wanted to touch on.  What do you do if the author in question isn’t a favorite, but part of your non-cyberspace circle?  Maybe a spouse, a sibling, a friend, or somebody that you interact with outside of a computer.  Is there anything else you can do besides the following phrase?

“I support you and know you can do it.”

This is a powerful phrase, but you have to be ready to back it up with actions such as simply telling others about the book or even beta reading if asked.  Don’t say it and follow up by asking about the author’s Plan B, grilling them about sales made, pointing…

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Careful what you wish for…You might just get it.

download (8)If you look back through my posts, you might notice an ongoing desire for balance in my life.

An admitted writing addict, there’s nothing more I like to do more than rise from bed at 4:00 in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, and relax back in my recliner, laptop across my knees. I can write for 12 hours straight without a break (except for that second hot cup).

image from taragallina.blogspot.com

image from taragallina.blogspot.com

In truth, I can write for 16 hours straight, oblivious to the passing time. I have no particular desire to eat, shower, cook, do housework, enjoy the sunshine, go to movies, or communicate with friends, family, or spouse. My husband comes home from work and I’m still in my pajamas. I haven’t moved. He thinks I’m in a coma.

image from lilaccu.deviantart.com

image from lilaccu.deviantart.com

In truth, I’ve been extraordinarily busy. I’ve had a tumultuous and exhausting day battling the soulless. I’ve lost loyal companions, my sword arm weighs a ton, the city is in flames, and the future of human civilization hinges on my next choice. I need to unearth the enemy’s fatal flaw before time runs dry and the world descends into chaos. With all this responsibility, who has time for laundry?

He rolls his eyes when I tell him I need a maid…and a cook.

Well, this real world of friends, family, and chores only has so much patience for my writing addiction. I know with utter certainty that I don’t want to wake up one morning and find that all I have left in my life resides inside my head. Therefore, the need for balance.

Careful what you wish for…you just might get it.

  • The Overlord

    The Overlord

    My daughter graced me with a grandchild. I now spend two full days a week with a drum-obsessed overlord. Almost-two-year-olds are more exhausting than the soulless (though much cuter).

  • Big energy is trying to run a mega pipeline through my little town’s drinking water supply. As a writer and advocate for my community’s viability, I’ve become an activist fighting the oppressive, polluting robber barons.
  • The overlord commented on the spider webs in my living room. You can always rely on a child for the painful truth. He says it’s “spooky.”
  • Over the past two years, the yard has morphed into a prehistoric jungle. I can’t see my patio. I have two months until the overlord’s second birthday party to get it into a less mortifying state.
  • I’ve started blogging and following blogs and making friends all over the world that I genuinely care about. Now, that’s a little too much fun and I can’t stop.
image from site.google.com

image from site.google.com

My initial reaction to the onset of balance was a troubling case of writing withdrawal: shakiness, irritability, insomnia, and hives. I found myself dropping things, burning dinner, taking naps, and – believe it or not – vacuuming. I had shameful relapses, like allowing the overlord to watch cartoons while I polish up some dialog on the laptop.

Five months later, I’m pleased to announce a gradual adjustment. The urge to write all day every day continues to invade my consciousness, but I’m working the program. A sense of balance is taking hold, and I’m settling into a new blend of busy-ness that makes room for more of the chaos and joys of life. The overlord and I have been spending more time at the park, building and smashing sand castles.

How do you maintain balance when the story calls? I’d love to hear your secrets.