5 lessons I learned by stepping away from my blog

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As a blogger I spend most of my day thinking about blogging; planning, writing, reading, sharing. Bloggers will understand this. Non-bloggers will wonder if I have a life. And, I was beginning to wonder the same.

5 lessons I learned by stepping away from my blog

Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I’m thinking about my next post.

Can I blog about that? What’s my angle? What photos do I need? Where shall I share this? How do I get people to read?

I’ve been blogging for three years and I love it.

It gives me a sense of purpose. It gives me a creative outlet. I take pride in what I do; I enjoy the process, I love the sense of accomplishment.

I love the record of our lives.

But lately? Lately, if I’m honest, it’s felt a bit self-indulgent. I don’t earn any money from my blog, it’s not my job. And, other things in my life have been neglected. The house, the laundry, errands. Friends. Me.

So a couple of weeks ago, I slowed down, I committed to taking a break.

Then I stopped. A week, cold-turkey.

After seven days, I took stock. I realised that I couldn’t simply pick up where I left off, that I had learned some valuable lessons from my self-imposed break.

1. I missed blogging, but not as much as I thought I would

I have spent virtually every moment of free time on my blog for, well, a long time now. Whenever I could, I’d be writing posts, editing photos, commenting on other blogs, engaging on social media, publicising my own posts. Frankly, it’s exhausting. By taking a huge step back I was able to see what I missed, and more importantly, what I didn’t.

I missed writing, I missed the community. I didn’t miss the (increasingly) mad circuit of linkys and blog hops. I was able to read blogs I wanted to read, or not read any at all, and while I felt a bit guilty not joining in with some of my favourite linkys, it felt good to take control of my time and say no, not this week.

I had become so caught up in the detail of blogging that I had forgotten why I was blogging. I’m still grappling with where I go next; do I try to monetize, do I shift the focus of my blog to a more commercial niche, do I write different types of post? But, for the moment I simply want to write what I want, when I want.

If you are no longer able to see the big picture and understand why you are doing something, you need to take a step back.

2. Watching my stats drop didn’t send me into a blind panic

My page views clearly took a hit! A few months ago that would have been a disaster and I would have reacted by writing more, linking more, commenting more. Sleeping less.

Instead, I took pleasure in knowing how much else I had achieved in the time I would normally spend blogging. Walking into a tidier house, being able to find the kids lunchboxes and shoes in the morning, keeping track of all homework, activities and projects.

I also caught up on some blog admin, fixing broken links for example, tedious but necessary. This has all helped me feel more in control and consequently calmer and less stressed.

External validation is nice, but a sense of your own accomplishments and worth is just as important.

3. I get enormous satisfaction from keeping on top of the laundry

Regular readers will know that we are in the midst of a huge house project. Last summer we moved into a fabulous new home, but one that needed a lot of work. Right now, we are replacing every window, insulating and re-siding the entire house. We’re decorating my daughters bedroom and the living room. We’re organising the play room. We still have a garage full of boxes.

It has felt totally out of control. The big projects are overwhelming. The house is chaotic and I haven’t known where to start. The blog has become a wonderful excuse. Just editing one last photo instead of washing the dishes. Just writing one last paragraph instead of emptying a box. Just sharing one more post instead of putting on a load of laundry.

This week I attended all three of my children’s school halloween parties, and didn’t begrudge one second of the time.

This week I’ve had a clean kitchen, empty laundry baskets and I’ve cleared a corner that has been full of boxes for months. It’s barely made an impact on the over all work that needs to be done, but it has left me feeling productive, organised and remarkably happy.

If you focus so fully on one activity that all others suffer, you will never feel in control.

4. I am happy being alone

That might seem like an obvious statement, blogging itself being a solitary activity, but when left to my own devices for the week I naturally tended towards things I could do alone.

I watched TV. I read books. I lingered over shopping trips. I indulged in the odd hour in Starbucks, with just my thoughts for company. I went for walks. I cooked. I took a bath.

I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (a bit late to the party, I know!) and one of the points that has resonated with me is the recognition that what makes you happy isn’t necessarily what makes others happy.

I love spending time with friends; chatting over a coffee, laughing over a glass of wine. But, for me to maintain a sense of inner calm, I need as much time, if not more, alone.

Don’t lose sight of who you are by allowing self-imposed obligations and expectations to swamp you.

5. You have to start somewhere

I have been feeling completely overwhelmed recently. The house, the blog, life! It’s been all too easy to avoid dealing with any of it, reasoning that it’s just too hard and I don’t know where to start. Conventional wisdom suggests that doing something is better than nothing, and (shamelessly paraphrasing the Fly Lady) you should start, wherever you are, rather than try to catch up. Completing any task, however small, makes a difference.

This past week I have ticked little things off my to-do list, I have finished niggling tasks, I have chipped away at larger ones.

I have also slept well, shouted less and remained calmer. There’s a lot to be said for stopping thinking and just doing.

When your to-do list seems never ending, begin anywhere. Stop procrastinating, start doing.

So, what next?

Well, I’m going to write when the mood takes me, link when I feel like it, read what I want to read. I’m going to tidy the house, unpack boxes, get at least one room finished! I’m going to finish my book club books on time; watch my favourite TV shows; volunteer at the kids’ schools. I’m going to enjoy time alone and time with friends.

The bigger question of where I want to go with the blog remains unanswered; but one thing is for sure, there will be more breaks like this one, and I’m certain that the way forward will become clear. When I need it to.

Stepping away allows you the perspective and clarity needed to move forward.

Sharing this post with The Truth About…, What I’m Writing and SHINE Blog Hop.

 

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67 thoughts on “5 lessons I learned by stepping away from my blog”

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading this post my lovely. We all need a break from time to time, especially when we are starting to lose sight of why we are doing it. Blogging gets so addictive it can be hard to step away from it, but as you described it so well, it feels great achieving things you were avoiding, being productive and enjoying the children without the next post in mind. I’ve had serious ‘Linky fatigue’ too and until a couple of days ago I hadn’t linked to anything in absolute ages. Good luck with the house. Ours has been a bomb site for the past 8 weeks. We’re getting our loft done and the whole house has been turned upside down.

    1. Thank you Mel, blogging really is addictive, and it takes over. I love it, but I need to separate from it a bit. And, lovely as linkys are, they are so incredibly time consuming, for my own sanity I have to be more selective and focused. Thanks for the good luck wishes… the outside of the house is looking fantastic, the inside… not so much :)

    1. It really was just what I needed, although in all honesty I have found it quite difficult to get back into things, still taking it slowly. But, I suspect that’s a good thing :)

  2. Congratulations on being able to do your whole time off. It sounds like it was a great experience. I’m like you, I put a ton of time and mental energy into my blog and all that goes with it – and with what I make from my blog I think I would make more per hour if I were 6 and working in a sweatshop. In fact, I know I would! But I still love it, so it doesn’t bother me even if nobody else understands why I do it.

    1. I love my blog, and I am incredibly proud of it, but I really needed to create some distance. Blogging is really compulsive, in lots of good ways as well as bad. The break was good, I’ll do it again!

  3. What a great post. I’m pleased you have taken the time out to step back and do the things you keep wanting or needing to do. I’ve been really struggling recently to keep up with everything and it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Work & the kids take up the majority of my time & helping at the school is great. My to do list is out of control & I’ve fallen behind on my blog. I want to edit my novel, but time isn’t there. It’s hard to do before sleeping like I did when writing it. I’ve blogged for 6 years & it’s a huge part of my life. And don’t think & don’t want to let it go. It’s hard to breathe sometimes. Sorry for going on, just your post hit a note with me. It’s given me a lot to think about. Thank you x

    1. I know exactly how feel. It is hard to breathe sometimes. I want to do so much, but I really believe that trying do too much is counter productive. There are only so many hours in the day, and the more overwhelmed we are, the harder it is to focus on what’s really important. I hope that you find a way through this too x

  4. Loved reading this honey, sounds like your blog break was the best thing that could have happened given your frame of mind beforehand. I did a similar thing earlier in the year and it was wonderfully liberating. Like you’ve said here, I’m now so much more selective about where my blog time goes and it’s fab. Also do you want to know a secret? My stats improved the month I did this, because I had freed up time for actually writing good content, and that’s what it’s all about ;-) Wishing you lots of luck xxx

    1. It really was just what I needed Renee, and to be honest, I’m still on a major go-slow. For a number of reasons I’m finding it hard to write at the moment, but I’m okay with that, I’ve let it go. I’m not trying to force it any more, and I feel much calmer. And, I hope that once I feel ready to, the words will come and I will be able to focus on quality content rather than a self-imposed publishing schedule!

  5. I love this!
    I’m kinda over blogging at the moment, it just seems as though there is too much…too many similar posts, too many reviews, too many linkies…just too much that lacks any real substance.
    I’ve not blogged for a while, and I miss it but I don’t miss it as much as I thought.
    Sounds like your break was perfect and definitely good for both you and your blog

    1. Amanda, you have hit the nail on the head. So sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, still taking a bit of a break from it all, but when I read this comment I just thought YES, this. I’ve never wanted my blog to be just another identikit parenting blog and I’ve struggled recently to see past the sea of sameness. But, I’ve let it go, and I feel so much better for it xx

  6. Good for you!! Glad you enjoyed the break. I can get like this at times, thinking about it all the time. Gets a bit stressful when it should be just pure fun! I do earn from mine and so that’s maybe why it does, but I still want it to be something that I purely adore doing. I tend to write now when the twins are at preschool and less in the evenings so that it is my time with my hubby. So it doesn’t really infringe on my family time. I am finding I can post more but only because I have more time these days. As long as I am on top of the rest of my life it works well, as you say. Finding the happy balance is key to keeping going isn’t it? Great post xx

    1. I may yet decide to start saying yes to the paid opportunities, but I worry that if I do that I will stop loving it. And, I love my blog. I think I put too much pressure on myself once the wee girl started preschool, taking a step back has been the best thing I could have done x

  7. We all need a break from blogging occasionally and I recently had a couple of weeks off during a holiday to Mexico. It’s refreshing to just be yourself and concentrate on real life isn’t it?! Blogging is a time consuming pastime and it’s easy to allow it to take over. I hope you continue to enjoy blogging at a much slower pace x

    1. It really is refreshing. Blogging is incredibly time consuming, and it’s definitely a tricky balance act making sure it doesn’t take over completely.

  8. Love this post, Sara. I’ve recently had an unplanned break and I too discovered that a drop in the stats didn’t bother me as much as I thought. I found stepping away from the linkies etc liberating, and while I love blogging I discovered that it is not the be all and end all for my personal validation. I spent time tidying my blog and loved creating pretty new images. Time well spent. Your blog is looking lovely, I love the new look and images xxx

    1. Yes, liberating is a good word! I’ve really enjoyed focusing more on the design etc. it’s time well spent and very satisfying. My blog is mine, no one else’s and I think I had kind of forgotten that x

  9. I think that’s a very sensible approach and I’m g;ad it’s given you the opportunity to take stock. Many of us are so caught up on the hamster wheel that we’re almost scared to step off, but it’s essential for us to step back and assess what really is important as opposed to what we *think* is important. There are so many things that we get drawn into doing and continue to do out of routine, to the point where it almost becomes a chore. So why do it?

    I realised some time ago that I wasn’t bothered about monetising my blog or being ranked higher than X on Tots100 or even that fussed about my page views. As a result, I write what I want to write, when I want to write it. I’ve almost completely stopped doing reviews and sponsored posts (not that I was doing many before). And I started doing my podcast – which I love – even though it doesn’t generate anywhere near as many page views proportionate to the effort I put in as other posts do. Some weeks I write 4 or 5 posts, other weeks just a couple of my regulars. My stats go up, my stats go down. The only thing that doesn’t change is my enjoyment – so I guess I must be doing something right! :-)

    1. You’re definitely doing something right :) It’s very easy for a self-imposed routine to become a chore rather than fun, and that is the time to take a step back and reassess. I began to feel that I should be monetizing, because everyone else does, but I’m not really sure I want to and the pressure I was putting on myself to remain ‘PR ready’ was killing my love of blogging! I want to fall back in love with my blog.

    1. It is so important to do it, and I’m very glad I have. Taken me a while to get there, but I’m a lot happier for it!

  10. Good for you lovely, I have been on a similar journey myself recently and it is amazing how I actually didn’t miss blogging as much as I thought I would. I am now blogging a lot less and just doing what i can when i can… can’t say I have struck the perfect balance yet as life seems a bit chaotic in general at the moment but I do feel a lot less pressure now I am not blogging as much as I was… and I reread all the harry potters over the last week or so which I absolutely loved :) xx

    1. I’m not convinced any of us ever achieve a perfect balance in anything, but rediscovering other things we love has to be a good start x

  11. I loved this! I feel the same way in so many aspects. It is good to know I’m not alone. I am a fairly new blogger so the consistency is super important to me right now, and when I fail at it (even though that means I’m succeeding in other areas) it drives me insane. I recently took a break by force and my falling stats killed me. But I was so encouraged to see that people were ready to read from me again when I had the time to offer it. It really did change my perspective some on the entire process and the amount of time I let blogging control. (Although I agree, I am always thinking about what where when and how to write what I’m experiencing all the time.) :) You are obviously valuable and good at what you do in all areas. Good luck with it all. I enjoyed finding this post on #thetruthabout link :)

    1. Thank you Melissa. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so letting anything go is a big deal for me! But, the last few weeks I have been so much calmer, it’s been the best thing I could have done. Consistency is important, but so is quality, ultimately that’s what will keep people reading. I just keep reminding myself of that!

  12. I think I reached this understanding about my blog and blogging quite some time ago but it was probably helped along by a certain innate laziness in me – rather than trying to do this one thing really well – like, immaculately – I would just post what I wanted and promote a bit and stand back and wonder why it wasn’t going global :-) Having said that I completely agree that having taken a step back I do get a lot more other stuff done! It can be frustrating sometimes though when you just want to write but can’t seem to find the time to fit it in. Thanks for choosing #thetruthabout as one of the linkies on the mad circuit to still find the odd occasion to join in with – I need to use your Prompts more but sometimes to write I just need to follow the flow of random thoughts in my head!! Xx

    1. I think it’s one of those things that I knew deep down, but was too close to! I’m such a perfectionist, but I am learning to let it go. And, I may not join Truth About every week, but it’s definitely one that will stay on my list x

  13. Fascinating reading Sara. If I was writing simply for my own enjoyment I would love to take a break. Only thing is blogging has become a much needed source of income so I must persevere. As for linkies, they have come to dominate and they’re incredibly time consuming (ironic as I’m here from #truthabout!). I’ve noticed participation in a few of them drop and I’m thinking i may need to rationalise. For the sake of the laundry if nothing else!

    1. I do worry that if I monetize I will lose my love of it, not sure where I’m going to end up on that one! Linkys have become far too dominant, and I am certainly feeling happier joining in far less.

  14. All of this resonates with me as I’m sure it must for many bloggers. There are some huge positive sides to blogging – for me mostly the community and the writing practice, inspiration and support – but also big negatives as it really can feel all-encompassing! Sounds like your break has done you the world of good and I like your plan to write and link just when you want. I’ve wondered before about potentially monetising my blog but I have a strong suspicion it would drain the joy out of it for me. Plus I think blogging has huge value outside of any monetary considerations, even (especially?) in a busy household. If we get the balance right for ourselves I think it can be ‘me’ time, a creative outlet, something relaxing, something to be proud of – all the things that are good for our self-worth and which can make us better people and parents. It’s just finding the balance that feels so hard! You’ve just taken a huge step closer though – well done you! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

    1. That’s what I’m worried about, that monetizing will drain the joy out of it. I’m really hesitant to start accepting paid opportunities. I absolutely agree that my blog is me-time, but it has to be balanced with other things :)

  15. Love this post – I could have written it myself… There does come a time – as we were discussing at BritMums in fact – when you do have to take stock a bit and try to work out what the point of it all is, especially when blogging starts to push so many other important things off the priority list. I’ve cut right down on blogging at the moment as you may have noticed. Partly because I’m totally caught up in the novel, but also because I was finding myself writing for the sake of it – which when your blog isn’t monetised doesn’t make much sense! I would like to be blogging a little bit more if I could find the time – my list of ideas for blog posts is growing by the day – but for now just keeping it ticking over feels like an achievement! Good luck with working out your next steps – both online and in the ‘real’ world :) xx

    1. Exactly! I was writing to publish to keep page views for potential PR opps that I was saying no to! Crazy :) I’m still not writing much, hoping that I get back into the swing of things soon, albeit at a slower pace x

  16. I loved reading this post and can completely relate to it. I was starting to get frustrated with my blog’s direction and lack of meaningful interaction/platforms when I decided to attend a few “human” workshops. Blogging is such a solitary activity that too much time spent in the writing bubble can make one go stale – plugging away at the same old forums getting little satisfaction. Human contact meant chatting and finding new directions by taking inspiration from others. I returned feeling refreshed and determined to take my blog/writing to the next level – which for me means putting my first novel out there to agents etc & focusing on submitting shorter pieces to comps. Hoping you enjoyed your blogging holiday – it sounds like you’re feeling revitalised x

    1. I am definitely feeling revitalised, although I’m still doing the slow-blogging thing! A step back has allowed me to reflect on what’s working, and what’s not. I’m much clearer on what I want to do x

  17. I can totally relate to this Sara and I loved reading it. It has reminded me how important it is to completely back off from blogging every now and again. I rarely read these days and I miss it. It stresses me when I don’t write and I watch my page views drop like a stone. This happened last week and it really bothered me. Actually I rarely look at my stats because I then start blogging for the wrong reasons. Like you though, what I miss most is the writing. I know that is the one thing I could never give up.

    1. Watching stats is the quickest way to blog for the wrong reasons, and I was very guilty of that. I’m feeling much happier blogging less. Taking a complete break wasn’t as scary as I expected it to be, I’ll be doing it again over Christmas :)

  18. Yes, to all of this. I can totally relate. Lately, I’ve realized that it’s okay to take a step back. I need to make a better schedule of when I blog, so that I’m using my day wisely.

    1. I think having a (flexible!) schedule makes it much easier to focus and use your time well, which in turn makes you feel more productive and generally less stressed!

  19. I love this post! I hate that I haven’t been successful (page view wise) at blogging because I TAKE BREAKS! I beat myself up and tell myself to be more consistent. Then I go at it (blogging) like a fiend and then CRASH!
    BUT I LOVE YOUR MESSAGE! It helps to reassure me and gives me focus. Our blog should be about the lives we LIVE, not the lives we think we are living. My husband always says this: “Blog about what you’re doing not what you should do”. Lol! Meaning “Lindsey, I know you are blogging way too much and didn’t homeschool today.” Lol. Guilty.
    But seriously, I will be sharing this post on all my media. What a wonderful reminder!

    1. What a great comment: the lives we live, not the lives we think we’re living… Love that! It’s so true. It’s very easy to let blogging take over completely, I’m very glad to have taken a stop back. I’m enjoying it again x

  20. What a wonderful and reflective post.

    I regularly take blog breaks… I think it’s important to step away and nourish ourselves.

    It sounds like you had a lovely break and that you’re centred and grounded to go at your pace.

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.
    xoxo

    1. In three years this is the first time I’ve taken a proper break… It wasn’t nearly as scary as I expected and I’m so glad I did it. I will be doing it again!

  21. Ooooo it must be a 3 year thing! I have been feeling the same but not taken the break. Think I will sort myself out and have a total break over Xmas. I have come to the point where I am less worried about stats. It isn’t why I started. It is hard as I also want this to be my income when the boys are at Primary so I need to play the game to some extent but I need to decide how much. Life is for living and sometimes it’s just nice to have a day out with the kids and not write about it. Xx

    1. I just cannot decide whether to monetize or not. I’m going to take another break over Christmas and have a good think about it, make a decision in the new year. Playing the game was killing the joy for me a bit, but I think because it wasn’t really focussed on anything! Whatever happens, I will be sticking to a less intensive schedule :)

  22. I love this post Sara – it is good to take that step away and focus on other things that need doing and get an insight into what we really enjoy about blogging. Glad you have felt more productive for taking a step back. I’ve been doing the same (although haven’t quite managed a week cold-turkey) and I’m not missing the blog as much as I thought I would either. Good luck with all your house renovation projects and enjoy just writing what you want, when you want x

    1. Yes, my self-imposed schedule was starting to make it feel like a chore, I want to love it again! Taking a break has really helped and I will definitely be doing it again x

  23. You’ve taken so many learns from just one week, and I can totally understand why. My blog is my income so I struggle to justify stepping away from it, and I do love it. But sometimes I’d like to take a break. One day…! X

    1. It took taking a complete step back to get a much clearer picture of what I was doing and why, it was very beneficial. When/if I monetize I want to be more focussed on what I’m doing x

  24. I love, love, love this post and it probably is something that other bloggers get. But I pm get this! It’s so great that you took time out, pulled back and reassessed why you were doing what you are doing. I really enjoyed reading about what you didn’t miss, how you didn’t panic when your figures went down and.. for once, you didn’t think every family nutting was a potential blog post!! We do need to take time out occasionally and remember why we blog – to record our life with the children and to enjoy it.
    I’m also glad there is someone else who gets excited about getting to the bottom of the washing basket!
    Xx xx

    1. Yes, getting to the bottom of the laundry basket was fabulous! AND I folded and put everything away too :) I’m so glad I took a step back, and I’ve kept things slow since which has been good. Much more relaxed!

  25. Makes sense. It’s good to take stock and time out, especially when you then feel you’ve achieve just as much if not more from being away from the blog. We all want different things from blogs, it’s just finding what that is.

    1. You’re absolutely right, working out what we actually want to achieve, even if it’s simply that we want to journal, is so important x

  26. Great post and love hearing about the things you learned. I see where you are coming from – and I think sometimes you just have to live if you even want to vlog about anything! So easy to get caught up in writing and promoting etc all the other stuff so it just takes away time from everything else. I also find that when you start to monetise, that is a whole different kettle of fish and sucks up so much of your time (emails with PR agencies, other admin etc.). Sounds like you have found what you want from blogging though, and it is great your break helped you!

    1. Thank you, it’s easy to get carried away with it all and find yourself caught up in things you didn’t really want to do in the first place! Always good to take stock x

  27. I love your blog and always look out for your posts but I love what you’ve done stepping back too, it’s so needed sometimes isn’t it? I’ve gone right down to once a week now and I usually do nothing at all in December so wondering whether to do that again this year.

    1. Ah, thank you Tas x Stepping back was definitely needed, and I’m going to take another break over Christmas. I’m enjoying the slower pace and fewer self-imposed deadlines!

  28. Such an interesting and refreshing read. I hate to admit it, but my life is partly ruled by my blog. I know I would be more relaxed and less stressed if I thought about it less. Although I think I do think about it less than you. I have a compulsion to write which I don’t seem to be able to stop! I’ve cut back on linkies, but still probably do too many and put more in than I get out. One day I’ll take a break!

    1. I was starting to feel ruled by mine, which in itself isn’t a bad thing, if you’re in a comfortable place. I was doing too much and starting to lose my love of it. Taking a step back has been really good for me (and I’ve stopped joining linkies where I was getting nothing back…!) x

    1. I hadn’t realised how much it was affecting my mood until I stopped… I’m in a much better place now and starting to enjoy blogging again for the right reasons x

  29. This is so good. I’ve been blogging for a little less than a year, and I’ve been having lots of similar thoughts lately. I LOVE it, and I love all that I’ve learned through the adventure, but you’re right that we need to determine WHY we’re doing what we’re doing, and ask whether it’s really adding more joy and fulfillment to our lives. When it’s not, it’s okay to take a step back and make sure things are in the proper perspective. Thanks for your perspective.

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