Blogging, Writing

Five Things I Learned On Blogging Vacation

It’s become clear that I’m not one of those people who can successfully blog and “do summer” at the same time. Kind of like those unfortunate folks who can’t rub their bellies and climb Mt. Everest while simultaneously trying to figure out a better name for Generation Z.

Wimps.

Thus a blogging vacation ensued. One week passed. Then two. My continued silence led some to believe they were witnessing a bloggy funeral. There may even have been wailing. (By me.) Or indigestion. (Also me.)

Truth is, it hasn’t been the best summer ever, and I’ve been busy trying to salvage our final days so that we’ll always remember this as the most mediocre vacation of our lives.

Ahh…memories.

Though my reader stats currently number in the unmentionables, my blogging break was just the refresher I needed to help me jump back into the conversation, and also super-charge my writing focus.

A few things I’ve learned while on blogging hiatus…

1) It can be healthy to turn off your blogging radar. Think of all the time you spend on writing blogs. Reading blogs. Commenting on blogs. (Have you vomited, yet?) Often it’s well worth it, but there’s no (serious) penalty for taking a break, or working on other projects. Relax. The posts that are meant to be written will continue to shout for attention.

But…

2) You’ll be able to drown out the shouting if the view is pretty enough. Before you sink indefinitely into your Bieber Fever beach chair, jot down a few notes on the margarita napkins. They’ll prove helpful when you’re ready to blog again and need some interesting prompts. (Warning — you may need assistance interpreting said notes later.)

3) It’s OK to ignore other forms of social media, too — the world won’t forget you. Actually, that’s a big fat lie — they’ll forget you after about six minutes. But with one well-timed Charlie Sheen tweet, you’ll be back in business. The world is forgiving that way. And a little short on IQ points.

4)  Let quality content rule your return. Feelings of guilt or falling view counts aren’t good enough reasons to press publish when your heart isn’t in it.  Don’t feel forced to post drivel just so you can adhere to a schedule — wait until you have something worthy to share. Also, do as I say, not as I do. Obviously. 

And the most important thing I learned while on my blogging vacation…

5) Indoor water parks breed Jack Nicholson tattoos and ill-concealed firearms. And that makes for some great future blogging material. You have to live a little to write about life.

I realize I’m going against expert advice which preaches consistency (especially for those building platforms), so I’m curious…Do you take blogging breaks? If so, do you find them helpful? And, do you believe Speedos make for a comfortable holster? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

56 thoughts on “Five Things I Learned On Blogging Vacation”

  1. Last time I was at a water park I was wondering whether I should feel left out, for my lack of tattoos, or smug at being alternative.
    Given our ‘no guns’ policy over here, & having a Police Officer friend trained in Taser use, I keep imagining lots of inappropriately tattooed bodies floating about in Cardiff Bay pool, if someone was spotted with a firearm in his speedoes (snort – euphemism). Would make a change from Budgie smuggling – oh, Amanda, you’ve set me off now…
    Better go before I spurt tea all over the keyboard

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  2. I think it really depends upon why you blog whether or not you can afford to “take a break”. Still, attempting to post five times a day, 6 days a week, takes its toll. On Sundays I just make a sentence out of the other six day’s “word of the day”, so I get a bit of time off.

    If I need to be away any longer than that, I try to “write ahead” and use the old standby “scheduler”.

    One of the reasons I keep my pace up as high as I do will see silly and shallow to most of you. Alexa.com has a toolbar that, once installed, gives you your world-wide ranking on a daily basis.

    In my first great press to get UhillWriting.org known, I published seven times a day, and got my world wide ranking up into the mid-400,000s. Out of approximately 380 million blogs, that’s not a bad ranking. But then, when I moved my blog from a free WordPress hosting to a paid hosting, an unexpected hiatus cost me several hundred thousand points in rank.

    It’s like you noticed. You can be forgotten very quickly.

    For me, the platform is very important, and the ranking helps cement that.

    Bottom line, and perhaps foolishly, I do not take many breaks.

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    1. I agree that the reasons behind your blogging will dictate the schedule. I’m not too concerned about building a platform with this blog (though I know I should be) — I just wanted a place to connect with other readers/writers, and share some stories that probably wouldn’t find a home elsewhere.

      Having said that, I have had editors assign articles to me based on the writing samples (blog posts) they’ve found here.

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  3. I love this. Good for you. I’m considering trying a September without Twitter, just to see if/how much I really “need” it. And I can work on my Charlie-Sheen tweet if I decide to come back in! 🙂

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  4. I took a blogging, social media, and writing break over Christmas so I could spend time with family. I thought I would feel guily about it, but ten minutes into the holiday I had forgotten there ever was something called Twitter. Of course, the spiked eggnog might’ve helped….

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  5. I am totally a sporadic blogger and guilt-ridden because of it. All the advice out there that says you have to be consistent and write ahead of time weigh heavy on me. That and the fact that I always come up with ideas and feel suddenly inspired to write at the most awkwrd of times! I just need to find my own groove and rhythm and apparently need to go to an indoor waterpark for some inspiration!

    Speedos = no no, in the humble opininon of this sporadic blogger.

    Thanks for sharing. Enjoyed the post!

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    1. Thank you, Ally! I have about 50 uncompleted post drafts saved in WordPress, but I rarely go back and finish these. It’s the “suddenly inspired” posts that I end up publishing, so yeah, scheduling ahead of time isn’t the best option for me, either.

      Yes, definitely take a trip to a water park. It’s an “experience.”

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  6. Missed you, Amanda! Glad you’re refreshed and rejuvenated–a definite must with blogging! And sorry you’ve had a less than stellar summer. Something good your way comes, I’m sure…

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  7. Hi Amanda,

    I am glad you are back. I was wondering where you went. I’ve just gone through a similiar thing myself except mine wasn’t self-imposed. No matter how long I sat at the computer the words would not come. Anyway I am glad your blog posts will be gracing my email inbox with its presence.

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  8. Half my blog posts are just to assure myself I’m still mentally competent, so I sort of hate taking a blogging break, but Twitter I often forget about for days on end. More than once I’ve vowed to totally disappear from the virtual world, but that never lasts long. It’s the only way I can fool myself that I have a social life.

    I’m glad you’re back! 🙂

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  9. I’m not a breaker yet, but I do know that July is consistently the lowest average traffic month in my experience. Lots of people have lots to do. Breaks are necessary for much of what we do in life. Blogging has to fall into that sometimes too. Great to hear from you.

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    1. As I said below, I’m always impressed by bloggers who are able to keep chugging nonstop. That’s why some achieve blogging glory ( looking pointedly in your direction) while others just smile and wave in the background (finding it hard to stare at myself).

      Thanks for reading, Clay!

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  10. I haven’t taken a break yet (but I’ve only been blogging for half a year)…. but I’m guessing there will be a break at some point in my future, judging by how envious I feel of you right now. (and p.s. I can’t imagine anyone thought they were witnessing a “bloggy funeral,” just that you were busy getting that Jack Nicholson tat 😀

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    1. Yes, that was painful 😉

      I think you’re in it for the long haul, Julia. I took my first extended blogging break when I had only been at it for 4 months, and this was right after I had a post Freshly Pressed, so the ride of having new followers fizzled quickly. It’s obvious that I’m not in it for the stats — just some good conversation from time to time.

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  11. I’ve been there lately myself, dear! Trying to get this draft out the door–it really is true that you have to shut the darned thing off to make progress. And yes, the wheels turn without you, but I like to think we all cut one another slack when needed. We’ve all been there! That said, so glad you’re back!

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  12. I do think about the time I spend on the blog, reading a blog, trying to come up with a clever comment for a blog. A break, some days, sounds lovely. My WIP would appreciate the renewed attention as well. But, I would panic at the stats (as much as I like to pretend I don’t watch them like I used to). Once in a while, my breaks come in a post once a week versus a twice-a-week schedule. I may end up in that direction again soon, after my day job kicks back into gear.

    And, speedos? I saw one too this summer. Lordy.

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    1. My stats are directly related to my non-blogging writing output, so at least when the views dip (and boy, do they dip!), I know my word counts are up. That’s how I’ve made my peace with the breaks.

      I empathize with your sighting, Christi 😉

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  13. Thank you, Amanda, for confirming my suspicion, that it’s really okay to not tweet or blog if you don’t have time, or feel like it. No one seems to want to admit to these things. But we all think them!

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    1. Or, maybe I’m just lazy, Cynthia…but I do think we put too much focus on staying “out there” sometimes. I’ve said this before, but I actually appreciate it when those I follow blog less — it gives me time to catch up!

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  14. I read a quote by Jonathan Franzen not too long ago. “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.”
    Maybe that’s a little harsh, but he does have a good point. Sometimes you just have to turn off the internet connection in order to write.
    And sometimes, like with anything else, you just need a break.
    I’m glad you took your well-deserved break. And also glad to see you back. 🙂

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  15. Many times I write on my laptop so that I can get away from the internet. But not for long, since I’m hooked on blogging and commenting. Yes, it’s a time suck. I’ve been wanting to take a blog break. Sometimes I schedule posts to save time.

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  16. Happy to have you back! I took a break last week and it was much needed!

    You remember what it’s like to have real, human social interaction. Which is a nice thing. 🙂

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  17. Amanda,
    First, with 42+ comments on a post that’s been up for only a day, I’d say you don’t have to worry about lost readership! I love the advice you give here about letting go and living. We just got a puppy — clearly, I somehow decided that homeschooling and writing weren’t enough of a challenge. As my 4-yr old says, “Taking care of this puppy is a LOT of work!” There isn’t much writing getting done, bloggy or otherwise.
    As for Speedos, I’m not a fan. Some things are better left to the imagination.
    Can’t wait to see what you do with Jack Nicholson tattoos and ill-concealed firearms.

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    1. You’re sweet, Lisa, and kind to always come back despite my absences. Some people blog as part of their career. I do it for fun. And when it isn’t fun anymore, I need to stop.

      I may need to save Jack and the firearms for a longer piece. We shall see…Congrats on the puppy!

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  18. The urge to escape has never been more intense than right now. And I’ve spoken with KLZ about it lately, too.

    This seems rather odd that i’m writing this to you as we’ve never fully *met* in the blogosphere (though KLZ speaks highly of you to me!).

    Alas, this bloggy thing can suck the life out of you if you let it.

    To take a break. Hmmm…

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    1. Pleasure to meet you, Liz, and I’ve heard all good things as well, BTW.

      Maybe it’s that summer feeling of not wanting to be on a schedule? And, yes, the bloggy life-sucking abilities are monumental.

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  19. I think it’s probably beneficial to take an occasional break. Taking a step back may provide fresh perspective both on writing as well as our overall objective for the blog. It’s easy to spend the majority of our time trying to meet deadlines and very little time analyzing what is and isn’t working in the big picture.

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  20. Oh BOY did I need to hear this (and I’d wondered where you’d gone!)… I let the guilt get to me about not being “present” enough on social media during weeks when the freelance is too hectic, and am fanatical about having a post every week. But what you are saying makes SO MUCH sense. Kim Brock just said something to similar to me last week (@kimberlydbrock) about only writing on her blog when she has something good to say/or when inspiration strikes. Yes! That MAKES SENSE. I think I just may give myself a blogging break as well. While I know it flies in the face of the ‘experts’ advice,’ it is logical to me. It’s silly to pour so much time into the social media avenues (writing, reading blogs) IN LIEU of the most important goal: finishing the book! The blog is not supposed to be ahead of the fiction writing priority-wise, yet I fail to treat it that way. So to me, it’s prioritizing of goals. And if people really ARE that forgiving, then it’s totally worth it. Thank you for this fabulous insight.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, Melissa. You’ve hit it when you say that, “The blog is not supposed to be ahead of the fiction writing priority-wise.” Talking about writing (i.e. blogging about it) can become an avoidance tactic sometimes, I think. At least, it is for me.

      I hope you do take a break if you feel you need it. If your other readers are anything like me, they’ll completely understand. Finish that novel! 🙂

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  21. I laughed at the vomit statement! It is so easy to get consumed with blogging, social media and being online in general. Good to know that I am not the only one who thinks taking blogging breaks can be healthy!

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  22. Oh, too funny, Amanda. I drastically cut back my blogging this summer in favor of other projects. I’m not sorry in the least, though I admit to feeling a slug of sadness when I look at my stats page.

    Hope you had a good rest. And I got me a visual with your last point that’s definitely not rated MG. 😉

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  23. Thanks Amanda. I took three months off blogging this year. That’s quite significant considering I had been posting every Wednesday religiously for months. I am back at it and feel great! I learned quite a bit during those months off. I second your emotion about living a little to get great writing material.

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