I have just begun my seventh month as a blogger, and I am finally settling into it with a bit more comfort and ease. When I wrote The Awkward Blogger, I was fairly transparent about how nervous I was joining the blogging community, and how uncomfortable I felt with the self-promotion aspect of becoming a blogger.
I have found a niche where I am thriving; thanks to a few fellow bloggers that I have come to consider my friends, I have found a way to voice my insecurities and anxieties. I have joined online blogging communities, found blog hops featuring like-minded bloggers, and discovered several opportunities to publish my work online. In short, I feel like I fit in.
However, that is not the end of my qualms about being a blogger. I still experience waves of jealousy when other bloggers in my genre gain exposure with a major publication, or collaborate on some project that feels like the “cool kids club”. I ask myself, “Aren’t I funny enough to be featured on that list?” or “I write just as well as she does- why won’t that magazine publish my post?”
I know I am not the only one who struggles with these unsettling feelings of envy. The blogosphere is generally supportive, but can sometimes feel competitive, which makes the need to self-promote that much more essential if you are planning to gain followers.
I try my best not to compare myself to other bloggers, and instead focus on connecting with and supporting my fellow writers. Being part of a community takes a lot of effort. Which brings me to my biggest challenge as a blogger.
The Constant Blogging Guilt!
It takes up so much time. I cannot properly express the guilt I feel over the amount of time I spend on my blog. No, not just the writing part, but the whole package. As every blogger knows, part of the time is spent writing what you hope is high quality content. Then there is the editing, the photos, the hyperlinks, the publishing. After that, you spend more time than you can possibly imagine responding to comments, tweeting and sharing on Facebook, linking it up on blog hops. And perhaps one of the biggest time-drains is also one of the most critical: you must read and comment on other blogs.
Well, I guess you don’t have to do this; if you are one of the rare big fish in the big blogging pond, you are probably exempt, but if not, you run the risk of being either a self-absorbed egotist or delusional. Because you see, one cannot blog in a vacuum and be remotely successful. If you want other bloggers to find you and perhaps share readers with you, you must follow them, and make it worth their while.
To truly thrive in this blogging world, I could spend hours of my day reading, writing, commenting, and promoting. And here is the ironic thing: As a “Mommy Blogger”, I am theoretically writing about family life. My posts are supposed to relay stories about my experience as a mother, be they funny, inspiring, or comforting. How am I supposed to focus on actually being a mommy when I am constantly glancing at my phone to see if a new comment has posted or mentally composing clever Tweets about my offspring? I refuse to be the perpetually distracted Mommy who misses all the fleeting moments of their days. Kind of like the photographer who spends so much time behind the lens that she misses her entire family vacation. Not to mention the fact that being well-rounded is a good thing, and there are several other worthwhile activities I could be pursuing in my free time: exercising, yoga, reading, cleaning my house…
My Husband Hates My Blog
Here is another thing: I think my husband secretly hates my blog. Perhaps that is a bit harsh; I know he is proud of me, I know he thinks I am a good writer, and I know he loves it when I can bring comfort or reassurance to a mother who may be struggling with her parenting experience. But the blogging package in its entirety? I know he resents it. So I do what any addict would: I try to hide the amount of time I spend on it. There have been countless evenings when I hear his car in the garage and I jump up guiltily, frantically close my computer, and appear that I have been busily unloading the dishwasher. I have had moments where it feels like I am living a double life. Something needs to change.
My husband long ago stopped reading my blog; it may or may not be a subconscious manifestation of his resentment.The two of us are planning a 3 day getaway to the mountains- without our children. It is the first time we have taken such a trip in two years. I have been looking forward to it eagerly, and recently decided that it would be an “unplugged” weekend, though I hadn’t yet shared my intention with him. The other night as I was surfing Facebook, he announced forcefully, “No blogging, tweeting, or Facebook on our vacation!”
Though I had come to the same conclusion on my own, I still felt hurt and defensive. I often feel like my husband is the grounded one in our marriage, and I am the one with my head in the virtual clouds. If it wasn’t for him bolting us to the earth, I would drift off into the blogosphere. I refuse to abandon my blog; I love writing, it is the perfect outlet for me, and I have developed some genuine friendships in the last 7 months. But it seems I need to set some serious limits for myself, whether that means setting a timer and then moving away from the iMac when it goes off, no matter what I am in the middle of, or perhaps making a schedule so that I am only blogging/social media-ing during certain hours of the day. The way it stands right now, my screen time has begun to feel desperate and compulsive, and that is not okay with me.
Seeking That Elusive Balance
I have already come to the conclusion that I cannot write a post 7 days a week like some of my peers do. While others may be able to produce quality posts that frequently, I cannot, and I refuse to let my content suffer. I have also reduced the number of blog hops, or link-ups, that I participate in. I simply do not have it in me to read and comment on that many blogs on a daily basis. I have discovered which blogs really resonate with me, and though I have been raised to be a “nice girl,” I cannot be all things to all people. I already attempt to steer clear of the computer on the weekends, and do not post on my blog on Saturdays or Sundays.
I don’t know what the answers are for me finding balance in my life; I realize that this predicament is not unique to bloggers, or even mothers. We all have “that thing” in our life that takes up too much time, or maybe has drifted from the “hobby” category to the “obsession” category. We all experience challenges when it comes to time management. Above all, I want this blog I have created to be a source of pride, happiness, and contentment to me, and hopefully a source of inspiration or entertainment to others. When it feels like it has become compulsive, it is time to stop.
*If after reading this post, you still consider me to be a “Funny Mom”, feel free to cast your daily vote for me in this contest! Remember, you do not have to be monogamous to my blog; vote for all your favorites whenever you want! Thanks for all your votes yesterday!