Shithouse rat

I'm a bipolar writer in the Naked City. I'm not playing with a full deck. I don't have all my dots on the dice. My cheese is sliding off my cracker. I don't have both oars in the water. I'm a bubble off plum. In other words, I'm crazier than a shithouse rat. These are my stories. Comments--short or long, nasty or nice--always welcome!

Friday, February 10, 2006

My blogger burnout


REBOOT!
Originally uploaded by Mr. Orange*.
After nine months of blogging, I've finally given birth to my own personal case of blogger burnout. Although I still love blogging, there are aspects that I used to enjoy that have become an effort, if not a downright chore, and my "real life" has suffered gravely in the process. Here's a few examples.

What season is it?
I've literally let several seasons go by, hardly noticing, because I've spent so much time indoors blogging. There was a time when this kind of homebound lifestyle would have horrified and depressed me, but this past year I blithely blogged the weeks and months away as spring became summer and fall became winter. In NYC, we've been having unseasonably warm temperatures day after day, week after week. A normal person would be outside every day reveling in the sunshine and mild temps. Not I.

Blogging has become hazardous to my health.
I'm not exercising, I'm not eating right, and I'm smoking so many cigarettes I have no idea how many packs I'm going through each day. I feel like absolute shit physically, and wake up every day feeling lucky that I haven't keeled over.

My ex-boyfriend's brother in law actually dropped dead in front of his computer several years ago. His wife found him there in the morning. I don't think he was a blogger--all I know is he was in his fifties, and he was interacting with a machine instead of being in bed with his wife. It's not the most glorious way to go.

My attention span is shot.
As a writer, when I discovered Blogger it was like I'd died and gone to writer's heaven. When writing for print pubs, feedback from readers was not a routine occurrence. But with blogging came the technology which allowed readers to respond, and me to respond to them.

My initial posts were very long, and one writer acquaintance who didn't blog pointed that out to me. I didn't care though--I eventually built up a modest number of blog pals who would slog through and comment to my posts. I gradually began to shorten and edit down my entries, and was often surprised to see that a short post could generate as much of a response, if not more, than a long one. When I started to put myself in other blogger's shoes, I understood why this would be so.

Trying to keep up with other blogs and post to your own regularly can be arduous. I also am very anal about trying to answer all comments, and to comment to other blogs.

But as time went on and my link list grew, I found it harder to devote the time to blogpals's good but longish posts. When I did my blog rounds, I found myself sometimes skipping over other bloggers who, like me, wrote longer entries. What used to be fun started to become a chore, and I found myself with less and less patience in terms of reading everyone's entries. And forget about perusing the archives, even though I knew I was missing out on some great stuff. Blogging is kind of like newspaper publishing--anything below the top post is yesterday's news.

Instant gratification will bite you in the ass.
Although I prided myself on the number of comments I was beginning to get on my blog, as time went on, every time I received one I quickly noted it and then impatiently waited for the next one and the next. If a post didn't amass as many comments as I was now used to, I'd be crestfallen.

I became petty and spiteful and self centered.
Any bloggers on my list or off who never commented to my blog or never responded to my comments on their blog were on my "shit list." There were a few that I still visited anyway, and I was mindful of the fact that more popular bloggers couldn't possibly respond to all comments, and some didn't respond to any. But I found myself becoming more and more of the "what's in it for me" mindset, which is very messed up, isn't it?

Print media? What's that?
I have stacks of great books that I've been meaning to read that I haven't had the time or inclination to dig into. I've let my subscriptions to New York and the New Yorker magazines expire, since I wound up with piles and piles of unread issues I didn't have room to keep. I hardly ever read the paper anymore at all.

So what's my plan?
Well, I still love blogging, and writing my personal blog along with posts for Blogcritics is still very rewarding to me. But I have to begin to realize that the lifestyle I've developed is literally hazardous to my health, and I have to take definite measures to balance my life in a more healthy way.

Eating better, exercising regularly, cutting down on the chain smoking, getting fresh air and sunshine are essential. I live in New York City, and there's really very little excuse for me to not take advantage of all the city has to offer. My 83 year old aunt, one of the coolest people I know, suggested that I schedule myself--devote a few hours to blogging, then turn the computer off and devote the rest of the day to living. Then in the evening, I can blog some more.

This sounds like a great plan. I'm going to start asap. Um--maybe tomorrow.

13 Comments:

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Yzabel said...

There comes a time when we need to take care of ourselves, indeed. I'm not terribly keen on blogging these days either (although it's because I want to focus on writing more and better, so my blogging time has been converted to writing time). And well, exercising may be hard to start, but once you're in the rut, it's great. =)

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Walker said...

We all get to that stage. I to have been therfe and have decided that I am going back to the Gym in the spring ( to flippin cold outside now )
I have started writing more posts than I need and just saving them to post on the days that I dont feel like writing.
Being single again will give me more time to go out and away from the computer too.
I think 2 hours a day blogging and reading is more than enough to cause trouble and read up on my friends.
Take care of yourself :D

 
At 2:04 PM, Blogger fugusashi said...

I'm right there with you.

I very seldom answer comments to my own blog anymore, not because I don't appreciate the feedback but because, well, I'm just getting burned out. I feel guilty about it though. Here, these people have made an effort to comment, and I don't respond. Blech.

You said:
I found myself sometimes skipping over other bloggers who, like me, wrote longer entries. What used to be fun started to become a chore, and I found myself with less and less patience in terms of reading everyone's entries.

Me too, Elvira,...and once again, I feel bad about it. However, I don't think I should feel bad. I like my blogger friends very much, but life is too short to devote such great quantities of time to people who are not involved in our real lives. That's kind of a mean sentiment, but I think that it's true.

 
At 9:54 PM, Blogger Maggs said...

Well put. You wrote what we all think.

 
At 11:02 PM, Blogger Nikky Egland said...

YEAH! Take care of yourself girl! Just make sure you drop in on us "little people" and say hi once in awhile! :)

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Leesa said...

I know exactly what you're saying. The list of blogs I read is so long that it feels like a job to keep up with daily reading. Then I feel guilty if I don't make it to some that day. I also try to go back and comment back to people who comment, that too is a job and time consuming. I live in Montana where it's just gorgeous outside, although a bit too cold today, and I spend more time in front of this computer!
I too, tend to skip the lengthy posts and try to come back later.
I think it's a great idea to try and devote a certain amount of time to it and then turn it off.

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Lord Boinkingham said...

I'm going thru the same thing with a certain evil computer game called World of Warcraft. It's just so addicting...I don't know how many hours and days I've lost lately just trying to complete "one...more...quest" before logging off and going to do something useful or productive (or sleep), realizing that I'd butchered the entire day sitting here amusing myself. But in addition to being addictive, it's social, and more importantly, it's FUN.

But I am realizing that it has crippled my ability to think about life outside the confines of some WoW time every day. Instead of turning freelance stuff in early now, I get it in right on deadline. But at the same time, I enjoy this, and it's certainly safer than many of life's other vices and guilty pleasures.

At the same time, I feel energized every day. I feel like I have a purpose, albeit a virtual one. So what if they only party I've been to in the last month existed entirely in a computer simulation? I still went to it with my friends (who also play), so how different is that, really?

On the other hand, I've been playing the game for about three months now, and have had some very hot and cold spells with it. Somedays I get up and don't want to play it at all. I'd go half the week without logging in once. Then there are weeks like this one where I spent probably 6 to 8 hours in the last four days playing this silly little game.

I know it'll cool off again. All things do with people of varying and multiple interests like ourselves. I have noticed that as my WoW playing goes up, my blogging goes down, but I still read just as much or more than I did before (I'm actually just about caught up on my magazines, and halfway thru a new book!).

On the other hand, I do feel the effects of not moving from this seat often enough. My wrists, neck, and shoulders get sore, I lose concentration on other things around me...it's just good to balance things out and know when to take a break.

So, blogging is like that. Sort of. :)

 
At 9:58 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Yzabel:

I also find that there can be a fine line between blogging and "writing"--though blogging is writing of course. Most of the time I'm trying to write a "story," though it is in blog format--but I've found that a fair number of "stories" here have also been about blogging, comments, etc. And I'm still having blog dreams! But I know what you're saying. Exercise would be a great start for me.

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Walker:

That's great that you can do a backlog of posts. Two hours a day--wow, two hours goes by like two seconds for me--lol. I think I'm "slower" than other bloggers in terms of the time it can take me to do the daily blog thing.

 
At 10:03 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Paula:
You put that so beautifully!

Maggs:
Good to know I'm not alone in my bloggie thoughts and "obsessions."

Nikky:
LOL--As one of the "little people," I always look forward to hearing from my blogpals.

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Leesa:

Yes, I've seen some of the beautiful photos you have of your home and I can imagine how great it must be to be out and about there. I have an urban version of this in NYC, and a list a mile long of all the "city" things I should be doing.

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger elvira black said...

Lord B:

I don't know much about gaming, but it does sound like a social bloggy thing too--rather than just playing a game by yourself, I take it you have a lot of interactioni with other players, which makes it a whole 'nother level of game for sure.

As you said, it seems like a relatively innocuous diversion--and certainly more engaging than passively watching the tube. And what you said about being energized and having a purpose--I know exactly what you mean. There's many a time during my blogging mania where I'd wake up and have those feel good endorphins coursing through me--the same feeling of joy and anticipation you have when you fall in love--as I turn on the computer. But now I too am getting to the stage where I have my "on" and "off" days, which is probably all for the best.

 
At 4:12 AM, Blogger On The Rebound said...

If only you knew how my day was going. I was searching for one thing and I ended up here. Now you see how that might affect me!

 

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