Just Say ‘No’

 

I am overwhelmed.

 

Sarah B rainy day - sig

 

(All I can think of is The Princess Bride: “Is this a kissing book?“)

“Is this a complaining post?”

No.

Sort of.

Not really.

When I wrote Envy and Honesty six months ago, I had no idea how many writers were struggling.

This is huge, people.

Listen.

I’m not going to whine but I will say that you are not alone in feeling stressed.

Falling behind on blogging? Haven’t written for a day (or a week)? Give yourself a pass.

I know. There are endless articles telling us what we SHOULD do and COULD do if we REALLY want to and if we TRY HARDER and MAKE the time.

This is awesome if you’re asking for a kick in the ass. Sometimes you need a nudge, you know?

Personally, I’m sick and bloody tired of seeing this “advice” directed toward all writers. Because we are all different.

Excuses aside, this type of boot camp approach does not work for everyone. It might be motivating to some but is detrimental to others.

If you’re overwhelmed, stop reading that stuff. I know this is blasphemy, but…it’s just a blog. It’s just a word count.

Please. Give yourself a break.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

If you’re overwhelmed, do you feel pressured to keep up or do you take a break from blogging/commenting/social media? 

 

 

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73 thoughts on “Just Say ‘No’

  1. I have those days and some posts I’ve written that are meant to kick myself in the butt. Too many evenings wasted flipping through the same Facebook updates and YouTube videos… those are the times I need the swift kick.
    But you’re absolutely right. The only person saying I should write X words this week/month is me. And if I don’t, so what?
    I don’t want to be lazy and bemoan what could have been, but neither do I want to be frazzled and stressed about what I should be doing. This is supposed to be at least partly fun, right?

    Liked by 4 people

    • I do, too. Like my “getting out of my own way” post. I understand the need for a swift kick sometimes. 😉

      I have to remove the stress and pressure from articles saying I don’t try hard enough or do enough. Those are really starting to tick me off. I will write and I will be happy with my writing and, if not, I’ll get a well-meaning kick in the pants. But I won’t put my family aside or my health at risk because of a blog or social media.

      You’re right. I think the blogoshere has become a stressful place to be and has forgotten that it’s supposed to be fun. Or, for some, a side dish to their writing. Certainly not an all-consuming task that takes over your life then tells you you need to do more.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sound advice and it’s not a complaining post at all. It’s scary when nothing comes out. And I do find myself saying, “oh crap.” Did I run out of ideas? It’s hard to just wait for something to present itself.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’ve yet to run out of ideas. I have too many. That’s overwhelming in a different way.
      I guess it’s the speed of the writing and the blog-reading and social media that’s got me in a bad mood. It’s so easy to fall behind and I don’t need someone telling me I’m not doing enough. I’m not a robot.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t have writing targets for the novels. They just get slotted in between the day job, the commute, the housework and so on. The blog post has to go up every Sunday. I have the blog to help with the research for the novels, so it would be foolish not to do it. Some weeks the post shorter than others and some weeks it’s a lot of effort, but I write them and I post them and I enjoy doing it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I will definitely cut back, but I try not to cut out all together. Writing is my own form of cheap personal therapy. I was not a person I liked before I started writing and don’t particularly want to go back, especially on my tougher days. But if someone else needs to take a break as opposed to simply wants to, they absolutely should guilt-free. People as well as things break if you force too much.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This: “I was not a person I liked before I started writing…” I don’t remember before I started writing but I do remember periods when I slowed down (a lot). 💕 It was unpleasant. Agreed. I could never stop writing completely (even if it was in journals, a diary, on napkins…).
      It’s this world of word counts and social media and blogging comments. Yup. When you force yourself, you will eventually break.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s amazing how large a writer’s capacity to find ways to make ourselves feel guilty is. I’m not even able to stay in the same position for more than 20 minutes yet I still feel a smidgen of guilt that I’m not writing. Obviously recovering from major surgery is more important but I still feel bad about it. I’m getting better at pushing the guilt aside though. I do want to write when I can but I can’t right now so I won’t! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Awesome post, Sarah. It’s hard to say no sometimes. I find that pressure comes from within (in my case). Don’t even need to read that ‘advice’ to get stressed out. It usually happens when I’m tired. For me the challenge is to stop. Learning slowly. Getting a reminder helps. Thank you!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Yup. True. The road to hell and good intentions and all that. Finding a thick skin is a tool for a writer as big as finding a plot or a first word or whatever it takes. Hope some green shoot of spring are peeping out your way?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I just read a similar post from The Perfectionist’s Pen. I typically go hard with blogging then I cycle through a phase that makes me wonder what it is I’m doing, and then I take a little break, feeling a little stressed (over what, after all?), and then I get back into it. I’m still learning how to balance!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, that internal voice can bring on the stress and pressure for sure. For me, I wonder how much of that has to do with me and how much is what I’ve read of the writing world and how I’m supposed to operate within it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is definitely a Gordian Knot, which is not to say one shouldn’t reflect on it (of course all of that is my humble opinion).

        Personally, since I am not writing for a living (or even to generate some ‘mad money’), I operate under the assumption the pressure is all mine.

        One of my favorite poets Jane Hirshfield said during a Q&A after a reading that there she went through a five period when she didn’t write any poetry at all. Then she said “I was a poet that didn’t write poetry.” I always keep that in my mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I absolutely love that. ❤️ When I was going through the toughest part of this, I wrote a draft for my ‘About’ page that said, “I’m a writer who isn’t writing.”

        I think I’ll take a sword to that Gordian Knot like Alexander. ⚔

        Like

  9. “Personally, I’m sick and bloody tired of seeing this “advice” directed toward all writers. Because we are all different.” Amen, Sister!

    We are creative to our core, and that is what we need to explore. Some days, I just want to live in that vibe of creativity, to crawl inside a dandelion as it blooms.

    Liked by 3 people

    • We ARE all different. With different lifestyles, experiences, internal and external pressures… Oh, lady, I LOVE this: “Some days, I just want to live in that vibe of creativity, to crawl inside a dandelion as it blooms.”
      🌼❤️🌼❤️🌼❤️🌼❤️🌼

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I know exactly how you feel. I just read a similar post on The Perfectionist’s Pen. When it comes to blogging, I usually go really hard for a bit, burn out, wonder what it is I’m actually doing since I’m not getting paid to blog. Then I step back and engage in my life. I really do love blogging but I tend to obsess over it! Like you said, it’s just a blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Funny how that happens. My blog goes through major ebbs and flows. I have cycles where I’m pumping out posts, and others where I don’t really write very much and change my theme and reorganize ideas. It’s like a Spring cleaning to take stock of what I’m up to–where I want to go. I have let a blog languish for many months, only to come back with a different vision or direction than originally intended. But what the hell? It ~is~ just a blog and it’s mine, so… I guess I can do what I want with it. Should I feel guilty for that? I don’t think so–and neither should you. Your blog posts are lovely, and true, and interesting–but you’re no dancing monkey. If you need a break, take it! We can wait. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Spring cleaning is good. 🌸
      I have often had a post written “only to come back with a different vision or direction than originally intended.” More than I’d like to admit. No, I’m not a dancing monkey. 🐵 Or a robot. 🤖 Now I’m just being goofy. I’ll stop. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think a lot of people are sick and bloody tired of this. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe they don’t want to say. Who knows? But hell if I’m going to have a stroke over this crap. ❤️ Oh, I want to meet up with you for a cup of tea. Or a glass (bottle) of wine…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Too right Sarah, too right. It’s not worth it is it? I can’t keep up and that’s it. There are some, who I thought were good blogging friends from a while ago, but they never visit my blog anymore even thought they are still blogging and I see them comment on other blogs, mutual blogs we follow. I pop in to see them to say hi, keep in touch, read their posts, but they don’t even reply to my comments, so I’ve given up. What’s the point? I wonder what I’ve done wrong sometimes. Then I think maybe they’re just too busy and only have time for their ‘favourites’. Fair enough. But then I didn’t start blogging to win any popularity awards. I can’t always write happy, bright, cheerful posts. I write what I can and when I can and I feel good about that. You do the same. It’s what we do. Oh, and did I say, I’m so, so glad I met you here? The only thing that makes me sad is that we can’t meet up in person…yet. But we will, I’m sure of it. One day lovely lady…one day… and then how we shall talk and laugh and probably cry, but laugh some more ❤ ❤ ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I am with you on all this (especially the fab Princess Bride reference up front). Whenever I see the often heralded writing advice, “the key to success is to write every day!” I used to want to punch someone in the head. That’s because it didn’t fit my life and made me feel somehow inferior as a writer or perhaps not a real writer at all. But somehow over the years I began to tune out the noise, because you’re right – this is not a one size fits all game (is anything? Nope). So what works for one doesn’t work for another. Trust yourself, listen to your inner voice. Take a break if you want or need or write every damn day but either way doesn’t determine your fate as a writer. That fate falls to you and how you feel in your heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha! Yes. Exactly. 😜 “I used to want to punch someone in the head.” You nailed it. That kind of writing article helps a few people who need a kick in the pants to get moving but, mostly, it makes people feel inferior. Like whatever we do, it’s never good enough to be a “real” writer. I call BS on that. How you feel about yourself? Yes. That’s it. 💕 Thanks.

      P.S. Princess Bride is awesome.

      Like

  13. In the words of Stephen Covey, “sometimes you need to sharpen the saw.” If you are depleted you will have nothing to give. If you are run down you will not be effective. You have to stop and take care of your equipment (You) to be effective. Writers are by nature very sensitive, we take in a lot of stimuli, things others would miss, so we need downtime to process and sometimes recover.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’m with you! “Sick and bloody tired” “advice” Raaah!
    The “must” and “should” brigade get in the way of working out what’s best for each of us. It is so hard though when others set the bar higher than I can achieve. It’s so ingrained in me (80’s kind of stuff) to keep up and compete. That’s my inner battle..
    A bit like decluttering – we need to ask “will this activity bring me joy?”

    And do you realise how timely this post is with Nancy Regan dying – didn’t she do the first drugs (substitute ‘addictive behaviour’ blogger)!”Just say No” to drugs and booze campaign ?

    Love the kissing book vid! Gorgeous. Xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right! She did create that slogan/campaign. Hadn’t thought of that.

      Raaah! Down with the must-and-should brigade! (We could totally take them.) We’ll bring in Sherri. And Irene. They seem so sweet… But cross them… 😈 We would be UNSTOPPABLE. ❤️❤️❤️

      Yeah, that clip is great. The whole movie is fantastic. It’s one of my “go-to” flicks.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. For the most part, when I’m overwhelmed I hang a “gone fishing” sign on my blog. And I stay away until someone pleads for me to come back, or the ideas I’ve been pushing aside won’t stop haunting me. Or I feel obligated. The last reason probably isn’t the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha! I love it! “Gone Fishing” 😀 I may steal that sometime. I know what you mean. And you’re right. Obligation isn’t the best of those reasons (though I do like the other two).

      Like

    • Yes. We need to do what’s best for us. Do we actually do this, though? Because we constantly read, comment on, and RT articles that make us feel as if we’re not doing enough. (I’m including myself here…) Do we stop reading all this ‘advice’ or do we read and ignore? The latter is difficult for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It can be difficult for us all. It’s like a subliminal peer pressure – you read about how someone’s achieving this, that, or the other and think you should be able to do that. But you don’t see the whole picture because they’re not showing it (none of us do), so you don’t know what they’ve sacrificed – time, family, career, health – in order to make things happen.

        Your values will be different to mine, for example, and you might feel that keeping yourself clean is important, whereas I’d rather write than shower. Similarly, we’re at different times in our lives: my children are grown up, so I don’t have the same degree of responsibility for them that you have for yours. Every individual is different, so I’m sure another writer/blogger could use other examples. The point is not to compare, and just do what you can.

        If you haven’t read it already, you might also want to check out this post of mine from a month or so ago

        Finally, remember this. No matter how good a person we are, no matter how well-intentioned, every one of us will focus on ourselves first rather than others. So if I stop writing or blogging or walking down the street naked, most people won’t notice. When I realised that, it gave me the freedom to stop doing things (which is why I’m rarely in court for public order offenses nowadays).

        Incidentally, this isn’t advice – just something to mull over. Have a great day, Sarah. You deserve it as much as anyone else.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. I think of myself as a horrible role model, because I don’t push myself to do anything I’m not inspired to do. Yes, I should be writing, but I’m inspired to digitally paint. So I do that instead. It could be sewing, or it might be water color pencils, or it may be building a steampunk keyboard. *shrug* I do what makes me happy.

    Then again, I don’t pursue any of these as a profession either. I might have to be more serious if that were the case. I’m (usually) not inspired to code, but gosh darn it, that’s what I do when I’m working.

    Maybe that’s the intention behind the “DO IT!” articles? Treat it like a profession instead of a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being a programmer, but given the choice, I would rather be writing/drawing/sewing/etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • And here it is, right? “I do what makes me happy.” You’re a fabulous role model. (And, btw, the stuff you’re inspired to do is inspiring.) Hmm. You say it’s not a profession yet, even though I know you have a day job, I think of you as a writer. You see it as a hobby? Because it’s not your primary income or…? That’s interesting. To me, you’re an extremely talented writer who happens to code.

      Like

  17. YES. Do I want to write and make art every day? Yes, I’d love to. Is it realistically gonna happen? Um, no, not really. I have two kids and a house and… etc. (Oh but it’s all just excuses!) But it’s still like – yeah and it’s LIFE, during which we are expected to do all sorts of things we don’t want to do including committing entire families of dustbunnies (and their extended families that they invited to come hang out for the wedding and the birth of their first few dozen children, and then the aunts and uncles and grandparents and second cousins once removed all liked it here so much they decided to settle in and stay) to the unmerciful, cold confines of the vacuum canister.

    That comment might not make sense.

    Mostly – I hear you. I so hear you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It completely makes sense. Damn dust bunnies. 🐇 Seriously, I’m all for ditching excuses but we do need to, I don’t know, um…live? Yes. That’s what I was searching for. And part of my life is writing. It just is. But to hell with people pushing me around or telling me I’m not doing enough. Keeping my head above water is hard enough without someone shoving my head under.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, Sarah. You’re the only one who can know what that is. Personally I struggle with bloggers who post, especially lengthy posts, every day. I do not try to read every post they publish. I pick and choose. But publishing every day is their choice. It is my choice whether to read or not. I generally post twice a week. If they read and comment on mine, then I will read and comment on theirs at least equally. That’s just good manners. Usually I find I comment on the posts of others more often than they comment on mine. That’s okay. It’s my choice. At the moment the tables are turned and I’m needing to spend more time elsewhere and so am not able to keep up with the reciprocity as well as I like to. This is what makes me feel bad. If someone comments on my post I like to respond to them, and read, comment on, and share their posts. I think it’s just good manners, but it’s also relationship building with the lovely friends I have met online. If they visit me, I like to visit them. If I’m the one paying all the visits and doing all the sharing I soon look for better friendships elsewhere. Blah. I seem to be repeating myself. I’m writing on my iPad, on which I find editing difficult so please excuse me. I guess what I’m doing is apologising for not keeping up with your posts. I’m not not here because I don’t want to be, I’m not here because I have elsewhere to be at the moment. I wish I could be everywhere at once! I always enjoy your thought provoking posts. It is your decision what to write, when to post, and what to read and share! 💕💐😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes to everything! I can’t keep up with writers who post daily. I simply can’t. I feel badly about it. But I really shouldn’t. (And you shouldn’t, either. Just saying.) I can’t do it so I do as much as I can.

      Lengthy posts are tough but, like you said, when those are daily, too, it’s impossible for me to keep up. I do like the people I’ve met online, though, so you’re right about that. It’s tough to skip posts. I save them in my inbox to read later or I just try to get to their recent ones. (P.S. Don’t ever feel the need to apologize for not reading/commenting on my posts. You don’t need any pressure from this little Lemon Shark.) ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah but I love giving this little Lemon Shark a friendly squeeze!
        Thanks for your understanding. I think we think/feel similarly about these things. We can always look to each other for support and understanding. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: Finding Inspiration Through Conversation - Squirrel Talk

  20. I like what Norah said, above, about people who publish lengthy posts every day. Whew! I could not do it. I know I post a lot when I’m co-hosting a blogathon, but I couldn’t keep up that pace for long!

    I don’t know how you write a blog like yours. You have great ideas and a way with language. And you always give me something to think about, and I admire you for it. When you said all writers/creative types are different, you are so right.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, the bloggers who post every day (sometimes more than once a day!) I cannot keep up with. I do what I can with blogging and commenting.

      Aw… Thank you! 💕 I don’t know how I write it, either. I just type whatever comes to mind. It’s a little blog lacking focus and I am so appreciative of this comment from you because I often wish I had a niche (like you!) that kept readers engaged in whatever topic/genre/theme I had. I admire you (your blog and your writing) so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. And this is exactly what I am up to this time. Taking it easy and not beating myself up for not publishing the blog post I had been planning to post.
    Thank you for letting me take it easy, it feels great to see someone agrees to my line of thought 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please. Yes. Take it easy. We put so much pressure on ourselves and beat ourselves up…we don’t need any more of that from other people. When writers need a break, they often worry but, really, it’s all good. Nothing horrible will happen if they step away and breathe… ❤

      Like

  22. I only started blogging the end of last year with the main aim of writing about everything else other than my book and the writing process itself. I have had one relapse so far (most recent blog) where I wrote a ’10 lessons……’ style about writing, but intend on keeping my blogs as eclectic as possible in the hope that people can see a little of my character and enjoy my style of writing. The wealth of writing advice out there can get a little homogenised and characterless if there is no real new thought and can sometimes feel like a less challenged approach (though a lot of time is spent writing it up, and I respect that). It can also seem a little rhetorical. For some, it is just what they need, for others it is not helpful and makes them feel stressed. I have noticed that while I take the view that all writing, regardless of objective, helps to hone in and fine tune your craft, personally, I spend a disproportionate amount of time writing my blog than I do on finishing the editing of my novel. I plan to address the balance/redress priorities. Great point, Sarah. I think you’ve said what a lot of people are thinking, including those who write blogs about writing. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree so much. I have quite an eclectic blog, too. And its purpose wasn’t to give writing advice or talk about writing. I discuss writing more and more but this is a blog about my life and writing is a huge part of it. That said, I unfortunately can relate to spending more time writing for online stuff (blogs, social media) than writing my books. I think this is a major problem for a lot of writers.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I held off getting a website for years until I couldn’t get away with it anymore. Now I’ve been blogging once a week for the past two years and it’s work. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t but it’s part of the job. I constantly need to remind myself that there are other things to do and somehow, often by the seat of my pants, I find something to blog about at the last minute. LOL (Does that make me sound like a killjoy? Oh, and you are NOT complaining!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like it really is part of the job. Some say you have to blog, others say stop blogging and write…gah! Unfortunately, I believe you need an online presence. (I’m a seat-of-my-pants type blogger, too. Maybe it shows… Oops. Eh. I’m okay with that.) 😜

      Liked by 1 person

  24. When blogging stops being fun and becomes a chore, then its time to take a break. I did that once, and it worked. I dropped to one post a week, and my stats continued steadily to rise. I learned then that if you keep writing posts people want it doesnt matter if you blog every day or once a month… people will still want to read it. Sometimes I even miss a week, and I don’t stress. But most of the time I try hard to produce something for the people who bother to turn up every week and read my words. I dont want to let them down. But they know I’m human too. I try not to be a slave to stats but I do get a kick out of knowing what’s being read. And most of my readers are non bloggers, so few comment, and thats why stats matter… they’re invisible otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I usually post only once a week so… Not sure what I’d do. Except give myself permission to not stress about it. Or get overwhelmed with the amount of things I’m “supposed” to do. Eh. Thing is, it’s a catch-22 because I have so many ideas swirling around my mind, I want to blog about them. It’s the other stuff that’s overwhelming. And I completely agree. It doesn’t matter if you post once a day or once a month. People will read it if they want to. And we are human. Only human.

      I don’t check stats. (Invisible readers are awesome.) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Its easy to get hung up on stats. Its a trap best avoided. I generally only post once a week now, sometimes even that’s not manageable. As you say, we can only do our best. At the end of the day, its only a blog. Mostly its for fun, but there was a time when it wasnt. Can you write your posts and schedule them in advance? That usually works well if you have lots of ideas whirling around in your head. By supposed to do, do you mean chores and parenting? Do you have a day job? Or are you talking book writing?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ugh. Um… TO DO is a boatload of things. All you mentioned and more. (Except the getting hung up on stats.) 😉 And I don’t schedule anything. Eek! Sacha yells at me but I still haven’t automated any online social media stuff or anything. That could be part of my problem. Just saying.

        Like

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