Random Thoughts: Mom Blogger Edition — Abby Off the Record

Random Thoughts: Mom Blogger Edition

by Abby on February 22, 2013

Frustrated Woman at Computer With Stack of PaperI’ve been feeling off since I started the new year in a funk. Tired. Depleted. Stuck. Uncreative. It might be just that winter and I don’t get along, or it may be that I need a blogging break. A writer friend recently pointed out that I’m one of the only bloggers she knows that has adhered to such a regular M-W-F schedule for so long. After thinking about it a while, I decided maybe that’s not such a good thing.

For the almost 7 years (!) that I’ve been blogging, I’ve always had a push-pull with the writer and blogger sides of me. What I mean is, part of me writes because I enjoy it, I want people to read my stuff, and that’s what writers do. Another part of me blogs to build my publishing platform, increase my traffic numbers and readership, and stay relevant. As a writer these days, you kind of HAVE to blog. It’s expected.

But these are some of the thoughts that have been rattling around my foggy brain lately:

Why bother? Seriously, why do I keep doing this week after week, year after year? To make other people feel better about their parenting and housekeeping skills? To impart lessons learned from years of doing things the hard way? To connect with like-minded people?

If my readership hasn’t increased significantly over all this time, is it because my blog sucks? Or because I suck at promoting it? Or because I don’t spend enough time on social media? (As if!) Or because there are 80 bazillion other similar blogs out there? Or because I can’t take gorgeous photos like these? Or because I’m not (very often) deep and introspective like this?

Do I have anything new to say, or do I just keep writing about the same things? I’ve covered – and covered and covered – the “parenting is hard” thing. And the “work-life balance is hard” thing. And the “my life is chaotic” thing. What’s left?

Is my blog balanced enough? Though I don’t keep an editorial calendar, I do make a vague attempt to balance the funny vs. serious posts, the parenting vs. writing posts, the useful/informative vs. navel-gazing posts. I’ll think, “OK, probably time to throw in a funny, upbeat post after the ones about guns and heartbreak.”

Am I fishing for comments or discouraging them? I don’t THINK I do this much – and I’ve claimed before that I don’t blog solely for the comments – but any honest blogger will tell you that after a few weeks of crickets in the comments area, you do start to question yourself. But on the flip side, it seems like a lot of my posts elicit the “hang in there and enjoy it because they DO grow up someday” comments, and I’m really not trying to beg for reassurance. (Though I never get sick of hearing that I’m not alone!)

I do think maybe I need to step back, regroup, and recharge. Maybe cut down to 2 posts a week. Somehow, I don’t think the world will stop turning if Monday dawns and there’s no post from me detailing our ill-fated trip to the shoe store. Although I do have a story about our first boy/girl playdate that’s begging to be written…

LINKS O’ THE DAY: I took comfort in this post by fellow longtime blogger Neena of Hooey Critic about what happened, and didn’t happen, when she took a blogging break. Interestingly, she did her PhD thesis on mom blogging, which culminated in the launch of Project: Underblog. She’s got a clear take on the “why bother” question.

And I SO related to this post, Anti-Frantic, by author Shauna Niequist. I think I need to get that printed on a T-shirt or fridge magnet.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Neena February 22, 2013 at 6:35 am

I love this post and I totally understand what you are saying!

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Abby February 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

I know you do, especially!

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Ali February 22, 2013 at 7:00 am

During my first, pregnancy three years ago, I subscribed to every mom blog I could find including your Diary of a New Mom. Throughout the years I have either grown bored or irritated with every one of them… except yours. Now I follow Jenny Lawson (Bloggess) because she is weird. I like weird. And Jenny (People I Want to Punch in the Throat) because she is angry. I like angry. Angry can be funny. And you, because you’re awesome and balanced and a great writer and I am rooting for you to succeed. But I know exactly what you’re going through (I closed down my blog for similar reasons) so whatever you decide, whatever will remedy your funk, you know us loyalists will support you. Good luck.

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Abby February 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

Thank you so much, Ali. That means the world to me. I don’t read The Bloggess regularly, but I thought her book was one of the best memoirs ever written. She is great. I will have to check out the angry lady. I am so thankful for the support of loyal readers like you. Keeps me going on those funk-y days. :)

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Christa Hines February 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

I love your blog, Abby. Every time I read one of your posts I find myself nodding, “uh-uh, I totally get where she’s coming from.” I get tired of snarky mommy blogs and find it refreshing to read something that’s thoughtful, funny and well-written. Thanks for being an inspiring writer. Honor your instincts. I’m certain your audience isn’t going anywhere. :)

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Abby February 22, 2013 at 1:30 pm

Thanks, Christa. I get tired of snarky, too. I think it’s temporary blog burnout. Heaven knows I never run out of material with my life!

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Kathleen Basi February 22, 2013 at 1:57 pm

There comes a time when we have to decide what we’re blogging to accomplish. I realized I was spending far too much stress and emotional energy trying to make sure I posted five thoughtful, insightful pieces a week, and gave myself permission to cut a day and cut a lot of depth, to spend less time crafting each post. I’ve decided it’s my online journal, as much as anything, as well as my chance to make a difference in the world in some way, however small. But it’s not the point of my writing. It was taking time I could have–and now am–spending on fiction, which is my first love anyway. It was a wince-worthy moment to see how the hits sank when I didn’t post on a given day, but for all that, blog hits aren’t the point either.

So, I guess what I’m getting at is it’s totally fine, and necessary, to soul-search and re-form, re-shape, and re-cast yourself. If our kids change every time we think we’ve got them figured out, why shouldn’t we? Go you!

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Abby February 23, 2013 at 9:00 am

5 posts a week?! That IS a lot of energy. I get what you’re saying, though, and at times it’s been fine that it’s mostly an online journal for me, too. But when I do get caught up in hits and stats and comments, I have to wonder why I’m not just journaling on paper or in private, then. Let the soul-searching continue…

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Angie Mizzell February 24, 2013 at 4:40 pm

“So, I guess what I’m getting at is it’s totally fine, and necessary, to soul-search and re-form, re-shape, and re-cast yourself. If our kids change every time we think we’ve got them figured out, why shouldn’t we?” I read all the comments so far, and this one, particularly this quote, really resonates.

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Abby February 24, 2013 at 7:48 pm

I agree. It makes a lot of sense.

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Angela Hale February 22, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I am a long time reader who never, ever comments, sorry! It’s kind of like writing a letter to Jimmy Kimmel; even though I adore him and feel like he’s an old friend, it seems a little weird, and I am doubtful he will even read it. I have stopped following most of the mommy blogs I used to read, because I just don’t have the time or interest, but yours has been the exception. Even as my kids are getting older, I still love reading your blog. You are funny, intelligent, insightful and are an incredible writer. I love that you’re on Facebook, so I can share your posts with my friends. I feel like you’re an old friend, and would feel a loss if you stopped blogging. However, like others have expressed, I totally get it. Blogs take so much time, and I would never be willing or able to keep up with one. Over the years, it has amazed me how consistent you have been with your blog. You’re amazing, and I’m sure you will continue to be amazing wherever you focus your energy. I hope you are able shake the funk soon! Love you!

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Abby February 23, 2013 at 9:03 am

Thank you, Angela! I really appreciate your comment. You make a good point about FB — it’s not something I use a lot, so sometimes I forget that people have different preferences for how they like their blogs and social media. Some people just like to read, not comment, some like to “like” and share posts, and some people like to actively engage with the writer. But I guess we writers can’t get too caught up in all that if our primary goal is the writing. Anyway, I’m glad you’re reading. :)

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Jennifer February 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm

It is sort of like writing a fan letter to a celebrity, isn’t it? I always read your blog and think, “Oh my God, she’s just like me! I feel EXACTLY the same! We could be such amazing friends if we knew each other in real life.” Which makes me sound a bit, er, like an unhinged delusional person. So I don’t always comment and say “I FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY! IT’S LIKE YOU READ MY MIND! WANT TO COME OVER AND DRINK SOME WINE WHILE WE LET THE BOYS TEAR UP THE HOUSE SOME MORE?”

As for your writing, I am in awe of your prowess. I started a family blog when my first son was born in 2006, and I blogged regularly for several years. Then I got pregnant with Son No. 2, and well, it just started to dwindle. The fact that I had also built up my freelance writing career by that point also contributed to the decline of my blogging frequency. I never did bother to make my blog a money-generating enterprise, as it wasn’t why I started blogging in the first place. And I want to keep it that way. But it means that it ends up falling way down on my priority list when I’ve got, say, an article about nursing workforce data and copy for a diabetes newsletter due. I wish I had more hours in the day, but even if I did, I don’t know if I’d really feel like spending even more of them writing (or researching and preparing material to write about).

So, anyway. You do whatever you need to do. Your fans are happy to read whatever you produce whenever you can do it.

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Abby February 23, 2013 at 9:06 am

I would love to have a wine night/play date with you, Jennifer!! We’ll be over in a few hours, depending on where you live. :) I always felt the same reading your blog and comments, and was disappointed you didn’t post more. But I get it. Especially when you write for pay, a blog can easily take a back seat. I always felt like writing begets writing, and the blog was a nice complement to the other work I do. But maybe sometimes there’s such a thing as too much writing and we need to step back.

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Abby February 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

P.S. I find it hilarious that some of you are comparing leaving a comment on a blog to writing a letter to a celebrity, and even funnier that Jimmy Kimmel is the celeb who came to mind! Yep, me and Jimmy can be pretty intimidating. :)

But seriously, I think one of the best things about blogs, Twitter, etc. is that it breaks down the barriers and b.s. and lets people be real. Of course, for some celebs there’s such a thing as TOO real… (Kanye? Charlie Sheen?) but I love to interact with some of them & it’s a thrill when they respond. Katie Couric will reply to you on Twitter sometimes, you guys. And Zachary Levi! I’m a “Chuck” nerd, remember?

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Kristen February 23, 2013 at 10:08 am

Abby, I’m a fan. Your work is often smart, funny and inspiring – awesome e-book, by the way. I’d like to communicate, but often feel like I’m listening to crickets sometimes too and wonder if it’s doing anybody any good. I get what you’re saying, if you’re working to establish an audience, how do you know it’s working, still working, growing, worth giving up precious me-time or sleep? Take an extra for your family, you, your work, your next book, article, time with the hubs-what is that like anyway? I like to blog, it’s cathartic at times, but when I’m swamped or pooped, it can feel like too much work on top of work. Do you feel like it helped you get published in the nationals, more freelance work or publish your e-book? Because that’s a struggle I’m facing now, where to focus my energy…Maybe we all need to take a step back every now and then to find out what our next steps should be. Just remember, you have plenty more stories in you that will come when they are ready and we’ll be here ready to read.

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Abby February 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words about my e-book, Kristen! I worked really hard on it and was happy with the result, but have been a little disappointed in sales. That’s a great example of something I did because I felt like writers are “supposed to” nowadays, like blogging and social media. But you’re right, it all takes time and the results aren’t always measurable. I do think blogging has helped me increase my exposure and maybe get more freelance work. It’s hard to say, exactly, but I do feel like the blog shows clients/editors that I am a serious writer who can meet deadlines and come up with fresh material over a long period of time.

Even though I’m questioning things right now, I do feel like no writing is ever wasted, regardless of who reads it or doesn’t read it. It’s something I always told my writing students, and something I’ve found to be true in my own work, over and over.

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Kristen February 23, 2013 at 10:10 am

Oops, that’s take an extra day or some extra time for your family, you…

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Vaidehi February 24, 2013 at 6:56 am

Hi Abby,

As I mentioned in my first comment, I am a regular reader who loves your blog. In fact, when I was a new mom, I searched the net for words “new mom” and came across your new mom’s diary & from there to your current blog. So yours is the first blog that I ever started following.
If it helps you, I am from India & still can relate with what you “feel” irrespective of many differences in circumstances and the actual parenting techniques we follow.
I don’t know if you would believe me, but when I read some other blogs & regularly notice that each post gets between 20 – 25 comments, I have even thought why Abby’s blog does not fetch so many comments – even though it is real, honest & it connect —- so I can totally understand what you are thinking.
One thing I can say is, some other blogs are advertised much more, even though they sheer lack the “content”. I have felt like I wasted my time, when I “read” through a post which is nothing but a series of not-so-meaningful snaps — so it could be commercial compulsions for bloggers to do so – I don’t know.
I don’t have a blog, I do write but it’s more like a personal diary than anything else. So when I read blog like yours, I feel somewhere my thoughts are published & I feel happy.
So the point is – we love you & your writing — so do what makes you happy without getting too much bothered by numbers. :-) All the best!

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Abby February 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Thank you so much, Vaidehi. I find it fascinating that my experiences and thoughts can resonate with a reader in India. I guess we’re all more alike than we are different. You make an excellent point about other blogs being advertised and promoted more. This is something I have definitely shied away from, whether consciously or unconsciously. The fact is, I feel safe sharing my stories with my small group of loyal, like-minded readers. That’s not to say I want everyone to agree with me, but in my guest blogging and print publishing experiences I’ve found that the bigger and broader the audience, the more negative and sometimes downright nasty feedback you get. It’s scary, and I’ve chosen to play it safe in some ways, at the expense of more readers, perhaps.

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Sarah February 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I second Angela’s comment. I read and read and read but never comment. I’m hardly ever at the computer anymore and I’m not tech-y enough to try and make a comment while using my iPhone. You are funny and just a kind person. I think this weather puts us in a funk too. It’s really hard to stay enthused when you never see the sun and you can’t enjoy the outdoors at all. I guess all we can do is hang in and press on. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I agree with many of the previous comments: yours is the only mommy blog I read anymore. We’re reading. Promise. Thank you.

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Abby February 24, 2013 at 7:47 pm

Thank you, Sarah. I am the same way with a lot of blogs I read — reading more on my phone these days — so I don’t know why I should be surprised at the comments or lack thereof. And you’re totally right about the weather and sunlight. Bring on those longer, warmer days of spring!

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Annie February 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Abby – I love reading your blog. I love the way that you write, and how I can always….always relate!! Your writing style keeps me coming back and reading your blog, as opposed to other mom blogs. Keep up the good work! Do what is best for you, even if that means cutting it down to two blogs a week, and skipping Mondays!

You’re awesome. :)

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