Friday, February 7, 2014

5 Tips for Breaking Out of a Blogging Rut

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Something happened after the holidays this year, once the new year hit, the blogging world seemed to utter a collective sigh of relief. Vice grips were released from laptops and DSLRs, bloggers who had once been six-post-a-week-ers cut down to three or four, and there was an overall air of relaxation. Maybe it was all in my head, or I was projecting my own feeling of relief once the holiday madness was finally over, but whatever it was, the sudden air of relaxation felt refreshing. Blogging felt exciting again, and it was clear that many others had been feeling the same way I had.

Whether you've been blogging for merely a month, or for five years, there comes a time when you might feel as if you're in a rut. I've felt it before, but never so acutely as I did from October through the end of December of 2013. I waffled weekly, toying with the idea of throwing in the towel. I was tired, feeling creatively uninspired, and feeling old. And then I took an unintentional break -- A completely tech-free home over the holidays will have that effect -- which gave me time to reassess and let go of some of the sky-high expectations I had set for myself years ago, when my plate was not nearly as full as it is now. While I'm still very much in the process of figuring out what works for me, I thought I would share a few tips for working through your own blogging rut:
Take a break - The obvious place to start. But taking a break from blogging sounds so easy, when in reality, the mere thought of stepping away can kind of screw with your head a little bit. I've been writing Orchid Grey for five years, and, aside from taking a few days off around my wedding and to move to Pennsylvania, I had never taken any real time off before. Stepping away allowed me to clear the fog from my head, and really think about what it was that I wanted from my blog. When I did feel ready to blog again, I felt as if I had a brand new sense of focus, and part of that was the decision to devote more time to fewer posts. Not worrying about getting a post up every single day not only allowed me to put some of that energy back in to actually writing something, but I could also funnel some of that energy into other areas of my life I felt I had been neglecting.

Tune out - It can be super difficult to step away from the computer, phone, internet, what-have-you on the weekends. But I truly feel it's necessary and will do you so much good. During the week, I'm online from 10am to 6pm at work, and then usually for a couple of hours at night. That's actually sort of sickening to me. On the weekends I've made it my intention to only log on if I need to in the mornings when I'm the only one awake. Unless I'm working on a project, I try to keep my distance from technology for those two days a week. It at least makes me feel slightly better about how the remainder of the week is spent, and that time away is usually some of the most inspiring. Getting out from behind the screen allows you to experience things that will in turn inspire your writing. When I feel like I have nothing to say, it's usually because I've been too sedentary. Working out is also a great way to get your mind moving, it's sometimes the only way I'm able to clear my head and sort through problems.

Try something new - So, you've taken a break and thought long and hard about where you want to take your blog. You're tuning out on the weekends too, to allow time for inspiration. Now maybe it's time to try out a style of post, or perhaps you finally tackle that one project you've been putting off. Danielle of Sometimes Sweet recently wrote up a huge list of blog post ideas for the stumped blogger, take one and run with it! It may end up being a one-off, or it could lead to an entire series.

Get back to basics - I used to take all of my own outfit shots, with the occasional pic from a friend or maybe Chris. Once we moved to Pennsylvania, however, I lost my camera remote and started to rely more on Chris for my photos. Without a remote and a secluded parking lot (where I used to take most of my shots in Mass), it was suddenly awkward to take my pictures out in the open. Well, I recently cleaned out my car and guess what I found? My remote. I took it as a sign, and started taking some of my own shots again, and it felt great to be in complete creative control again! Moral of the story, maybe there's something you used to do on your blog that fell by the wayside. Try picking it up again and see what happens.

Keep an editorial calendar - Before starting my job, I had never had any exposure to an editorial calendar before, but they're awesome. Basically, it's just a calendar where you keep track of your blogging schedule. It can be as simple or elaborate as you'd like, but keeping one will allow you to stay on track and keep you accountable for big publish dates. It can also be a way to experiment with your own schedule to see what works best.

If you're feeling bummed on blogging, sometimes it's just a matter of changing your perspective. The most effective way to do that - in my opinion - is to step back and assess, even if that stepping back is purely circumstantial (like a house in Maine that only has a land line and two T.V. channels).