Blogging & Blogging Resolutions 2013

As I mentioned last week (with my New Year, New Reading Resolutions post) I have decided I want to change things with the way I read and get tougher, well I think the same thing needs to happen with my blogging life too. I promise this is not a navel gazing post; I have spent hours editing it, rewriting it etc so I hope it comes across as a constructive one instead. The thing is over Christmas, and possibly a bit before then too, I got really fed up of books and blogging – I am fine now – and decided to look at why and what I could do to make it better or if I needed to stop blogging for a while or simply full stop.

The main reason, like with my TBR as I mentioned last week, was that I was spending a lot of Christmas feeling guilty, self inflicted maybe yet that is what I was feeling all the same. Several things set this off and the main one was lack of time full stop. Towards the end of last year with Gran being so ill, the homophobic neighbour from hell, work being a real rollercoaster and the Green Carnation Prize to sort – I was just running on empty. Lovely people were asking me for my books of the year, people were sending lovely messages to me about Gran, delightful comments were being left on the blog about books and Gran too, people who I didn’t know where demanding to know why they weren’t on my blog roll, authors independent of publishers were emailing about books of theirs I had to read, social sites wanted to team up with me, and I felt slightly overawed and simply didn’t have time to respond. In fact there was becoming no time to really read anything, which is my greatest joy and the life blood of this blog, and that was worrying me too, especially with the ever growing Mount TBR.

Interestingly around this time, on Twitter I think, I spotted a link to Simon of Stuck in a Book’s post, On Commenting, and it really resonated. Have a read of it yourself but he talks about how comments on his blog have lessened and yet his visitor hits are higher (snap) and that he missed them. At first reading the comments made me feel better, it seemed it was a time issue for everyone, but then it started to make me feel even guiltier, so I decided that the positive thing to do, instead of beating myself up about it, would be play catch up over Christmas. That would be my ‘blog admin time’ both for my blog and others too. What I hadn’t realised was that I had actually not responded to my own comments since October (shame, shame, shame on me)  two days later I was just about mid way through Novembers comments. I then realised that I had not checked other peoples blogs since that time, this became all the more daunting when I realised that I seemed to have been adding blogs to my favourites and now had a list of 72 of them! I realised something had to change…

So I have decided that for both my reading and my blogging it’s a) time to go back to basics b) time to start from scratch and c) time to be a little bit more selfish (in the nicest possible way). And I have come up with these guidelines – not rules, blogging isn’t about rules-  which are in force as of now, if people are offended by any then I am really sorry however Savidge Reads is my blog and my free time, anyway…

Reading Comes First, Blogging Second

I read and then blog, I don’t blog to read and that is a mantra I need to remember. Yes part of my job is reviewing books but blogging is not my job. I love books, and I love blogging, but if the joy of reading goes – which it almost did at the end of the year – then there won’t be any blog anyway. Reading needs to be enjoyable not done to a deadline, which links too…

No Planning

My reading this year will be by whim, apart from (see there are always exceptions) my Persephone Project (which is a project I am doing alone because I love the books and their variety), finishing Classically Challenged (which is reading books I have meant to anyway) and The Readers Book Club (which is a joint choice of what me and Gavin want to read or have loved reading). I will not plan any reading or blog posting from now on – I used to think ‘ooh that book would be great for that authors birthday’ or ‘ooh Fridays are quiet I should schedule a book for that day more people might be able to talk about’, no more. It is whims all the way, I might do three posts on one day or non for three days/weeks who knows. Whims are whims after all, ha!

Savidge Reads and Publishers/Authors

I am very lucky with, and very grateful for, the relationships I have with publishers and we have all been emailing in the last week about my new reading by whim. I am still going to request books on whim and review when right rather than right now (this worked marvellously with ‘My Policeman’ which I was desperate for when it came out in hardback, went off for some unknown reason –really I have no idea why – then read in December and adored) and that I am happy for unsolicited books which I might love (like Madeline Miller’s ‘The Song of Achilles’ which I wouldn’t have chosen myself) as long as they don’t arrive with unsolicited pressure. Lovely. I have decided I will not be accepting books directly from authors however.

Reviews

I want to try and have more personality and emotion in them, this means they might be longer and a little wry humoured but the blog is not like my reviews for work and there should be a difference. If people like it lovely, if not… erm… well…

Commenting Back On Savidge Reads

I love getting people’s comments and I am really sorry I was so rubbish at responding last year. Now that I have officially caught up (yes even yesterdays comments are answered) I will try and comment back as much as possible if, that is, I have anything I think worth adding and if I have the time as the next few months are going to be bonkers with seeing Gran as much as I can, reading, spending time with The Beard and our pesky and adorable kittens, new projects off blog, etc.

Other Blogs and Commenting On Them…

I admit I need to catch up on the blogosphere. However there are simply too many new blogs coming all the time for me to manage them all, without even thinking about commenting as well. I am not an old-school blogger who doesn’t like all the new blogs, the opposite the more the merrier and in fact I am always telling people who comment or tweet that they should have their own blogs – that doesn’t mean I can read them all. I will try and play catch up over the next week or three and if I feel I have something to say or add to the conversation I will pop a comment, if not I will lurk. No added pressure… which is how I would like you all to feel about commenting, if and when you do, and why you lurk, when and if you do. Make sense?

Ooh, that does feel better. I do hope it all makes sense and you aren’t thinking its whinging/arrogant/arsey/navel gazing etc – all the things I don’t want it to basically. When I started this blog no one read it and it was really me talking to myself about my thoughts on books and bookish things (oh how me, me, me – ha!). I have loved that over the years some people have popped by and also having the comments and support that you have all provided, even if you think because you have lurked you haven’t you actually have, over the last five and a half years. I just needed to readdress and reassess the blog to myself really (and indeed blogging in general) and I think I have. I hope you all understand that? It has been quite therapeutic for me; maybe some of you feel the same?  Anyway… how are you all? Exhausted from the above probably!

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51 Comments

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51 responses to “Blogging & Blogging Resolutions 2013

  1. That all sounds really sensible Simon, I’ve always tried to work on the basis that my blog is for pleasure and if it became a chore I would stop. My only resolution is to comment more and stop lurking (as you may have gathered!)

    • I think its great to comment and, like you, I will when I can but there are so many hours in the day aren’t there? I think once I am on track with other blogs it will feel easier. Now it still feels like a slight hurdle but am loving catching up with people too as I go!

  2. I agree with all of this. One can forget that the point of book blogging is the the books. I found myself worrying about being too slow, not writing enough, and so on. Reading on a whim seems to be the theme of blogging this year. I’m definitely subscribing to that.

    • You see this is why posts like this, though I was quite nervous about it, are great because we can all share our thoughts and make each other feel better. Ha!

      Never worry about speed or reading X amount of books in order to blog, you will get burn out and resentful, no point, just go at your own pace.

      I have noticed the ‘reading by whim’ consensus this year, its interesting. I hope people aren’t snubbing publishers and new books completely though.

  3. Simon’s post was very timely and thought-provoking wasn’t it? I hope your reading goes well this year. I always tend to get a little bogged down with it over Christmas, however it’s a new year now and I feel energised, and ready to read’n’blog!

    • It was indeed and it was good in that everyone else seemed to be on the same page, though I then went and beat myself up again… which itself was oddly good because I then went and thought about it all and did this which has been like therapy. I am so relieved people don’t think I am being an a-hole, I was worried they would.

  4. That all sounds very sensible and reasonable to me Simon. Both blogging and reading need to be about enjoyment. You have a great blog and lots of people enjoy engaging with you – and that will continue. I don’t think any blogger needs to reply to every comment anyway, sometimes if someone has said – “great review, you made me want to read that book” what is there to say back anyway? sometimes there is a danger of commenting for commentings sake. I did see Simon stuck in a book’s post too – and it is true that sometimes I see from my stats that more people are reading my blog than say a few months ago (only been on wordpress about 11 months) but I get no comments. i think that probably happens everywhere.
    Enjoy your reading and blogging! Making sure it works for you is only sensible.

    • Thanks Ali, I am probably one of the offenders who pops by your blog when they can and doesn’t comment, but I will try to more often I promise, so sorry for that.

      I know what you mean about comments both ways. I love people saying ‘great review’ but oddly when I go to a blog I feel silly doing it and then when they are left on this blog I don’t quite know how to react other than ‘thanks’. Which doesn’t seem enough from me either way, yet its lovely to get them.

  5. Wendy Boston

    I am an infrequent commenter, I don’t read as much as I would like and I don’t have a blog and I feel overwhelmed keeping up, so I think you are doing great Simon! Don’t even get me started on those hundreds of podcasts I need to catch up on, I need a longer commute to work I think!!

    • I think it’s just a case of too little time to do so much! I wish I could read blogs all and and comment on everything. But then what would happen to my reading, relationship etc.

      Thank you for commenting today though ;)

  6. I enjoy your blog and think this is a really sensible way forward that you have set out here. I am relatively new, only a couple of years in, and it’s nice to hear that new bloggers are accepted by the older ones. I have felt quite a lot of pressure at times to read and get reviews done for publishers and it has spoiled my reading enjoyment a bit. I need to sort this out too. Best of luck.

  7. It makes sense, I am really new to blogging and catch myself thinking I should be posting more already otherwise people won’t follow, when really, if I want to enjoy it I don’t need to blog every day. I don’t comment on loads of blogs at the moment and tend to lurk a lot! I probably comment on yours most because I’ve been reading for a year or so now and also we have quite similar tastes, so I find things to say more often.
    I think you should focus on enjoyment and just go where that leads.

    • I think, and I know this probably sounds a bit harsh but I feel this in general, there was a phase were there were say ten book bloggers maybe more in the UK and we were getting books and getting comments and new bloggers just assumed this would happen to them. I didn’t actually get any comments for over a year. I just wrote what I wanted and carried on regardless. I also think a lot of blogs started for the hope of free books. If you blog, as you do I know Alice, simply because you love books then people will stumble across you and come back they might comment they might not yet if your blogging as a book diary it doesn’t matter so much, though obviously the discussion is nice.

  8. Hi Simon
    I am quite amazed at what you manage to achieve in podcasting,blogging, reviewing etc , let alone the reading from which all this evolves. Anyway I enjoy reading whatever you have to say:) At times I too feel conflicted as I spend way too much time reading *about* books than actually reading books.
    Jenny

    • I think the conflictions of reading about books rather than reading is something everyone goes through, you just have to find the right balance and I am still (five years down the line) finding mine.

  9. The commenting thing is difficult, isn’t it. Before I started my blog I was a keen reader and commenter on various book blogs and I was determined that that wouldn’t stop just because I was blogging myself. But there’s just no time to do both properly – my blogreader is currently showing 356 unread posts and I can’t think when I will fit them all in in between reading and writing posts as well. And as Ali says above, even if you really enjoy someone’s post/review there’s often not much more to say than “That sounds good, thanks” which barely feels worth the effort it takes to type! When you have real life to contend with (sounds like you have had a really testing few months) something has to give. Hope your resolutions help you rediscover your love for reading and blogging!

    • I don’t think you can do both properly and if you do I think you have to just be very picky about which blogs you comment on. Alas, this can seem cliquey I am sure but what else can you do? Go crazy trying to please everyone, there isn’t the time and you need a life offline too lol, well I don’t – but I should hahaha.

  10. Hope your new plan goes well, Simon! It all sounds sensible. We’ve all said it before, haven’t we – blogging must be fun for the blogger! It’s not work.

    And thanks for linking to my Commenting post – I’m still so pleased at the response that got.

  11. Jo

    I think they are all valid pointers for you moving your blog forward and the most important thing is enjoying it. Reading is what started us all with blogs, we did not I assume, start a book blog and then go and get books to read?!

    I am of the as long as I am enjoying the blogging then I will continue, it has not become a chore and as I deal with numbers all day words make a pleasant friend. I do though sometimes panic when I have no posts lined up and think What if my blog is never read again? This lasts for a moment or two and then I think well I started it for me anyway as a record more than anything else so as and when Jo, as and when.

    Good luck, for all your reading and your blogging.

    • Thank you Jo.

      I think remembering why you started blogging is really important and that was something that I had been sidetracked from a little, but now I am back and feeling much better about it all!

  12. Like several other folks on here, I also made a resolution to comment more from a blog follower perspective – not just on your blog but on all the blogs I read and on Twitter etc. Rather than just watching the discussion I want to be part of it. I also love the Reading by Whim theme for the year. I’m so tired of feeling pressured to read the “it” book of the moment. I vow to not give in to that pressure…of course, the more I’m on Twitter etc the more “it” books are coming my way so it will be interesting to see if I can balance these two resolutions this year!

    • That’s lovely Jennifer, just remember though that reading needs to come before everything and by that I mean reading books not blogs and tweets etc, I fall over this hurdle far too often. Only yesterday I ‘popped onto facebook’ and forty minutes later I came off again, I could have been reading.

  13. Good idea to prioritise. You must. Family first always, job as well b/c you need to live, your own pleasures. You owe nothing to the rest of the blogosphere and your blogs will be better when you are having fun. I could never keep up my blog like some do with daily postings. I wouldn’t even try. I’m happy if I post something once a week and sometimes that doesn’t happen. Keep up your spirit. We will all cope with your changes. cheers, Pam

  14. Very well said! I hope you don’t feel too pressured to respond to every comment (for example this one!), because you get so many that you will drive yourself crazy. Just do what you can, and know that we commenters understand :)

  15. I agree with everything you’ve said – there’s just not enough hours in the day and we all must decide what is most important and stick with it. Also, thank you for talking about Rebecca so much because your frequent mentions spurred me to finally read it, and it was really fantastic!

    • I don’t shut up about Rebecca do I? Gavin once said he would pay me a pound everytime we managed a recording of The Readers where I didn’t mention that book or its writer… It hasn’t happened yet. I am so pleased you loved it!

  16. Carol Roberts

    Simon — I’m definitely a lurker and I don’t have a blog. I really don’t know how you keep up. I certainly don’t think you need to respond to each comment. Just want you to be aware of how much I enjoy reading your blog, especially about the time spent with your grandmother. Take care and blog when you can.

  17. Sharkell

    You have raised some really interesting points. I read your post this morning and have been thinking about it all day. I’ve just gone and read the original post on Stuck in a Book’s blog – I haven’t read that blog before. I find the whole subject fascinating. I am a reader and don’t have a blog so some of what you have said is completely new to me such as getting pressure from other bloggers to put them on your blog roll and getting pressure from authors to read their books. I love your blog, I read every post. I sometimes comment but sometimes feel a little intimidated by the fact that many of the commentators are other bloggers and it makes me wonder whether I am qualified (I’m not sure that is the right word to use) to comment. I love it when you respond to my comments but I don’t expect you to comment on all of them. I fully support your approach to 2013. This is your blog and it is about what you want, not what everyone else wants. Whatever you do, pease keep blogging and continue to let your personality through as that is what makes your blog so special.

    • Pressure from bloggers and authors I don’t know, or have an online relationship with etc I don’t mind just fobbing off or ignoring, but there are lots of blogs I love and want to keep up with. Sometimes I just cant. I am trying but I want it to remain fun trying, not obligatory.

      Comments on here I should reply to, its just polite and I am a right old chatter box so I love catching up with you all as much as I can when I can.

  18. Del

    I have to confess that I’m one of those people who regularly reads a few favorite blogs (including yours), but seldom comments. It does seem selfish and inconsiderate in a way, considering the great reading suggestions and all-around pleasure bloggers such as yourself provide your fellow book-lovers. I’ve always marveled at how you bloggers are able to both read (voraciously) and write about it so regularly and still have a life. It is something I would like to try, but totally lack confidence in starting out until my retirement years, when more time opens up. Anyway, thank you for your wonderful blog and please don’t ever feel pressured into doing more than you can do, but do know that your love of literature and kind generosity in sharing your thoughts is much appreciated.

    • I don’t think its selfish an inconsiderate as I don’t know who the lurkers are (so I cant make you feel exceptionally guilty hahaha, joking) so I honestly don’t mind. Sometimes if I have spent ages on a review or written one that I am particularly proud of, like todays on Kerry Hudson’s book, and it gets no comments I can feel a bit gutted but then I get over myself and just show my Mum/Gran/The Beard/kittens hahaha.

  19. Simon, its like you read my mind. I have had these same feeling regarding blogging lately and it was turning me off reading – something that I was not happy about. Its a new year and I do feel more enthusiastic about blogging and reading, but I think I’m going to follow suit and just do it all by whim. I want to enjoy reading and blogging again and that seems to be the only way to do so. I’m so glad you wrote this post, because it makes me realize I’m not alone :) As far as commenting goes, I’m pretty bad about that, too. I tend to lurk or just post comments on a few blogs and that’s about it. This year I’m going to comment whenever I feel the inkling to and not really think twice about it. Anyhow, good luck with your blogging resolutions and your reading!! And, thanks for this great post!

    • Honestly whim reading and ignoring your blog a bit more has made the world of difference to me in a week. I have read five great books already this year (though goordreads doesn’t have three of them on there) and written a review I am really, really proud of. Though that almost sounds smug and I don’t mean it to.

      • I know what you mean and it doesn’t sound smug :) Just so you know, I took a page out of your book and made my own bookish resolutions and will also be reading by whim. I’m on my fifth book already and am really enjoying reading again. I’m thinking 2013 is going to be a great reading and blogging year. Thanks for the inspiration!

      • A pleasure! The whim reading is ace. Want to kick myself for not doing it sooner… But that might hurt ;)

  20. some great ideas here simon ,mine main one is to cut tbr pile slighlty doing well so far read one from tbr pile :) ,all the best stu

    • I think its good to have guidelines, partly because unlike rules or goals you can shift them a little, they keep you focused but don’t dictate. Good luck with your TBR clearing, I have been doing quite well with mine too.

  21. Dorothy

    Well said! Don’t beat yourself up about your ‘output’, you have a life and more important things often need to take precedence over blogging. Most importantly, you have done a great job of managing your readers expectations.

    I enjoy dipping into your blog because you give us well written and intelligent reviews.

    Enjoy your ‘new’ approach to reading and blogging in 2013.

  22. Delyn

    Your comments were very reassuring, Simon. As I told you before, I am not a blogger as such but often feel inclined just to comment whether I’ve read the book reviewed or not – a comment about your review perhaps? – or a question about it? – but I hadn’t realised how much you appreciate a comment or two. So, I’ll be popping in more often if only to commend your wonderful reviews.

    • You can comment on the book or the review, that is the commenters prerogative ;)

      I love a comment, I am just a bit rubbish at responding to them at times, but I think so far this year I have it under control! So comment away…

  23. Sweet Fanny Adams

    Simon, good for you, lad. I never knew how you managed it anyway. Take it as it comes and look after yourself and your lovely Nan.

  24. I’m glad you are taking the time to rethink your priorities. I do sometimes feel overwhelmed and guilty about all the blogs I am not reading, or all the comments I am not responding to, or all the blogs I skim-read and just quickly like. That’s not what life, reading or blogging community should be about. Good luck with all that you decide to do – or NOT do this year!

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