I’m about to embark on a two week experiment. I am fairly certain it will be permanent, but I’m leaving myself an out in case I change my mind.
I’m going back to blogging.
By that I mean blogging without carefully selected featured images and coordinating banners. (Getting rid of the images is a huge part of this.) Without meeting certain word counts. Without all the stuff. When blogging was about sharing little bits of your life, having interesting ideas and insights to share from the world around you, etc. It wasn’t about ALL. THE. STUFF. that comes with running a website.
Blogging when it meant you saw something interesting in a video or article and wanted to share it with a few thoughts of your own. Back when you could write two, three, four, or even five posts in a day.
I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I get close and then I fold. I’ve gotten very close so many times. It’s so very hard to make such a big decision.
Some of you will love the new direction. Some of you might not. I’m asking you to let me try this experiment for a few weeks before you leave and don’t come back.
So what led me to make this change?
As I said, I’ve been thinking about it, discussing it, and (at times) ranting about it for a long time. But yesterday I read a post by Melissa Wiley in which she expressed some of the same frustrations I have. In I always feel like blogging on New Year’s Eve, she wrote:
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflection about this blog and all the other places I’ve engaged in online discourse. I’m holding most of that reflection close to the vest for now, but what I can say is that my line of thought this past year has been heavily focused on the way this blog used to support my writing life, and the ways my pattern has shifted over the years.
One thing I’ve been keenly aware of is that navigating multiple platforms—necessary at times, for good reasons—has often left me feeling scattered, digitally speaking, unsure what to put where. My Patreon (in addition to paying off the hefty medical bills of 2017) was meant to cover the overhead costs of Bonny Glen. In practice, though, I found myself constantly waffling over what to post where. Here or there or social or where?
During the pandemic years, the decision fatigue—bane of my existence—has had a dampening effect on my writing process overall. I’ve begun, and left in drafts, dozens, possibly hundreds of posts. Blog, Patreon, newsletter, Medium, Instagram. As my old Astoria landlord used to say: It’s too much! It’s too much!
Substack has perks as a platform, but—like Patreon—much of its content lives behind a paywall, and as a reader I thoroughly grok the impossibility of paying for individual subscriptions to a whole bunch of Substacks. Medium, at least, offers access to all paywalled posts for about the same monthly cost as a single Substack sub. But getting any kind of visibility on Medium is a whole nother challenge, a boring one.
And it’s all—aha, here I’m getting to the heart of it—work. It takes time. A lot, lot, lot of time. But this blog was never intended to steal time from writing my books—it was meant to support my work. I’ve written often about the role it has played in my reading/writing/thinking/mothering life, and that’s part of the more recent reflections I’m holding close for now.
What I will say is this:
Over the past several years, I’ve experimented with half a dozen strategies for refocusing my blog habits. Nothing succeeded at beating back the scatter factor. So in September, I tried something new. I put my Patreon on pause and dialed back on all forms of posting. No newsletter, not much action here on the blog, very little social media activity. I needed the break.
But privately, I was trying to restore the practice of daily blog-style writing—capturing my thoughts about what I was reading, watching, experiencing. And now, with lots of things bubbling behind the scenes, I’m ready to return to posting. But posting within some self-imposed parameters.
I don’t think we’re alone in this. I know we’re not. People are stuck on this treadmill of trying to navigate multiple platforms and they can’t get off. I don’t even play a fraction of the games that many website owners do and I’m sick of it all.
So I’m getting off.
I know the images add a lot to this website, but they also take a great deal of time. Sometimes I spend as much time finding the right image for a post and getting David to make the featured image and banner as I do writing the actual post. They are pretty and add a lot of the site, but they are a huge time suck. If I give myself two weeks to try this and I do change my mind and go back to including images in all my posts, it will take David and me multiple days to go back and add images to all of the posts that I write. That’s how much time and effort goes into make the site pretty. So it’s a bit of a gamble to do this, but I also wouldn’t be doing it now if I wasn’t fairly certain at this point.
I currently have 496 posts in my drafts folder. Most of them are there simply because they don’t have a featured image. I haven’t had the time or the energy to get that done. Otherwise hundreds of them would already be back on the site. (In addition to this is the related cost of buying images as opposed to using free ones which runs a legal risk which I won’t get into here.)
The truth is I’m a bit sad about giving up some of the beauty of the site. I’m proud of creating a uniquely beautiful space online and it won’t be the same when I made this choice. It will still be a beautiful site because I must have beauty if my name is attached. But it will be different.
Like Melissa, I’m weary of working all the things. I’ve tried so many different things (forum, membership, social media platforms, newsletters, etc.) and in the end it always come back to content. People want to read my content. They don’t even necessarily want to interact with my content. But they read what I write. And I don’t write enough because of all the other stuff that has somehow attached itself to my life as a writer.
So I’m going to write. Please give me a few weeks to sort out the approach, the website redesign, and all that goes with it. You’re going to be seeing all of it unfolding in real time since we’ll be making adjustments as we go. I don’t even know what the site is going to look like. I don’t have a plan on colors, fonts, the decorative elements, or anything. This truly will be a work in progress so each time you stop by, it may look different.
Thank you for your patience!