Saturday, January 4, 2014

Blogging Pros and Cons

The Book Blogger New Year's Challenge is being hosted by Parajunkee's View.

Like all things worth doing, there are good and bad factors to running a blog. Here I'll share a few of the reasons I keep going and be really brutally honest about some of the things that drive me insane.

The Good: 

1. The Community. I've made some awesome friends since I started I Write, I Read, I Review. Without people who are interested in my blog, I'm not sure how well I would do at keeping it going. (Writing + reading + blogging + life is challenging enough!) Whenever I get too overwhelmed and wonder whether this is still for me, it's ALWAYS something to do with the community we share that makes me decide to keep going. And my favorite memories as a blogger tend to be of people, rather than books or events or any of that stuff. It's nice, yeah. I won't lie about that. But without people... what's the point? (Do not confuse this with an inability to recognize that one must first blog--much as one must first WRITE, for oneself. Just wanted to make that really clear.)

2. Discovering books and authors I might otherwise have missed. I can't begin to count how many awesome stories I might never have read if I hadn't started my blog and met other bloggers. As a writer, being exposed to a wide variety of stories is important to both improve my craft and nourish my own imagination. I read a LOT more now than I did prior to blogging.

3. Blogging takes a very solitary hobby and allows it to become more social. I love getting involved in events where I can discuss what I am reading, or where I can see what others are reading and what they think. Sometimes having, say, a read-a-thon pop up during a draft I'm writing can be a good reminder to take a step back and replenish the well and take a bit of a breather, for example.

4. The ability to help authors ensure that their stories are read by more people. I know how much I want people to read and enjoy my own book, so when people approach me for help with promoting theirs, I tend to feel very honoured and I tend to feel that, as a fellow writer, it is my responsibility (provided I think the book is GOOD). That's gonna be me this year, and I tend to believe in good karma.

The Bad: 

1. When I review books I often feel that I am repeating the same things. This gets really boring and has lead to me fiddling with my review structure and trying to find a way that works better. I often feel that I have things I really WANT to say, but also feel that I CAN'T say them because a review is suppose to be for someone who hasn't read the book yet. It's a vicious cycle that drives me crazy! Six paragraphs of "this book is great!" or "this book freakin' sucks!" isn't going to change my mind, but if I talk about what I really think or feel I risk ruining things for people. Maybe THAT's how I need to sort my reviews? With Spoiler and Spoiler Free sections? That might be an idea... *ponders*

2. Agreeing to review something and discovering it *sucks*. I'm not talking, "Eh, this is getting 2 hearts" okay. I'm talking "What were you THINKING, person?!" levels of cringeworthy. I've only had this happen a couple times and I've never had a "bad" experience in response to a book not working out. But it makes me feel TERRIBLE. Despite my liking or not liking a book, I know somebody out there put their heart and soul into the thing and I know what that's like. I know that tough skin is part of being an author, but I hate being the arrow that has someone racing to grab a shield.

3. What I call the "cycle of writing". In short: "If I'm writing I feel like I should be blogging. If I'm blogging I think I should be reading. If I'm reading I think I should be writing.". It leads to a soul-draining, brain numbing paralysis where I do NOTHING and it totally screws me up sometimes. A lot of the time the only way to get back up is to drop a ball (i.e. let one of these things go momentarily) like I am a juggler who still can't manage three items yet. What I know for certain is that it is probably my biggest source of blogging / writing / reading kryptonite and it is the thing I wish I could master the most.

So, what are your blogging pros and cons? I'd love to know so feel free to link me up! 

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 Blogging Resolutions

The Book Blogger New Years Challenge is being hosted by Parajunkee's View.

I'm a bit late to this party, but this post was long overdue anyway. I'm honestly a bit hesitant to do this post. Resolutions always seem so negative to me--they often end up being promises made that we (or at least I?) have no intent of keeping. So instead of focusing on things I wish I would do, I'm going to focus on things I want to do. There are big changes on the way for I Write, I Read, I Review. I may as well lay 'em on the table for you all right here.

1. I am going to read for the love of reading. As a writer, if I lose sight of this it's game over. And I must admit that there are times when I am trying to juggle blogging, read, and writing where this can make me get really overwhelmed. That's why this year I'm going to focus my attention on my writing, and read what I want. For the time being I'm going to close review requests so I can get things back in order. If I'm not giving my all here, then something is wrong and I need to address that before I can help others.

2. I am going to focus my blogging on the things I am good at: picking books I love and actually DISCUSSING them, rather than vaguely reviewing them. (Don't misunderstand--I do still intend to review books. This is something else!) I am finding that, as I head toward my third year of blogging, everything I have read is becoming this muddy brown blur. That has to stop. That's absurd. I'm also going to be doing posts about writing--both my process and advice that may help other writers (hey, one more opinion never hurt, hm?) and am going to work to hold my reader related discussions here.

3. I am going to get involved in more social reading events. Read-a-thons? Read-a-longs? Blogging events (like this one)? Challenges? I'm game for pretty much anything if its with others and if it is going to encourage me to read something I *want* to read. I must also remember to be careful, though. I have a tendency to spread myself too thin and that can lead to stress.

4. I'm going to try and comment more. I already "try" to do this. I must admit that sometimes it's very hard. What can one say to a slew of cover reveals or promo posts about the same book? (Something I'm really thinking of a solution for as my own novel heads toward the final lap and toward the finish line.) Even commenting on reviews can be tough. I refuse to simply write "Great review!" as that means *nothing*. At the same time, though, there are times I see someone talking passionately about a book I, too, loved and I want to reach out. But it can be difficult to do this without risking spoilers for other readers. *ponders*

5. I am going to find a way to navigate the social media labyrinth known as Twitter. Three years and I still don't really understand it. You'd think that something where you type 140 characters and hit "post" would be simple. And maybe I'm just overthinking it? But I don't get how conversation is really suppose to flow on there. I'm constantly worried I'm butting in on conversations (which is kinda absurd--if they were meant to be private wouldn't they be in DM format?) I know the basics: don't spam. Don't be stupid, etc. but I guess it's little things I worry about.

Anyway, that's it for me. I'm going to be doing a more detailed (and more far-reaching) resolution list on the 7th as part of Top Ten Tuesday, but I wanted to make sure I put this here.

What are YOU doing different in 2014? What are your (blogging) goals, hopes and dreams? I'd love to know, so feel free to link me up! 

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