Burnout is something that I’ve seen happen across many fields. I’ve experienced it myself, several times. You slowly descend into a state of chronic stress, not even realizing what’s happening until it gets too bad to ignore. Just thinking about doing whatever it is you’re burned out on makes you feel exhausted. There’s a feeling of detachment, a lack of personal connection to the work. You feel ineffective, even if people are telling you you’re doing great, especially so if they’re beating you down. Cynicism takes over, and you wonder why you even bother doing it, because you hate it so much.
Most of my blogging buddies from the 90’s have disappeared. Not only have they long since quit blogging, they don’t appear to be on any form of social media either. Their websites are long gone. It’s as if they never existed. Some survivors have moved on to podcasting or vlogging. A small handful are writing professionally now, across various media.
Which, I have to say, all led to my own sense of blogging burnout at different points. When someone has an exceptional blog and they quit, it introduces doubt. If they don’t think it’s worthwhile, either because they can’t earn enough money or gain enough followers or find enough things to write about, what hope do I have? If lesser talents can land paying gigs, home come I’m doing this for free and why can’t I get hired?
Knowing When to Quit
Every time I’ve walked away from blogging, I didn’t intend to. Sometimes I only meant to take a couple of days, and just never went back for months. Other times I kept posting but phoned it in, which is just walking away emotionally and intellectually. A few times I’ve done it intentionally. There was nothing left to say. I was bored. People were hateful. Other things seemed far more interesting, or lucrative, or less stressful.
Looking back, those were the right decisions but they weren’t intentional decisions. They were the end result of waiting until I was burned out to make a change, at which point the change was drastic. It was a lack of being in tune with myself, of acknowledging how I was feeling, and dealing with those things in positive and constructive ways.
Discovering the Way Forward
The only thing that I can state with certainty are my intentions. I plan to continue blogging daily for the foreseeable future. The fact that I can’t stay away means something. That I want to find ways, and have found ways, to make this work for me means something.
The key has been to figure out what brings me joy, and what brings me grief. It’s a matter of fine-tuning things to maximize the former, and minimize the latter. The more I figure out, though, the more I understand that there’s a ton I still need to figure out. I don’t want to say that blogging is therapy, or self-work, or even a form of journaling, but yes, it has elements of all of those things. Except blogging has an audience.