Blog Writing

10 Things I Learned from Taking a Blogging Break

I know it’s not the longest of blogging breaks, but two and a half weeks was still long enough for me to take stock of some things when I was away.

More on the retreat later on this week, but for now here are some thoughts on being more detached than usual from the world of blogging.

Promising Purple by Joanna Young on flickr

1. Guest Posts: I was able to switch off completely because of the guest writers here, who weren’t just posting new material for me but also responding thoughtfully to all the comments and conversation.  Thanks once again to everyone who helped out - it meant a great deal to me.

2. Blog reading: I have to confess I didn’t miss reading blogs, other than those of people I consider friends, or those whose paths I’m particularly interested in following.  Although I don’t spend a lot of time reading (I skim a lot, fast) it’s still time and more importantly mental distraction that I could easily cut out.

3. Twitter: Twitter is a great way to check in with friends and colleagues when you don’t have much time, as well as to let others know what you’re up to or where you are.  I can see how some people manage to use it as a substitute for blogging.  Less time does also mean less time for conversation on Twitter though, and an easy drift into broadcasting mode.

4. Offline time: It felt good having more time offline - it’s healthier and more natural.

5. Technical glitches: Dealing with an account suspension, garbled messages from website host, and a disappearing blog… was not easy from Sardinia.  On the other hand, I was too relaxed to get that bothered by it, and the help and encouragement from fellow bloggers and friends on Twitter made it easy to switch off and forget about.

6. Writing: Spending less time writing blog posts opened up more time and space for other forms of writing.  I need to think about where the conclusion from this point might take me.  Though blogging less does seem attractive.

7. Getting back: Even after a short break it can be a little hard to get back into the groove of internet conversations, which move so fast.  Starting on something easy (like a list post about what it’s like to be away, and jump back in ;-) ) seemed like the best solution.

8. Don’t forget your archives: You might find a post or two you can highlight till you get back into the thick of things.  Or maybe something you wrote earlier about just the situation you’re now describing (again)

9. Breathing Space: I enjoyed the breathing space and learned a lot from it.  The theme seems to be one that’s struck a chord too, and for various reasons I’m going to continue it as a theme until the end of June.

10. The Beauty of Blogging: once again I’m reminded that the best, easiest and most effective way to blog is just to write where you’re at, even the bits that you’re stumbling over.  Particularly the bits that you’re stumbling over.  It gets the words to flow every time :-)

Do you have any favourite tips on getting back into your blogging groove after a break?

Or for holding onto and applying the lessons you learned when you were away?

Linked Post: 20 Things You Need to Do Before You’re Free to Blog

Photo Credit: Promising Purple by Joanna Young on flickr

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35 Responses to “10 Things I Learned from Taking a Blogging Break”

  1. On May 18, 2009 at 8:49 am Joely Black (@TheCharmQuark on Twitter) responded with... #

    You sound so relaxed that I feel relaxed too!

    I love the tenth suggestion most of all. Sometimes I feel that just writing where I’m at isn’t enough, that there has to be some wisdom thrown in. But often it’s the best way to begin again, just to draw a line in the sand or say “Here I am.”

    Joely Black (@TheCharmQuark on Twitter)s last blog post..The ultimate question

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  2. On May 18, 2009 at 8:51 am Barbara Ling responded with... #

    Your point:

    “Offline time: It felt good having more time offline - it’s healthier and more natural.”

    So true. I count on my husband now to drag me away from the computer for exercise every day - it’s very rejuvenating. True, it’s not a huge break, but every little bit counts.

    Barbara Lings last blog post..#futuresummit

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  3. On May 18, 2009 at 8:58 am Rhiannon responded with... #

    Having just completed a year of blogging I am in a bit of a reflective mood too, so interesting to read your thoughts. I have had a few breaks within this period and it has been hard to pick the thread up again. I noticed that when I blogged everyday it was easier to keep going. However, when I’ve been away I have also enjoyed being offline too. I’ve decided to try and write ( and conduct other online activity) in short regular bursts so that I can combine a regular rhythm with less time online. This is the plan ! :)

    Rhiannons last blog post..Some celebrations on the way….

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  4. On May 18, 2009 at 10:35 am Ellie Behling responded with... #

    Thanks so much for your thoughts! I feel like I need a break sometimes too, even though I only blog a couple times a week. I’m so glad the experience seemed healthy for you. Maybe all bloggers should include blogging vacations :)

    Ellie Behlings last blog post..***Round-Up***

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  5. On May 18, 2009 at 10:48 am Iain Broome responded with... #

    Really interesting to hear your thoughts on fast-moving internet conversations.

    I’m really enjoying the blogging experience, but because of work and the like, I have to flit in and out of online activity, particularly reading other people’s blogs.

    It can be tough to keep up with what’s going on and we do put pressure on ourselves to commit as much time as possible to these things.

    It’s no bad thing to take unprompted time out once in a while to assess what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

    Iain Broomes last blog post..Launching our new sister site: Websites for writers

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  6. On May 18, 2009 at 10:56 am amypalko responded with... #

    You were much missed both here and on twitter, but I’m so glad that it was such a success and that you’re back feeling refreshed & re-energised :-)
    Amy
    xx

    amypalkos last blog post..Interview With Tweetup Organiser: Baxter Tocher

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  7. On May 18, 2009 at 11:29 am Brad Shorr responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, It’s good to have you back and good to know you had such a pleasant break. When I take a blogging break I like to have plenty of draft posts on hand so I can focus on conversations rather than writing when I come back to work.

    Brad Shorrs last blog post..The Perfection of Marketing, by James Connor - A Book Review

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  8. On May 18, 2009 at 12:19 pm Dianne Murphy-Rodgers responded with... #

    Great to see you back, Joanna and lovely to hear you had such a wonderful time !

    My blogging break has been far too long, having been thoroughly distracted by photography and flickr last Summer, I have yet to return to it. So I’m going to use some of the fab tips here (thank you, Joanna and everyone!) and get back in the groove! :o )

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  9. On May 18, 2009 at 12:23 pm Karen Swim responded with... #

    Hi Joanna, I missed you! I have not taken 2 1/2 weeks off from both blogging and twitter at one time but have taken breaks. I think we don’t take enough of them. Because the internet moves so quickly there is little time to savor and absorb - posts, conversations, ideas. We gobble and go throughout the day and the next day we do it all over again. Being offline reminds me that I don’t need to be everywhere and know everything. I can pick and choose daily. I can engage in the fast moving pace but I can also break from it. I am noticing a trend in the blogosphere of fewer posts and am convinced that we all are trying to find that balance for ourselves and our readers.

    Karen Swims last blog post..Are You a Business Bridezilla?

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  10. On May 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm Bo responded with... #

    I missed blogging, Joanna, when I was away from it for a couple of weeks. Maybe the thing that makes blogging, and the internet in general, enjoyable for me is that my first focus is on photography. And that is not something I can do attached to the internet. I am out and about for long stretches every day. While I eventually return to my computer for post-processing etc. I’m not always computer-connected. I think if I were, I’d get overwhelmed by the frantic pace.

    Glad you are back, refreshed. I missed you!

    Bos last blog post..Purple Explosion

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  11. On May 18, 2009 at 12:48 pm Robert Hruzek responded with... #

    Great to have you back, Joanna! It’s wonderful that you had so much time to enjoy and catch your breath. Plus, the experience of the writing retreat probably created a whole new set of memories.

    The only problem is - we missed you a LOT! Ah, well; glad you’re back, and thanks for the forum while you were gone. Oh, and the turtles say, Howdy!

    Robert Hruzeks last blog post..Ode to the Fallen (A Day That Will Live in Infamy)

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  12. On May 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm Jim Murdoch responded with... #

    I also had a couple of weeks off. Mine was an enforced break - I put my back out. What I found during that time was, for the first time in a long time, I could relax (as much as one can relax under such circumstances) because I realised there was nothing I could do; I was no longer in control. Giving up control is hard. Somehow though having it wrenched from me made it easier. When I came back though I decided - and this is my tip (sorry for the long preamble) - that I had to draw a line. Trying to catch up on everything was impossible. So you draw a line and delete everything below that line. Okay, you have a wee peek to see if there’s anything special but the rest, e-mails, RSS feeds, whatever just bin them, take a deep breath, and begin again.

    Jim Murdochs last blog post..This post is bluey-green and tastes minty fresh

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  13. On May 18, 2009 at 2:16 pm Ulla Hennig responded with... #

    Hi Joanna,
    It’s so nice to have you back!
    I find that sentence of yours very interesting:
    “Spending less time writing blog posts opened up more time and space for other forms of writing” - and would like to read more about that.

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..A small Park in Kreuzberg

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  14. On May 18, 2009 at 3:12 pm --Deb responded with... #

    You DO sound relaxed, and I’m glad you enjoyed your break-but I know I’m glad to have you back!

    -Debs last blog post..Write What You Want to Read

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  15. On May 18, 2009 at 4:20 pm Lori Hoeck -- SpaceAgeSage responded with... #

    Glad you had a great break!

    As a person who is now four months out of blogging — but not out of the blog world and who is going to start another blog soon — I’m very aware of the manic nature blogging can create within us. Before I jump back in, I will have a list like this near my computer:

    *It’s blogging, Lori, not a race, not a competition, not an ego ride!
    *Feeling the manic panic starting to rise? Go outside and work in the garden or take a walk. Do it right now.
    *I’m creating information that will help save lives. It’s worth it.
    *Flow is better than forcing. Relax. Exercise. Write some fiction.
    *I make the deadlines up. I’m the boss. I’m going to enjoy it.
    *The readers and commenters that matter are the ones who care or who want to learn.
    *I can take a break any time I want to. It’s OK. All will work out just fine.

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  16. On May 18, 2009 at 5:49 pm J.D. Meier responded with... #

    It’s always the offline time that makes me appreciate my online time.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Discipline vs. Motivation

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  17. On May 18, 2009 at 6:04 pm Ulla Hennig responded with... #

    I enjoy both times - the online and the offline time. During weekdays I look forward to having the time to go through my feeds when I am at home (I have internet access at work, but I haven’t got the nerve to enjoy it then). And as I am writing this, I am looking forward to a nice relaxing evening on the sofa, totally offline.

    Ulla Hennigs last blog post..A small Park in Kreuzberg

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  18. On May 18, 2009 at 6:35 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Joely I’m glad my relaxed state is catching ;-) I’ve heard haircuts are very good for a feel good effect too… I agree with you very much about just saying ‘here I am’. It’s much easier for us as writers/bloggers, and it nearly always creates a stronge sense of connection with those who are reading your stuff too. If you’re not feeling wise trying to sound it will come out all wrong anyway… (I know, I’ve tried!)

    Barbara I think you’re right, every little helps. I’ve still to work out a way of getting the balance right myself though.

    Rhiannon that sounds like a good plan. I know what you mean about the regular practice making it easier… and the break a bit harder again. I’m really still in two minds about how I want to move forward… I know I want more time and space for other sorts of creative pursuit

    Ellie yes I think blogging vacations sound a great idea. Though sometimes when I’m in full flow and addicted to blogging I’d be tempted by a vacation that was blogging rather than one to get away from it!

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  19. On May 18, 2009 at 6:40 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Iain I definitely noticed the feeling of disconnect this time, and trying to get back into the groove felt a bit forced and awkward. I don’t normally feel pressure to commit time - it’s more that I really want to, and have to stop myself spending too much time online at the cost of other things. But as you say, some time out has given me room to take stock, and work out what a better balance will be in the longer term… Watch this space ;-)

    Amy thank you x Having good friends on Twitter definitely made the reentry easier… it’s more conversational and friendly, easier to pop in and say ‘hi’ quietly…

    Brad wish you’d given me that advice before I took the break! ;-) It’s a good plan though. And you’re right, the conversations are the best bit, and so good once you get back into them.

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  20. On May 18, 2009 at 6:44 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Dianne thanks :-) The photography was a fabulous distraction though wasn’t it? Not to mention forming some wonderful friendships :-)

    Karen I missed you too. I also realised how much I missed knowing what people like you, Brad, Robert, Janice were up to… it was like being in the midst of a conversation and then stopping it. I’m going to cull my feed reader down to those whose ideas I’m really interested in… it had grown kind of unwieldy (as they do). I agree with you that there’s a trend of slowing down a bit with fewer posts, and I think that’s what I’ll eventually move to as well. (Maybe, unless I become hooked again ;-) )

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  21. On May 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Bo good point. Maybe if I wrote more outside or at least out of the house I’d be able to create some of the same effect. Thanks for the welcome back btw ;-)

    Robert and turtles… thanks :-) I missed all of you too. And I know I missed the interaction of words, ideas, conversation, I know my mind enjoys the process and the learning…. Just there are other things I want to make happen too. I’m sure you know that feeling….

    Jim thanks for sharing that. I think drawing some lines inside my head… then need to implement the changes in the real world. I never have any qualms about marking all blogs as read though… emails might be a wee bit harder though (yes, of course, that too comes back to control)

    Ulla how perceptive of you to notice that sentence. More on other forms of writing later this week….

    -Deb you know I couldn’t believe how chilled I was about the absence of all my blogs and websites, all at once… it was a good lesson in keeping things in perspective. At the end of the day, does it really matter so much that a site can’t be accessed for a couple of days… In the grand scheme of things… hardly ;-)

    Lori that’s a great list… a perfect contribution to the idea of breathing space. Thanks :-)

    JD what an interesting comment. Need to think about that one. Definitely works the other way round for me too though

    Ulla I think you’re right - balance is good, especially if we can learn from and look forward to both

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  22. On May 18, 2009 at 11:34 pm Dianne Murphy-Rodgers responded with... #

    Yes, you’re right, Joanna … a truly wonderful distraction which has developed into a real passion. And without which, I might never have met some of the loveliest people I know! (Now that sounds like a good subject for a blog post!)

    @Lori “I’m very aware of the manic nature blogging can create within us. ” I think this is part of the reason I haven’t gone back to blogging. I do think about it now and then … then my head feels like it’s going to explode! Your list is fantastic, thank you for sharing it, it really made me smile! :o )

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  23. On May 19, 2009 at 7:11 am Catherine Wentworth responded with... #

    So THAT’s where you went. Two and a half weeks off. Wow. Sure, it is not months away, but when blogs are sat on - writing, researching, commenting, spam watch, glitch watch, etc - it does increase the concentration of hours.

    I was away for two weeks recently but timestamped posts before I went. Then, once a day when I could, I checked comments.

    So I guess it’s a good thing my blog is not as comment popular as CW (wink) (wink)

    Welcome back Joanna! You’ve been missed :-)

    Catherine Wentworths last blog post..Happy Birthday Celebrations in August: Thai Temple Style

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  24. On May 19, 2009 at 7:57 am Naoko responded with... #

    Do you have any favourite tips on getting back into your blogging groove after a break?

    Haha, yes! I find it’s best to take things easy when you come back, like lowering yourself slowly into a pool when you’ve taken a break in between swimming sessions. It takes time to accustom yourself to the flow, but it’s a great flow once you’re back in.

    With that said, welcome back!

    Naokos last blog post..Reaching out in Darkness

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  25. On May 19, 2009 at 11:51 am Debbie Yost responded with... #

    It’s funny that you wrote this post now. Having taken a blogging break of my own I find myself considering many of the same issues. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get back into the groove of things myself. Where does one begin after being gone for almost 2 months. I used to constantly have blog posts forming in my head and lately, nothing. I pulled out my camera the other day and found pictures from Easter and before. The kids saw the camera and came running. Peanut kept jumping in the shots and then wanted to see the pictures. It appears they miss the attention a little.

    Because my blogging break was for far different reasons, I had no creative energy. Anything I considered writing was so negative or controversial that others may not have recognized me. I didn’t have time or energy to be concerned about my blog or others. I did stay connected in a small way by Twitter. I didn’t use guest bloggers, so time will tell how much this break has hurt me. But, I’ve also put things into perspective. I’ve been thinking about what I want out of my blog and where I’ve strayed from my original intent. I have been writing that return blog in my head, though, and interesting enough, it’s a list of what’s been happening in my life since I’ve been gone. Great minds must think alike. :)

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  26. On May 19, 2009 at 5:56 pm jan_geronimo responded with... #

    “Although I don’t spend a lot of time reading (I skim a lot, fast) it’s still time and more importantly mental distraction that I could easily cut out.”

    Oh, that. Well, I’m afraid to do this. I do it the old fashioned way, from top to bottom. I’m anxious I might miss something profound, or funny, or even a curious turn of phrase.

    It’s not as if there are a lot of blogs waiting in the queue and begging to be read. Maybe I should have some speed reading lessons then.

    With that out of the way, I’m glad you’re back. It’s your blog, but I’m itching to say, “Welcome back!” “,)

    jan_geronimos last blog post..Top 10 Influential Blogs of 2009 - Almost, But Not Quite

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  27. On May 19, 2009 at 9:11 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Catherine hello :-) how nice to see you, and thanks fo rmissing me. You’re right, blogs do need watching and I didn’t actually stop watching when I was away - what do you think I was on a retreat or something?! - just replying and writing. You’re right though, it does also make you think about how much we really want to have those comments we crave (winking back)

    Naoko thanks for that wonderful advice. I do find it easier to get myself back into twitter than blogging… it seems more like lowering yourself slowly in there, whereas with blogging you can’t help feeling you’re doing it with a splash and a gasp at the coldness of the water!

    Deb all your readers and friends will still be there, and will stick with you. It sounds like you’ve been using the time to reflect on where you want to go with things, including reflections on your most recent family experiences, and I think we all need to do that from time to time… It keeps what we’re writing true to us and what’s important. And yes, great minds think alike :-)

    Jan I’m afraid skim reading is one of my very bad habits. I find it hard to slow down, just grab what I need and move on. Your way is a much better way to get the whole meaning from what someone has written. Thanks for your words of welcome back, and reminding me that it’s not just my blog but all of yours too :-)

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  28. On May 21, 2009 at 6:27 am Jan Scott responded with... #

    Great to have you back, Joanna. Your list has many points which resonate for me, the one I’m thinkng of right now is that taking a break from blogging alows time for other types of writing. I need to concentrate on that as, so often, I find myself thinking about everything write as a potential blog post. I’m conscious that this blocks me. I write best (non bloggingly, I mean) when I take my notebook out of my home, which is also my workplace, and occupy a different space. It could be a cafe, the library, or somehwere outdoors - even being in the garden frees me up. So why don’t I? ;)
    Thank you for your ‘Breathing Space’ theme. I haven’t written on the subject but it has swished around my head for several weeks now informing, or rather interrupting in a very positive way my normal pattern of blog thinking.

    Jan Scotts last blog post..a rite of passage

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  29. On May 22, 2009 at 8:06 am wilson responded with... #

    Well, Joanna. During your absent, the honorable guest writers have putted up the splendid works on Confident Writing! I was amazed by their posts and we do have a great time as well!

    Still, we’re happy that you’re finally back from the vacation. Like the old saying, “A rest is as good as a change”.

    wilsons last blog post..It’s Not a Wise Method To Cool down Yourself Immediately After Exercises!

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  30. On May 22, 2009 at 7:17 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Wilson they did us proud didn’t they? I’m glad to be back too though, and thank you for the warm welcome

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  31. On May 23, 2009 at 8:10 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Jan, so sorry, I don’t know how I jumped over your comment. I know I’ve been thinking about your words. Mainly because I find myself very much in the same boat, thinking about things as blog posts and realising that this blocks me or uses up energy that I could be using, should be using, to write other things. Including the point about moving to different physical places. Let’s see if we can learn some solutions together!

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  32. On May 24, 2009 at 6:55 am Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome responded with... #

    I took three weeks off back in October and loved it. While I checked in periodically to make sure the site was functioning, I felt secure leaving the blog in the capable hands of my pre-scheduled posts and my regular commenters.

    This year, I’ll be taking a week in July and two weeks in August off without any fear of losing readers.

    After all, even bloggers are allowed vacations. ;)

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndromes last blog post..How I Get So Much Done Each Day

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  33. On May 24, 2009 at 3:36 pm Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    Alex you’re so right, we do deserve vacations. I’ve learned a lot from taking mine. I hope you enjoy yours :-)

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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