Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Beating down the blogging blues

One of my favorite food bloggers, Lisa of Oslo Foodie, has decided to close down her blog. I'm really sad about it, but boy do I know where she is coming from.

My enthusiasm for keeping up my blogs comes and goes. At the moment I can feel the enthusiasm for the food blog ebbing; luckily I piled up a few articles during a high-energy period, so I have enough to keep it going until hopefully my inspiration comes back. In the past though, I've stopped blogging for weeks and months (and suffered the subsequent traffic drops). Sometimes it's just because I just don't feel like even thinking about food, much less cooking it. Sometimes I just get major writer's block. (My recent receding of enthusiasm was triggered by a number of separate copying/scraping incidents, like this page, which has three of my posts copied intact with links and pictures in 2 of them. I think I'm pretty tolerant about people copying my recipes...but this just went too far even for me.) Regardless of the reason, sometimes it's hard to keep up the energy.

Do you go through blogging blues? How to you combat them? Or is it worth combatting them?

This Post was written by maki from Just Hungry.

15 comments:

nika said...

if they are hotlinking your images make a new image to replace those images that says - "This blogger has stolen my posts and images."

They deserve that bad karhma

s'kat said...

That is really, really sad about Oslo Foodie. :(

Like you, though, I can understand it... before you know it, the blog creeps up and into every part of your life. Sometimes that is good, sometimes not so much.

Personally, I'm having no shortage of materials to blog about, but finding the time is another matter entirely. I'm in awe of people like Sweetnicks, Kalyn, Jeff&Joe (Culinary...)- how on earth do they manage to keep up?

I think sometimes it may be best to take a few days, or weeks, off and recover your sense of self. "It's not all about the blog," lol! I am surprised that Sam hasn't done that after her mega-blog-a-thon.

And maki, please don't stop blogging, I really like your stuff! It's just nasty what they did, but... as nika said, karma's a bitch.

shelly said...

Maki,

I feel for you. That must be a really deflating and frustrating experience.

I imagine there must be a simple Javascript out there that disables the "Save/Save As" functionality in a reader's browser, as well as manually copying and pasting text.

Of course hacker types might easily get around such scripts. But most people probably won't.

Has anyone ever used such a script?

shelly said...

Is there some recourse we bloggers can take against those morally challenged webmonkeys who have no compunctions about scraping "content"? Frankly, this is an issue that really creeps me out.

cookiecrumb said...

Food Blog Ennui. Great topic. I'm in a trough of it myself at the moment, and the pressure of feeling I need to post has actually driven me into a serious funk. Like, right now, I'm not even interested in food. (And it's tomato season! Good lord.)
Here's my advice: If you are being paid for writing, you can't plead "writer's block"; you gotta show up and pound the keyboard. If you don't have contractual obligations to write, on the other hand, you can do whatever you want, including going dormant for as long as you need. Why do we care about traffic? Isn't this just a really fun hobby, after all?
Signed,
Cookiecrumb, who did not post today

paul said...

Dont' let the thieves get you down. They tend to live very short blog-lives.

There is no such script which can disable saving or copying. The only one way to stop people from copying text is to turn it into an image or use Flash. It's not worth the effort.

As for blog blues, blogging is a hobby, not a job, don't let it become a chore (unless you do derive income from it, then do treat it like a job).

Either way, vacations help. Don't post just for the sake of posting and don't feel guitly for not being prolific.

Winslow said...

I was sad to see Oslo Foodie calling it a day, too. And that's not the only food blog that has disappeared since I started reading food blogs.

I'm familiar with the blogging blues myself. For me, the best way to head it off is to post quickly after cooking a meal. The longer I go without blogging a meal, the more details are lost to memory. Also, it seems that the longer something sits in the queue unwritten, the harder it is to make a start on writing it. I've noticed this phenomenon in my blogging, in my online reviews for a review website and also in print articles I've worked on. I don't know if others share this personality flaw. It's as if the unwritten post goes from being a fun essay about a home-cooked meal to one of a mountain of Unfulfilled Obligations and Chores. That could destroy anyone's enthusiasm.

Also, like it or not, life has a way of intruding on things. Time is a finite commodity. When someone starts a blog, maybe they have plenty of time to maintain it. But then life throws some changes at you; moving, losing or gaining a job, starting a family. Priorities change. Time availability shifts. No one should feel guilty about this because it happens to all of us.

Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up over not posting "enough" or for succumbing to the blogging blues. Your feelings are trying to tell you something. Be kind to yourself and honest with yourself. Sometimes these dips in enthusiasm level are temporary, sometimes they are signs of a more permanent shift in attitudes and priorities. Blaming yourself for not being "the perfect blogger" won't help you through either situation.

Ok, off the soapbox. :) On a more personal note, Maki, your blog was one of the first food blogs I discovered, and it helped inspire me to start blogging myself. I was very sad when you went on hiatus and overjoyed when you returned. But don't listen to me, do what you need to do to be happy. Life's too short.

neil said...

The one thing I try to do is have the weekend off, no blogging. Thinking about a post for the next week is okay, but it gives me two whole days to myself, but sometimes the blogging thing can be disheartening.

I recently wrote what I thought was a funny piece for EoMEoTE #17 and hardly anyone came or left a comment. Other times I've written throwaway posts and readers really go for them, go figure.

Piperita said...

Dear Maki,
I think soon or later everyone experience Blog blues or blog depression. I went throught it during this early summer, and I'm only blogging since January...
I think is natural, as in life, to have some blue periods, and there is no cure, as in life...
The way I was over it is quite simple, as everybody else told you: take your time off, take a blog vacation, stop looking at the stats... I did it for 10 days and it worked...
And smile all the time, even without a reason: it sure helps!!!

vanessa said...

i think there's a lot of self-induced pressure to make sure you're blogging often and the content is relevant when we can watch our stats move up and down and see comments trickle in or overflow. it creates this feeling that one has to keep up with the blog next door. it's good in a way that it'll probably keep you learning.... but really a blog is a personal medium that you're expressing yourself through. so posts shouldn't have to be dictated by deadlines (of course unless you're getting paid for it).

if you're in a slump, then so be it, your blog can be in the same state too. maybe you can see writing about the slump and how you got over it as a post in itself? why did you start blogging and how has that changed?

Kalyn said...

I too was sad to see Oslo Foodie stop blogging. I read it on my feed reader and was sorry I hadn't left more comments.

Maki, regarding the stolen content/photos, there have been times I've had to write to people threatening to report them to their blog host for copyright violations if they don't credit me(for the photos, recipes can't really be copyrighted) and that usually works. You have to have a copyright notice on your site though. Please take it as a compliment if people want to copy you, although I agree it's very irritating.

Regarding the pressure to keep up a blog every day, I think it's important to remember it's YOUR blog. Post when you want to and what you want to.

S'kat, thanks. (I am in awe of your photos.) If it's helpful for others to hear it, there are a few reasons I'm able to post as much as I do:
1. I'm kind of type A and don't have a husband or kids to distract me!
2. I've been passionate about cooking, taking photos and writing all my life, so this is a natural fit for me, although the food photography is new for me and something I'm enjoying learning.
3. I have a schedule of what type of things I do on each day of the week. (I even have a week-at-a-glance calendar where I plan a week in advance what to cook/post about. I'm not as disciplined about sticking to it as Joe though, my menu planning idol.)
4. In that schedule I have things like SB Recipes of the Week where I don't have to do a new recipe.
5. I have a set time of the day to write (evening) and a set time to post/read blogs (morning) I try to stick to it so it doesn't completely take over my life.
6. I have my brother and Bradley to cheer me on and provide TONS of design and technical assistance. I couldn't do it all myself if I didn't have their help.
7. This might be the most important one, but I have a goal of turning the blog into some kind of second income so I can retire from teaching (not sure what that would look like, but my whole life I've wanted to be a writer when I grew up.) That goal keeps me motivated to keep going.

In a few days when I have to go back to school I'm might start taking one day a week off When I was doing WHB myself every week I used to take Mondays off and didn't feel bad at all about doing it.

maki said...

Thank you everyone for the encouragement, and sorry I came off rather whiny. :)

Re: the content stealer (though that wasn't what I wanted to emphasize) he isn't hotlinking to the images unfortunately so I can't put a nasty message on them. I have a Creative Commons share-alike attribution license on the food blog so he could even (under those terms) copy the whole thing as long as he gave me attribution, but... He has no email address on the blog and he erases comments. And contacting wordpress.com where the blog is hosted has so far (it's been a couple of days) yielded no results. Soo... I guess I should be happy that he's not just scraping up all the content as others have done...(whine whine)

I get a lot of support at home also like Kalyn....the husband (max, who writes very occasionally on the Just Hungry) is always a cheerleader, and my family love it. I've gotten my share of publicity for it too (not as easy I think for a blog not based in the U.S.) So...I shouldn't complain...

Thanks for all the ideas - maybe I just need yet another vacation :) (oh wait, the budget...argh)

And I am sorry I did not discover Food Blog Scool earlier...it's a great community. Thanks Ms. Sam!

Julie said...

I might be a little late with this comment, but I just want to reinforce what everyone else has said. And please don't quit blogging! I have enjoyed your writing so much. Your articles on Provence were as good as any professional travel writing could be and made me immediately add the region to my list of top 10 (maybe even top 5) destinations. You have too much to offer to quit!

Owen said...

Maki - sorry about the scraper - he'll get his one day.

As for the lack of energy. It's been four years for me and there have been periods where I haven't posted for more than a month. I'm sure that is one of the reasons mine is not a terribly popular blog. But there's a bigger reason and one that is actually the secret to why I keep coming back and keep doing it - and that is that the blog is for ME and MY friends. I don;t mind doing things for other people if it isn't any effort but I won;t make a special effort. So I don't put up many pictures - too much work.

I rarely get involved with memes or even events (although I really LIKE food blog events so I sometimes make an effort).

The only area where I put in more effort than I would normally is Paper Chef because I started it I feel responsibility for it.

The Digital Dish book was the other big push area and when that didn't succeed I admit I lost a lot of enthusiasm.

On the other hand I'm proud of the fact that there are two or three blogs in the book that are no longer around online but that have had some of their recipes and entries preserved. Particularly Shiokadelicious! which was and still is one of my top three food blogs ever and which now is gone.

Anyway - the point is that you are doing this for YOU and do what you need to do to be happy about it - even if that means stopping writing.

Cate said...

Some days you just need to walk away and have a day or days away to clear your mind ... and remember what you did BEFORE your blog. We've all been there.

I think it's important to remember WHY you are doing it in the first place, and when you can't remain true to that, then it's time to pack up the keyboard. If you started it for fun, and it's not fun anymore, then that's that.

S'kat - thanks. I'm just as in awe of you. ;)

Neil - I totally agree. I can dash off a post on what I think might be fluff, just to break it up a bit, and get more comments on that then when I do something that requires more time and energy. It never ceases to amaze me which posts get more attention/comments.