It’s a terrifying fact of book blogging that eventually, the slump comes for us all. It tends to sneak up right when you’re teetering on the edge of burnout, and then…IT PUSHES YOU RIGHT OVER THE EDGE.
I say this from the bottom of the blogging slump pit. I know. I’ve been there. And because I’m climbing out of it, I figure I might as well share my words of wisdom along the way.
At least, I think they’re wise. But how about you be the judge of that?
Step One: Admitting You Have a Problem
I mean, this is the first step to dealing with anything, right? But really, if you’re stuck in a rut, it’s okay to admit that’s where you’re at! Pretending you’re not there just leads to being frustrated with yourself. If you’re not in a slump, how come you can’t seem to get through a book or finish a blog post? Why isn’t it working?
Admitting you’re stuck and letting that be the explanation is better than blaming yourself for not meeting the expectations you have for yourself. It happens, and it’s okay. Can’t be working at 110% all the time.
It occurs to me that this is possibly general life advice in some shape. Will test it on my perfectionist BS and get back to you later with the results.
Step Two: Okay, So Where Exactly IS the Problem?
To be entirely honest with you, this is kind of the tricky part. Getting out of a slump tends to require diving into it so you can pick at the roots and sort out your problem from there. Knowing what your problem is helps you tackle a solution.
So, if you’re behind on blog posts, is it because you’re pressed for time? Because you don’t like the post(s) you were planning to write? Because you don’t like how your posts look on your blog? Because you don’t feel you’re getting enough traffic and you crave that sweet, sweet validation (side note here: same, tbh)?
If you can’t finish a book, is it because you can’t find a book you like? Is it (again) because you feel like you don’t have enough time? Is it an ARC and you’re feeling uncertain about how to rate and review it? Is it an overdue ARC and you’re feeling extra time pressure?
Basically, just sit with yourself for a moment and ask what about your slump is most frustrating to you. Be specific as much as you can, and be honest about it! It’ll get you much farther in solving your slump than ignoring things.
Step Three: Go Do Something Else
Does this sound like counter-intuitive advice? Possibly, but STEP AWAY FROM THE BOOK (or the blog)!
Seriously, let yourself have some distance and go do something else. Even better, do something not bookish. Draw, knit, play a sport, get involved with a D&D group, watch some TV, ANYTHING. At this point, quit whacking yourself over the head with the thing you’re slumped in and go do something you enjoy. If you’re having trouble finishing a book, maybe your creative well is too full and you need to go spend some of that bottled creativity and feeling before you take on more. If you’re struggling to write new posts and get back into the swing of your blog, maybe your well is empty, and you need to go top if off before you try making use of it again.
Either way, take a break and come back later. A little distance works wonders in figuring out what’s not working, and it’ll help get your mind off the slump and onto something pleasant.
Step Four: WAIT, COME BACK
So you can’t totally run away from your slump (unless you want to; you do you!), and at some point, you actually have to look it in the eye and hit back. Take charge. Tell this slump it’s not going to win.
And doing that means looking at the reasons you found for being in a slump, and addressing those.
My most recent slump happened over Shadow Scale. I checked it out from the library in early July, and then let it sit on my floor for almost three weeks while I waffled over it. I didn’t even read half as many books as I wanted to in July because I just kept glancing at Shadow Scale and putting it off. I could have picked up something different, but didn’t. Couldn’t, because once my brain commits to a reading order, WE HAVE TO GO IN ORDER.
So I sat, thought on it, played some video games, and realized Shadow Scale was daunting because it was LONG. Nearly 600 pages. And for the last month or so, I’d been reading ~400 page books. I wanted to go faster, and it didn’t look like that would be possible with this book (never mind that just picking it up and reading it would have taken less time than the three weeks I spent thinking about picking it up).
In this case, the solution for me was to just block out part of my day ONLY for reading, and then to bite the bullet and start reading. Once I got started (since I’m a book per sitting person where possible), it flowed from there, and I’ve been out of the slump since. I just needed to get past the hurdle of STARTING the book.
SO, if your book slump is based on the fact that your next read is SO LONG, try just setting aside an hour to start however much of it you can. If you like what you read, it’ll be easier to pick it back up again or even continue beyond your hour (or however much time you commit to). On the other hand, if you can’t find a book you like and keep DNFing, go back and read a favorite of yours, remind yourself that there are books you like, even if your recent reads haven’t been doing it for you! If you’re worn out on a genre, try picking up a book outside your wheelhouse (for me, this would be reading contemporary, which I mostly don’t do, and taking a break from fantasy). Hell, if you’re usually YA, go try a MG book! It’ll vary the pace and some of the themes, and it’ll be a quicker read. Those always feel good to finish, since you feel productive and FAST.
On the other hand, if you’re in a blogging slump, look carefully at the post you’re trying to write. Did you not like the book? You’re really not obligated to write a whole review! It’s okay to write a mini review or even a “this didn’t do it for me, 2 stars” blip. Don’t invest all your time in a thing you don’t like if you don’t have to. But say you really liked a book and you’re stuck on a review. Then you can maybe go on Goodreads, see what other folks have said, and maybe get a better sense of what you’re trying to say, or how to thread your post into a more logical order. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try moving posts back and don’t do so many that week/month. If you’re feeling like your blog isn’t getting enough attention, self-promo on Twitter or IG or something (within reason; spam sucks, but sharing a link a couple times because you’d like people to see your hard work is totally chill)!
In short, look at the problem you’re having, and ask yourself what would make you feel better, what would lift the pressure that’s trying to shove you back into the rut.
Step Five: Profit (or Try Something New, or Chill Out, Your Call)
Maybe you won’t actually profit in the monetary sense, but hopefully you can relax now, knowing what your problem is and having a way to lighten the load. Granted, sometimes it’s because of external factors we can’t control, or mental health can be hard to wrangle and has to be addressed before you even consider books and blogging. This isn’t a perfect, guaranteed guide by any means.
That said, narrowing down the problem and targeting it with specific solutions hopefully brings you enough peace of mind to start the wheels in motion again. You don’t have to jump back to full speed from a dead stop if you aren’t up to that point yet. Slumps don’t always disappear when you find the right book or write the right post; sometimes, it’s a matter of easing yourself back into the swing of things, taking it up to a gentle cruise instead of top speed right out of the gate. Whatever works for you, that’s okay!
At the end of the day, the goal is to break the slump, even if it’s just a little break that’ll take time to have full effect. One thing at a time.
Well, hopefully this helps if you’re caught in a slump! I won’t claim it’s perfect, but I can say it tends to help me when I get stuck and want to finally push forward. Best of luck, and may all your book and blogging slumps end quickly and painlessly!