Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blogging: Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things." 

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."  ~ Alice in Wonderland


You'll pardon me (I hope) for this brief interlude.

The fact is, I've been feeling a bit bedraggled lately, and the whole blogging bit has started to feel a bit like a chore. When we started out, we were fueled by the challenge of creating something new. Stoked about honing our skills. And ready for anything.  But, the truth is... life has gone a little crazy.

If I'm honest, I'll admit that it's been pretty insane adjusting to the writing load of two blogs (while working full-time, mind you).  And, while I vowed that my commitment to Milwaukee Magazine wouldn't interfere in my enjoyment of -- and dedication to -- Burp!, I must confess that I was stressing about things pretty hardcore just before the holidays.  I was starting to feel tapped out.  And I seriously wondered if I could keep this whole blogging thing up for much longer.

In the nearly two weeks I had off of work around the holidays, I found myself taking a much needed break from blogging.  I didn't warn people or call attention to it, in part because most of you were off taking vacations of your own and you probably didn't even notice.  I didn't write. I didn't cook much (aside from working on a seriously delicious recipe development project that I committed to before the holidays). I did a ton of reading (many thanks to Peef for the Kindle he got me for Christmas).  And I took the opportunity to breathe a little bit.

Wow. It's amazing what a bit of oxygen will do for your brain.

Since the break, I've been a little slow on the uptake. But a few days ago I managed to get myself together and I started reading blogs again. I'm not quite back to my old pace, but I did manage to glimpse a few posts that are worth mentioning.

These are the sort of posts I adore.  The pieces that inspire me to stretch.  The ones that remind me that food blogging isn't just about quantity... it's also about quality and authenticity... the pieces that underscore some of the reasons why I'm still here blogging.
Last spring, I read an article discussing the use of social media as tools for "connecting," rather than "networking."  In it one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, gave this advice:  "It’s much more important to write than to blog," he said, "so only blog if it makes you happy and if you have something to say."

If I'm honest, I have to admit that there's very little in life that makes me happier than cooking, writing, and blogging. And the fact is, despite the fact that the Web is now positively glutted with food media (some of which, I must admit, isn't worth reading), I am still enjoying what I'm doing.  So, I guess I found my answer.

So, as crazy as it sounds, I'm going to keep on believing in those impossible things. And writing about them too... Maybe even before breakfast.

For those of you wondering why in heaven's name I'd bother to post these ramblings -- I just want to offer a few words of explanation.  If there's one thing I've learned (and appreciated) about food blogging, it's that there's a real community surrounding the writers and readers of food blogs. One thing I'm certain about is that you've all "been there" in some way, shape, or form. So, you can relate to where I'm coming from. And hey -- if you have any advice to share, I'm all ears.

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Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.

26 comments:

  1. Getting sick of blogging happens to me a lot. I learned never to make rash decisions, like saying you are done blogging or deleting a blog. I have thought about killing EatWisconsin probably a dozen times since I started it some 5 years ago (here was my first attempt: http://eatwisconsin.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-lied.html)

    I discovered that if I waited long enough I would think of a ton of stuff I want to write about and become reenergized.

    I had thought of doing something similar to what you are doing with Milwaukee magazine but it was going to be a "life in Waukesha" kind of thing (food, recreation, social activities, parks, etc) then decided that I would get too burnt out so I changed my mind.

    The great thing about twitter & facebook is that you can avoid your blog for months and with a simple tweet or status update that you have a new post you can bring all of your readers back into the fold.

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  2. I love your ramblings. You're a writer, not a blogger. That's what I like about you. Take a break and just post once in awhile. I'll be looking for your email notifications. Do it every day, I'll unsubscribe. =) I absolutely love the blogging world, but I'm a nutritionist, not a blogger. I don't have time for this stuff. Having said that, we wouldn't be friends without blogging. How cool is that?!

    Keep it up. You're one of the really good ones, even with that gluten-cootie thing going on. You're creative and you write well. A lot of bloggers just blah, blah, blah about blah, blah food. You don't do that. You shine big time!

    Hang in there. We love you.
    Melissa

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  3. Seriously, can't think of one impossible thing before breakfast - not one! Of course I can't wait very long before breakfast, but love the time right away in the morning - so it's all possible in those wee hours. - Keep writing but was so intriqued by the 6 thing that had to comment. See you saturday. Kay

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  4. I'm actually really glad you shared this with us because I think everyone has moments where they just don't feel like they have enough time or energy to blog anymore and it's nice to know that other people feel the same way! I'm glad you took your break and that now you're back! Do it as long as it makes you happy. :)

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  5. Great post, and a topic that hits a little too close to home. Sometimes I love blogging, and sometimes I just feel burned out. I'm planning to relaunch the blog, but I know my initial enthusiasm will wane after a few months. I hope I can keep it going...

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  6. I've only just found you, so please, don't stop now! Blogging is like cooking - even when you love it there are times when you just can't face the thought of doing it. But that makes the return all the sweeter...

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  7. I definitely have "been there". In fact, I'm there a few times a year it seems. You did exactly what I do, just step away for a while. That's what makes this a blog and not just a website - there's the personal element. No requirements or obligations for how often it's updated, it's whatever makes sense for each of us. Go ahead and take a breather when you need it - we'll still be here when you come back!

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  8. Oh, Lo. My sweet lovely lady and friend...I totally totally get it.

    When I started Very Culinary 2 years ago, I didn't know diddly about blogging. I just knew I love to cook and eat, and wanted to share my experiences with whomever would listen.

    But as we all know, it sure doesn't stay that simple. There's food events, food contests, seasonal foods, holidays...if you don't participate in some form, you become irrelevant. I sort of think it sucks and does take the fun out of blogging sometimes.

    I was completely stressed out around Thanksgiving (my absolute favorite holiday), not only because of the magnitude that holiday brings, but for me, I also have Hanukkah, Christmas and 3 (!) birthdays in December to plan for. All the while caring for two kids under 5 years old. It was so hard.

    But in blogging, you have to talk about the holidays. Everyone wants to hear about Turkey, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Not pasta. Sigh.

    But I got through it. And now January is here and the madness has subsided. And I'm back to cooking with normalcy and enjoying it. I think when it stops being fun, we should definitely stop. Otherwise, what's the point?

    Love your honesty. Love you!

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  9. Love your honesty, Lo. I bottled up all summer as I was writing about every intern day but it eventually came out about 4/5 of the way through. I think it's therapeutic to write about the wall we've all hit with blogging. At least in a constructive manner. Love the Gaiman quotes regarding blogging, so true.

    Anyway, keep up the great work on your end. Your blog has a special place in my heart as it was the first Milwaukee "foodie" blog I found when I started getting into that sort of thing several years back. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

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  10. i get tired of blogging at times too. yes, feels like a chore sometimes.

    I don't need to post a certain amount of times a month per say but I blog when I get inspired and at times I am not inspired.

    Costs come into play and time as well. Ive thought a lot about 'retiring' but then i read other blogs like Burp and realize it is a good thing to do, many people also become inspired from it.

    Take a break. Relax. But keep blogging!

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  11. Amy kind of hit the nail on the head with the contests and challenges. I did the one local summer challenge 2 years ago and really got burned out on writing about it. Never got burnt out on the actual challenge, in fact it was a lot of fun but the pressure to write on deadline to be included in the weekly updates was too much. I am doing this charcutepalooza thing where you do a different charcuterie project evey month but I decided to do it on my own instead of officially signing up that way I don't feel obligated to do stuff when I am not in the mood.

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  12. I understand what you mean. Somtimes I get tired of knowing I have to type everything out and upload the photos and make sure the recipe is how I want it...

    But I write my blog for me and I have to remember that, so if it's not always perfectly updated, I'm not going to let myself care too much. It's my blog. It will be updated how and when I want it to be.

    "If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe."

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  13. In the last few months I've been slowing down on my blogging too. I was working so hard at posting 5 days a week I wasn't enjoying it as much & felt like I was spending too much time on the computer. Cutting back to just when I have something to write about it really starting to help me feel better & I don't think I've lost any readers for it.

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  14. I love you guys. Totally didn't expect such an opulent response!! But, I think you all make really good points.

    Jeff and Amy - you're totally right about the pressures the come with writing about things seasonally & making posts relevant... though I think sometimes it's refreshing to find bloggers who don't do the "predictable" thing. :)

    Melissa - We love you too! And we read your blog for the same reasons. Not only do you provide great nutritional advice, but you write everything out with flair & passion! Love you. Thanks for always being one of our biggest fans (gluten cooties & all).

    Kay - I love the potential you see in the morning, when ALL things are possible. I'm going to remember that.

    Joanna and Julia - It always helps to know we're in this together, doesn't it? I think the struggle with keeping a blog alive has everything to do with the personal nature of it. Sharing so much of ourselves can be tiring sometimes -- but the payoff in the friends we make and the inspiration we get from others is worth it!

    Kitchenmaid - So glad you've found us! Definitely stay tuned! In spite of the ebb and flow, I hope we'll be blogging for a good long time :)

    Neil - One of the best parts about blogging is meeting great people like you. Likewise, I've totally enjoyed reading about your adventures on the farm. So, keep doing what YOU do!

    Pork Drunk - Right back atcha!

    Rachel - Good point about remembering that blogging isn't solely for the benefit of others. I do think community & sharing is important -- but getting back to the reasons I started the blog in the first place (with no idea ANYONE would read it!!) is important!

    Kat - I can't keep up with you when you blog so much anyhow :) *whew* Glad to know you've slowed down... I can't keep up!

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  15. What I like most about this blog is that we get to come up with something silly, sane, bizarre, or basic and together we work on making it happen. It's pretty special what we have here, and it makes me giddy and flattered to see that so many of you feel the same way. You are all truly awesome for being so awesome. Here's to a kick ass 2011!

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  16. I agree, Lo, we have all been here. I have thought very seriously over the past month or two what to do about my blog. Why I am writing it. Who I am writing for. ETC. Still not 100% sure, but I think it is good to go through these processes.

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  17. Rambling is good for the soul, kind of like a cleansing you know. Oftentimes followers become friends in spite of the face to face absence as you know. Who better to share with than yyour friends?
    Great post!

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  18. I agree that when blogging becomes a chore, it shouldn't happen! When you write from inspiration, you sometimes have to wait for the spark... and sometimes things are dim and ordinary and maybe not so interesting. Realities of life. I read a book on how to write sentences recently, and the author said that you must know your audience, and you do. You both have reached out to me in a way that matters, both on the page and in sparkling real life. You don't realize that you have dragged me from my hermitish world, and inspired me to think about flavors in food. No matter the frequency, I'll remain devoted!

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  19. Well, it might be a little late to comment, but i have to agree. Sometimes blogging (after taking a break) is hard to get back into. I think that this calls for some MKEFoodies support to get back in the game.

    Thanks for sharing, Lo! It's nice to see that others feel the same way I do!

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  20. Best written "I've needed a break from blogging" post I've ever read!

    Isn't "rest" part of most religious traditions? I suppose that's for a reason.

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  21. True...Almost everything needs a time and rest to ponder what really is going on. Happiness is sometimes hard to find as well as inspiration to blog. I do try to walk around the neighborhood to find funny & silly things to share with.

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  22. Hey Lo, you know, I don't always have time either to post the way I'd like to, and we all have those days where we can't get motivated to blog and comment on other blogs. I try to actually stay away from my blog and others on those days.
    Sometimes inspiration for just a short post can be right in front of us though. In fact, short poignant posts can be the best ones sometimes. So I guess I wish you short, interesting post ideas for your very busy 2011 (smile)!

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  23. Ah, this is a refrain I recognize, and It's one I've struggled on and off with. Bear with me here... I had a no -food blog first which I actually liked better than my food blog. Unfortunately, the food blog takes so much time and energy, I gave up writing at the other, and it was actually sustaining to me. Then I came out of retirement for a year doing something that had already sucked the life out of me and time for blogging became a joke, let alone visiting others' blogs. But I missed the community quite a bit. I've met so many interesting people blogging all of whom have common interests. It's amazing. So after much thought, and some goal setting, I'm trying to be more purposeful about it all. It's never been about posting every day for me. Some people may be able to pull that off, but not me. Best to you as you make your decisions. I say do what makes you happy. In the long run, it adds to the overall quality of life.

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  24. I go through similar periods of dissatisfaction...I think that this is part of the writing process (be it blogging, journaling, working on essays or creative pieces). But you have so much to say, and whenever I visit your blog I'm reminded of how talented you are...the words will keep on coming because this is what you were meant to do! There aren't a ton of natural writers in the world, and I have a feeling that you are one of them. So feel free to take a break, but I know you will always be back. And I, for one, feel incredibly blessed by that.

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  25. Thank you so much for sharing. I think we all go through the same cycle, so know that you're not alone in the misery. Last fall I didn't really *mean* to take a break, but life sometimes trips you up and things like 'real jobs' and 'life' take priority....making blogging feel more like work than play.

    I'll miss you, sister (and brother! Peef shall not be neglected!) but breathe deeply and we'll see you when you're ready!

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We're thrilled that you came to visit us here at BURP! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. We're not always able to respond to every comment, but we'll make every effort to answer questions in a timely fashion. We especially enjoy reading about what's going on in your own creative kitchens. So, don't be shy!

And thanks for stopping by!