How Do You Keep The Passion Alive?

You know by now that I am honest with you all, and if you didn’t, well you do now, and to be fair, you might want to sit down while I tell you something.

The thing is, over the past few weeks I have been thinking about how to keep Book Blogging. I love books and reading, and trust me that has never changed, but increasingly I have felt like I am on a Bookish Conveyor Belt in an ever changing and increasingly noisy social media world.

I love this Community which I am so proud to be part of – I truly often don’t understand how it works – still. I have learned over time to only review and talk about books I love and ask only for proofs I know I will read and review, but at the moment it sometimes feels like a job – and that’s not right.

Let me give you an example. I am always grateful for any Bookpost I get, especially when a publisher or publicist has sent me something, and I spend a long time taking and editing pictures, tagging the right people, using the right hashtags and then sharing it across my social media platforms, making sure I have the right usernames and hashtags for Instagram which might be different to Twitter! We all do those posts where we show off our bookmail and thank the senders- then when no one says anything you wonder what you did wrong.

Were the pictures not attractive enough? Did I post at the wrong time? What is wrong with my account? I spent three hours doing all that and for what?

Is it just me? Am I too sensitive or is there something more fundamental to consider- that we all need to think about.

Why do so many of us fall prey to the need for likes and shares and the ever present Fear of Missing Out. When I started blogging in 2017, I talked about books from the library I had borrowed or books from my shelves that I loved and then I got my first proof.

Looking back, I openly admit I became a bit of a blogging grabbing monster. Hanging around Twitter, checking to see if any publicists were offering proofs – and I mean any proofs – I got caught up in the thrill of having a book sent to me and posting about it. I’ve talked about this before here and I’ve really tried to not fall into the trap again. It’s hard though, and it’s something I know I have to work on.

How do you keep loving books and talking about them in a unique way after a while? Can you really still be enthusiastic and love ALL of them ALL the time? What about if you have asked for a book because every one else did and you don’t ever read and review it? Do you feel horrendously guilty and silently appalled that you’ve fallen into the trap of wanting that book because it’s everywhere? What do you do with it if you haven’t read it? Do you admit it? Why do we feel the need to ask for proofs and new releases? Does that mean lots of us are talking about the same book and if so, how do we get heard?

When my blog post views dropped, and I knew I was getting jaded with it, I tried to think of other ways to keep my account interesting. I started to do Instagram and video reviews, they feel fun and fresh and I love doing them.

Then someone made a comment to me about how in my video reviews I seemed to always love the books I talk about so much and I couldn’t possibly be that enthusiastic all the time after blogging for so long. I explained that I do read a lot, but I only talk about the books I truly love and I know that lots of people will love them too. It also made me realise that there is a fine line between really reading and appreciating a book, and feeling like I am on a schedule as I try and read a book to ensure that I have read and reviewed it before or on publication day.

What’s the answer to keeping things fresh and authentic and to not be worry about likes and latest releases? Do we as Book Bloggers also have a responsibility to those who follow us to try and be true to why we started blogging, to step back sometimes and admit that many of us have that Fear of Missing Out and it is partly our responsibility- that we add to the hype because we want to read the latest releases too? Why can’t I be content to pick a book off my shelf and read it instead – lots of brilliant bloggers do, so does it mean my need to review new books and to get likes is more important than being true to myself and my reading?

Book Blogging has undoubtedly been one of the best things I have ever done. It is also one of the most challenging in terms of time, effort and working bloody hard to build up a blog and social media accounts I am proud of, and hopefully a reputation as someone who is always real and truthful about Book Blogging.

Maybe keeping my passion alive for blogging is as simple as this – by admitting that some days I love it, some days I want to give it all up because I can’t stand or understand it, that I spend too much time tweeting and not enough reading, that I get caught up in the clamour wanting all the latest books and most of all, knowing that if I stopped Years of Reading I would hate not talking to you all about books.

How about you? What do you do to keep yourself interested in Book Blogging?

34 thoughts on “How Do You Keep The Passion Alive?

  1. Melanie’s reads says:

    I actually view my blog as a job. After 30 years I had to give up work due to getting sick and I missed it. I like feeling useful and my brain and gob still function even when the rest of my body doesn’t. Plus it’s a job I get to do in my pjs on the sofa, it’s given me purpose when I felt I was chucked on the scrap heap x

    Liked by 2 people

  2. alittlebookproblem says:

    This is a really great post and something I completely relate to.

    You and I have been blogging for around the same amount of time and, I have to admit to having felt the way you feel from time to time. Why do some posts not get as many likes and shares as others? Why has my Instagram following stuck at a particular number and my picture likes fallen off? Is it the content? Am I posting at the wrong time of day? Is it me? Have I unknowingly become a blogging pariah? What did I do? (The low confidence paranoia raising its ugly head.)

    I have to admit, I’m not really one for chasing ARCs, but I have been guilty of making too many requests on NetGalley and taking on too many blog tours. These are things I have been trying to get under control recently, because the pressure takes the fun out of blogging, and reading, and I really don’t want that.

    For me, I’m trying to think about why I started the blog in the first place, which was just to talk about the books I love. I never thought anyone would read it. I never expected to get a massive following on any platform. So, if I didn’t worry about it then, why am I worrying about it now?

    I’m not going to any more. I’ll do what makes me happy, not what causes me stress, and stop worrying about what anyone else thinks. People will either follow me or not, and that’s okay. I want to talk about the books I love, and promote authors where I can, and appreciate my fabulous blogging family, and that is all I need.

    Please don’t let anything stop you blogging, you are marvellous and we would miss you greatly. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      Thank you so much for this lovely comment – you articulate it so perfectly and echo so many of my own thoughts too.
      I think since we both started blogging, things have changed so dramatically in terms of how and when people review that it’s easy to get caught up in thinking we have to do the same. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is to sit back away from the crowd and do our own thing.
      Thank you so much for your kind words – don’t worry – you aren’t getting rid of me that easily!! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. janetemson says:

    I think the vast majority of us have been guilty of getting arcs and not reading them, especially when we set out as bloggers and it’s all new and exciting. For me, now, I’m not in the ‘in-crowd’ and don’t get sent loads of books. Don’t get me wrong, I still get some, and each and every time they are a lovely, welcome surprise. I think I may actually request less than a handful a year, if that. I’m continually aware of the backlog I have. But now that I’m and old and jaded blogger I know that the books I don’t receive will be there in a bookshop for when I’m ready. I know a review of an older book is just as relevant (if indeed my view on a book is relevant at all) as the latest book about to be published. I read what I want, when the mood takes me and I enjoy blogging, and reading, a whole lot more because of it. I think we all forget sometimes that we started to review because we loved reading. Blogging was and is an extension of that hobby and I know I have to take a step back sometimes when it starts to feel like a job, or that reading is homework I have to get through to get to the books I ‘want’ to read. Great post Clare.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      Thank you Janet, and I absolutely agree with what you are saying. I admit when I started I would ask for everything just to say I had a copy, but as time goes by, you realise it’s just not sustainable. Also, from a moral standpoint, I always use the bookshop test to see if I would actually read it before I ask, and increasingly realise I wouldn’t! Like you say, it’s always there to buy in a bookshop or borrow from a library, and then the deadline or pressure is completely gone!
      I am finding I am increasingly taking regular breaks – because at the end of the day I would rather talk passionately about books I have really loved in depth, than be part of a conveyor belt where I talk about lots of books I might not have read properly!

      Like

  4. nickimags @ The Secret Library Book Blog says:

    Fab post and such a good question! I think we all get tired and wonder why we keep on going, but like you we love sharing the book love. I used to want all the books too, but then got so overwhelmed by it all that I realised that it was taking the fun out of it.I rarely get bookmail these days so I don’t have to worry about the whole photography hashtag shenanigans. I don’t even spend much time on Instagram any more and I used to really enjoy it, but it seems more of a chore at the moment. What does keep me going is the lovely friends I’ve made and the interaction I have them on my blog and Twitter. Hope this helps. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      This is just perfect Nicki- and exactly what I was trying to say too. It’s hard sometimes to stop and say you know what, I don’t really need all the books – and if I want it so much – I can buy it or get it from a library! Instagram is a wonderful place, but it moves so quickly and people are so creative now, that I find it overwhelming sometimes! When it gets to be a chore, you know you need to stop for a while!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. alwaysneedmorebooks says:

    I still enjoy it and to be honest at the moment having something to focus on away from all the crap is great. I’ve gotten pretty good at just saying yes to the books I know I will love but I wish I didn’t say yes to so many because I do feel guilty when I run out of time

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Annabel (AnnaBookBel) says:

    Yup to all that! I’m looking at my review pile – and see I have ten books all out on Sept 3rd, and I’m halfway through just one of them. That’s rather put me into a reading slump, and correspondingly a little bit of a blogging slump. But except for the one I’m on a blog tour for, I have no obligation to read and review by the actual publication date. There are so many out that day, that reviews later that month, or into the next will be more appreciated I hope. It’ll pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with it all Annabel isn’t it? We forget that we have no obligation to read them by publication date unless we have committed to a blog tour, and I think I need to remember that a review at any time helps, and not to try and rush my reading to fit in with the date.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Beverley says:

    This is such a great post. I’ve had somebody say that I can’t possibly like every book that I read (not to my face, naturally, but the grapevine is a great thing), and although I only review books that I give 3 stars and above to on my blog it stung a bit. I hope you can tell from my reviews if I LOVED a book or if I thought it was a good read – not every book is a 5 star read after all, but I do worry that people will think I am disingenuous.

    I’ve been feeling a little burnt out recently and have cut back on Blog Tours and as my Netgalley shelf is out of control I am trying to read through some of those. I’ve DNF’d a lot and have a few reviews to write but nothing scheduled for the foreseeable future. I realised recently that the world won’t stop turning if I don’t post a review on a Tuesday and Thursday and it was such a weight off my shoulders. I’ve taken the past couple of weeks off and I am enjoying reading again.

    There’s always that FOMO though. I don’t get sent loads of books and I see other bloggers complaining their stats are low and they’re 5 times what mine are. It took being furloughed for a month for me to realise how much work I would have to put into my blog for it to be that successful. In reality, I don’t have enough time to do that alongside a stressful full time job and I had to weigh up what I actually wanted to get out of my blog, and that was to have fun and talk about books I liked. I’m trying *really* hard not to stress out about the rest of it though (like Instagram etc).

    By the way, I love your video reviews – your passion really comes through. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      This is such a brilliant comment Beverley, it encapsulates everything I was thinking too, and you have perfectly nailed what all of us go through too. That’s the whole point isn’t it, that you almost have to step back and see that in all honesty, no one really cares if you don’t post twice a week!
      Thank you for your kind words about my video reviews too – that means a lot xx

      Like

  8. MarinaSofia says:

    I completely understand. I’ve gone through a period of requesting too much, trying desperately to keep up, and at some point all the books started looking the same to me, because I was reading them too quickly (and all were crime fiction – I was also reviewing for Crime Fiction Lover). So I took a break, am reading what I please when I please, for fun, and without worrying about who reads my blog. It tends to be the same handful of people anyway (whose blogs I read).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Anthony says:

    I am struggling right now to think of things to write. I used to have something every single day. Lately, however, things don’t always come to me. It is hard to have a Perfect Moment when you’re teaching ESL online all day.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony says:

        I am not sure, but I think that it is how little I have going on that is affecting my writing. How many Perfect Moments can one have sitting in a chair in a bedroom….uh I mean home office.
        Obviously, I shouldn’t look at it that way. I am supposed to be finding Perfect Moments in the littlest things, in the most normal of places as well as the spectacular and unusual.
        Upon reflection, though, you may be right. I have a lot going on in my head.

        Like

  10. Claire 'Word by Word' says:

    I take all the pressure of myself, no deadlines, very few requests, but I love the conversations, so I try to ensure I engage with others who are reviewing rather than worry about whether anyone is engaging with me. Because my main reason for blogging is so that I can give my books away but I always have the memory of what they were like, for me. And when I talk about books to friends I can easily send them a link to my review, so my thoughts on a book are part of my real world as well. Social media was never part of it, but yes, I tweet and put a link on a special FB page, but not on my main page. I love the silent readers, and because I communicate with them offline, I know they do value what I write, yet they are invisible. I’m sure that is the case for you too, that there is a large silent majority of people appreciating being kept in touch with the literature world.

    But when I don’t feel like writing, I don’t. And I work at not ever feeling obligated. I love that this exists for us, it teaches us about ourselves too. What a gift, really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yearsofreadingselfishly says:

      This is a really brilliant comment, and has given me a lot of food for thought too. I think that at times it’s far too easy to get caught up in the hype about certain books, instead of having the confidence to just read what we want. I think social media has definitely changed the way in which we get our information, and it is lovely when we hear from people about our reviews. I think that makes it all worth it!

      Like

  11. Fictionophile says:

    Some days it is difficult. I love the blogging aspect as much as the reading experience but it does take a huge chunk of my time. Luckily, I am retired and have time, though my husband is not as understanding of my passion for blogging as he could be. He’ll come up behind me and say “Are you STILL doing that?”
    That’s when I question the time I spend. After all, people are more important than blogs…. aren’t they? LOL

    Like

  12. Laurel Lindström says:

    It’s like any passion, what keeps it alive is doing it over and over again because you love it. Like sex it can get better every time, but not necessarily always, every time. There are bound to be lows and highs, or just middlings, but you never know which it will be so you keep at it, hoping. You learn from every encounter, whether it is with a lover, a favourite walk, or a book.

    This is why readers and writers keep on reading and writing: we are constantly looking for connections, big or small, intense or feeble. We write to express something we don’t necessarily understand. I have spent pretty much my entire career selling words and continue to do so. Not every one of those years or articles or projects has been an unmitigated thrill and so many times I sit down and stare blank and empty at the page or screen. There is also the contact problem: making contact with the chair, the keyboard, the mouse, whatever. But we keep on doing it, because we have no choice. We keep on writing, because we cannot do anything else to ease some wayward screw in our heads back into place. We keep on writing because without it, the world cannot make any sense to us. And that isn’t the same as making sense of the world.

    Passion is often seen as something intense, shortlived, irrational, wild, crazy even. But passion is much more complex because it is about what we cannot rationalise, the intangible, the indescribable and fleetingly knowable. Except its fleeting nature is what keeps us coming back for more, like gin and all those other marvellous intoxicants that lead us elsewhere from ourselves.

    I have no faith in the merits of social media, which mostly seems to me either a vanity or some sort of malign voyeurism. This means I do not take it seriously enough. That noisy social media world is exactly that: noisy. It’s mostly irrelevant for most of the people who inhabit these curious digital lands. If you have found a place in it, that could be a good thing for you, providing comfort, reassurance that someone hears you, listens, responds even. It’s that stimulation and response thing again (see sex and gin). But if you’re looking for affirmation, for understanding, trust, the world of social media isn’t necessarily an ideal world to inhabit. That said, you’re communicating in a meaningful way with the other inhabitants in your space, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. This only matters if you want to keep doing it, but I suspect you probably do because if you stop you will miss it and be without the community you have built, unable to reach it any more, reluctantly abandonning your readers.

    I am not sure if this is helpful or not, but perhaps the answer lies in reading even more selfishly. Say no when you feel like it and only review the books for which you have something meaningful to share. And who cares if the picture doesn’t really work. You did nothing wrong because there is no right or wrong, there is only the work that you have produced. If it means something to someone other than you, that is huge, fuel for your confidence and for the next piece.

    This has turned out to be much more serious than I intended and longer. (Sorry can’t help it!) The point is that you’re doing fine and book blogging is clearly a passion that has an important role in your life. Turn your back on it and you’ll probably be miserable. But maybe a less tight embrace, a bit more teasing and fussiness will help you rekindle that passion and excitement.

    Like

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