July 11, 2019

Can We Take a Break from Online? (& Blogiversary Winners!)

Close up of an ESC key on a keyboard with text: Do You Ever Just Want To...

Yay! Tomorrow marks the official nine-year mark for my blog. *whew* I made it…even though the past few years made that milestone a bit questionable.

On my post announcing my annual Blogiversary Contest, we had enough comments to earn two winners. Woo hoo! But I always struggle with the part where selects the winners because I wish I could give everyone a prize.

In fact, we ended up within rounding distance of having enough comments for three winners, so I’m going ahead and awarding a bonus third winner because I just can’t help myself. Yay! *grin*

I’ve said it before, and I really mean it. You’re the reason I blog, and I appreciate you all so much. Thank you!

Before we get into announcing the winners, I want to share something I’ve been thinking about this week: What does it mean to go offline in our super-connected world?

The Importance of Being Online

Depending on our age/generation, background/circumstances, or interest, we might spend only limited time online, or we might spend virtually all our waking hours online. So the prospect of spending time offline can mean different things to each of us.

As we talked about last time, our connection to the writing community can be a lifeline. Online connections might include readers we’re trying to promote to, our editor/publisher that we owe information to, or our best friends that we need to vent to for preserving our sanity.

In other words, we often have too many responsibilities and competing interests to completely unplug. But I have known several writers and published authors who have gone on social media and/or blogging hiatus.

The Importance of Balance

At the same time that we often need our online connections, we can be overwhelmed by our online lives. Many a writer has lost chunks of writing days to online procrastination.

What's the right balance between being overwhelmed and being connected? Click To TweetWe can drown in email and social media notifications. We can burn energy and time following the harrowing ups and downs of the news cycle. And we can follow vaguely book-research-related rabbit holes into hours’ worth of time suck.

There’s a reason many writers use apps or programs to limit internet access for hours at a time to help them focus. The internet can be a constant distraction, so we do need a way to balance our need for connections with our need to focus.

Can a Hiatus Help?

Sometimes the right balance for us might mean taking a hiatus from all non-critical internet usage. Depending on our situation, that might include social media, blogging, or even email.

From watching those who have taken a hiatus, the results seem to be mixed. Some come back refreshed and energized, and others come back and feel even more overwhelmed at the thought of trying to catch up.

Any analysis of what makes the difference is made more complicated by the varying styles of hiatuses I’ve seen—everything from frequent “cheating” to temporarily deleting accounts. Some even set expectations that any communications during their time away will be ignored and essentially sent to a black hole (meaning they have no intention of “catching up”), but when a hiatus includes an email component, that attitude seems extreme and potentially unprofessional to me.

No, I’m Not Going on Hiatus…

I’ll admit I’ve been tempted sometimes, but no, I’m not going on hiatus. *grin* My email inbox is a disaster on the best of days already, so I’m far too afraid that I’d fall into that “feel even more overwhelmed” camp.

However, I’ve been thinking about our offline options because I will be mostly offline for the next week and half. My family is taking a camping trip into some of the most remote areas of the country, and I’m guessing there won’t be cell coverage. *smile*

(How remote will we be? For two of the days, we’ll be 4-wheeling 60 miles from the nearest paved road and 30-50 miles from the nearest dirt road. So…yeah, pretty remote, but I hope to share pictures on Instagram as I get signal.)

Here’s also hoping we stay safe, and that I don’t have any (more) health complications. (In addition to the nerve damage in my feet flaring up with shooting pain, I sprained my ankle two weeks ago. *sigh*)

In other words, I won’t be checking social media or email for the next week and a half. But don’t worry—my blog here will still be active, as I have two fantastic guest posters filling in for me. *grin*

Blogiversary Contest Winners!

And now, the part you’ve all really been waiting for… *drum roll* the winners from my 9th Annual Blogiversary Contest!

Carol Heap

And the Bonus Winner…


Congratulations to you all! You should receive an email from me within the next day, so start thinking about what prize you want. Should I be worried? *smile*

Have you ever taken a break (or considered taking one) from being online? If so, did you have a particular reason? How long and extensive was your break? How did it turn out for you (would you do it again)? Do you have any advice for others considering a break?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Amanda J Evans

I took a break while I was holidays at the end of June and only came back to work this week. It was amazing and exactly what I needed. I wasn’t out of contact but I did leave my phone in the safe during the day and didn’t take it out with me at all. I had scheduled time off from client work so I didn’t have to think about that and I’d given myself a break from my own writing schedule too. There was no thinking about deadlines, story ideas, agent submissions, rejections, etc. It was absolute bliss and it made me realise how much time I spend stressing over these things. The break from social media was good too and I was surprised to see that I hadn’t really missed anything. Sometimes the pressure to compare myself to others and seeing how well they are doing on social media can make me doubt myself so a break was well worthwhile and something I intend to do at least once a year.

Star Ostgard
Star Ostgard

I go online “socially” only when I need a ‘coffee-break’ from real-life/writing. That’s not to say I don’t spend a good amount of time online – I run a website connected to my hobby and I do a LOT of story research online, as well as using it for more mundane chores. But the social aspect is something I’ve basically walked away from after realizing a few years ago that I was almost anxious if I didn’t check the various writing forums every HOUR. Amazingly, I found that not only didn’t I miss it, I have no urge to go back it, either. There are ever so many nicer and/or more productive ways to spend my time. (Yeah, I’ll be a publisher’s nightmare with my troglodyte attitude!)

Marcy Kennedy

I haven’t ever given up being completely online, but I did stop blogging. I also stopped using social media for a long time. I even cut down significantly on the number of blogs etc that I tried to keep up with as a reader. It was the best decision I’ve made when it came to my career, my stress level, and finding the time I needed to take care of health problems (both mine and other members of my family). I didn’t miss blogging or social media. I didn’t miss the pressure of always needing to be “on.” And I learned some things. I found out that I’d been giving a large chunk of my writing time, and some of my best creative energy, to writing blog posts and coming up with social media content rather than writing books. Since I quit blogging in early 2017, I’ve published 12 novels under a pen name. I don’t think I could have done that had I also been trying to maintain my blog. I’ve communicated with my readers though a newsletter, and I like that more personal one-on-one feel. I did find I missed connecting with other writers, and so I started to use Facebook again for that purpose. I’m also starting to get back to using Facebook to grow an audience just this year, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to blogging regularly again. I also don’t ever want to get to the place again where I feel like…  — Read More »

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