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June 16, 2020

Overwhelmed? What Do You Do? My Blog Announcement…

Row of kettlebell weights with text: Weighed Down by Too Many Responsibilities?

I’ve often posted about how we should be kind to ourselves. That might mean ignoring advice that doesn’t work for us or giving ourselves a break if we struggle with deadlines or the many demands of our lives.

Especially in the current environment, it’s been exceedingly difficult for many to focus and get things done. So of course we might find it extra hard to balance our day jobs, family/home life, and our writing life. That tricky balancing act doesn’t even account for if we’re taking care of others or have chronic health issues ourselves.

If we’re not careful with our time and energy, we can burn out or suffer serious consequences. So yes, every once in a while, we need to evaluate our workload and see whether we need to gift ourselves with time or by reprioritizing our many responsibilities.

Over the past few years, I’ve mentioned my many struggles to follow this advice. *smile*

Note to Self: Follow Your Own Advice

For the last several years here, I’ve talked about my multiple recent health issues—and how each one came with complications that created life-long chronic problems. From a bone-disintegrating infection in my jaw and too-many-surgeries-to-count to a deadly intestinal infection turning everything I ate into poison and nerve damage preventing me from walking for months at a time, the past few years have been brutal for me.

Many of you have marveled at how I managed to keep up with this blog, posting (mostly) new content every Tuesday and Thursday. (Answer: Over-achieving perfectionism with a huge dose of stubbornness *grin*)

What can we do if we're overwhelmed with responsibilities? Click To TweetI’ve also shared here that I’ve been on the verge of burnout for a while due to all those problems. I had hoped the fact that my chronic health issues are now at a “maintenance” stage (for the most part…as I mentioned the other week, I recently had another nerve issue keeping me from walking again) would reduce that feeling.

Then our house flooded last November, and we had to essentially move out for three months of reconstruction. In February, we finally got to move back in—and spend way too much time dealing with insurance—but surely March would be better, right? *cue COVID-19 spasms of laughing-crying*

My Attempts to Re-Prioritize

I’ve also confessed that this blog was a huge factor in my burnout. Each post takes me far-too-many hours to write and edit, and despite my best efforts, I frequently find myself staying up until 3:00 a.m. to finish a post before it’s scheduled to go live.

About two years ago, I announced that I’d try to change the structure of my Thursday posts (so I’d at least have only one massively-long post a week), but I’ve had mixed results. Short posts have always been difficult for me, and it’s only gotten worse as I learn more about writing. Maybe I’ve learned so much about writing over the past ten years that I now have too much knowledge in my head to write a short post. *smile*

Between the burnout and hours spent on this blog, my fiction writing has taken an unfortunate back seat lately. In addition, my family has been understandably frustrated by my crazy sleep schedule and blogging obligations.

Yet at the same time, I never wanted to abandon this blog—or all of you. I still love helping writers and talking about writing craft and publishing.

About a year ago, I hit upon an answer…

Announcement: New Blogging Schedule!

The problem isn’t this blog or my long posts. The problem is the strict Tuesday/Thursday schedule I’ve kept for ten years that turned this blog into an obligation.

So last year about this time, I decided that my 10-year blogiversary milestone would also mark the end of my regular blogging schedule. That milestone is coming up next month, on July 12th.

In other words, for my 10-year blogiversary, I’m giving myself the gift of time and freedom. Not forcing myself to stick to a certain blog publishing schedule will let me reprioritize my time for real.

What Does This Change Mean?

Yes, this blog will still exist. *smile* Not only will this website with all its 1000+ posts stick around, but I’ll also still be writing new posts to add to the knowledge base here.

However, the publication of new posts won’t be on any type of schedule. Some weeks I won’t publish any posts, and other weeks I might publish one or two.

What Posts Will Be Added?

In addition to the strict schedule I’ve had, the other stressful aspect of this blog has been trying to think of new post topics every few days. Now, when I think of topics I haven’t addressed before (including when there’s industry news), I’ll work on a post as I have time. (No more 3:00 a.m. bedtimes to meet an arbitrary deadline! *grin*)

If people contact me with writing questions, I often turn those answers into new posts as well, and that option will continue. (So feel free to keep the questions coming!) Also, I’ll still share guest posts from other writers when I think they can bring valuable information to all of us here, and I’ll continue to add worksheets and other resources as I get inspired.

No Schedule? How Can We Know When There’s a Post?

This new “schedule” won’t start until after my official 10-year blogiversary in mid-July, but I’m letting everyone know about the change now so people can adjust. Those who have had a habit of checking here every Tuesday and Thursday will need a new method of notification for when there’s a new post.

When I do publish a post, I’ll share it on social media, but the best way to ensure you don’t miss a post is to sign up for my blog-post newsletter. That way, you’ll receive each new post (whenever it happens to publish) right in your inbox.

Why Should We Sign Up?

A year ago, I had grand plans for what I’d have done and ready for you all by this milestone. I started work on a big writing-focused project back in November with NaNoWriMo. (If you were paying attention, you might have noticed that I never talked about what I was working on during NaNo…because it’s all hush-hush secret. *grin*)

Then the house flood in November interrupted those NaNo plans, and the whole world has just gone downhill from there. However, I’m hopeful that not having most of my week taken up by writing blog posts (and then zombie-stumbling through the following days after poor sleep) will give me more time to finish said projects. So in addition to knowing when I post, you should sign up for my newsletter to make sure you hear when I have these secret projects ready for you all.

Final Thoughts

When I first started blogging, I wanted to be a writer-who-blogged and not a blogger-who-wrote. At first, I was able to keep that healthier balance, but as my chronic issues grew and I had only limited energy, something had to give. And that “something” turned out to be everything except this blog, as I stubbornly stuck to the schedule I’d established.

Love Jami Gold's blog? Learn how to not miss a post with her new blog schedule... Click To TweetI’m hopeful that removing the obligation of a set schedule will help me overcome the burnout and love blogging again. I’ll be posting for the joy of sharing information with all of you rather than just because I “need” to publish two posts a week.

All that said, I’m still here for you—and I’m still pathologically helpful—so if you have any requests for posts or topics you’d like to see covered, just let me know. Or if there are resources you’d like me to put together, let me know that too.

I’m not disappearing or stopping my personal mission of helping writers along their journey. These secret projects I’m working on are for you too, and I’m just giving up the scheduled aspect of my blog so I can focus on other ways to help writers. I hope you can forgive me. *smile*

Have you ever needed to do a major reprioritization or shift of your focus? Was burnout or other scheduling problems behind the change? How did the change work out for you? Do you have any questions about this announcement? Do you have any wishes or hopes for what the secret projects might be? *grin*

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Anne R. Allen

Wise move, Jami! Like you, I’ve recently hit my 10 year blogiversary. I only post once a week, but posts have come out like clockwork every Sunday at 10 AM for a decade. But as I fight health issues, I’m finding it harder to keep up. So I totally relate.

Bran Ayres
Bran Ayres

I’m very happy to see you taking steps to take care of yourself! As always, if you need anything, I’m just a dm away. ^_^

Elle Love
Elle Love

Hi Jami,
Your blog is a treasure of wisdom. Thanks for sharing your writing knowledge with all of us. I signed up for the notifications of new posts, whenever you get a chance to write them. Take care of you, first. Refill that well. When it overflows, we will be still be here, waiting to learn whatever you wish to teach us.

Thanks for all your help on this writing journey.
Elle

Lisa Hall-Wilson

I’ve had to do this as well. Some months there’s 4-8 posts on the blog, some there aren’t any. The growth is definitely slow, glacial slow at times, but no one has complained and I’ve kept my sanity. Take care of you!

Red L. Jameson

I’m a long-time reader of yours, Jami, and I’m so happy for you! I’m so glad you’re taking this approach to your blogging! I’m so glad you’ll be taking care of yourself! Hugs!
By the way, I’m getting an MFA and you have more information on this one site than anything I’ve learned. You and your site are a treasure, to be sure.
Also, when I was struggling with trying to figure out how to outline a book years ago, I read many of your posts. You inspired me so much to not only keep learning about plot, but also to stick to my intuition’s guns. I write mainly intuitively, and I have far more fun and write faster than when I was trying to outline, which may not be the point of your posts, but they greatly helped me anyway. 🙂 And due to your posts, I wanted to learn why it was I could write intuitively versus outlining. So I did my own neurological research. This is all because of you! You are such an inspiration and I love your posts so much!
I’ll always be a subscriber here. I’ll always be inspired, even if you don’t post. And I’ll always be so grateful for everything you have done and written!
Much love and hugs to you!

Sharon Hughson

*Applauds loudly* Jami, I’m clapping because you’re being wise. You’ve run into the truth that you cannot meet deadlines if you’re dead tired, sick or burned out. It’s a bitter tonic for us Type A perfectionists to swallow. I’m on the upward swing of creative burnout that plagued me for much too long before I accurately diagnosed it (with the help of Becca Syme’s fantastic book DEAR WRITER, ARE YOU IN BURN OUT?) Even then, I was slow to offer myself the grace to reduce my plate size and set realistic goals. Cue cancelled contracts from my publisher and the end of freelance projects thanks to a pandemic, and suddenly, I had nothing to do. I’ve spent the time reevaluating my why and deciding what I want to write now that those romances that practically wrote themselves are coming back to me years ahead of schedule. The first thing I’ve done is cut back my word count expectations. I think I’ve realized I don’t want to be a full-on indie author, too, so that means trying to find a new publisher. This means I’m free to follow a new story idea wherever it takes me. I’ve also found a group of authors to mentor which is amazingly rewarding (even though I often feel like an imposter as their leader). I’ve appreciated your wealth of wisdom, so I want to keep you around. If that means fewer blog posts, so be it. You offer so much value and I consider you…  — Read More »

E J Randolph

Do it. Remember you have a huge collection of writing wisdom on this site that will continue to exist. Nearly every time I read a post, I end up down the rabbit hole reading several more posts. This vast compendium of knowledge continues to exist whether you write many more posts or not. I owe much of my writing knowledge to what I have read on this site. I also owe you for the courage to forge my own way. Thank you.

Gillian Andrews

I commend you for taking control over an overwhelming situation. It takes courage to step back from all the things needed to be a writer nowadays. I struggle myself with all that is expected when all I want to do is be a better writer. And if I were completely honest, I’m glad to have one less weekly post on writing to read. That, in itself, can be overwhelming as well. Taking care of yourself and your family is the most important thing you can do for your writer self.

Theresa Hupp

More power to you, Jami.
I totally understand the pressure of committing to a blogging schedule. It’s both a good discipline and a headache that distracts from other writing projects. I’m trying to decide how to deprioritize my blog which I’ve kept for 8.5 years, but I haven’t made the decommitment yet.
Best wishes, Theresa Hupp

Jim Ross
Jim Ross

Hi, Jami–Proud of you! And happy to be one of your cadre of fans. It’s nice to know more of your signature paranormal critters are coming our way! *Yay!* Remember Audrey II in? First need, then greed. “Feed me Seymour! *lol*….but not maniacally.
All the best,
Jim Ross

Kassandra Lamb

Good for you, Jami! You’ve got to take care of yourself, first and foremost.

I burned out some on blogging about a year and a half ago. We did the same thing you’re doing, only we went from once a week to every other week (and we’re not strict about that). The other misterio authors are pitching in too, which helps. Like you, I was having trouble coming up with new topics all the time.

Also, on our “off” weeks, I sometimes reblog something that caught my eye during the week. Life is much more balanced since we made those changes!

Anne Kaelber
Anne Kaelber

Jami,

It’s as if you read my mind! I was just recently wondering when the next Mythos Legacy book will be out.

A few years back, I had to drop some commitments because I had allowed my “people-pleaser” personality to spend all my spoons on others, leaving little to none for myself. Since then, I have had some life changes which have added challenges. I’ve been able to navigate those life changes and continue making progress, because I was already taking care of myself better.

The beauty of your blog (and why it’s the first resource I share with other writers) is that all the posts are still relevant. The skills you’ve covered in your posts will still be helping other writers for many years to come. If asked, I would say you (and through you, Michael Hauge) have been the most important resource in my quest to write a story that works. I firmly believe that my novella published last fall is a direct result of your blog posts.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all the work you’ve done. I’m glad to see you taking the steps to take care of you. (Bonus for me: I might have time to read down the backlog of posts you’ve written!) Take care of you. And if there’s anything I can do to give you back a helping hand, please ask! (Yeah, I know, one new skill at a time. *wink*)

Anne

Deborah Makarios

Good thinking!
After seven years of blogging, I took a three-month sabbatical and now I just post whenever I have something interesting or amusing to write about. Much less stress.

Jemi Fraser

You take care of you!! That’s the most important thing.

Julie Glover

So glad you’re doing this! As much as I love your blog, I really want to read more novels from you. Take care of yourself. ♥

Candace Colt

Thank you for this important post! And thank you for leading by example. There are only so many hours in the day and days in our lives. If nothing else, this time has been good for reevaluation. I’m right with you! Bravo!

Renee Wittman

Thank you for all of your posts and the effort you’ve put into it – the last thing I want is for you to burn out. You’ve been an amazing help! I’ll be glad to see your posts as they come (I read in my email, so I rarely give you hits, but rest assured I read every one!), and I’m hoping this schedule will be easier on you! 🙂

Dawn

I’m glad you’re still going to keep blogging. Your posts are always so helpful. I don’t mind that you will post a little less. Truthfully, it’s been hard for me to keep up with you anyway. :0)

I have had to reprioritize my life many many times. I’m great at planning and prioritizing. My problem is I can’t seem to stick to a plan for more than a few months. Either something comes up to interrupt it, I get burnt out, or I realize my plan isn’t working.

Eila Jameson-Avey

Hi Jami,
I have to say firstly — it is very important to look after your health, especially your mental health. I speak from experience. I pushed myself too hard, ignoring all the warning signs, and suffered tremendously a year ago. I am still recovering and now have a mental health diagnosis, something I never had before.
But secondly, I have to say your blogs have helped me immensely in believing I can go on, in a different way through writing. Your generosity in sharing your vast knowledge so openly and honestly has given me more than I can express and I now have a publisher interested in my manuscript.
Thank you Jami for all you have done and I look forward to your irregular newsletters knowing that you are happier and healthier for it.

Eila

Anne Greening
Anne Greening

Hi, Jami, I am so glad that you intend to continue with your blog, despite all the challenges you face. I sort of tripped over and fell into writing fiction when I accepted – and aced – the NaNo challenge in 2018. I had been writing for most of my life (anything other than fiction) and thought my experience prepared me to write a novel. I soon discovered that the craft of writing fiction demands much more than merely being able to string a few words together cohesively. What I had written during NaNo was at best a feeble attempt at a first draft.
I started to learn my new trade at the feet of as many internet writing gurus as I could find. None has proved so consistently helpful and down-to-earth as your blog.
Jami, I salute you. Long may you blog (in your own time) .

Sieran

Hey Jami, I’m sorry to hear about the recent flood and some new health issues. 🙁 Amen to getting overwhelmed by life and not being able to keep up. I can’t even keep up with my favorite blogs anymore, and haven’t touched my own blog in… I don’t remember how long. XD But yes, health is so important. I feel bummed that I’m not writing as much as I did before. I used to fret if I didn’t at least write 1000 words a day. Now 1000 words feels like a miracle. Yet, I accepted that if I wanted to take better care of my health, and also spend time doing other life stuff (friend time, Pokemon Go battle tournament time, etc.), then I will have to become much more casual at writing. I still read everyday and write often. But it’s a lot less than before. But this is fine. My publishing and readership goals have always been more on the modest end anyway, lol. You know, I used to think that my lack of ambition when it comes to commercial success, was because I had low self-confidence. But now I realize that my self-confidence is quite high when it comes to writing (not necessarily because I’m “good”, but because I just feel confident, for some reason). I think I just crave a space for some freedom, somewhere I can have fun and explore myself (and my characters) without worrying about what others will think. Most other parts of…  — Read More »

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