Strap in friends, it’s going to get real honest up in here.
I try my best to be positive and happy across my various blogging platforms because a) we all love books and we all turn to blogging & reading as an escape from real life and b) I don’t necessarily want my negativity to trigger other people. However I thought writing up this blog post would be a good idea, both to get my thoughts out and to provide a little support if any of you are going through the same thing (I’m always here to talk if you need me!).
Recently, Bookstagram (my primary book blogging platform other than WP) has been leaving me in a pretty, for lack of a better term, shitty place. I started Bookstagramming more than a year ago when I was on break from uni, both as a way to cure my boredom and to talk about books with other people who love them. Now, I don’t regret my decision – most of my friends in real life are not big readers and because of blogging, I have met some of the loveliest people on this planet, who share so many of the same passions that I do. It also helped me grow as a person – I always thought of myself as more of a practical person rather than a creative one and Bookstagram proved me wrong, opening up so many more opportunities for me. So basically I really, truly love Bookstagram and blogging and the community that has welcomed me with open arms.
However, despite the positive, I felt myself focusing on all the negative and it started hitting me really hard. After the introduction of the Algorithm by Instagram, all of my stats took a hit. I was gaining followers only a fraction above the amount I was losing them, my pictures weren’t getting as many likes, I was getting less comments and interaction overall was down. I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a really dark place where I was fixated on all these figures and I was taking photos based on what I thought other people would like, not for myself. Because of this, I grew really unhappy with my photos and my feed and this unhappiness was affecting all parts of my life, not just my blogging. I started posting less and less due to lack of motivation, from two photos a day to about two a week (if that), which in turn made me stress out even more. I had all these expectations built up around how my pictures should look, how well my account should be doing etc. and eventually, I caved under the pressure of them all.
To add to my problems with Bookstagram, the amount of books that I had to read (particularly those from publishers) were piling up and it was becoming impossible for me to review all of them. Beyond that, it left no time for me to read books that I actually wanted to read without feeling more than a little guilty. And when I tried telling people in real life about it, I felt so ungrateful that I had the privilege of getting books for review and I was complaining about it. All in all, for about two months, nothing to do with blogging was appealing to me anymore. I didn’t want to stop because I had loved it so much but I also did not want to keep on going forward in the same mental state that I was in.
For me to have such negative feelings towards blogging – something I started as a way of having fun – was such an eye opener. For my sanity, I decided I just needed to take a step back and reevaluate everything. Below are a few things that really helped me get through this little period of my life and I thought I would share them with you. Obviously, different things work for different people and I’m not saying that they are permanent fixes either but, as I said, they worked for me and hopefully they can help you as well.
1. TAKE A STEP BACK
Stop. Breathe. Relax.
Sometimes the only way to do things better is to take a break from them first. I found that taking a break from posting photos and writing blog posts was really beneficial to my mental health and in the end, that’s what matters first. Take this break to do things you’ve been putting off or just take it as time to recharge. Hey, maybe even venture out in to the mystical world that is the outdoors. Or do something a little less drastic and binge watch the High School Musical movies in bed. Whatever works for you, do something that you enjoy and you’ll find that everything gets a little easier to manage.
2. REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED BLOGGING
If things start feeling like a chore, you know you are doing something wrong. It all depends on why you started blogging in the first place – remember what that is and see if it still brings happiness to your life. When I started Bookstagramming, I honestly never thought I would have come this far and focusing on that helped a lot – people do like my content and I just have to remember that when I start to think that nobody does. When you feel like you’re running out of creativity, try to not be so hard on yourself; don’t try to pressure yourself into filling up this strict quota you have placed on yourself and instead, try to have a little fun.
3. STOP COMPARING YOURSELF WITH OTHERS
This is a BIGGIE. Nothing good is ever going to come from looking at other accounts and thinking “hey, why are they getting more interaction than me” or “why can’t I take photos as pretty as that?”. Take photos for you, first and foremost, and you’ll find yourself liking what you do a lot more. Obviously there are going to be times when you hate everything that you write and that you take. But there are also going to be times when you love your content – focus on these times! When you are loving what you do, tell people about it! Never be ashamed to love the results of the effort that you put into your content.
Also, I see a lot of people who get discouraged on Bookstagram because they can never own as many books as someone else, or they are forced to borrow books because space/money constraints prevent them from doing otherwise. You know what? Don’t worry about “expectations” or the supposed “guidebook for Bookstagramming”. You do you and don’t be apologetic for it! If you want to borrow books? Then snap the hell out of those library book hauls. Readers are readers no matter how they read and the book community will love and support you for it (and if the select few don’t, well you don’t need them in your life anyway).
4. FOCUS ON THE GOOD THINGS
As I was mentioning above, some of the people who I have met through blogging have literally been my literal life savers, even if they aren’t aware of it. Twitter has actually brought so many people into my life and just knowing that they are there for me to talk to is such a relief. I’m not going to say much more (possibly because I am starting to tear up and I really need to finish this blog post) but I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have brought such positivity and happiness to my life (especially in the last few months when I really needed it) ❤
Another thing I find that helps me a lot is replying to comments. It’s just really therapeutic to me and the positive comments on my pictures and the occasional DM’s that I get are so filled with kindness and remind me why I blog in the first place. If you have a spare moment, go leave a nice comment on someone’s post – I promise it will make them feel amazing and it could actually be doing more good than you realise!
They say acceptance is the first step to solving any problem and this isn’t any different (even though it’s number 5 in the list but we are just going to ignore that). Disappointments and setbacks are inevitable when you do anything in life. It’s the way you go about getting through them that turns them into learning experiences instead of experiences that debilitate you. Trying to put extra pressure on yourself when that really isn’t what you need is not going to do you any favours. Accept that you need to take some time away – the book blogging community is still going to be there when you get back! I find that “going with the flow” is really helpful sometimes – if feel like you can’t post photos everyday or maybe want to focus on something else instead, just go for it!
Right now, I’m in a better place. I’ve stopped requesting books because I want to be able to read the ones that I want to without feeling guilty and I’ve started taking photos again for Bookstagram with a focus on doing things that make me happy.
I’ve also started traditional blogging a lot more (as you may have realised from the influx of posts this week) because it has started to make me a lot more (warning: weird word choice upcoming) satisfied. It feels a lot more personal to me and also makes me really proud of myself so, for now, I am going with the flow.
I hope this post has helped any of you that are going through the same thing that I am. If you need to talk, send me a DM on Twitter or IG (@headinherbooks) or leave me a comment and I will definitely get back to you. Just remember that you are strong enough to get through this!
Until next time,