Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wilt


I'm all blogged out... This is the first post for a month, when I've been averaging two a week all year. I just suddenly didn't have anything to say, and no motivation to even think about it.

I'm suffering from a bad attack of the blogging blues. They don't appear out of nowhere of course. They creep up on you insidiously over a period of time. In my case they were triggered by the recent problems at Blotanical (triggered you understand, not caused.) My already somewhat pathetic stats plunged, and I missed a goal I'd set myself by a mile. And at a certain point it didn't seem worth it any more ...


I ploughed on. But I wasn't just blogged out, I was balconied out too. Since the beginning of the autumn I've barely set foot out there. Whole containers got attacked by downy mildew and I just sat and watched. Plants wilted from lack of water and I just thought I'll do it tomorrow. Temperatures plunged and I just left plants out and uncovered. Whaat ??! This isn't like me. These are my babies ...



But if I wasn't working on the balcony, then there was nothing to write about it. My posts were getting more and more general. Where was the blog going? What was I trying to achieve?

The underlying cause was probably a nasty dose of overwork - when you're already spending twelve hours a day writing at the computer, and still missing deadlines, an hour spent blogging neither seems justified nor particularly appealing.

But it doesn't seem to be going away, so where do I go from here? I've been seriously thinking of closing down the blog all together. And I see I'm not the only one. Several blogs I follow have closed, or at least changed direction recently. Does there come a time when you've just been there, done that and it's time to move on? I've been blogging for over two years now,and the blogosphere has changed radically in that period. At the beginning it was cosy. Now it sometimes feels like a jungle ...

In the last couple of days one or two nice things have happened which have made me rethink. Should I try changing direction too? Go for more of a how-to approach and monetarise the blog? Broaden out and add a second topic? Redo the template and the layout ? Would that give me the impetus to start up again?

To those of you who do follow the Balcony Garden, whether regularly or occasionally, thank you. Without your comments I'd have stopped long ago. And I'd love some advice. Have you ever had the blogging blues? How did you get through it? What would you do with the Balcony Garden if you were me? How could I improve it, and make it more fun - both for me and for you ?



22 comments:

Patrick said...

Really, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Every year at about this time, the readership of my blog goes down sharply too. In the past month it's dropped more than 30%. If you look in my archives at past years around this time, you'll see I've gone wild posting thinking my readership would disappear if I didn't do something about it.

Even in the southern hemisphere people's gardens aren't doing anything interesting because it's too early in the spring and of course here in the north we are all entering winter. No one is thinking about blogging now.

Beginning about February there will be lots of people planning their gardens, and a whole new round of new garden bloggers entering the fold.

Even if you need to take a few months off, I wouldn't give up completely just because your numbers are dropping now. It's just the wrong time to be expecting a lot of readers.

I Wet My Plants said...

I know what you mean about gardening depression. I just recently emerged from a gardening funk that lasted 5 months. My advice is not to get too worked up over how you are feeling right now and what that means for your blog and your balcony gardening. Take however long you need to start getting excited again - no one is going anywhere and your readers will be glad you are back when you are good and ready. It's like a mini holiday and when you start blogging again, all your friends are there, cheering you on. I had three comments after my first post in 5 months - that was very encouraging.

Find happiness in small gardening things, like the taste of a fresh tomato, the shape of a well-made tool, or the changing of the season. Here in Canada, we're entering our winter season, gearing up for spring. Of course, I had to start getting excited about gardening at the end of the growing season, but hey, I'm looking forward to next year, new catalogs and my second year at wintersowing. It's in the dead of winter, when they're calling for yet another 20 cm of snow, that I find comfort in blogs like yours. I can day dream about growing seedlings again and get excited about spring and summer when I read about other people gardening in warmer climates than mine.

So, take a break if you need it. Readers will find you when you come back.

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

I hear you, and I'm right there with you.

March 2007, I started my blog as a way to let my son (attending archaeology grad school in London) know what was happening in the garden. I didn't join any groups, didn't care about stats -- it was a family thing -- that people started reading.

Late August this year, I had the blogger blues -- I was really going to go full-force and crank it up, or shut it down.

I've been going full force (I'm retired from my tech career), joining all the "groups"; writing daily; interviewing people; taking photos; going on daytrips. In other words, I made blogging a full-time job as a reporter/writer.

Monetizing hasn't paid to date, and I did put ads on there from the beginning in 2007 since I was using free stuff (like blogger). I'm grateful for the free technology.

I just don't think gardeners are a group of clickers. I joined Amazon...4% of sales...$1.20 so far in commission. I've now been able to select a few advertisers...not a click.

I syndicated my blog. However, only the top 100 blogs in the syndicate get paid each quarter. Those are the guys who write about finances, computers, cars, and sports! They are getting my pay because they are so popular and look commericalized (big time)!

My blog articles that the newspapers are publishiing are being paid to the syndicate. I'm just not getting the money unless I break into the leaderboard and I don't think a garden blogger can catch up with the guys because we don't have a big enough audience.

However, I've built credentials -- I've been writing (for employers) my entire life as just one aspect of my jobs (and those were high-paying jobs).

Other garden writers are trying to help me get paying contracts.

So...I'm at a crossroads again. For all those blog articles that I've written and published, I'm a retiree living on savings because our 401k plans are sinking fast. I've got to soon make another decision. Go back to a technical management job or keep going with the writing and try to make a little money doing it.

Sorry for the long comment, but you asked!

Cameron
PS -- I think if I was blogging about my career area --software, technology and marketing, I'd have made a lot of money.

compost in my shoe said...

Passion for your subject should not be forced. If you do this for yourself and not others than give yourself the time to do other things and the rest will come when the time is right. I write for myself and for the opportunity to play with my photography...if someone else wants to go there and there will always be people out there, fine, if not, I will keep doing it. I also think it is important to me to keep up with others out there who one follows. Hang for a spot and all will present itself......cheers

Cameron (Defining Your Home) said...

I realized that I just answered your questions about monetizing a blog (which I stated isn't working).

Here's my emotional side:

I love to write, but I don't like "talking" about my own garden all the time. However, if I can pass along helpful information...I'm happy.

I've found my joy from writing about, and featuring, others who are gardeners or artists inspired by gardens. The folks that I've featured have been thrilled to be on my little old blog! :-)

That's a great reward...making other people happy.

Also, I love writing about North Carolina. I love where I live, it's a great place.

So, my blogging is for fun and for others. If I keep that in mind I'm rewarded.

HAPPY gardening and HAPPY blogging!
Cameron

Roses and stuff said...

I'm sorry to hear that you might consider closing down the blog. But I can understand the feeling, in a way...however, giving the blog a rest for a little while, might help you to decide what to do. I hope to find new posts here soon.
Katarina

nancybond said...

Well, you're still on my list of Favs, Sue and I'm delighted to see your post again...and sorry that you might not stay. I would certainly enjoy reading anything you write -- as you know, I'm a balcony/container gardener too, right now, and it's a challenge to come up with topics that are somewhat interesting, now that the pots have been emptied and such. But, all nature is my garden and I don't have to travel far to find a lovely tree, or a snowy landscape, or an icy brook, and so on. I'm betting you're surrounded by things that the rest of us would find fascinating. :-) Hoping you stay...

GardenJoy4Me said...

Sue .. my goodness girl ! We all go through that type of thing I think. I know I have felt like I am dragging ridiculous subject matter out to blog with .. I mean really .. did you see my last post on my gargoyles ? LOL
It is hard when you are working so much on the computer as it is .. and this time of year for us in the Great White North .. well .. it sucks .. our gardens are under frost or snow or both .. I was eyeing more African violets today .. I just know what is going to happen while hubby is in Cuba .. more house plants !! haha
Try not to put yourself under pressure like that .. take a break from it all and do not feel guilty .. and don't make stats a major point of your blogging .. I know what you mean about how it has all seemed to change into a jungle out here .. I feel like that too .. but then I realize that I started my blog for me .. not for a popularity contest .. do what makes you feel happy and relaxed .. to hell with the rest of it !! LOL
Joy

chaiselongue said...

You've been blogging longer than I have, so I'm not sure I can advise you, but every time I post, I think: that's it, I won't want to write about anything again - it's the same when I write a poem. But a few days or so later something else happens that I want to write about ... so I'm sure you'll want to write again. If the balcony isn't inspiring you, how about writing more about Milan - the 'view from the balcony', perhaps? I'd find that interesting and I'm sure others would too.

And there are so many important gardening- and food-related issues to think and write about - local food, slow food (two issues which concern me particularly, but you'll have others) and so on.... Photos of your local markets, perhaps?? Take a break maybe, but don't stop!

patientgardener said...

I have only been blogging since Feburary but sometimes I cant think of things to say and I do feel pressurised. A month or so ago I was under a huge pressure at work and found myself worrying because I hadnt done a post - how ridiculous! I started my blog as a way of recording what happens in my garden but also as a way of meeting other like minded people. I started in the winter when the garden was quite and life wasnt to hectic - it was a way of passing time. I put up a post saying I would be busy for a while and this took the pressure off, it also gave me a chance to reengage with the blogs that I had enjoyed reading and hadnt had time to read and to discover others. I think you shouldnt be so hard on yourself and think about why you started blogging in the first place. Its your blog and if you decide to stop then thats fine too. You will still be able to continue in Blotanical just like Syliva does but without the pressure. You could just hibernate your blog until you feel your batteries have recharged.

Scattered Gardener said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling blue. I read your piece about Virginia Creeper just a couple of days ago and it really cheered me up. Autumn can be a really lowering time of year as the light falls and evenings draw in, especially if you've been indoors working long hours.
Raking up the autumn leaves helped me the other day as it was a lovely sunny afternoon. Hope you'll have a good weekend.

Sue said...

Hi Sue! Thank you for leaving me a welcome message to Blotanical. I have seen that you are one of the most favored or read blogs. I was surprised by this post. It looks like you got some good comments here. I am so new to blogging still, that I was just telling my husband today, that I just keep thinking of things to blog about. I have a mental waiting list, and some pics taken, waiting for their turn.

This whole thing is quite time consuming, though, and almost feels like an addiction at the moment. Cameron, who I met on a garden forum in ivillage and a couple others encouraged us to read their blogs and to try our hand at it. I love posting pictures so much, that I decided to have a go at it. I didn't know who I was writing to or for, and have to admit I look at my stat counter every day. At this point, I think I do write to communicate with others. I do not consider myself a writer, but like to talk, so I'm "talking" through my writing. I think I am going to put something like that on my blog.

Anyway, Sue, in looking at your blog, I thought it excellent, and want to come back when I'm not watching my ill 10 month old grandson. He's happy for the moment, playing on the floor next to me. I would love to see more of the area you live in as well.

Chandramouli S said...

I understand about the readership going down, but just hang in there it'll improve drastically. Sometimes your audience would seem so unpredictable, but you need to hang on and wait patiently.
A change would certainly do the trick mainly for yourself. If need be, change your balcony garden too (of course if your wallet allows it ;)). Add some cute little sculptures to perk up your balcony that'd also perk up your mood.
Please don't give - this is a humble request from your fan - people so experienced and so talented like you can't afford to. Blocks and blues would come to everyone and to some it attacks with a terrible face, but fight it and come out renewed. May be take a break and come back but please, pretty please don't stop it!
Cheers!

LadyLuz said...

Hi Sue. I was doing my usual Sunday morning thing and popping over to visit you and was surprised to read about your blogging blues. I can completely relate to your feelings for I had them myself, as you well know. Even though I intended to close my gardening blog, I found myself creeping back over to add something (and it was a delight to have your encouraging message recently).

It's funny, but as soon as I started my Everything and Nothing blog, there were things to say about the garden. I put that down to the pressure coming off to say something regularly. I've never bothered much about statistics though I love to see who around the world has visited.

I've loved your blogs where you've written about Italy, its architecture, customs etc. Knowing how busy you are, I've been full of admiration for what you've achieved on your balcony. It's a dormant garden time for you now so you can look around and blog about anything you like - you write so well I'm sure we'll all find it interesting.

I've been marvelling at Colin and Carol's blog in N. Spain (http://mediterraneangarden.blogspot.com/ as they've stepped up their posts recently on all kinds of topics. Chaiselongue's advice is great - most of us love reading about produce and recipes in other regions.

So I hope your mood lifts and you can get enthused about diversifying.....don't disappear entirely, eh!

Hugs
Pam

casalba said...

If it's any consolation, I've only just started following your site relatively recently and added you to my sidebar during, what I now realise, was your 'off season'.

Since then, when I want to know more about a plant, I check out if you've covered it - as well as searching the net and my gardening books.

My advice would be: ignore the stats and don't set yourself blogging targets. Just do it for yourself and enjoy. Take the time you need. Best wishes, Sally

Sue Swift said...

Hi Everyone,

Thank you. A big thank you. I've been overwhelmed by the number of you who have taken the time to write, and by the length of your comments. Not to mention the compliments. I was hoping for a few encouraging remarks to give me a bit of a push, but didn't expect anything like this. And it's worked - not only am I feeling far more positive, but the block seems to have lifted. I've had four ideas for posts in the last 24 hours.

It may take me a while to get them up - work still dominates. But I'm determined to carve out some time at least once a week to write, probably Saturdays. If I can only get one post done, that's all that will go up. If I manage two, then the second will go up midweek. They may be a bit shorter than normal, not so many photos maybe, and yes - I'll probably take up some of your suggestions and extend the blog a little bit to other topics.

The threat of snow tonight also got me back out on the balcony today, to tidy up and cover up. And I had a wonderful time.

Thank you all once more. In 24hrs I've gone from feeling completely down to being enthusiastic again. I'm crossing my fingers that it will last, but I suspect that the fact that I actually got round to writing that post yesterday was already a sign that I was ready to come back - even if it wasn't till I read your comments that I realised it. I'll be over to all your blogs to say thank you personally soon.

quu said...

I have bloggin blues in nearly every summer and that blue often comes to effect gardening too. Too much to do and so little time to do so..

Biggest blogging blues I got when I deleted the whole blog - so it went couple of years of my gardening life, or so I feld. So don't stop writing..or delete the blog even.

I just wanted to say - write from your heart and if you don't feel like writing, do something else what you enjoy. Or write of something that you really like!

We don't forget you if you decide taking few non-blogging time :)

We have such a winter storm now!

Hugs,
quu

Maggie said...

I have a personal blog with nothing on it, oh well one day!
But I do like to read and comment on what others are doing.
Questions! I reckon more bloggers could just ask their readers questions.
Most of us love to chat about what we are growing, eating, cooking or doing!
Bloggers articles disappear so new readers rarely would go back and read everything, I think it is a good idea to bring back your favourite older posts.
Often our ideas have changed and the posts can be updated or re written. Have fun.

Fern said...

I think every blogger gets writer's block, or just plain bored with blogging, from time to time. You've gotten great advice from the commenters above me, and have some good ideas of your own, so the only thing I will add is don't say "I'm closing the blog" even if you decide to stop blogging. That way, if you decide to change your mind, the door is still open.

Anyway, I hope you do decide to continue writing here, you're one of the few garden bloggers who has the same sort of gardening conditions I do! No huge beds and rolling acres of land. Just a small hardscape to fill with pots and hanging baskets.

Green thumb said...

Dear Sue, let me start by confessing that I adore your blog, your writing and views are always a delight to read.
I guess these blogging blues are very very real for every blogger existing. Garden blogging is basically a fun activity, and most of us include other happenings in our lives in our blog too.
I personally feel an emotional bond developing with my fellow bloggers. At times I become very irregular in my postings, several times I fail to leave a comment as I cannot think of right words, but despite all that the fact that I have a blog and that I will be writing a post, sooner or later, allows me to feel like a member of this fraternity. Similarly the thought that one of my blogger friends is contemplating closing the blog is depressing. Please take your time to write a post, just leave a hello if you cannot think of anything more, post about anything under the Sun, but for heaven's sake do not close it; for me it will be like loosing a friend...

kompoStella said...

uh, it's hard to find new words after all the amazing, heart felt and positive comments you've received. i'll join the chorus and say that
a) i hope you'll stay around as you are one of my faves too.
b) only post when you feel up to it, having to do anything is never fun and surely not stimulating the creative flow.
c) it's great the way it is, The Balcony Garden.

thank you for blogging, Sue!

Lucy said...

Not much more to add here! So much has already been said!

About Blotanical - I really like it but I also wonder if it can be a bit restricting, maybe making you feel obliged to talk about gardening when you might, possibly, feel like a bit of a change. Sometimes it is refreshing to wander off piste.

This may especially be the case with a balcony gardening blog. As someone who is a total failure at container gardening of any sort (beyond scented geraniums on indoor windowsills) I'm amazed that such a blog can exist at all! You have so much to say about it . . . but your interests are bound to be wider . . .

And when you feel low (the photos made me feel sad, just to see them) perhaps that wider part of your mind would enjoy expressing itself . . . as some of the other commenters have said . . . we come into contact with each other through a common interest in gardening . . . then we get interested in the writers themselves, their lives and their other interests.

Best wishes . . . and I'm glad to see from your own comment that you may be feeling a little perked up already. Hope so - and that, if so, it continues and that you feel better and better and better and . . . .

Lucy

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