Two Hour Blogger

On Marketing and Writing

Sick of Blogging? You Are Not Alone

image of a chess king in checkmate

Do you feel like quitting?

That deep, queasy feeling in your gut – you cannot blame it on salty lunch soup or the gas price. It is not your subscriber rate – you are slowly growing.

It is not that you are unpopular either. They are still talking about that epic post you wrote on Problogger last month. The emails trickle in explaining how your eBook has changed people’s lives.

If you were to ask anyone if you were a good writer, they would swear you were. No question about it, you clearly know how to write.

But the deep, queasy feeling cannot go away. The reason is embarrassing.

You have not written a serious piece of prose in thirteen days

Your most recently published article was pre-written, stored weeks in advance. Nothing fresh has happened in weeks. Sooner or later, your little tribe is going to discover this. If you do not continue writing, you will soon be a “has been.” You feel terrible.

Do not kid yourself, you are a good writer, you have the chops. But after writing the fiftieth blog post, you have become burned out.

Starting your blog was a kick. You picked just the right theme seven times. You wrote the first four posts, finding the perfect featured images to accompany them. You smacked the blue publish button in real time because that was cooler than scheduling. It was a treat, every inch.

For a while things didn’t go over well, but you stayed up till midnight finding the answers. You discovered that guest posting was important to your online success – you started writing for major blogs in your niche. You hit a couple hundred subscribers and felt on cloud nine.

But something bad has happened

Here a few weeks later, you have become downright depressed. You have discovered that this whole online game is a lot more work than most bloggers admit. The only way to earn free traffic is by writing your face off.

You discover that next month’s thousand visitors will only come if you spend hours and hours writing unusually good content.

And you feel like quitting.

The plain truth is that you are sick and tired of writing. You are going to puke if you write another line of pose. It is simply not going to happen. You have writer’s block.

You are not alone

There once was a writer named Adam. He was so annoyed with his financial situation that he and his wife quit their jobs.

They sold all of their possessions till their worldly assets fit into two backpacks, and they left to explore the world. After circling the globe they returned home to a steadily growing income … online.

Adam had started a blog journaling their adventures, focusing on their personal finances. In other words, he became a writer. The story was so fascinating that others followed it. Adam’s blog became popular and he started making money – good money.

Then it happened.

It was a dark and rainy night 6 months ago when, sitting in my office, it happened… burnout. Creative burnout…

I stopped blogging. I stopped talking to my mentors and friends … I played video games. I google’d “how to become a firefighter” … I APPLIED TO WORK AT STARBUCKS (and then skipped the interview when I got called).

You could say I was lost.

Adam was a smart guy. He knew how to write. He made good money.

But he got burned out too. You are not alone.

Burnout happens. Writer’s block happens. It happens to all of us.

How can you fix this?

The best cure is to regain your original vision. Like an athlete running a marathon or a painter brushing an epic mural, you must focus on the goal and stick with it. This requires discipline, and it separates the real writers from those who pretend.

I’m not wearing hockey pants. – Bruce Wayne

There are many wannabe writers who discover they cannot sustain consistent writing. In contrast, “overnight success” stories occur when someone remains in the writing harness for an extended period of time – years of consistent publishing.

Time will prove whether you are a true writer or just a con attracted by the shiny promise of an online lifestyle. Do you have what it takes?

Special thanks to Thoughts About Nothing for inspiring this article and making it a blogging carnival topic.

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36 Replies

  1. Good stuff, man. Thanks for sharing. You’re right — the true test of success in the blogosphere is perseverance. The interesting thing is that the longer you do it, the more the marketplace rewards you. But you have to get thru some significant dips first.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I like how Sonia Simone said it: There aren’t any magic bullets to success other than sticking with it. If you do something consistently over a long period of time, you’ll eventually get somewhere.

  2. This is really good stuff man. Thanks for sharing

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thanks for letting me participate!

  3. I really like this post. In particular, I like:

    “overnight success” stories occur when someone remains in the writing harness for an extended period of time – years of consistent publishing.

    Success usually doesn’t happen overnight and often isn’t linear. And for the one’s who do experience an overnight success, they’d better be darned well ready to sustain that wave. Burnout isn’t necessarily a bad thing because we all need to take mental breaks from time to time. But being able to refocus and recommit after a dry spell is what will determine if this blogging thing is for you.

    I think it is helpful to continue reading while going through a dry spell; reading books, magazines and other blogs so that you can keep your head in the writing/blogging realm. Do you find this to be true?

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Burnout isn’t necessarily a bad thing because we all need to take mental breaks from time to time. But being able to refocus and recommit after a dry spell is what will determine if this blogging thing is for you.

      That’s really well-put. We all have our bad days, but the ability to return to the work is what separates the wheat from the chaff.

      I agree with you. It’s good to continue reading even if you don’t feel like writing. And since I’m a painter, I’ll retreat to my easel and continue the creative process in a different channel. I know photographers who do the same.

  4. Wow. That is me. I am too lazy to write. I even have unpolished drafts just like you said.

    You know what I am just going to finish it, today. Thank you Martyn!
    Have you been in this situation?

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      All the time man! It’s a constant battle.

      That’s our secret, don’t tell anyone. ;)

  5. I never really realized that there was blogging burnout, and I don’t know why I never thought about it. It’s the same creative process, except it’s a constant commitment of time both writing the posts and promoting your blog.

    Seems like that’s something I still have to look forward to.

    Thank you for the article!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Heh well luckily Lee, it usually doesn’t happen unless your blog is part of your business model. If you’re just doing it for fun and it doesn’t matter how often you publish or what you write about, burnout won’t happen.

      On the other hand…

  6. Good post Martyn.

    I had written about this topic and I have submitted my two cents to Thoughts about nothing (hope you don’t mind).

    Writer’s block happens very often. I don’t know if it happens so often in other creative areas. You’re an artist, maybe you can tell us.

    Cristina

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I don’t mind at all – participating is what a blogging carnival is all about!

      Yes, creative block happens in every area, I imagine. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without touching a paint brush. (I tend to get depressed and this doesn’t help either.)

  7. Thanks for calling this topic out of the shadows, Martyn. Well done.
    I find that I tend to feel “blocked” most often when I have stretched myself too thin. I guess I start to shut down. Having realized this about myself, I am much better able to step back and look at all of my commitments at that one moment in time. Is any of them really distasteful to me, and can I get rid of it? Sometimes, I feel like I can’t blog, or can’t accept a new magazine assignment, or can’t imagine working on that new book proposal. But maybe the problem is really another commitment that I don’t find rewarding. I imagine excising that other commitment, and the blogging or magazine writing or book writing tend to fall back into place.

    Nicole

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      You’re right, it’s easy to spread yourself thin. I think you have the right idea – drop stuff you’re not passionate about and focus on your core competencies.

      What magazine are you writing for?

      1. I am a gluten-free cookbook author, so it’s niche publications. Living Without Magazine http://www.livingwithout.com/ and Gluten Free Living http://www.glutenfreeliving.com/. Although they pay so little that at some point I may have to reassess {don’t worry – I know I should do it even if they pay nothing, since it’s much like guest blogging, but I would almost consider it more useful if the magazines were online exclusively instead of print-based primarily}. I really like the editors of both magazines, so for now, I’m happy to do it.

        Nicole

  8. Thanks, man. There is comfort in knowing that you are not the only one feeling this way; you’re not suffering alone. Helps the rest of us get back to the vision and the work that we are called to do.
    Its also nice to see someone being honest, that it’s not all about the profits; its about writing to address needs.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I like what Seth Godin said in his book Tribes. The goal isn’t money, you simply need money to continue the journey.

  9. How true is this post. I have often wondered if the original spark will show again, am I doing this blogging the right way, and am I blogging with the right mind frame. I often go days with out knowing where I am going and want to find the original spark.

    So I take a day or two off and write on a tablet, a bunch of thoughts that need to escape from my head. I also jot down some new financial goals and then head back online.

    I have found out that with proper time off, you will not get burnt out.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      So I take a day or two off and write on a tablet.

      Do you mean an iPad? ;)

  10. kimanzi

    I just started blogging (everydayworkingman.blogspot.com and everydayparentforlife.blogspot.com) and I really appreciate the advice in this post! I immediately became a follower! I’m trying to build an audience for a book that I’ve writen so any advice would be appreciated!

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      You need to get the influencers to link to you. Write lots of guest posts. Network with important people. Attend real-life conferences and connect.

      That’s my best advice.

      1. kimanzi

        I just read your ebook, thank you for making that availiable for free. I will use the principles in that book, so if I make it super big, I’ll send you a million dollars! lol

        1. Martyn Chamberlin

          If you make your million dollars before I do, I’m not going to be happy. :P

  11. “You picked just the right theme seven times.” That’s the best sentence in this post. So true and so funny. :)

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Lol we all do it man. Brian Clark is probably the only blogger in the universe who was smart enough to just pay the bucks for a professional design and forget about it.

  12. Thanks for such an excellent post.

    I do not believe in “overnight success”. I have started my VoIP blog with a friend on Google Blogger blog. But it got deleted by Google with all the contents. Since then we planned for a full fledged blog on our own domain. Before launching our own blog on WordPress, we have studied a lots of stuffs for blog, traffic and wordpress thing. Now we try to write a post every week.

    Thanks once again.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      I agree with you Siraj, there really isn’t such a thing as an “overnight success.” I was being a bit sarcastic. (How about a “twenty-year overnight success?) ;)

  13. Nice post.
    I am just at the beginning…..1 month of blogging, but I hope I can get past this difficult moment when it will put me to a test.

  14. Part of this really resonated with me. I’ve been blogging for almost two years, and writing a weekly memo/newsletter for about seven years. I have a dedicated core of followers who value my product, yet I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m often envious of articles by “true” writers – but in those moments I try to remember that there are elements of my style (and substance) that many people find very valuable and useful.

    In the same way that formally-trained journalists covering my subject matter don’t always get it quite right, I am a subject-matter expert who isn’t formally trained in journalism and writing and so I’m often not as eloquent (or grammatically correct) as others. And that’s okay, it’s just that sometimes I suffer a momentary lack of confidence…but then I write and post another story and get good feedback, and I’m over it.

    I don’t often suffer from creative block, but sometimes I experience a block (indecisiveness) from having too many potential stories to write. What I’m trying to do in those instances is evaluate the potential stories according to what my readers most want, and what I’ve promised to deliver. That usually breaks the logjam and I’m off and writing.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Nice! Having too many ideas is a great problem to have. I like what you’re doing, Larry. It’s good to give your readers what they want the most.

  15. Hanan Weiskopf

    Man, I’ve read 10 posts or so of yours today – you’re simply SOLID.
    You’re giving me a lot of inspiration here. A few more of your posts and I might just overcome this fear of starting a blog and keeping it consistent.
    Blogging, just as with any sort of writing, can lead to burnout easily – but overcoming it can be incredibly rewarding. Kudos, man.

    Cheers from Jerusalem, Israel – and good luck with your blog. You definitely exercise the 2 hours post rule on these inspiriing posts.

    PS – when you finally get that golden prose come out after 13 days of death (or 6 weeks or even 6 months), you’ve got to celebrate. Even if you don’t feel like it, you owe it to your inner blogger.

    1. Martyn Chamberlin

      Thank you so much Hanan. I’m so glad you’re learning something around here!

      Wow, we live thousands of miles apart. You live in a special city. That’s neat.

  16. Very good post! I stick to my core (complaining about the moribund real estate market) Monday through Thursday, and on Fridays my readers indulge my rants, rants, and meandering thoughts.

    I’ve been blogging almost every business day since 2006, and the formula works for me.

  17. Blog burnout? Wow I don’t know what to say… You know what Martyn your articles are always amazing and you just opened my eyes with this possibility. I love blogging and when I reach that burnout you are talking about I wish I can still recover because I just love reaching out to people and I do that with my blog.

    1. Hanan Weiskopf

      Burnout can be scary. I think it usually means you’re either running on fumes, or your timing rubber band is too worn out. Sometimes we all have to fall back to the basics, or take a short vacation to refill our reservoir… give ourselves a rest every now and then. Read more, absorb more, listen more and speak less – and restore your passion to writing. Burnout isn’t fatal if you don’t allow it to be :)