Creative Encouragement: Read Less Blogs

10 October, 2011

in Creative Encouragement

That’s right. Read less blogs.

The blog world is not what it once was.

The blogosphere went from a barely stocked corner book stand to Amazon.

I’ve been reading blogs long enough to remember when almost everybody in the online craft community was reading almost everybody else.

And then I remember angsty blog posts about how the now-busy bloggers themselves couldn’t keep up with and read every blog or post by their commentors.  I remember people being upset about this because “blogging is a conversation”.  I remember the inevitable jealousy that comes from some at the face of other’s success and the snide comments about the busy bloggers being too good for the rest of us.  I remember other bloggers going overboard in assuring their readers that they read, emailed, and commented on every commentor’s blog.  I remember some people just giving up blogging for awhile because they got tired of keeping up with it all.

All these “I remembers” sound like I’m an old lady, but I’m talking about 2006 and forward.

In the past I have kept up with ridiculous amounts of blogs.  I would feel badly when I couldn’t read them all and my reader still had dark numbers next to their names. 

Even though I didn’t comment on all of them, I felt like I should still be reading them.

Why?  I’m an avid supporter of the online craft community and I wanted to support them.

“Back then” there was constant talk of linking to each other’s blogs and how important it was to support each other in this way.  As I work to get my link page together for this blog, I still think that’s so.

Even though I knew this amount of blog reading was unsustainable because it’s unproductive, I still kept doing it.  Even though I knew it was a personal decision no one would know about, I still felt guilty at the thought of cutting blogs.

It all changed for me the day I realized that blogs are like books.

In a world with millions of blogs, news sites, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Pinterest the information stream is not only constant, but humanly infinite.

There’s no possible way to keep up with them all.  Blogs or books.

You know the saying “So many books, so little time”?  It applies to blogs.  In a good way.

Avid readers often toss the phrase out in chagrin that they can’t keep up with all the books they want to read.  Or say it jokingly about all the books they are trying to fit in.  But I’ve never really heard it said with guilt.

The thing about all the books in the world is this - 

We already know we can’t read them all.  We know we’ll get to the ones we really want to.  And we know that the cream rises to the top.

These things are really important to remember when it comes to blog reading, too.

We have time to read the ones we really want to read.

Pretty self-explantory.  The important-to-us ones stick out on their own.

And the cream rises to the top.

This means 2 things.  First, if an awesome blog exists that you’re not reading, you’ll eventually find out through the grapevine.  Second, unless it’s about current events, really great blogs will stay great.  Most of their content will be evergreen.  For example, there are always people just starting to sew, or just realizing other people love their vintage/hippie/boho/modern/rock-a-billy/steampunk aesthetic, or looking for classic kid crafts to do.

I think our constantly-rushing-to-the-next-thing culture speeds us up so quickly that we forget that good writing will still be good writing, even if we get there late.

Really.

Once you except that blogs and posts are like books and that you can never read them all, you are free to prioritize.

You can enjoy reading what’s important to you now, knowing that you’ll tweak your reading list as you go along and eventually discover great blogs you’d never heard of.

This releases you from your fear of missing out.  That’s the name for our fear/guilt at not being able to keep up: FOMO

Reading less blogs still supports the online craft community.

The bloggers you really adore get more of your undivided attention.  Every business and non-profit in the world is built around a core of returning customers/supporters.  It’s the same for your blog reading.

Reading less blogs helps you avoid the intersection where “Reading as a Hobby” meets Tiredness, Laziness, or Constant-Dreamer street.

Believe me, I speak from long experience.  With the seemingly infinite crafty goodness out there it’s super easy to justify large quantities of time reading when we should be sleeping, working, or implementing.

Which leads me to my next thought…

There is a wide, wide difference between feeling crafty and being crafty.

Reading less blogs helps to keep us from being lulled into a crafty-feeling haze that doesn’t really accomplish anything.

For me, this is the biggest idea of all.

When Diane interviewed Scott Belsky on his book, Making Ideas Happen he spoke about the intense rush creative people get when they are inspired.  His interview and site, The 99% focuses on the Thomas Edison quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” and encouragement to creatives to move from their amazing idea rush into sustained productivity and completion.

Scott explains that the inspirational rush is so great for dreamers that they get hooked on the rush and end up starting project after project because they keep abandoning them when they hit the doldrums of execution and chase another new project instead.

I think this impulse to feed the rush of inspiration is what keeps a lot of creative types reading far more blogs than we should and getting far too few projects accomplished.

The rush that we used to just get from scratching and sketching ideas in notebooks we now get reading blogs, too.  Even ripping up magazines for dream boards and tear pages is finished when the magazines are gone, but you can keep pinning on Pinterest all day.

Feeling crafty, no matter how wonderful, is not being crafty.

Again, the inspired rush from craft blog reading doesn’t actually make anything.

To sum up:

I realized I couldn’t keep up the amount of blog reading I was doing and be productive at the same time.  I realized that blogs are like books and that I can never keep up, but that the good ones will stick around or find me again.  I also realized I’m an information and inspiration hound and that I naturally do like to read a lot more than most people.

So what did I do?

I ranked the blogs I read.

I use Bloglines and it allows you to put your feeds into lists.  Rather than making lists like “fabric and sewing”, “crochet”, “miscellaneous”, and “business”  I made my categories by priority.  They  are pretty self-explantory, but I’m going to walk you through them so you can really see my intentions.

Online Friends: These are the blogs of people I chat with, email, or see on a regular basis.  My friends are important to me, so are the regular commentors on my blog. Therefore this category is at the top and I usually go through them first.

Regular: These are the blogs I read daily or almost daily.  People who I’m not friends with, but I’m a big fan of their blogs and what they are up to.

On most days, these are the only categories I read.  There are 26.  This is far fewer than the 100-200 I had a couple years ago.

If I was more disciplined or a less voracious reader, I’d stop there.  But I still have others I’d like to keep up with, even if they are not a daily read.

Sometimes: Just like it sounds, this is the section I get to sometimes.  If the week is busy, it’s my weekend reading.

Perusal: These are the blogs that I want to remember they exist, but don’t need in my regular rotation.  Like when you go to the bookstore and flip through a couple of  magazines you don’t like or need enough to buy, but like their work enough to want a basic understanding of what they’re doing.

To Think On: This is currently a list of four blogs, Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, 99 Percent, and Productive Flourishing.  I read these regularly but they take more brain power than a quick craft read, so they get their own category.  When I’m ready to think on business, social media,  and productivity I go there.

What this means is that most days I’ve read my friends and my faves, the little “haven’t read” numbers are not there, and I’ve seen what’s important to me.

The categories lower on the page are full of unread posts, but I don’t have some strange perfectionistic need to “check them off my list” because they are out of sight until I want them, and labelled in ways that basically tell me to only look at them once in a while.

Two More Thoughts

Delete the Easy Blogs First.

The ones that have 38 unread posts because you feel for whatever reason that you “should” be reading them, but you never really do.

Delete Blogs That You Never Comment On.

If this gives you a heart attack, it’s time to rethink.

I’m talking about craft blogs here, not news sites. Or compilation sites, though I’m sure they like comments, too. If you really enjoy or love a blog, start commenting. At least once a week. I don’t care if it’s the much-mocked “Great post!” or even “nice shoes”. Act like you’re a person and the person or group putting the blog out there for you to read are people, too.

Even if you feel like you have nothing of value to add, or nothing important to say, if you’re a fan, do what fans do – tell them you like them.

Or send them a once-and-for-all email that says “I read every post on your blog and am a big fan. I don’t comment, but wanted to let you know I’m here. Your fan, Fan.”

If they are not worth your time, why are they on your blog list? And if they’re on your blog list, and therefore worth your time, why not say so?  At least once?

Now, don’t shoot me.  I know this post might already be a stretch in more ways than one for some….

But these last two thoughts led me to delete all compilation sites from my reader.

Even though I’m online a lot and enjoy reading tons of blogs, I never enjoyed trying to keep up with the multiple-posts-a-day compilations sites.  It was just too much for me.  If you love them, that’s wonderful.  As with blogs, the cream on these sites rises to the top as well and I end up hearing about the really good ones on Twitter or Pinterest anyway. (How’s that for food for thought – the curated sites getting further curated?)

Reading less blogs and enjoying them well will give you back your time, still support other makers,  free you from the fear of missing out, and help keep you from being unproductive.

What about you?  Have you ever dealt with this?

I hesitated to write this because writing a blog post telling people to read less blogs so they could do more seemed a little…obvious.  And neurotic.  And ironic-in-a-bad-way.

Howevah…I don’t think I”m the only creative person who struggled with plunging too deeply into the rush of feeling creative and not being creative.  And what is here applied to crafty blogs can be applied to other things.  Reading food blogs without ever cooking more.  Reading health food blogs without eating healthier.  Reading productivity books without implementing them.  I think you get the idea.

So, tell me what you’re thinking.  At least one of you please comment so that I know I’m not alone in this. ;) 

Do you have further thoughts on the subject?  Any more tips for tightening up the blog list?  Anything you disagree with?  Please comment below and share the link.

And thank you for reading to the end.  I haven’t written a long post in awhile and I sincerely appreciate your time and attention.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

JillNo Gravatar

Great post! Thanks for “permission” to do what you’re suggesting.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

JIll, you’re welcome! Sometimes that’s all we need from each other, isn’t it?

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BobbiNo Gravatar

Where my FOMO comes in is that as an online business owner I’m told that I need to be reading and commenting on the blogs where my target market hangs out. I’m a slooowww reader, so all I ever seem to manage is to read my bloggy friends’ posts and a couple other blogs that I return to because I’m interested in what they have to say or what they are making. I also put far too many blogs in my google reader because I want to remember to check them out again to see if they are something I’ll like. This has rendered my reader completely useless; there are lots of dark numbers!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Ooh yes, good point! I think at that point I’d start with something like “Friends and Faves”, “Customers” and “Someday Reading”. I know the joy of having your own crafty biz is that you are mixing pleasure with work, but I think it’s still helpful to acknowledge what -real work- to us personally. I’m a fast reader and chatty, so keeping up with a lot of blogs for work or pleasure is not hard for me. But if it feels like work to you, you might get farther just labeling it as such and then treat it that way. Read & comment on customers’ blogs during networking time and save the “friends and faves” for hobby time. Make sense? And the “Someday Reading” is just that – some Sunday night when you just want to peruse something new. It might rescue your reader!

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chantalNo Gravatar

This is a great post. It’s something we all know, but it’s really goos to hear it from someone else. That said, before the babies when I was still working, I used to read way more blogs – on work time, of course…but since I’ve been home with the babies, I’ve had to cut down a lot on the blogs I read. I think there’s maybe 4 or 5 I check regularly, and maybe about 8 others I check once a week. I feel, I’m not sure how to word this properly, but I feel so much better about my crafting when I’m not reading tons of other blogs and comparing myself to them.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Chantal, I think what you are pointing out is huge. There’s a point where the crafty inspiration becomes overload and then this can lead to comparing ourselves unproductively with others’ accomplishments. It helps so much to just spell things out sometimes, I think. That overwhelming “I’ll never be that cool/make that much/have a house that pretty” feeling is so false because we are comparing our one self with the best collective efforts of dozens of other people.

As a mom, I’ve also often reminded myself that it’s not really fair to compare myself to women who don’t have kids yet, or who had older kids in school when mine were babies. Little people take a ton of work! :)

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Sister DianeNo Gravatar

This is an excellent post, Elizabeth, and so timely. I think you’re right-on about curation… really, most things that are worth seeing seem to appear (magically) in my Twitter and Pinterest streams, without my needing to scour half the blogosphere.

With that in place, I think blog reading begins to come down to what your priorities are. If you’re a business blogger, like Bobbi, then maybe just reading customer blogs makes sense. If you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert in a particular field, maybe you don’t want to read any blogs regularly, but instead rely on Google Alerts to lead you to posts on that subject from all over the place.

I agree with you that most of us did begin our blog-reading adventure from the same mindset with which we approached our 20th-century media: gotta keep up on all of it in order to be well-read. But the only limitations on the internet, sadly, are human time and attention! So, if we’re to stay sane, we do have to winnow down the streams of information we allow into our field of vision. You’ve offered some really nice, actionable ways to begin winnowing here.

Thanks so much for the good food for thought!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Diane, thank you!

Yes, like I was saying with Bobbi, since our crafty biz endeavours mix with pleasure and “sitting down at the computer” can either, I think we need to keep working at giving ourselves clear separations between work and play. It makes both better.

Prioritizing is the key. Wanting ideas for personal crafts, looking to be an expert, starting a biz, maintaining a biz, etc. are different categories that need different types of reading. And sanity. That’s a key, too!

Thanks again for the compliments.

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Verte AdelieNo Gravatar

Sister Diane tweeted the link of this post and I visit your blog for the first time, so hello :).

I totally agree with the “read less but better” idea, and it’s actually the way I’m currently trying to reorganize all my digital world, including the blog reading part. The key idea when you want to declutter your home is to keep only what you use and what you love – I try to apply that same principle!

The system you describe works well for twitter, too: I replaced all my by-categorie lists by priority lists, and now that I’ve been using the system for about 2 months, I know I can cut the number of people I read every day even more, and really appreciate the people I read.

Still in the process of doing it for blogs – I’ll refer to your post to get inspired!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Adelie,

Thank you so much for visiting! I love what you said about transferring the idea of decluttering your physical environment applying to your digital space as well – “keep only what you use and love.” I have one private list of people I want to keep track of, but I could probably do better at this as well.

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Verte AdelieNo Gravatar

Post scriptum to my previous comment : the priority twitter lists I created are of course private, or it would be a little indelicate :).

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Yes, I agree. :)

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Amy @ Maker MamaNo Gravatar

This post definitely rose to the top! You’ve put into words something that I’ve been struggling with myself–it’s impossible to keep up with everything in the online craft world! Thanks for giving us permission to relieve some of that pressure. I’ve heard about artists and writers who isolate themselves from outside sources when doing their own work–it wouldn’t be a bad idea to cut down on the online-inspiration flow as crafters so we have more room to develop our own ideas ( and the time to implement them!)

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Amy, thanks for the compliment. I didn’t get into it so much here, but I do think regular periods of off-line time and even isolation are key to healthy creativity and just a balanced life in general. It’s probably a whole other post, but I start easing myself off the computer around mid-day Friday and try now to get back on it again until Sunday evening. I’m not perfect in this, but it’s very helpful and necessary to me. I can focus more on my family when I need to on the weekends, and it keeps crafty work, blogging, and social media fun because I am excited to get back to it again Sunday night or Monday morn.

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AndiNo Gravatar

I found this via Sister Diane on twitter and I was so happy to read it. I recently purged my feed reader because it was getting to be too much and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one.

I deleted one other group that you didn’t mention. I deleted all the blogs that sparked feelings of jealousy or that I was comparing myself to. They might have been good well written blogs, but I couldn’t properly enjoy them. Deleting them made reading much happier for me.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Andi, you bring up another good point. Sometimes it’s us, sometimes it’s them. Whatever the reason, there is too much good out there to keep reading something that stirs negative feelings in us. I stopped following a very well written popular blog for this exact reason. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it wasn’t good, so I just let it go. They continue to succeed and I continue to be happy. I suppose it’s one good thing about the digital world – you can “drop” people who aren’t a fit without offending anyone (as long as you keep it to yourself of course) :)

Oh, and I’m so glad you came by and that this made you happy!

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AudryNo Gravatar

I’ve been purging my blog list. But this post made me think about blogs that I use to like, but over time the style has changed, or my interests have changed, and I no longer like the blog. I’ve been holding on to some of them with the idea that maybe I would enjoy them again one day. But I think I’d rather delete those blogs and leave room for new ones that inspire me. Thanks for the reminder!

And I’m with you and Andi. I stopped reading blogs that made me feel jealous. (Or I’d work to get over it) I found that I would spend a whole day or two doing nothing because I felt like I didn’t measure up somehow. It was like having growing pains. It took awhile to become confident in what I was writing about rather than trying to please imaginary people.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Audry, yes I suppose that over time I’ve stopped following a few blogs and it had nothing to do with their excellence, but my changing interests and finite time. I’m so glad to hear you’ve condensed your list, too. It really is a refining the best reading list of the moment. And yes, again, no reason to read blogs that leave us feeling badly, whether it’s us or them.

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Erin Fickert-RowlandNo Gravatar

Very well said, Elizabeth, and so true. I too prioritize my blogs with online friends ( you are one of them!) and content. With Facebook and Twitter, I tend to jump to links when I see them before I sit down with my reader anymore. Commenting now seems to happen with a “like” on Facebook and a “RT” on Twitter, or a “pin” on Pinterest with the occasional comment – I have only been blogging for a year, so I only know the blogosphere from that timeline. However, I do believe blogging is important- not only as a vehicle of self-expression, but as a way to provide a service and relationship with your customer. It is a very worthwhile endeavor to provide a topic for conversation!

Thanks for your thoughtful article!
Erin

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Erin, thank you, thank you! :) I agree, I totally love reading blogs and writing my own and still find them a very important vehicle of expression and information. I just think that maybe we need to get over their initial feeling of “specialness” and treat them like books. Most book-lovers I know what more time to read their books, but their stacks or shelves don’t actually make them feel guilty in the way that people’s feed readers do.

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AdaihaNo Gravatar

Wow, thanks for this. I continually feel guilty about the 1000+ unread items I see every time I go to Google Reader. I love the idea of categorizing the blogs I subscribe to by category like you have. I also need to be better about commenting on blogs that I love. Thanks for the reminder that even if I don’t feel like I have anything original to add to the discussion, everyone likes to hear a compliment.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Adaiha, you are much welcome. I’m surprised at how many people tell me they get to 1000+ unread items in their reader! This tells me that some either subscribe to way more than even I did, or that I actually spent/wasted a lot more time actually reading my blogs, while others were is a “eyes bigger than their stomach” situation.

Glad this was helpful!

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Martha WingerNo Gravatar

Thank you for writing about this subject, Elizabeth. I could read blog after blog and pin inspirational photo after inspirational photo but in the end, I have work to do! When I have more time, I read more blogs. Otherwise, it’s just the essentials.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Martha, you are most welcome! It’s a continual challenge to balance the intake and the outgo. :)

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GenevieveNo Gravatar

Hi everyone… My name is Geneviève and I read too many blogs. ;-)

Elizabeth… I too was sent here by Sister Diane’s post, and I knew I needed help when I realized that I spend more time reading about creating art than I do making art. I appreciate your suggestions for blog categories, and I’m going to try very hard not to feel guilty if I delete blogs from my reader. Thank you!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Genevieve – Do it!! It’s so refreshing to a “knock-em-off-the-lilst” soul to only have a little daily list, knowing the others safely wait below should you want them. For me, it’s working like the 6 month donation box idea – I put them in there and if I realize I’m still not looking at them, off they go. :)

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AbbyNo Gravatar

You make such great points – and I am so 100% with you on the “Feeling crafty, no matter how wonderful, is not being crafty”…This is something I have been struggling with for months & this really just hit me like a bolt of lightening…a bolt of “DUH!” – so obvious, yet not – one would think more and wider variety would equate to more inspiration & motivation. But I immediately recognized the truth in what you’re saying: more is not always better. Focus and quality are more likely to lead to creation. It has certainly been my experience that blogs that, for me, lead only to crafty-feeling/thinking/wishing haven’t over the past few years translated into any more DOING which was my (and probably most/many readers’) goal in subscribing to all these blogs in the first place. Now comes the task of figuring out which blogs I follow have most often incited me to action and creation & which serve as filler, wish-list fodder, or inhibitors… Thank you for this a-ha! moment :).

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AbbyNo Gravatar

Holy run-on sentences. Oh well… you get the point :)

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

I do, Abby, thank you for visiting! “Wish-list fodder” blogs. Ooh, that is a very, very good statement. I never labelled them quite that way before, but I do limit the “cool stuff!” type design blogs I read for this reason. All the cool stuff in the world ends up just being stuff if you have too much, so putting myself in a place of constant wanting is just unhealthy.

It took me a long time to realize that feeling crafty wasn’t actually being crafty. I think, like Diane said, it happens to a lot of people because over the course of time, the newness wears off and you realize you aren’t as far along as you’d like to be.

I also have nothing against a good session of crafty overload on the internet to stir ideas and being back-burner boiling. But I think a lot of us have gotten to a point where we’ve realized this needs to be a weekly dive or even a seasonal one, not a daily dive.

I have only had my categories in place for a month or so, but I can tell you that it’s already helped me weed out a couple blogs a week. I mean, if I still don’t want to get to them during my wkend reading, why are they even on there?

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CatherynneNo Gravatar

Wow! I think you have just provided me with a solution for combining my out-of-control, horribly-neglected and practically useless Google Bookmarks collection with Google Reader – and making it actually work for me. Folders! Trimming! Curating!

The whole “I remember…” bit made me laugh – I remember going through those days too :-)

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Catherynne,

Thank you So much for commenting and visiting! I’m so glad my ideas will help you and happy to hear I made you laugh!

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Michelle MachNo Gravatar

I came to your blog via CraftyPod; I’m not a regular reader. I appreciate what you’ve said here. I do feel overwhelmed with the number of blogs that seems to grow by the minute. I like the idea of categorizing my RSS reader so I can read the few blogs that I really do want to read regularly. I never would have thought about categorizing them that way, but it makes so much more sense than by topic (my natural inclination as a former librarian!).

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Michelle – thank you for taking the time to reply! I know what you mean about categories – one thing I’m learning as I work to be more organized is to make categories that make sense to what I need right now, rather than using standard ones. Like Diane has said before, it really is sad that something that is supposed to be fun and inspirational or a break has turned into such a guilt-inducer or overwhelmer for people.

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geek+nerdNo Gravatar

Absolutely everything that you’ve said in this post resonated with me. I remember the blogosphere “in the beginning.” You’re right. It’s different.

I’ve TOTALLY had guilt about taking blogs off of my reader. You’re right. It’s unmanageable to keep up in the old way.

I went to my reader lickety split and put your blog categories into place. I deleted twenty blogs. I marked all as read in the “Sometimes” and “Perusal” folders. Wow, that felt good.

I’m tired, and I can’t even articulate how much I love this post. But, I do! And thanks for visiting my space today. Your comment is much appreciated!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Aww, thank you so much!! I am sad so many of us have felt guilt over what ends up being a silly thing, but it’s also quite moving because it speaks to how much we really do want to learn and support each other. And good on you for applying someone’s advice right away – how many of us fail to do that?! Thanks again for all the post love!

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SkulleighNo Gravatar

I too found you through Sister Diane.

Besides unsubscribing from blogs that don’t fit me or are too noisy, sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s OK to hit “Mark All As Read.” I don’t have to read all of them all the time. This isn’t a job, no one’s going to check in and see if I’ve actually read everything!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Skulleigh,

Yes, exactly! Why do we feel like other people will know or care? Thanks for stopping by!

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Rachel ErinNo Gravatar

This is very interesting advice, which I also started following about a year ago when I realized that I could easily use up my very limited computer time with only networking and actual designing or publishing. Every time I get into something new (e.g. Twitter, starting a Rav group), I seem to go overboard for a few months before I realize that I need to prioritize.
I also think has interesting implications for bloggers – I have a fairly new blog and advice like this seems to mean that I should focus more, and not worry about having a small range or draw. If everyone is never going to read my blog regularly, I should be the most I can to a smaller group instead trying to be something to everyone.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Rachel,

I agree & I think that’s what Diane’s post was getting at. Or, at least that you really need to have clear priorities. There’s no doubt that posting regularly keeps you in front of people, but if you’re really digging into something, you don’t need so many anyway. And none of us can be everything to everyone, so give yourself a big break there! Thanks for stopping by!

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KatNo Gravatar

Good Morning, Elizabeth! You are NOT alone! I, too, first started reading almost everything I could find. It was a whole new world for me, always being the solitary type and knowing no other artists. The Blogosphere expanded my little world, and it could have exploded in my face if I hadn’t naturally weeded the reading down to just a bare few, opening up more of my limited time to plying my craft. Luckily, the reading and hunting frenzy did not last long. I swung back into my artwork, using break times for coffee and ‘just checking’. I understand your post quite well, but the whole thing is a matter of personal choice. I prefer the rush of the actual completion of a project. Well, that and the posting about it!! Thank you for sharing. I’m not alone, either.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Kat, no, we are not alone! And I think you emphasize a good point – finishing a project is a Huge rush and more satisfying long term than a lot of mini-inspirations we never actually do. I think diving into something deeply upon discovering it is a natural instinct and I think there are definite seasons in our creating and work lives. It’s just too easy for use to say in the deep dive for inspiration and not come up for air to work. I’m glad you found your balance! Thank you for commenting!

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NiinaNo Gravatar

I came here via CraftyPod and I must say I’m relieved that you said this aloud. I began blogging in July 2010 and my readership has been rising steadily. Woot for that. However, I’ve noticed that the quality of my content hasn’t gotten any better. I have tons of ideas, materials to make them but only thing lacking is time to craft because I do spend sometimes hours to read through my RSS-feed list. Some feeds I’ve already cancelled as I only subscribed them to enter a giveaway. Some I had on my feed list as they had couple of tutes I liked and felt I didn’t want miss any good stuff. Instead of having them to clutter up my feed, I pinned the tutes and now still have the links to those blogs and I can visit them and maybe read some of the newer posts too. But what now? What other criterias should I use to clear up my feed? Do you have any suggestions?

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Nina,
I’m so glad you came by & totally hear what you are saying! Besides breaking up your blogs by how often you want to read them, there have been other great tips in the comments here.

Delete blogs that make you feel badly. It doesn’t really matter why – whether it’s your jealousy issues or they’re sorta negative/mean, just get them out of your life. Why have that when there is too much wonderful to get to, right?

If you read for fun & business, make really distinct categories, maybe even separate feeds so that one is obviously pleasure & one is clearly for work time (like keeping up with customer’s blogs or gaining biz knowledge.) “Blogs I Love” and “Blogs I Read During Marketing Time” or something.

Delete blogs that are a lot like other blogs and only keep one. Blogs that spend most of their time showcasing products come to mind. Above, they were called “wish-list fodder” blogs. Most of us don’t need help wanting more stuff.

I hope this helps! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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pamNo Gravatar

Oh Elizabeth, can you believe i just read this post because Diane pointed me here? BECAUSE I am ,as I always seem to be these days, BEHIND in post reading – even my BFF section where your blog lives!

(Normally my BFF file is reserved for friends who have been with me from day one but I loved your blog so much – great value and content, that I didn’t even put it into a “trial” category! It IS CREAM and rose right to the top!)

Unfortunately right now – who am i kidding – for the last year – all blogs in my reader – even my BFF file – go stale before i get to them it seems.

This is a fantastic post. And comes to me at a very good time as I, like apparently so many others are, am really struggling with what to do about my blog reader and about reading blogs and still keeping up with my creativity and making. Fortunately, on the one hand my passion and commitment to my blog keeps me making and creating and so far those activities do take priority. But that means i am always behind on reading other blogs and stressing out with tons and tons of remorse.

I say remorse because it is not guilt that haunts me but a feeling of regret that i can not be all i want to be and do all I want to do in the blogiverse and in the studio. I really, really enjoy reading and commenting and conversation with other creatives. The whole point of my own blog is to inspire others to create and celebrate and enter into conversation and to share creativity of others with my own readers.

Knowing other bloggers are about the same thing – well – how can i delete? Like you I have created priority files which has really been a huge help. NOW like you I must really evaluate each and every blog in my reader and determine those that hold the most value for me so that I can participate in a much more ongoing and present conversation with those bloggers.

I know for certain that blogs that post two or three or more times a day are toast! I can not keep up. I am no longer going to try. And the frequency of posting alone inhibits value in content.

Thank you for reminding me in such a beautiful way to enjoy the cream at the top and thereby enjoy a richer participation in blogs I love.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Dear Pam,

Thank you for writing and for your lovely compliments! They really are the sweetest. And it is becoming more and more moving and amazing to me how much depth of feeling this involves for a lot of us.

I am going to talk more about how blogs are like books, I think. We do not expect authors to read every book in the library. We expect authors to write. So why do we expect ourselves to read every blog & still create?

Good on you for already having priority lists. I don’t think that should make us feel badly because our time is finite, you know?

Thank you so much for coming over & taking the time to comment!

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CraftyHopeNo Gravatar

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed by all the blogs out there. I’m constantly trying to use a critical eye with the ones I follow to decide if they are worth my time. While, I don’t have mine categorized by priority. I know the priority of the categories I use. . .mmmkay.

Thank you for making me feel a little better about deleting some of the blogs in my reader. The huge number of the ones I’m following makes it quite difficult to be a contributing member to each of the blog’s communities as I just want to get through the end of list. I’m thinking I should stop blabbering now and head over to that list now to start paring it down!
Thanks!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

CraftyHope, thank you so much for piping in! I think most of us would do better with tighter, participating communities than just “drive bys” so to speak.

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KateNo Gravatar

Interesting. I have been wanting to stop keeping my blog for a while now, feeling that it had outlived it’s original purpose and is only visited by my dad these days! I think you just inspired me to stop! Thanks for that! And the delete button on Reader can use some action too!
So do I add you to my list? Ha ha!
Take care
X

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Kate,

Thank you for coming by! If you want to stop blogging, go for it. But by saying “read less blogs” I’m not meaning no one’s reading, just that many of us makers may get into situations where we read way more than create. There will be always be more readers than authors, but it’s hard to be both all the time, you know? Whatever helps you with your creative goals!

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Shelly TerryNo Gravatar

Funnily enough, I went through and cut my blog reading list only last week. I was ruthless. But some sites that just do blog hops and challenges went, and some that I only ever skimmed through because I was short on time. I liken it a little to spring cleaning the house once a year. I like to post on blogs, and I’d love people to post on mine … but do I really have enough time to cultivate that readership?? ….. In the very least, I am reading and participating in fewer blogs, which is freeing up my time for other creative pursuits.

I also noticed that I kept the ones with more pictures in!! …..

Thanks for your insightful post :)

Shelly X

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Shelly,

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. I’ve never read the blog hop blogs, so I’d forgot about that category. Spring cleaning is a great analogy. I think it’s easy to forget to tidy up our digital space the way we tidy our physical space. How much time we spend on different things is such an individual decision – I’m glad you’re finding a good balance for you! And yes, I love pictures, myself!

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NiinaNo Gravatar

Hi Elizabeth!
I’m jumping back in the discussion…I did what you and others suggested here and got rid of blogs that made me feel bad for one reason or other. The feeling when I saw the number of unread posts going down and down and down, was great! Now I’m targeting the product blogs but it’s turning out to be harder. So for now I’ve decided to keep my eye on those, read every post for a week and in the end, keep only one. The one which has the best interesting to me/amount of posts- ratio. Thanks again for talking about this matter!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Nina,
I love it, I love it!! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back a second time and tell me. :)

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Stacie.Make.Do.No Gravatar

Glad I finally made time to sit and read this! Thanks for pointing it out to me on Twitter, and for sharing your insight. Cleaning up my feed reader is my online task for this weekend. Next goal: Write more of my own blog posts ;)

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Stacie,
Thanks for coming by. So glad you found it worth your time!

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futuregirlNo Gravatar

I do the priority filing, too! :) Great thought provoking post. Wish I had more time to comment, but I wanted to let you know I appreciate your talking about this issue to get everyone to let themselves off the hook. :)

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Alice,
Thanks so much for stopping by! You seem quite organized in many areas, so I’ll bet you have good tips, too!

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Sarah - Crafts From The CwtchNo Gravatar

I can totally relate to this! I have found myself in this situation and now get my handful of Must Reads subscribed by email so I can dip in and out of the others on Flipboard when I get the time.

Pinterest really has changed the game for me.

Anyway, ‘great post’ ;)

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Sarah,
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your solution sounds like a good one for some, too. I’m not a big fan of email, but I know a lot of people like to read blogs this way. Twitter & Pinterest combined have changed things for me.

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KirstinNo Gravatar

Yes! I found this through Tammy at Daisyyellow. I enjoyed this post very much, thanks for writing it.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Kirstin,

Thank you! And thank you for telling me who passed it along!

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KirstinNo Gravatar

Yes! I found this through Tammy at Daisyyellow. I enjoyed this post very much, thanks for writing it. I’ve narrowed my reading to a few plus tumblr.

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Michelle NNo Gravatar

This is definitely food for thought. I never read your blog but came here from a link somewhere else. You make very good points. I am definitely one of those people who get a “high” from reading magazines and blogs yet seldom “do” any of the wonderful things I see and dream about. I never quite find time to DO but seem to always find time to study and dream. Interesting..

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Oh Michelle, I know! That’s me, too and what I’m really working hard to change. Such a dreamer, but I want to be a doer, too. I think we have different inclinations, to dream or do, but if we keep encouraging each other we can be more balanced. The doer will help us get stuff done, and the dreamers keep everyone moving forward. I hope this sticks with you and helps you get to where you want to go!

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment on my blog!

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beka {ginger*urchin}No Gravatar

Fell in through your door for the first time via Daisy Yellow, and having read all the way through on this post I say, “huzzah!” thank you for writing this and putting your thoughts onto screen.
For myself I find it curiously serendipitous that you and CraftyPod should speak out about this at the very time when I too have completely overhauled my blog reading lists. I started from scratch actually: printed the lists out then deleted/unsubscibed to every single blog. Yup! All gone! Then, as you have done resubscribed/followed a few (40 at present, which is *way* less than it was), according to less than a handful of categories, across 2 readers (at present). So far it’s working great and has taken a load off my mind considerably.
This clearing of the mental clutter that removes me from actual creative time is also manifesting out of my participation in The Artist’s Way, as I work on reclaiming my own personal creative utonomy.
Thank you, most sincerely, for this – I am bookmarking you for a return visit to digest and implement your suggestions as required.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Beka,
Thank you so much for your wonderful comment! I really do think it’s a growing movement in our community. We all love each other, and want to see the goodies and keep up, but simply can’t everyday. I’m so glad to hear your decluttering went well and hope it’s still working for you. And congrats on your pursuit of The Artist’s Way – such a phenomenal journey!

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog, especially as a first-timer, and letting me know Daisy Yellow sent you! :)

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KathrynNo Gravatar

I totally agree! Blog reading starts as time for myself, a nice escape from being a mom, and turns into way too much time reading! I love the blogs I read, and follow links to new blogs, and think “I should make that,” or “That gives me an idea” but don’t enact it until much later, if I remember. I also recently realized that I should be crafting more and reading about others’ crafts less. It’s hard to cut back, but I’m working on it!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Kathryn,
I’m so glad you’re working on it! It -is- hard to change a habit, especially one that brings such a creative rush in such a passive way, but it’s SO worth it. Our own little worlds need our creative touch and our souls need to work out our ideas, I think. Many blessings on your journey!

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment – I really appreciate that!!

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sheilaNo Gravatar

Thanks so much for having the courage to post your thoughts on this important topic. I came here via Daisy Yellow like some others. I have been thinking for a while how things have changed in the blogosphere – so many online classes now that it seems everyone is doing it or challenging you how to succeed in your business via the blog. This is all ok if that is what you want to do and I think I probably need to clear these from my list now that I think of it, but I started my blog to find creative like-minded people who post everyday happenings and everyday creative pursuits so perhaps these are the ones I need to keep. I am a pack rat though and it spills over into the bookmarks too. I have taken the decision not to join facebook (and therefore cannot do Pinterest, although it looks such fun) as I already spend far too much time looking at ‘what other people are doing, saying, making etc’ rather than creating from heart. So thanks so much for the encouragement – I am aiming to be ruthless!!

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Sheila,
You are so welcome. Thank you so much for taking the time to come over and comment! What you had already been thinking about and knowing which blogs you want to read really give you a head start on culling your reading list.

Hopefully, I”m not adding fuel to the fire, but I don’t think you need to be on FB to join Pinterest. It, also, can become an incredible time suck, but like everything else is a great tool if used properly. Since I’m such a visual person, I’ve found it incredibly helpful in actually reducing the number of bookmarks I have. I can pin the photos on Pinterest boards, and there they sit, looking pretty if I ever want them again. For me, they are a ton easier to find by photo than on a long bookmark list. Just some food for thought. :)

Thanks again for taking the time to comment and your sweet words!

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samNo Gravatar

thank you for writing this blog. i found it via sister diane’s crafty pod. i am just starting out in being a full time artisan and small business owner and operator. I have looked into all sorts of help from etsy’s community to promote and market my business and craft. and after watching sister diane’s social media marketing i felt very behind. i didn’t a have a twitter account and a blog. so off i went. signed up for twitter and got a blog started on tumblr, followed a bunch of businesses, designers and others. and after all that, most of my day was gone. so i actually posted on twitter this question: “after reading everyone’s tweets and clicking to their links, when does one have time to make their crafts to sell?”. thank you for answering my question. i felt like i had to read everything in case i missed something. thanks for taking the “guilt” away. hopefully now I can break my creative block.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Sam,
You are so welcome! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!! You are -not- behind. Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone did. Blogging and social media are just like any other thing, a learning curve and a creative exercise. Since you’re new to being full-time, I’d google or ask on Twitter for links to posts that meet your current issue, rather than following so many blogs everyday. Eventually you’ll find your rhythm for online time and offline time. You’ll also find out which blogs really resonate with you and can only follow those. Just because someone tells you you “should” read such and such doesn’t mean you have too. It will always be there later if you really want it.

Many blessings and success to you as you dive into a full time artisan career! And thanks again for your kind comment! :)

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tinaNo Gravatar

thank you for making me think twice about the whole blogging thing.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

You are welcome. I hope it’s a good thinking. :) I adore blogging, but had to realize I couldn’t be a prolific author if I spent all my time reading other people’s books! Thank you for taking the time to come by and comment.

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Carol YNo Gravatar

I don’t even go to Google Reader anymore because I have an insurmountable number of blogs I’ve subscribed to. I too am an info hound (or junkie), to the detriment of actually accomplishing anything. I did subscribe to NutshellMail for aggregation of my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and it has helped – if I don’t read the aggregate emails within a day, I allow myself to delete them. I simply cannot keep up with it all. Thank you for solidifying what has been rambling around my brain – I need to prioritize more. I will start with blogs I am subscribed to.

PS- I’ve never read your blog before, and I may not ever come back, but this one post has been extremely valuable and totally worth the time to read and comment on – THANK YOU! ?

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Jeanie BNo Gravatar

I found this post whilst surfing, surfing when I could easily be doing something else – like making something. But I’m glad I lingered here – this post speaks to me directly, it’s so true – all of it. I can shrug off the guilt of unread blogginess safe in the knowledge that I’m not the only one who feels this way.
It is fascinating to put losing my making mojo into some sort of context – I so identify with that ‘rush’ of a new project idea versus the backlog of WIPs that seem dull by comparison.
Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

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ShireenNo Gravatar

You are absolutely right ! I was think the same last night , as I stayed up till the wee hours , just reading all those craft blogs. I am tired the next day and have hardly accomplished anything as far as my sewing is concerned. I need to cut down on my online time and use it better for crafting/ sewing projects. Thank you for the great article !

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Shireen,

Thank you so much for commenting! It’s so easy for many of us crafty dreamers to let this happen! Putting them into some prioritized categories & making sure you get your craft time in first should help a ton! Drop me a note here on the blog or Twitter sometime so I can see what you’ve made! :)

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June ChartersNo Gravatar

I like some of your other visitors have come to you via Sistern Diane’s Twitter – retweeted …

Your thoughts are so accurate, I’m going to take a closer read and put some of your actions points into play. The internet is wonderful, but definitely the cause of information overload. It is difficult to keep track of blogs, forums and the like. I’ve been wondering for some time how to tackle information overload yet maintain a comfortable balance. Wouldn’t it be awful to deny yourself total access! I couldn’t, its like dieting I think – ‘everything in moderation’. I don’t know whether its just because its a New Year – New Start and all that but I seem to be hearing the same concerns over and over; its quite refreshing to actually hear potential resolutions expressed as well. I need to ‘slow’ down on reading and re-evaluate a way forward. Thanks, such an interesting post.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

June,
Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I’ve been thinking lately that one reason we’re all reaching overload is not just the internet, but the part of the creative cycle. We study, read, gather, collect, and find inspiration for a season, and then curate, organize, teach, parse, and make. We’ve all experience the biggest inspiration gorge-fest ever and are way past saturation point and realizing that we HAVE to go make something. It’s been a bit since I wrote this and I’m still following my system and it’s really working for me. All the best with your new plans and goals for 2012!

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SandieNo Gravatar

Thank you…. so inspiring and thought provoking. You have hit the nail right on the head, now I know why I pin to Pinterest, browse endless blogs, gather and collect materials, because, yes, it does give me a buzz. It feeds my inspiration but leaves me no time for creating! I shall be acting on your suggestions and creating more. Thank you!

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ChrisNo Gravatar

What a great article. I went straight to my reader and have deleted at least 40 blogs already. Yes, I’m an overachiever who had at least 500 blogs in the silly reader. I already had a couple of regularly read folders up at the top which were all I ever looked at, so what the heck are the other 450 blogs doing there? As you said, the cream will rise to the top, and if I miss something, Pinterest will show it to me. So I’m scanning through some of the blogs very very quickly. If I scroll through the first page without seeing something that just grabs me right away, out it goes. The ones that I save will be reviewed again later. I predict that well over 75% will go in the first round. Thanks a million!

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Lisa Pijuan-NomuraNo Gravatar

This is one of the best blog posts i have read in a very long time. I came her via Diane at Craftypod and am just tickled pink that you have given permission to just read a few and make a real connection as opposed to being the popular kid who doesn’t feel any connection to anyone. So very very wise. thanks a million times over!

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StephanieNo Gravatar

Thank you for this post (which I found from googling “inspiration overload”). Really, thank you.

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ElizabethNo Gravatar

Stephanie,

I’m so glad you found the Read Less Blogs post helpful! I’m still not where I want to be in my gathering inspiration love vs doing the thing, but I’m way better than I used to be and still use this method. I’m down to a handful of blogs I check regularly, and sometimes on weekends I skim through the others like one does a magazine, or maybe really read one and dig in the way one does a book.

Again, thanks for taking the time to comment!

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