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.
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.