Monday, March 26, 2012

More than words

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No doubt, you've noticed I have a tag line attached to my name up there on my site's banner: More than words.

I thought about what I wanted following my name (it seemed too bare up there without one). Apart from nothing at all, I tossed around the following:

Writing, loving, living
One word at a time
In my opinion

and various others I can't recall.

I settled on 'More than words' because firstly, I am more than the words you see written here. My whole life is not laid out on the table for the world to read on this site, nor was it when I was writing over at Mummy Mayhem. That's not because I'm trying to keep things from you.

The word 'authentic' gets thrown around the blog world a lot, and I think some people confuse choosing to keep some things private as not being 'authentic'. Not true. Authenticity is about the way you choose to share information and how you portray yourself to others. Are you expressing your true opinions, or playing the fence-sitter because you don't want to rock the boat and perhaps get (who you deem to be important) people off side?

But anyway, I digress.

The reason I don't (and didn't before) share everything is because I want to keep some things for myself, and I want to protect others that are a part of my world.

Secondly, it's a reminder for me to not allow myself to get too hooked in to the blogosphere like I did last time. That's not a reflection on other bloggers or my readers. It's all about me.

I spent a lot of time reflecting about blogging after I finished up MM. Eventually I came to realise that I spent a lot more time blogging and reading blogs back in my MM days than I should have. My real life suffered a bit (even though I refused to see that at the time).

My tag line for MM was 'Escape the mayhem for a little while...', and that's precisely why I started that blog. I felt a need to escape from the daily grind of parenting. Just for a little while each day. And I wanted others to feel they could escape the mayhem of their own lives and join me. Problem was: I escaped all too often.

Originally, when I started MM, my plan was to blog just once a week. I never stuck to that. As soon as I hit 'publish' that first time, I was hooked. Then when I started receiving comments on my posts, I was hooked even more, and thought the more that I posted, the more people would read. And I couldn't let my readers down. Oh, gosh, no.

I was justifying all the blogging at the time, because a) I really hadn't made time for myself since Eldest Son's birth almost eight years before - therefore, I felt I deserved it; and b) I was mostly blogging at night, and I figured that it wasn't interfering with my time with my kids anyway.

However, it was interfering with my time with my husband, Mr A. Picture this: me on the couch every night, laptop in front of me, tweeting, facebooking and writing blog posts. Every. Night. Where was Mr A during this time? Usually in the study, on the computer himself. Working (but not always). Reading online newspapers...passing time, basically. After all, I wasn't available, was I? What else was there for him to do? Even though I didn't really realise it until much further down the blogging track, my blogging was getting in the way of our relationship. Our relationship wasn't bad, but it wasn't what it could be either.

It wasn't until mid last year, when I suddenly stopped blogging so much at night (it had started to lose it's shine for me by then), and started watching Mad Men with Mr A, or just sitting on the couch talking to him, that I realised just what our relationship had missed out on. We reconnected, and I believe these days we're closer than we've been in years.

But then I started sneaking in blogging time during the day with Youngest Son around. Once again, I justified it: He got a lot of one-on-one time with me, and had done for years (unlike his brothers). A bit of blogging here and there wasn't going to hurt him, and besides, he was getting FREE STUFF from PR companies (yet another aspect of blogging life I eventually struggled with, which I'll write about some other time) sending him lots of toys and the like - all thanks to my blog.

However, eventually I realised how much my blogging was influencing our time together, and just how much he was noticing it.

The first clue was when he was playing with his doctor's set case. Instead of using it as a case for his medical instruments, he had it open like a laptop, and told Mr A he was working on his blog. Then there was the time he told me, whilst playing playdough, that he was going to let his kids play with playdough too when he became a Daddy one day, so he could do work on his blog. Then eventually, I would hear myself some days getting annoyed with him when he would interrupt my blogging time, and eventually I realised: this is not good. Did I really want my son growing up remembering his early days with his mother as a time when all she did was have her face planted firmly in front of a computer screen? Did I want to keep saying, 'No,' to his requests to play with me, because I had to stick to my self-imposed (albeit loosely structured) blogging schedule? Was my blog really worth it?

And there was something else: I became moody. I was feeling pressured to get out posts full stop (not by anyone other than myself), but also to churn out posts including the products I'd been sent (and liked). After all, I was grateful for them. Then there were the additional weekly posts that I'd set for myself that I felt I had to maintain for my readers, because I'd started them (although, not surprisingly, when I didn't get around to posting them at times, the blogging world didn't fall apart). (Today, when I read back on some of my blog posts at MM, I'm not overly impressed. There are a few I'm proud of - that I took my time writing - but the rest are just...fillers. Blogging for the sake of blogging. It had never been my intention to do that.)

Guess what happened? Blogging suddenly became a chore. And it was interfering with my family time and making me a grumpy mother and wife.

Eventually, I started to pull back. Not just from blogging, but from Twitter and Facebook (wonderful social media tools, but also HUGE time wasters if you allow them to be). And the more and more I pulled back, the more I realised how much I really did need and, most importantly, want to spend time with my family. Quality time. None of this, 'Hey, you build this puzzle whilst Mummy does some stuff on her computer,' business. Nuh-uh.

Although my kids were initially upset they wouldn't be receiving anymore freebies when I announced I'd finished up MM, I honestly think they quickly didn't care about that stuff in the end, because they had something better: me.

Maybe, if I'd been better at time management, or was prepared to wake at 5am every morning to blog (I know that some bloggers do this), then it wouldn't have been such a big deal. I'll never know the answer to that.

'More than words' reminds me that I have a life outside writing. Although writing is important to me, it isn't all that I am. Besides, there's no point being a writer if you don't make the time to create life experiences to write about, is there?

J
xox

43 comments:

  1. So well written Jodie and more than words on a page - they cut straight to my heart.
    I hear these words and they resonate with me so much. I am guilty of this too. I pulled back a lot but the pull to be online ,FB and blog is still very strong and addictive.
    I'm sad my boys missed out on a lot of my time too because I was blogging.Yes, huge regrets of the time I've wasted online some days/nights. I am trying to not let it interfere with my family time too.
    In as much as it is still a hobby and I can justify it as a little me time.

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    1. Trish, my friend, Jen, says not to have regrets about it. Personally, I think having regret is okay, because it reminds me what I have learnt and what I have to do in the future.

      Same for you. xox

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  2. I love this post Jodie. You've summed up so many of the thoughts I've been having about blogging. I've been re-evaluating lots of things in my life recently, including what I want from my blogs.

    In the last 12 months particularly there seems to have been so much information out there about what a blog 'should' be and what constitutes a 'successful' blog. Unfortunately, that has taken a lot of the pleasure out of blogging for many people and the resulting cookie-cutter style blogs have lost a lot of the individuality that made them so appealing in the first place.

    I'm so pleased that you are 'back' and I'm looking forward to reading what you post. Welcome back to the blogosphere, on your terms. xxx

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    1. Thanks, hon. I've missed our 'catch ups' on our blogs and Twitter etc. xox

      Completely agree about the info out there on what a 'successful' blog is. I found after the conference last year I started to reassess what that was for me. I was just not in to 'building a brand' or anything. Took me a long time to pull the plug, but I'm glad I did.

      I think there are a lot of bloggers going more back to the basics. The writing. I'm glad I did. Really, really glad.

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  3. I love this Jodie! I've never been a blogger myself, but I think what you've written makes so much sense. I love your version of authenticity as well. Glad you're back! xx

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  4. Smart post from a very smart lady. I so hear you. xo

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    1. Thanks, hon. You know I always value your opinion. xox

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  5. You really nailed it here Jodie, echoing many of my own thoughts. Blogging is becoming a chore to me as well of late and I feel nothing more than a mouse on a wheel chasing its tail. Not quite ready to say farewell but some introspection is on the horizon.

    Thanks for sharing this - especially your take on authenticity which is exactly how I feel as well!

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    1. Hey, Donna.

      I recall you tossing up about your blog last year. I think going back to remembering why you started it in the first place helps to put it in perspective. xox

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  6. Great post Jodie. I think this is a place and a question that every blogger must face at some point.

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    1. Thanks, Al. And for linking to it on your FB page. xox

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  7. It's so good to read your words again. I have always had my blog as an outlet and a hobby for myself. I'm not on anybody's radar, and that's just fine with me. Sometimes I think I should try to put more effort into my blog, but then I would be doing that to try to please others, not myself or my family. I hope you are able to write just for you now. xx

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    1. Thanks so much, Shelley. I'm happy to be writing again!

      There were times I felt I should put more effort in too, but we don't all have to be (nor want to be) Mia Freedman. I certainly don't. xox

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  8. I came here via Allison's link to you on FB. Thank you for writing this as I have struggled recently and even posted last week saying i felt like i should keep posting "when expected" as that is the name of the game, but would rather post when i have something I genuinely want to share. I think you nailed it when you mentioned your previous blog had a lot of "filler" - that is what I am trying to avoid, but felt bad skipping days so thank you! (I also reduced the time i spent on writing, FB and twitter and am putting more of my energy back into my family). It is amazing how fast blogging trickles into your family life and you find yourself sneaking away from them to blog / FB / tweet

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    1. Welcome, Deb!

      Yes...blogging does trickle in to family life. I remember driving up the coast with my family, and when we stopped for lunch, I pulled out my laptop to punch out a weekly post I was putting up at the time. Can you believe it? On holidays and I couldn't give it a break?! Silly.

      xox

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  9. Welcome back!
    I have had to cut right back on my blogging too.
    Its a good thing to keep our addiction under control

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    1. Thanks, Michelle! Great to be back. And yes...it can become an addiction. I definitely felt it was. xox

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  10. All this makes so much sense! I've discovered I have much more time than I thought too by being online less this year. I've made fitness my priority this year and at first I thought I'd do about 30mins every day on the treadmill because an hour would be way too much! Well, guess what? An hour is easy, and I still have time to spare, go figure! I'm loving that you're back on terms you feel comfortable with. Looking forward to reading, whenever you feel you wish to publish. xx

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    1. SO true, Thea. I'm so glad you're making time for exercise. We all have to. I never did either during my blogging time, and I think I'd have been happier and less moody if I had! It's all about priorities. xox

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  11. I don't think anyone can ignore this balance, and the pressure to "post" isn't from your readers so much as it's from yourself.
    I feel more pressure to read AND comment. That's where I get overwhelmed. So much so that the last couple of weeks I've really struggled to read a handful of posts a day let alone comment. I've pulled back, and it shows on my blog because people are visiting me less, and you know what?
    I miss those comments, but I'm ok with it too. Life has been busy and I've been lost in my world. I think it's ok to pull back and be in life so you can create more content to post, you know?
    I've been getting most my time in in the afternoon while the boys play together, or while Bluey does his homework I sit with him and read blogs so I'm there to help him, but I'm catching up. I'm ok with that because I always stop when he speaks to me.
    As for writing? I write when something comes to me, and I am in a position to write. I stop and I write ASAP. I don't always post it then, but I just get it out or the start of it, or part of it and come back later to fiddle.

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    1. The pressure definitely came from me. Absolutely.

      As for reading blogs. I still read, but I often don't get around to commenting now. But I don't read nearly as many as I used to, because I have to prioritise my life. Family, home, writing.

      And Miss Pink..I have more time now that all three boys are at school. It's tricky with little ones at home, so don't feel bad that you're reading whilst your son is doing something. If that was ALL day then....a problem. But here and there? Not at all.

      xox

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  12. Ah, it's so good to have you back, Jodie. Regardless of how you felt, you have always been one of the voices of reason in this blogging world of ours. I admire you HUGELY for getting out when it wasn't working for you and EVEN MORE hugely for coming back on your own terms.

    It's just our silly egos that get us more tied up in this blogging caper than it deserves. Until someone figures out how to make an actual income from this game, there is absolutely NO justifcation for spending more than a few hours a week on it. Like any other hobby. And NEVER at the expense of our commitment to our family and ourself.

    That's just how I feel about it all anyway.

    Welcome back! x

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  13. Thanks, Bron. That means a lot to me.

    Think we're on the same page here. I finally caught up/on! ;) xox

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  14. So good to read your words of wisdom again Jodie.

    I have never had a blog of my own, but subscibed to lots and lots of them and I found all the things you talk about also happening to me.
    At the start of this year I made a choice to only follow those blogs that I really felt I got something out of and were worthy of my time. I dont mean that in a snobby way, more of a "righto, if I am going to take time away from my family to read this blog, is it worthy of getting this time" I hit unsubscribe on the majority of the blogs and now the ones I still follow I can engage in fully. I generally learn something and I look forward to the email in my inbox telling me there is a new post up.
    I also turn my laptop off at 6.30pm every night and it does not go back on until the next day. The drama and they goings on will still be there in the morning (in fact most of the drama just repeats itself every few months)
    I also got very tired of people trying to sell me something, tell me to vote for something etc etc. I understand that everyone blogs for different reasons but the whole "industry" of blogging started to annoy me and turn me off reading. I am happy to just read and follow a handful of blogs now.
    So happy you are one of them.

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    1. Thank you, Anon. I feel very honored to be one of your blog reads. What a huge compliment. I hope I can keep it interesting for you!

      I think it's great you have set times etc. I have rough times in my mind for that sort of thing too. Mostly, I write during the day when the kids are at school, and not so much at night. Unless Mr A is away, the kids are in bed and I'm bored!

      And I agree about blogs becoming a lot about blogging and comps and products. It does get frustrating. When I became the non-blogger and would read blogs on occasion, I found that there seemed to be too many posts about 'blogging' and not enough posts about 'life'. That's why the balance is so important to me now. If I'm online all the time, I won't have anything BUT blogging to write about!

      xox

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  15. Hi,
    Thanks for a great post; a difficult and personal situation put very sensitively. I can relate to all of this and regularly have to remind myself to switch off from work and spend quality time with the children. I find that getting out of the house is often the best thing to do!
    I think blogging and building an online brand or community is particularly addictive and lends itself to overworking at the cost of your family, but it’s also true of other work from home jobs. When my first son was a toddler I worked as an IT Project Manager and although I was only supposed to work three days a week I was online ‘just checking things’ on my days off, and quickly noticed I wasn’t giving my son the attention he deserved. I’m also guilty of cramming work into the evenings and neglecting time for myself and with my husband, who is equally prone to overwork.
    We have now structured the week to have a few work nights, a date night, family time and complete offline time (no phones, ipads, laptops etc) – we only did this recently and are constantly reminding each other of the rules but I think it’s going to be good for us all.
    Glad to see you writing again and wishing you all the best.
    Sarah

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    1. Yep, it doesn't just have to apply to bloggers, but people who work as well. Especially now with iPhones etc, it's so easy to 'just check' your emails! Discipline with it all is the key. Sounds like you've got it all figured out, Sarah. xox

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  16. Hi Jodie,
    Good to read your post! A year ago we chatted at AusBlogCon & I've enjoyed your writing. Was saddened to see you stop but twigged it might have been about the balance & life choices ... Then when I read about you & Mr going to NYC I "knew" how much connections as a family & couple were the highest priorities.
    I'm speaking at DPCon about MyBlogMyStory & in it I mention quite a bit about needing to find what I want from blogging.. And BALANCE in my life is being achieved now after blogging as a niche education & posting 3 days only. Looking forward to reading your words again!
    Love Denyse

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    1. Sometimes it takes us a while to find out way. Glad you've found yours, D and good luck at DPCon! xox

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  17. I've been thinking about restricting my online activities to when my family are not around. They are school age now, so I can do it if I try. This post really resonated with me. So happy you're back, even if it's less often.

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    1. I was surprised how much my kids noticed, and I know at times it annoyed them. Especially if I was concentrating on what I was doing on my computer and they were trying to get my attention!

      Thanks for the welcome back, hon.

      xox

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  18. I could so easily fall into this same trap of getting caught up in my blog. Over Christmas I was feeling the pressure from PR companies for what was really just 'stuff'. I made some blog goals/rules etc and feel so much better for it.

    Apparently my klout score tumbled, but it is off my list of things to look at now so I wouldn't know!

    Welcome back.

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    1. Thanks, hon. Good to be back...on a smaller scale! ;) xox

      PS - I have NO IDEA what Klout is. Never got it. Will never bother with it. :)

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  19. Great post- really good!
    I used to blog for pay (for the Child website) and while I'm proud of the work I did while I was there I found I had to give it up for all the reasons you mention- and one more. Blogging was eating my time and my life, and it was also eating my writing. At heart, I'm a fiction writer, but blogging was not only taking some of the precious free time I allocated to that, it was also taking my mental energy and my ideas. It was wearing me out and down. It made me sick of sitting at the PC (gasp!).I've never regretted giving it up. I don't have bloggable thoughts very often, but when/if I do I've found I can slip them into a novel, or ask to guest blog on one of my friends' fine blogs or write a piece and send it in to an online site or an opinion section or whatever... it's no loss to me not having a blog. It does make me feel freer (I also read quite a lot of blogs but never feel compelled to comment unless I want to. I don't have to make blog friends!)

    I hope you enjoy the freedom too. I'm really glad there are great bloggers in this world, but I'm also happy not to be one of them.

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    1. Thanks, Kylie.

      This is why I want to only blog a little, and freelance a little. I have other writing projects I'd like to do, including a creative writing course. Balance...!

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  20. What a great post, and so true. I am a tiny little bump of flotsam in the blogging world, because I really write for myself. I love to write and find it freeing. But I also only have a handful of regular readers and one of those is my MUM! I danced on the edge of getting caught up in the Building a Brand thing but actually I like the freedom to blog when it suits me, and say nothing when I've got nothing to say. Not every life experience needs to be converted into a money making enterprise.
    I look forward to reading more from you whenever the desire to write takes your fancy. And when you don't write I will know that you are spending time Building your brand on the hearts of those who are truly important.
    xxx

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    1. Hi Lisa

      At one stage, I started considering the whole 'Building a Brand' thing too. But then I went to a conference last year and there was a lot of talk of that and stats and building an audience etc, etc, and really...that's why I discovered I didn't want to be that kind of blog. By then though, MM had become what it was and I didn't know how to get off. Until I jumped ship last November!

      This is more me. I feel more at home here.

      xox

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  21. Love the honesty and can totally relate - hence the lack of posts on my blog of late! More than words - yes you are.

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  22. This was me, exactly at the end of last year. I stepped back as well and I'm ready to approach it again, completely differently. Good for you.

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  23. What a wonderfully honest, thoughtful piece.
    I have a love/hate relationship with my computer too. These things are highly addictive. It's good to take a step back and remind yourself of what's real.

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  24. Welcome back Jodie. Blogging can easily over take "real life". For me it is about setting boundaries, sometimes I test them out a little too much, but I have found them important to have in place.

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Thanks for stopping by and for sharing your thoughts. J xox