Whenever my blogiversary rolls around, I’m forced to take a deep dive into my archives (you know, to find the February date it falls on) and always come back cringing. If I didn’t think there would be some regret, I would delete nearly everything from my first year and even a bit beyond. It’s not quite as bad as stumbling on your LiveJournal from high school, but gives me almost the same feeling.
When I shared my goals for the year at the start of last month, Lauren from Malcom Avenue Review asked if I would share some of the blogging mistakes I hinted at in the post. So, here we are! Since I’ve started to sort out many of them, it won’t be quite as depressing as it sounds. I’m still hanging on after all.
One of the things that I hate the most about looking back is seeing my reluctance to break away from reviews. I didn’t read book blogs before starting my own, so I unknowingly treated this as an extension of Goodreads and didn’t really know there was room to write about anything else. This isn’t to say that reviews are bad, they’re just not great for me. There are some bloggers capable of writing the most beautiful, unique reviews about every book they read, but I often struggle unless I have a really strong opinion (good or bad).
Going along with that, I had to learn how to be uncomfortable. I knew early on that I wanted to write content outside reviews, but wasn’t sure how…so I turned to memes. Participating in memes gave me a prompt for a post nearly every day of the week and blogging felt easy-peasy. Until everything felt like repetition. Why would anyone want to read my Top Ten Tuesday or Waiting on Wednesday when there were dozens of posts just like it? Learning how to come up with my own ideas and break away from that safety net was really uncomfortable, but felt so good in the end.
It also really bums me out to go back and see that I didn’t know how to say no. I wasn’t hoarding books, but I definitely accepted books that wouldn’t otherwise interest me because I felt like I had to. I had a super confused understanding of the relationship between bloggers and publishers with the assumption that turning down one book meant that nothing else would come my way. That’s just not true and discovering that it’s okay to say no was a huge revelation.
I nailed down the power of no pretty quickly, but it took me longer to realize that it’s okay to skip the buzzy books. Just like the memes, I started to feel like most of my reading was the same as every other book blogger and grew desperate to break away from that. I started focusing more on nonfiction and titles that were flying a little under the radar to mix things up. There will always be big, buzzy titles that grab my attention, but it’s been so nice to discover other books, too.
Honestly, I could go on for pages. And I’m sure I’ll look back at this phase of blogging with the same questioning cringes at some point, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. Thanks for hanging on with me through all the learning and (book) loving.