Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

Stu wrote a post yesterday, which he has since taken down, with the following words: “As much as I like web and have met some great people part me hates it information overload and sometimes I just want a simple life I canโ€™t remember last time I brought a cd and listen to it with out i pod then listening or read a book with think I ll have to blog this…”

It totally resonated with me. I hope that he’s not offended I’ve repeated his thoughts here because they reiterate a thought I often experience. Am I controlling the information I have access to, or is it controlling me?

Third grade is the year that most children in America are taught to write in cursive. If they’re taught at all. “Boys and girls,” I said last week. “There are two opinions on this. One is that you will never need cursive as you will only be texting with your two thumbs or word processing with both hands. The other opinion is mine: there’s nothing like a personal letter written in one’s own handwriting. It’s a lost skill, one you’re not going to leave my classroom without knowing. You don’t have to use it. But, you do have to know it so that you can make the choice if you want to use it in your own life.”

How much I love finding the notes from my grandfather, written in a fountain pen, in a leather bound notebook, to my grandmother. How much I love the cards from my own father, mother, husband and son which express their thoughts in their writing.

But, I digress. Cursive is only one tiny piece of the conundrum. 

Blogging has enriched my life in a thousand ways. It’s brought literature to me that I would never have read, let alone heard of, had someone I respect not suggested it to me. Not written about it an engaging way that makes me find the book as soon as possible. At the same time, it’s also somewhat of a compulsion. I check my blog frequently for comments so that I can see how what I’ve written is being received. I thrill at an email from an author or publisher requesting a review. I rework my template a thousand times a year to get it just right. (Whatever that means. ๐Ÿ˜‰

When Stu said he can’t remember the last time he read a book without thinking he’d have to blog about it, this is what I thought: “!” Can I read anymore for the simple sake of reading? Can I just enjoy what the author is showing me without needing to mark a page or make a note or compose a draft as I read? Ummmm, no. I’ve lost some of that spontaneity for what is bordering on compulsion.

This is not an “I’m quitting blogging” post. Nor is it an “I’m not posting for a few weeks” post. It is a “Let’s assess the situation” post to see if I can’t achieve a greater balance between what is my pleasure and what is my compulsion.

Because nothing’s worse than turning one’s joy into a job. 

35 thoughts on “Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

  1. You should never feel forced just to post because “it is time”. A blog should not be something stressful, especially when one already has a stressful, demanding job.
    I am always impressed with the amount of articles that every person who owns a blog posts, since I will never have the time to write about all the books I read or the things I do… As Lennon said, “life is what happens while you're busy making plans” ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Well said. I think many of us (myself included) feel this unbalance. Speaking for myself, I'm about 8 reviews behind – and am admittedly stressing a little about it. It makes you wonder … how did this come to be? Why do I feel compelled to blog about each of those 8 books instead of just appreciating them for what they are and what they brought into my life?

    Great post!

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  3. I so recognize what you two are writing… Last week I was traveling, didn't have much access to internet and I asked myself… do I still want this?
    A question like your “Am I controlling the information I have access to, or is it controlling me?” played in my head over and over but also “Do I still want to expose myself so much?”
    I still haven't figured out… and was planning to write about it as soon as I would know. It's interesting that you are blogging about the same topic though!

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  4. That last line is so true. Earlier this year, blogging felt more like a job than a hobby. After taking a long break, I came back to blogging refreshed and with less pressure on myself. I'm more likely not to review a book than to do so, which helps a lot. Plus I'm more selective about what I read so I'm not just reading the books that are being hyped all over the blogisphere.

    This is a wonderful post.

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  5. If anyone is only reading to blog about the book…that is just too sad…

    I think that some bloggers are beginning to feel overwhelmed and over blogged!!!

    There are far too many readathons and contests and memes…that take up far too much precious time…

    Even as a relatively new blogger…I remember the pleasure of just reading for no reason at all other than that I loved it.

    Now I feel compelled to share thoughts way too much…I am tired of my own words!!!

    A step back?
    A more carefree attitude?
    Maybe that is what we all need!!!

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  6. I say to you, “AMEN and AMEN”!! I wrote about this just a week or so ago and have received so very many comments from friends voicing much the same thing. I love blogging…except when I don't. I love hearing about all the new stuff and keeping up about books, etc., etc….except when I don't. I feel overwhelmed and overstimulated often. I'm struggling with reading….truly, just with reading anything. I've sat down and thought, “What does that mean????”. Who am I if I'm not a reader?

    Well, I love your title. Slow down. I love what Vasilly said about not reading a book just because it is hyped. You know, Nan has never done that. She reads what suits at the time. I'm having a hard time finding anything to “suit”. LOL

    I'm done with “musts” regarding blogging. Done with reviewing each book and I'm trying to be done with composing reviews in my head as I read. So very, very exhausting and tiresome. Who wants to read that way? If I do mention a book, I'm may only say – loved it for this one reason – and then stop.

    OK, my sermon is over. Do you think you hit a nerve, Meredith? Good luck to you in your plans to “slow down…” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hugs by the way.

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  7. Wonderful post! My first year of blogging was pretty much like that – I wanted to post everyday. Every moment, I was looking for ideas, even at work. It was insane. And then I had to take two weeks off for a personal reason. Once I cam back, I could no longer do that. But if I don't post for a few days, it will creep up on me. Plus, there are links in my feed reader that just makes me feel like I am perpetually behind. Information overload is certainly the state of the thing now.

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  8. I can really understand that feeling. I love blogging, but sometimes I hate it. I hate feeling pressured to continually write. Sometimes I don't want to say anything about what I read!

    I have found that breaks help me. They keep me grounded and focused on what my real purpose is. And that is to enjoy reading and educate myself.

    I hope it all works out for you.

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  9. I wrote a post just a couple of weeks ago about the information overload that comes with blogging. I realized I'd let the amount I was taking in get out of control, and it was stressing me out. It was definitely time to reevaluate.

    One of the things I've discovered when I've gotten stressed about blogging is that it's usually not blogging itself that's the problem. I really do like writing about the books I read and if my blog were to go away tomorrow, I'd probably still do it in a notebook or something. And blogging with a friend has eased some of the pressure of needing to post regularly. Between us, we easily manage at least two posts a week.

    But all the other stuff–the Twitter, the blog reading, the commenting, the replying to comments, the events, the review copies–that's what gets to me. I've gotten extremely particular about the events I'll commit to, and I don't follow nearly as many blogs as a lot of people do. I've been unsubscribing from a lot of publisher e-mail lists and generally slowing down the incoming information sources as best I can. It's hard, though, to set priorities and figure out which blogging activities are most rewarding and least stressful. The answer is likely to be different for everyone.

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  10. I struggle with this a lot, keeping the right balance. The internet is addicting, and there are days I'm almost frightened by my attachment to it.

    I applaud your decision to teach cursive writing and stress the importance of one-to-one personal communication. Like you, I treasure handwritten letters and cards, and look for ways and times to send those to people.

    I've come to terms with not reviewing every book I read. I started a blog category called “Simply Reading” where I simply mention the book and briefly talk about why I enjoyed it. Nothing like a formal review, but it helps me keep track of what I've read, and share my recommendations to others.

    Good luck with your quest for technological balance! I'm with you all the way ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. I post on average once a week, very occasionally more, but on average once, does this mean I read less than other Bloggers? Probably some I do & others not. My point is on average I have around 3 posts waiting to go & I don't post on everything I read, for example it states on my blog, that if I hate/dislike something I don't post on it. If you check my read list you'll also see other books I've read & not written posts on, maybe I couldn't find a hook to hang the post on, or more likely didn't have the time. The point is (there is one?) This is a hobby if it stresses, causes you angst or is just plain not fun anymore get out do something different, or if you can't because you still deep down love it – downsize, scale it back, give yourself time to appreciate why you did it in the first place .

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  12. It seems that a lot of us “old-timers” are feeling this way. After blogging for almost 6-7 years, it's no wonder we're beginning to re-evaluate our purpose in the blogosphere. Nan has also written about this subject. And, yes, it's a bit of an obsessive behavior, isn't it? I wonder where we'll all be in another 6 years. Part of me thinks this blogging thing, at least for some of us, may be a thing of the past. I hate to lose touch with so many book-lovers, but I'm curious to see where we go from here. Honestly, I can't see myself blogging forever, can you?

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  13. B, I used to be part of a baking group that made a common recipe every week and then blogged about it, and I ended up quitting the group when it started to seem like a chore not only to me but to a lot of others oh, the whining! “I have too much baking to do!') We were baking (BAKING, together, for FUN, and suddenly it didn't seem like anyone was having any.

    Can I tell you what I think? Somewhere along the line, I decided just not to blog about every book I read, especially ones that didn't grab me, or that I read mostly for entertainment, or
    that I just couldn't find anything to say about. I would probably feel differently about a book I had been asked to review (but as that has never ever happened I'm safe, so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the community we all have, and the sharing, but on the other hand this isn't the main thing in any of our lives, and if it becomes a source of stress, or detracts from our enjoyment of the books, or the baking, we all deserve to find a better way to do it, whatever works for ourselves.

    Of course, selfishly, I hope you mean that last part.

    Audrey

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  14. Geez Louise, I sorta wrote about this the other day – at least the writing about books part. And I received comments that said others were thinking about it too. There must be something in the air. Maybe the sun going into Scorpio today, the sign of deep thinking. :<)

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  15. Me again – I just read Les' comment. I guess I do see myself blogging until I can't. What I love as opposed to fb or texting, is that blogging offers a place to really express one's thoughts, whether they be about books or gardening or cooking or family or animals or politics or any other subject. While one is writing, it is a quiet, personal, thoughtful time. And then when anyone takes the time to read what one has written and taken even more time to write a thoughtful comment, well, that's just about the best thing I can imagine in this internet world.

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  16. Thanks, as usual, for sharing your thoughts Bellezza. Reading is a gift to myself, so I don't ever want it to be another chore. But, like you, I get so many great ideas from book bloggers, and have come to think of some of them as friends, that I can't imagine not participating in this community. My answer is to keep it fun. If I don't blog for a week because I'm busy, I don't worry about it anymore. If I lose a follower, I assume they had too much on their plate too (maybe that's not fair, but hey, it's as good an explanation as any other). I'm hoping you'll find a way to balance your real and virtual lives that brings you joy and peace, because I know I'd miss your presence terribly if you left altogether ๐Ÿ™‚ XO

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  17. “The other opinion is mine: there's nothing like a personal letter written in one's own handwriting”. My sentiments exactly. I agree with Patty as well that as a society we all need to step back from time to time and not feel stress to blog or be on the internet so much.

    Changing topics a bit some of my my family members thinks I'm “behind” the times b/c I REFUSE to open a FB account. Sad to know that some of my so called “friends” tell me that in order to keep in touch I need FB. Sorry, but for me that isn't going to work. FB brought me plenty of problems when I briefly had it. If they want to keep in touch then they can email me, text me or call me if not then I simply say “nice knowing you”.

    PS sorry for the rant!

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  18. So many of us seem to be in the same place right now. Not sure what the solution is, but perhaps a more informal approach to the whole thing would suit me. I started blogging because I wanted to interact with the bloggers (like you) whose posts I'd been reading for a year, plus I wanted to move my book journal to the internet. It's been three years now and time to reassess. We'll see where we all go from here…

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  19. Bellezza, that is exactly how I feel. I haven't yet talked myself into giving up the blog, but the fact that I feel less spontaneous in my reading has led to quite a few blogging breaks, this year. I think I'll continue to take frequent breaks and I am definitely not taking on as many ARCs. If it ever becomes too overwhelming, I'll walk away from blogging, but I would still visit blogging friends. I can't imagine just leaving the blog world behind, completely!

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  20. I can really relate to this. And in addition to this, I work on a computer all day long at my office so getting on the computer at night to read blogs or to post just doesn't seem like a good idea most of the time. I have really had to take a step back and try to find a balance that is right for me. Good luck finding your balance.

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  21. I've had these very thoughts myself. Especially in the valleys of reading like the one I'm in now. Brain is too overloaded, life is too full, too many stresses on my time. I'm in a non-reading mood and don't have much to blog about! Even when I do I've tried to become far less compulsive about it. My blog will never allow me to quit my job. It will never allow me more time with my son. It's a hobby, and I've had to face that fact and stop letting it control my time. It's a slippery slope and something we do have to assess, and it's good to be mindful and purposeful in life. One of the things I'm learning more all the time.

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  22. I'm interested in Les' question – “Can you see yourself blogging forever?” I can, as a matter of fact – but I suspect that's partly because I feel no sense of obligation whatsoever.

    I like to post every six days. Given the nature of my posts, I understand that (a) I can't produce them any more frequently than that, and (b) even people who might want to read them all can't do so any more frequently than that.

    Beyond that, I've made a wonderful discovery. I'm just back from a ten day trip. I just posted about the entire experience as one of “gunkholing”, and in the process, I came to understand that that's exactly what I do with my blog. I poke about, I explore, I turn things over and I share. Sometimes, people enjoy what I have to say. What could be better?

    Besides, having posted so much about my folks, my life, my mom's death and burial and so on – it seems appropriate to keep on. I suspect there will be some very interesting posts in the far future!

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  23. I've just read Shoreacres comment and I think perhaps she has the answer so many of us are searching for this fall. Posting once a week! That seems about my speed. It allows followers a chance to read at their leisure without missing a post. All too often, I hear of those who click “read all” or whatever the option is in Google Reader (an app I have yet to try). And it allows for the blogger to sort through his or her thoughts without the pressure to hurry up and get something out in the Blogosphere.

    And, if I may intrude on your comments here, Bellezza, I'd like to tell Shoreacres that one of the things I like most about blogging is the exchange between blogger and reader. Her responses to the comments posted on her blog are by far the most personable and thoughtful (for lack of a better word) than any I have seen anywhere else. What a gift you give your readers, Linda. I have bookmarked your blog and will visit with great pleasure.

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  24. You are so right about teaching children to write cursive. I recently heard that some states are saying students do NOT have to learn cursive. That is a travesty!

    I totally agree about the blogging thing. I feel the same way.

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  25. Bellezza – Surely you won't mind if I leave a brief word here for Les…

    Les, thank you so much. I've developed my own idiosyncratic theories about blogging and have followed them from the beginning, when I refused the blather about posting every day, using polls, memes and other such.

    I honestly believe blogs are capable of taking form as a new kind of literature. Each entry is important, but joined together – with input from readers – they form a whole, from beginning to end.

    What that means is that each entry is a new starting point for a new conversation, not an end in itself. That said, I take each comment seriously, and try to respond to the particular interests or concerns expressed.

    It's really such fun – and puts the numbers game in a whole new context. Anyone who's honest knows that you can brag about a couple hundred comments on a post, but you can't respond to them!

    Again, thanks so much for the kind words. They're an affirmation that I've managed to accomplish a bit of what I set out to do.

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  26. Linda and Les, LOVE the conversation you two are having here, love that you met. You are both special women, beautiful writers with true hearts.

    Sorry I have neglected to respond to all the comments here left by each one; you can't imagine how insane my week is with Red Ribbon Week, Advisory Board for Writing, substitutes, report cards due, I could go on ad nauseum, but I'll stop here to say a big kiss for each one. I'll be by soon as I can.

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  27. I always used to write my thoughts down about the book I was reading in a notebook. I feel that if I don't record it somehow that it will be like I'd never read it at all. In twenty years I could look back and not remember what I'd read or what I thought about a particular book.

    Now in twenty years, I have my blog, I have goodreads and I have my massive spreadsheet to remind me about all hat I've read.

    Goodreads/Blogging allowed me to pay a little more attention to my reviews. In some way I feel a little pressured about writing them, but they get me actively thinking about a book rather then just deciding whether I liked something or not – and slapping 1 to 5 stars on it.

    Thanks to social media I am a far more active reader. I think the pressure is a decent pay-off.

    My blog is something that I like doing, whether or not people read it or not. I don't want a million followers (that would be more pressure) and I don't read for review, I just review what I happen to read. All that other stuff is too much. To me, blogging is an extension of what I read, not the other way around.

    However, the other week I did take part in a reviewathon. I've never been very good at readathons as I read at my own pace and that's it. I had let an almighty stack of reviews build up behind me, and the longer you leave something the harder it gets. Thankfully got all the ones I wanted to do, done. That was starting to make me feel a little pressured.

    I do miss sometimes not thinking of a review whilst I'm reading. I'm perhaps more critical of books then I used to be… however is that really a bad thing?

    Even though don't use stars on my blog I do on Goodreads so I still find myself wondering how many stars this book is worth at certain parts of the book. I do wish I could just turn that bit off because it isn't always helpful. I just start getting hung up on things rather then just enjoying it.

    However, I wouldn't change any of this for the world.

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  28. Bellezza, I've been feeling the same way! Great minds think alike:) I sometimes wonder about my penchant for reading. Is it all geared for blogging now and no longer just for me – ahhh! I hope not, but sometimes it feels that way. I'm definitely going to start taking my time with reading and just enjoying the book and if I blog about it or I don't, I'm not going to stress over it either way. And its funny about the iPod thing being mentioned, because I was thinking the same thing – so I ordered the new Coldplay on cd to listen to on my stereo. Anyhow, I say enjoy your reads for your enjoyment and blog when the mood strikes. Don't let a labor of love become a labor ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  29. I can relate to this. Work has been so busy for me that I just haven't had time to blog. I have about 5 or 6 reviews waiting to be written when once upon a time I would not start a new book until I had blogged about the one I just read. I keep thinking, 'I need to blog about those books'… and it is overwhelming and a chore. That said, I miss my blog and the time I had for it. I need to find balance. Thanks for the post ๐Ÿ™‚

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  30. thanks for mention and relating to my post which i did remove I just want time away and feel refreshed now ,but will be taking it easier in future this is fun and a hobby to me ,all the best stu

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  31. I can completely relate to this and not just in regards to blogging. So many things that start out for pleasure can easily become a chore if you're not careful. Things that become obligation and stress rather than enjoyment. This is a great reminder to step back and re-evaluate why you started in the first place and to slow down and enjoy it!

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  32. It is a very interesting thought and I bet that most book bloggers can relate on some level or another. I started to feel this way around two years ago when I was trying to cram in so many books into my year to fit this challenge or that or to satisfy this request or another. I found out I was pregnant and realized that I couldn't carry on that way. I was stressed about reading! I was on factory mode. That's not how reading should be!! Now I'm sadly on the opposite end of the spectrum with not reading at all (unless Goodnight Moon counts), but I like to think that when I do pick up those books again that I will be reading for ME, not for a publisher or author, not for bloggers, and not for a blog post.

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