Back when I started really getting into book blogging, way back in 2011, I starting making these arbitrary rules for myself:
PARTICIPATE IN ALL MEMES AND DON’T MISS A WEEK!
POST A TBR!
POST A WRAP UP!
FINISH BOOKS BEFORE THE END OF THE MONTH!
There were many other “rules” that I felt I had to follow and I had it in my head that if I didn’t follow these rules, people would be disappointed in me.
If I said I was going to read a certain 5 specific books in the month and didn’t get to any of them, people would be disappointed.
If I posted a TBR for the first two months of the year and then stopped, people would be disappointed.
If I didn’t finish a book by the end of the month, people would be disappointed.
If I said I was going to participate in x number of read-alongs or read-a-thons in a month and didn’t participate in them all in a timely manner, people would be disappointed.
If I took a week or a month or more off of blogging, people would be disappointed.
Needless to say, I had it in my head that I would be failing people if I didn’t follow through with certain things. I would be failing my readers.
This extended into the way I posted. Back when I was having my first child, I scheduled my blog like a lunatic, because if I didn’t post every other day, people would forget about me, people would be disappointed, I would be letting down my blog. I mean, heaven forbid things change when I had children! Even after having kids, I couldn’t let a week go by without posting.
Not post three times a week like clockwork? People would be disappointed!
But news flash: NO ONE CARES.
I know this sounds crass, but let me explain. I’ve seen people comment that they’re going on vacation and won’t be able to post for a week, or apologize that they weren’t able to post a video on their regularly scheduled day. I still find myself slipping back into this idea that I am SO IMPORTANT and that if, say, I had posted every Wednesday, that people would be upset — or that people would even notice — if I posted on the following Monday.
But do you know what I am slowly learning? That I am NOT so important. Even now, I feel like I’m letting myself down by saying this because aren’t we all important people? I mean, yes, it’s amazing that we are all alive and living and breathing and that we even exist in this world and that this world exists and can you believe I grew two human babies inside of me and HOW AMAZING IS ALL OF THIS!?
And while that is amazing and we might all be unique and important in our own way, unless you have maybe millions of followers or are a major celebrity, people aren’t going to notice or care if you don’t have a scheduled post for a certain day. Of course, they probably will notice if you decide to just take a month off of social media and blogging without telling anyone, but if you say you’re going to read these 10 books next month but decide to watch Netflix instead? NO ONE IS GOING TO CARE.
Does that sound crass to say that? What I’m trying to say is that for me, I had this over-inflated sense of importance that maybe people will notice in real life, like if I wasn’t answering the phone, or if my kid didn’t show up for school for a week. But when it comes to reading and blogging, the only person I’m really disappointing is myself.
And should I even be disappointed? NO!
Back before I started blogging, I didn’t read all the time. I would pick up a big book and read it, maybe taking a week or a month, not reading anything else, and that was okay. I wasn’t thinking about content and what I was going to post for the month if I only read one book, because back then all that mattered was that I was fitting reading into my life. The number of books didn’t matter, the type of books didn’t matter, I didn’t feel the need to track anything, tell anyone what I was reading, and I didn’t feel this obligation to wrap everything up in a bow to show everyone at the end of the month.
(Of course, if you do do that, that’s all up to you – what I’m saying is that you should do certain things because you want to do them and like to do them, but not be disappointed if you can’t.)
I mean, yes, it’s fun to blog, but it’s still a hobby. It’s something I started for myself and should continue to do for myself. Some days the only views my blog gets are from me, other days I might get 100+ views. Same thing with my BookTube channel – if no one watches a video, or if I get 2 views, I feel like I’m doing something wrong.
But you know what? I’m not. If I didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it. I blog and make videos just because I love books. Because I realized that while it was fun to read a book prior to blogging, it was even more fun to bring my love of reading to the internet because other people loved reading, too. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a pile of readers in my life to talk to about books, so it was such an amazing thing to find people who were similar to me, who enjoyed reading and talking about books as much as I did. Blogging isn’t a job – no one is keeping track of how much I post in one week, how many book reviews I post in a row, how many books I read in a month, or how many books I don’t talk about. The only one who’s paying any attention to this is me. That’s all!
I guess what I want to say in this discussion is that there are no hard and fast rules to reading and blogging.
- Read whatever you want! Do you want to read classics for the whole month? Fluffy romance the next month? Science fiction the next? Do it! No one cares if your reading is all over the place, if you’re not sticking to just one genre.
- Read whenever you want! Do you want to watch Netflix for the whole month and graze over the same book for the month, maybe not even finishing it? Do it! NO ONE CARES!
- Rate books or don’t rate books! I find myself finishing a book and hemming and hawing over what kind of rating I should give it. But who cares? It should just matter that I finished a book and enjoyed it without having to tack on a rating.
- Use Goodreads or don’t use Goodreads! Do you know what I did before I discovered Goodreads? I still read! There are other ways to track books if you like to track, and if you don’t want to track your books, YOU DON’T HAVE TO! Because … say it with me … no one cares!
I think what I’m ultimately saying is that I think we all go through a time where we have an overinflated idea of how important we are in the reading world, when it almost feels like someone is forcing us to finish books, do certain posts, have a certain format or schedule, when in the grand scheme of it all, it’s really just us forcing these rules upon ourselves.
So, some new “rules” I’d like to follow:
- Read whatever I’m in the mood for. No one cares if I read different genres or books meant for different age groups.
- Quit following the hype because it rarely ends up being something I like.
- If I don’t know how to rate a book, maybe just don’t rate it! It’s okay to just talk about what I liked and disliked about a book without giving it any stars.
- Post when I want to, take a break when I want to – I may be important and needed in my real life, but if I don’t post for a week, no one is going to notice.
- Don’t review everything I read, or feel the need to review everything I read – sometimes a blurb is enough, and sometimes I shouldn’t even have to write anything on my blog. Sometimes just to say “it was a good book” or “I hated that book” should be enough.
- Have fun with reading! Join read-alongs and read-a-thons, make friends with people who are lax in their reading style and who read the same books I enjoy, but also don’t feel like I have to read the same as what they read. Our different reading styles is what makes us all unique.
- Don’t make reading a competition. Ultimately I’m just in competition with myself, but it’s okay to have a day where I don’t read, or a week where I don’t read, or to not finish a book by the end of a month or year.
- Don’t worry where books come from. Yeah, other book bloggers and BookTubers make book ownership look amazing but I already have lots of books. It’s okay if a book is a tattered used copy, a brand new copy, or a library copy. Shouldn’t the point just be reading?
Now, obviously I don’t mean that no one cares about anyone, but the message I want to pass on with this post is that it’s okay to cut yourself a break when it comes to blogging and reading. It’s okay to do something for you without feeling like you need to justify to your readers why you’re doing so. It’s okay to let go of any guilt you feel when it comes to blogging because, in the end, we all do this because we love books and that’s what matters.
Do you have any set of rules you follow for blogging, reading, or BookTubing? Have you gotten harder on yourself as you’ve blogged more, or used Goodreads more? Have you eased up on yourself for certain rules you might have had in the past?