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Friday, July 25, 2008

Losing My Balance

When I first started SGCC last September, I had so much to say. I was literally bursting with ideas of recipes I wanted to share with you, and stories I wanted to tell. I spent almost every spare moment that I wasn't cooking, writing, rewriting and finessing my posts. In my prolific frenzy, I couldn't get the words out fast enough. It was so liberating to be able to voice my opinions and tell my stories without anyone arguing or disagreeing with me. The Internet was like a new best friend I'd found that I wanted to tell everything to, so it would feel like it had known me forever.

You may have noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately? It's true, but not because I haven't tried. It's not because I haven't been spending much time in the kitchen either, because I've actually been cooking quite a bit. I've just been having a really hard time motivating myself to write about it. I've been running with this whole blogging thing for months at full throttle and now I think I've hit the wall. I won't say that I'm burned out, but maybe all of the countless hours of writing posts, reading posts and commenting on posts has begun to take its toll. As much as I love doing it, sometimes it feels a little overwhelming.

Before I started blogging, there were many different things that I enjoyed doing. I loved to read, and not just cookbooks, but books with actual plots. I played tennis three or four times a week. I wrote a lot of poetry and did a lot of composing and musical arrangments. I liked to go for bike rides and take impromptu shoe-shopping trips. I went to movies, concerts and gallery openings. I went out to lunch with my girlfriends. Hell, I even made time to clean my house once in a while too! I feel it's safe to say that the pre-blog SGCC was a pretty well-rounded person.


But, here's the thing. I don't do most of those things anymore. I seem to have sacrificed a lot of my other interests, including spending quality time with family and friends, for the sake of "the blog", as it has become known around here.
Mini SGCC: Mom, can we--
Me: Not now! I'm trying to finish this post!
Mr. SGCC: Hey, what do you think about--
Me: Later! I need to catch up on these comments! Oh, wait - someone's tweeting me!
Mini & Mr. SGCC: We're hungry!
Me: Move! You're in my light! Can't you see I'm trying to take pictures here!?!?
Do you see where I'm going with this?
The thing that finally made me sit up and take notice happened on the 4th of July. Every year on the 4th at sundown, our community sponsors a huge fireworks spectacular on the bayfront. It is always impossibly crowded, but we've found a special place just a few blocks from our house, with an unobstructed view, where we can watch the show. We've been doing this every year since Mini SGCC was a toddler. It's tradition! This year, they went without me. They weren't mean about it or anything. They just assumed that I was busy with "the blog". As I was sitting at the computer catching up on some emails, they packed some lawn chairs in the car and headed out.
Me: Hey, where are you going?
Them: We're going to watch the fireworks.
Me: But, what about me?
Them: We thought you were busy with "the blog".
Me: I'm not THAT busy.
Them: Oh. (uncomfortable silence) Well, we don't have much time. If you really want to come, we can put an extra chair in the car.......
Me: Never mind. You guys go and have fun. I guess I can watch it on TV.
Them: Okay. See you later.
Me: (feeling incredibly hurt) Um, bye.......
So, I guess I got a little depressed, which made me apathetic, which made me unproductive, which made me more depressed, which made me feel like sh*t. And that, dear readers, is why I haven't been posting or commenting as much lately.
What happened? When did this little hobby of mine become an all-consuming obsession? When did I stop caring about the other things I used to like to do? When did I lose my balance?

I realized that I needed to make some changes. I am not Wonder Woman. I cannot do it all and yet, I don't want to be a one-trick pony. So, I've started spending more time doing other things and a little less time glued to the computer. I'm working on that skyscraper stack of novels piled next to my bed. I've signed up for the ladies tennis league at my club. I'm catching up on all those DVDs I bought and never watched (with my husband and daughter). I'm planning a Girls Nite with my friends. I'm set to start a Photoshop class next month. And, I'm preparing some delicious meals for my family to enjoy with no ulterior motive. I feel better already!

Rest assured, I have no intention of abandoning SGCC. It is one of the most fulfilling, rewarding and fun things in my life. But, I am going to try to do a better job of juggling it in with the rest of my life. I'm going to try to focus on quality over quantity in my posts. I'm also going to do my best at keeping up with comments and making the rounds to all of your blogs too. With over a thousand Daring Bakers and over two hundred TWDers, that is not going to be easy! Please know that if I haven't visited or left a comment in a while, it is not personal. I adore seeing what you all are up to and your comments mean so much to me, but with almost 300 food blogs in my Google Reader and great new ones discovered every day, it is virtually impossible to hit them all, all the time!

So, let me propose some questions to you. How do you balance blogging (and everything associated with it) with the rest of your lives? Do you have a full-time job? Are you married with children to look after? How often do you post each week? How long does it take for you to get a post up from start to finish? How much time do you spend tweaking your blogs? On social networking? Do any of you ever feel frustrated and overwhelmed, or is it just me? How much time do you spend blog-hopping and commenting? What is your most favorite and least favorite aspect of blogging?

I am very interested in your input, not only for myself, but for others out there who might also be struggling with the same issues. Maybe by sharing our blogging trials and tribulations, we can help each other.
Now, if you're still reading this, (and I hope you are), the least I can do is give you some food for your trouble. This is a dish I cooked up a few weeks ago when I found some incredibly fresh and gorgeous rainbow trout at the market. I'd never made rainbow trout before, but Mr. SGCC has mentioned many times that he really likes it. So, I bought some.

Rainbow trout is a mild, small white fish that reminds me of flounder, tastewise. My fishmonger said that he likes to pan fry it in bacon fat. That sounded pretty good, but I didn't have bacon, so I decided to try a makeshift trout almondine. I call it makeshift because I didn't follow a recipe and have no idea if what I did was actually "authentic". I did use almonds and butter, so I'm calling it almondine. If I'm wrong, I'm sure I'll hear about it. I prepared the trout pretty simply by dredging it in flour mixed with ground almonds, pan frying it in a little butter and finishing it off in the oven.
I thought it was a very successful dish. The fish was nice and flaky on the inside and nutty and crunchy on the outside. We all enjoyed it very much. An added bonus was that it took very little time to prepare. Because the filets were thin, they cooked up quickly. I served it with an easy, cheesy potato casserole and a salad and called it a meal.
Trout Almondine
(Printable Recipe)
6 rainbow trout filets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almonds or almond meal
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix flour and ground almonds in a pie plate or other deep dish with sides.

Season filets with salt and pepper and dredge each in flour mixture, coating on both sides.

Melt butter in a large frying pan or skillet over medium high heat.

Pan fry fish in the skillet on both sides until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer trout to a baking sheet and sprinkle sliced almonds over each filet. Pour any remaining melted butter from the skillet over the fish.

Bake for about 7-8 minutes or until cooked through.



Amy said...

Wow, that trout dish looks awesome! I love almonds, I'll have to try this.

As far as working on a blog...I'm just a few months in, so I'm still in the beginning stages of the love affair with my blog. I find myself formulating posts in head, to the point where I can get them from brain to computer in the matter of a lunch hour.

Manggy said...

When I saw the first pic, I thought it was dessert, haha... But it turned out to be a lovely fish dish. Looks delicious, Susan :)

About the blog. Hmm. I definitely think you should have insisted on going with them, even if they had to pack an extra chair. Sometimes the family can be a little oblivious to one member's hurting, even if you drop subtle hints. If for anything, at least to prove them wrong about your being busy... I'm pretty good at Photoshop so I don't spend a lot of time tweaking pictures. It probably takes me two hours to get a post together, but it's because I have only one post a week these days and it usually consists of something I've been meaning to say for a long time, so my verbal diarrhea flows easily (YUM! FISH!). I don't have to think too hard of the topic as it's already filed in my mind, it's just a matter of finding the right topic to go with the food. The commenting on other sites takes a while. I must spend about an hour a day, sometimes more. I suppose if I had an actual job or a family to look after, I would be giving up commenting on a lot of the blogs, or maybe limiting the browsing to once a week. As my friend tells me, if you have time to blog, you probably have time to comment. I actually don't know how you moms do it, hah :) I know when I start working my hospital shifts, it'll suffer, but it'll be for a good cause.

I try not to conform to blog events but rather look for blog events that coincide with something I've been wanting to do (or have in file) for a while. Also, it matters if my friend is the one hosting the event, I do want to show my support too. It helps to keep the pressure of sticking to a schedule down.

Do enjoy life and your extra-blogging activities! Life is better-lived without the extra guilt hanging around. When you've time, you'll have time (how's THAT for a tautology?). I'll always be on the lookout for your next entry, no matter how long it takes!

See? You've spent precious minutes reading this comment already! Oops ^v^

Anonymous said...

Your description of the pile of books you want to read and all the computer time hit home. I know I don't have a great balance right now either.

I don't have a job right now, and haven't really since I started my blog. That's going to end within a few weeks, so I know it's going to be more difficult to work on my blog then.

I'm married, but don't have children, so that helps. I usually do three posts per week, sometimes four. I only make the occasional comment on other blogs, which I feel bad about, but I have to make concessions somewhere.

I'm not sure how long each post takes me, because I break it up into small segments of time here and there. That's what has helped me feel better about my blog more than anything else. If I look at maintaining it as a constant but (usually) not demanding task, I don't feel overwhelmed. I just work on it when I need a break from other things.

Good luck - I'm interested to hear what you come up with.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about balance! I have a baby at home and pretty much every free moment that's not devoted to taking care of her seems to go to something blog-related. Wait - don't I have a husband too?? Twenty-four hours seems just too short for a day. Kudos to you for taking the time to get back in balance - I know that all aspects of your life will be better for it! :-)

Katrina said...

I've only been food blogging for about six months and can totally relate and understand what you're saying. That's why my blog still isn't very reader friendly. Someday I'll get it up to speed, but I decided after only seeing pictures of food and not my family that I needed to make some changes. There's just so much to read on blogs and so many blogs! There definitely needs to be some balance. My four boys make it so I literally CAN'T blog as much as I'd like. Some things just go unwritten!
Good luck, sounds like you'll do fine.
Love your food and blog.

Megan said...

Amen! Well said - it could have been me writing that post! I've only been doing this since April but I swear it's totally consumed my life!

I've started doing shorter posts so I'm not writing all day. Especially with the kids at home.

I actually went to the movies yesterday! Count me in as your BAA sister! (Blog Addicts Anonymous!)

Mary said...

If it makes you feel better my husband calls me "Blogger" as in "How's it going Blogger?" I work full time third shift frying donuts and he works long hours as a lawyer. So really I started my blog 9 months ago as something to do to fill up the time. Balance is hard though. Mostly I just go without sleep. And yeah, I have a stack of books and knitting projects to work on.

Esi said...

The trout looks beautiful. As for laying low on the blog - of course we miss your posts but you must put yourself first. I do have a full time job, but it is an extremely boring one which leaves me a lot of time to catch up on what is going on in the food blogosphere. Also, being single and not having children leaves me a lot of time to test things out. My friends reap the benefits so they can't complain about missing me! Hope you find your balance :)

Rachel said...

When I started the blog, I worked full time (I taught middle school Social Studies in the inner city) and was in grad school full time. I did that for about 1 1/2 yrs then graduated and just taught full time for a year. It was pretty rough but I still posted about 3x a week, same as I do now. I also would try to take 1 meal/marathon cooking day and break it into many posts. One would be for the roll, the next for the chicken, the next for the dessert etc so I got three posts out of one meal. I'd then write them up and save them to post.
Then last year I started working part time.

Now I freelance from home and it is much easier to keep track! I still try and write up a bunch of posts in advance and then schedule them to post automatically so I don't feel pressure at the last minute, esp. for my "My Grill Friday" feature this summer. I also try to do all of the writing before my husband gets home from work at 4 so I am not distracted and ignoring him. Of course I do cook and photograph things when he is home but he doesn't mind and we have eat anyway.

I also have a few posts written up that could be published at any time (i.e. not seasonal recipes) that I keep on hand so I can post even when sick/busy/tired without much work. I also subscribe to about 600 food blogs but I don't comment often.

Depending on the post, I'd say it takes me any where from 1/2 hr to 3 hours to write it not counting developing the recipe which can take days.

Anonymous said...

Blogging should be a hobby, not a chore. If it is interfering with your personal life too much, it may be time to re-evaluate the situation. Blogging isn't your full-time job, so it shouldn't feel that way.

When I first started blogging, I signed up with every food networking website I could find, but after awhile, it was just too much work. So I've abandoned a lot of that. I also don't take part in a lot of challenges because I know I couldn't keep up. I also don't feel the need to post about everything unless it's something worth posting about. As for my time, I usually spend my mornings cleaning, catching up on stuff, doing the things I want to do. I generally don't do postings until really late at night, when I can just sit and relax before bed.

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said... you see I have not posted in a month. I was getting heart palps from stress of cooking, posting and trying to post something FUNNY (because that was my thing) and juggling 2 toddlers that are trying to kill one another etc. I was burnt out and I am still recovering. My blogging days are over.

Peter M said...

The trout looks wonderful..lemme git some!

As to your blogging mallaise...choose your own schedule, reply to posts you like, blog when you feel like it whatever you do, have fun.

There's no right/wrong answer, go at your own pace.

Anonymous said...

It's hard, it really is. Sometimes it is just overwhelming and that's when you have to step back and do as you are doing now and there is nothing wrong with that. That is one of the reasons that I had to withdraw from Tuesdays with Dorie for now. Alexis is getting ready to start school and that has to be the focus. Real life and family should always come first.

I actually have recipes ready to go (most of the time) weeks in advance. When I have time I sit down and write a bunch up at once. Some entries take minutes to write, others take close to an hour, but I find that keeping ahead makes it easier for me. I keep the ingredients that I used as drafts in my inbox and go from there. Once they are in the system I just push a button each morning and boom they're posted. If I had to actually come up with a post each day I don't know that I could do that, though I do post "What's For Dinner?" daily, but that isn't that much.

As for replying to posts, that is becoming more and more of a challenge. I reply to most everything on my blog, but I see entries daily on other blogs that I want to post on, but I just can't comment on everything. I think as a general rule people understand that though. It's gotten to the point that I skim over the general content in my Sage reader of a blog as it posts something new. If it is just something I'm really struck by I'll comment, if not I move on.

Susan @ SGCC said...

Wow! I can see already that I spend way too much time formulating my posts. Most of you are able to do it within a few hours. My average time writing, editing and posting an entry is probably 4-6 hours, sometimes more! No wonder I never seem to have enough time! I'm so anal that every word has to be just so. Obviously, I'm not writing War and Peace here, but I am such a perfectionist. Also, staging, taking the photos and editing them adds another couple of hours.

Vixen- I remember the honeymoon stage. I had more ideas than I could process. It kind of tapers off, though. At least it did for me.

Manggy- You are such a dear, sweet man! You always have good advice and you always make me smile! Thank you.

Blog events? I remember those. I have some that I really enjoy participating in, but I seem to always miss them lately.

Bridget- I think that having kids really is the key. Before our daughter was born, we didn't worry about having a set schedule for meals and things. I could be a lot more flexible, even though I worked more hours. Having a child really does change everything.

Kathy- Thanks! I don't know how you do it. My daughter is a teen, so she is pretty self-sufficient about most things. I can't imagine doing all of this with a baby too! You must have great organizational skills!

Katrina- Four boys! OMG, I'm amazed to see you here at all!

You're right. There are so many great blogs. I could spend all my time just cruising all of them.

Megan- Lol! BAA sister- I like that! I think that part of the problem is that we get cought up in the guilt trap. I feel like I'm a bad blogger if I don't visit every other blog I enjoy regularly. With thousands out there, it's impossible, but I still feel bad about it.

Mary- Hehehe! My husband does things like that too. When he comes home for lunch, he'll say things like, "My wife's a food blogger and all I got for lunch was this crappy ham sandwich!" He is a regular laugh riot. ;) He's also a lawyer too.

Esi- Thank you! I'm glad you liked the trout. Being single and childless definitely makes it easier. You can pretty much do what you want, when you want.

Rachel- Those first few years sound like they were pretty grueling! Thanks for sharing your strategy. I really appreciate that you took the time to it. It sounds like you have things down to a science. I would love to be able to do all of my cooking during the day. Sometimes, I'll get things all prepped in the morning, but then I have to go to the office, pick up my daughter from school, grocery shop, etc. and I find that it's already 5:00 before I get home and can actually cook!

Weekend marathons are a great idea as is having some back up posts. I used to have a few back-ups, but I used them. Um...actually, one is this trout dish!

Tanya- You're right. It should be enjoyable, and it mostly is, except for when things get out of control. Actually, just writing the post and getting it out really helped a lot.

I've had to abandon a lot of the events I used to enjoy too, simply because there just isn't time.

Obsessive- OMG! You poor thing! No hobby should ever be that stressful. I'm sorry that you got sick from it.

I really enjoyed your blog and you! You did a great job. I hope that you don't really give it up for good.

BTW, you are funny - you don't have to try.

Peter- Lol! Glad you like the trout. Thanks for the good advice too. I know you're right. If I could just trade in this Type A personality of mine......

Dianne- TWD is great, but it is a huge drain on my personal resources. With so many members now, I spend 2-3 solid days each week, baking, posting and commenting for each installment. I feel like hitting all the blogs and commenting is expected and I just can't keep up, much as I'd like too. It would be so much better if they went to every other week. I don't know how the others do it!

I have lots of recipes written up, but it's writing the other stuff that takes so much time. I want to be entertaining too. Also, the photography takes a lot of thought and time. Sometimes, it will be getting late, and my family is sitting at the table waiting for dinner and I just say screw it. Forget the pictures. But then, I can't post about it.

Cynthia said...

Susan I read your post and kept nodding. I am thrilled that you are taking back your life, it is important, it is a must for balance.

I too am planning on making some changes that will have me spending less time glued to my computer.

As you asked, here's what I do.

I post weekly - on Saturdays and this is to coincide with the publication of my column. I try not to have too long of a write up in my blog post, because the detail, creativity and art of the writing is in the column so I encourage readers to click the link and go read the column. Some do, some don't and that's okay as my readership spans beyond online.

I have over 400 blogs in my feeds and I only visit a blog once per week. What I do and that is depending on the day, I allocate 2 or 3 hours exclusively for blog hopping and I do it alphabetically. At the end of the 2 or 3 hours, I remove myself from that activity even though I may still be at my computer doing other things but definitely not blogging.

Actually, if at the end of the week, I have not gone through all the blogs, I don't sweat about it. I just continue from where I left off.

Every other day, I dedicate about an hour to respond to emails with questions or recipe requests.

I have a full time job, I lecture in Mass Communications, apart from that I have 2 weekly newspaper columns to write, cook, & do photography for as well as 2 quarterly magazines that I write for. Then of course, there is "The Blog" :D I don't have a family to take care of but I do have other activities and commitments that I have to meet.

Hope some of what I've said has been useful.

Unknown said...

Mmmm...I love rainbow trout! As to my blog habits, I am in medical school and, in a few months, will be entering residence, which means that my blogging will probably be even more sparse than it already is. I'm kind of like you, when I first started, it was fresh and exciting. Now, I'm relegated to making things that I already know how to they're not blog worthy. However, I try to make at least one post a week and use the DB'ers to push me to try something I normally wouldn't. Sometimes I feel guilty for not posting but I know that I have other things I need to do with my time...or I just don't have anything to blog about! :-) I hope you start to enjoy the pre-blog activities AND your family soon. Maybe adding those things back will make your blogging more enjoyable, too!

Anonymous said...

Let's see:

Two Kids

Husband (OB/GYN-imagine that schedule)

Trying to get land prepped to plant a vineyard (in another state)

Blogging, posting, reading, commenting (Like 87 hours a day)



3-4 hours sleep

so yeah, no balance. At all.

Sweet and Savory Eats said...

You took the words out of my mouth. I struggle with the same things. I am a wife, a mom, and I work outside the home full time. It's very hard to keep the sanity (as I call it) with so many commitments. When food blogging seems to take too much of my time, I just remind myself that I blog for me as a creative outlet and not to get caught up in what I think everyone wants to see or try to have my blog be the "it" blog that is listed on everyone's blogroll.

So, I have no real pearls of wisdom for you, unfortunately; just admiration and appreciation for your blog. Glad you aren't going away. But, do take care of yourself and your family. I'm sure I speak for all your readers that we will be waiting patiently for the next delicious post.

Jen Yu said...

Oh hon, I'm sorry about the stress that blogging has introduced into your life. Blogging is great with such a fun community as we have, but your real life should come first, which you have figured out.

I used to get all uppity about posting and replying to comments and visiting other blogs but... during chemo there were times when it was impossible to do and I realized how ridiculous this self-imposed protocol was. My readers understood that I was too weak to post, let alone cook. We are a very caring community of bloggers and we understand that you need to be a mom, a wife, a friend, your own person. The main thing that I noticed is when someone goes silent for a long time, readers worry - not because we demand more posts or recipes or... but because we care about the blogger and want to make sure that nothing serious has happened. Isn't that wonderful? So to hear that you are spending time on your real life is great and I am giving you a virtual hug and pat on the back.

To answer some of your questions... Blogging fits around my life. I blog because I like to archive :) Sometimes things will pile up and I fall behind on the blogging. I typically prefer to sacrifice sleep in favor of blogging ;) I'm not working right now - just trying to finish my treatments, but I blogged when I worked before. I don't have kids and I have a fantastic husband who takes amazing care of me right now. I post about 4 times a week, but I maintain three blogs (food, photo, and personal), so it is more like I post 15 times a week. A post takes me anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours. I don't tweak my blog much. Usually I'll do coding overhauls once every 6 months or so. Have a big one coming up soon. I don't social network much at all. I can't keep up with many internet relationships and feel that it's really a quality relationship. My friendships are chosen carefully because I believe in giving them the appropriate amount of attention. I work hard to avoid feeling overwhelmed - it's a protection mechanism :) I take a couple of hours a week to actively comment on blogs, but sometimes side-effects, illness, or other crap just gets in the way. My favorite part of blogging is the blogging. My least favorite part of blogging is dealing with assholery in the blogosphere.

Huggles, my dear. Don't feel bad for living a full and meaningful life. That is the best thing you could do and I will always love you no matter what :) xxoo

Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan, Hi, I'm so glad you wrote this cause I'm having issues too! I could spend hours on the computer, and I do, believe me! I'm not good with events Im sorry to say, because getting out a post or 2 a week is enough for me, plus editing and writing. The commenting seems to be the hardest thing for me, and the most time consuming, thank goodness for google reader it has helped a bit, but my list is growing daily! I sometimes feel guilty if I haven't commented so I usually stay up late (too late) and try to go through them. Thank goodness I really am a night owl, its midnight right now, as I write you.Balance is totally the key, but I'm not quite sure how to do that, although Peter and Cynthia had some good thoughts!

Cakelaw said...

Hi Susan, I am with you - I find myself getting frazzled from time to time with blogging ('cause it's so easy to let it consume all of your spare time), so every time that happens, I just refuse to switch on the computer at home for awhile, and quietly get on with things until I feel inspired again.

Your fish dish looks fab indeed - nuts and fish is a killer combination.

Susan @ SGCC said...

Cynthia- Thank you so much for your input! What you've shared is very valuable. It sounds like you are very well organized and disciplined. I think that those are the most important tools that a blogger can have. What I'm learning from many of you is that setting good boundaries is crucial to finding a happy balance between cyber life and real life. I definitely need to work on that. I am way too distractible!

Claire- I can only imagine how hectic your schedule must be in med school! It definitely gets harder and harder to come up with fresh ideas, especially when you are so busy. When I was a grad student, I remember having a lot of take-out! Thanks for your good wishes. I'm already feeling a lot less pressure!

Noble Pig- Lol! I feel your pain. ;) What we should do is start an online support group for frazzed food bloggers! Hmmm. I wonder if there's a 12 step program that covers this sort of thing.....

SaSE- Thank you. You are very sweet! I like your attitude too. It is so easy to get caught up in the race for readership. It's a bit like trying be part of the "In Crowd" in high school. I wasn't too good at it then either. ;)

Jen- With all that you have been going through, here you are at my little pity party, trying to cheer me up! You are one of a kind! I'm so lucky to have you as a friend!

Of course, you're right about a lot of the pressure to perform being self-imposed. I am always worrying that the sweet bloggers who visit me and leave comments will think I'm a selfish clod if I don't reciprocate every time. Realistically, I know they won't, but I still fret over it. What can I say. I've been steeped in Italian guilt all my life! ;)

You're also right about the caring nature of the food blogging community. It is wonderful! When I notice someone not posting or commenting for a while, I usually email them to check up. And just look at how they all pull together when someone is in need, like they did for Bri.

I also sacrifice sleep for blogging. Here it is, after 4:00 a.m. and I'm responding to these comments! But, I find I get more accomplished after everyone else is asleep.

Marie- I totally understand how you feel! The commenting is the most time consuming thing for me too. I feel like I'm always playing catch-up!

There are a lot of great ideas here for creating a more healthy balance. I look forward to trying some of them out for myself.

grace said...

your post reminded me of the song "cat's in the cradle" by harry chapin, do you know it?
anyway, as a relatively new blogger whose sole responsibility is herself (and her poor, failing plants), i haven't encountered a struggle for balance quite yet. i can see it coming, though. it was great to read some of the other people's comments to help me prepare for that day. :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I think these things kind of run in cycles. I started my MySpace blog a couple of years ago and I blogged about every little thing that popped in my head.

Soon it felt like I was living my life in blogs. Everything in life was becoming something else to blog about. My signature thought was, "I feel a blog coming on." What's worse is that my blogs were getting pissy and people were becoming offended by them, including my best friend.

Last summer I took the summer off from MySpace and tried to remember that I can live life without blogging about it.

Of course last spring was when I started the food blog, so I had opened up a whole new can of worms. At least when I started TERP, I didnt' really record my recipes and I had almost no readers, so it didn't consume much time. I'd write an occasional "I made a really good dinner," or "I went to a really good restaurant," or "Have I mentioned how much I hate Rachael Ray?" post.

I started to read more food blogs and realized what goes into a good blog and how I need to expand my writing and reading if I wanted readers and wanted to interact with them. I filled out my recipe posts more and started branching out on the number of blogs I read. Once I got a camera, things really got crazy.

How do I keep a balance? I don't. I guess I really have to prioritize what meals are worth blogging about and which ones aren't. This summer I have a weekly feature of desserts, and I try to simply post the dessert link and the photos when I can. I might write the post during a slow period at work, save it, and upload the photos before I go to bed. I do a lot of blog work on Saturday mornings when my husband is still asleep. I have the advantage of no kids and a husband who works late, so I can usually post something or upload a picture between coming home from work and making dinner for us. I try to fit the blogging around my life rather than fit my life around the blogging - but when you are really excited about what you have to post, I know it's easier said than done.

Nic said...

Blogging should be fun!
Looking at your monthly posting this year, you have posted 11 times in Jan, 12 in Feb, 17 in March, 18 in april, 17 in May and 10 in June. No wonder you are blogged out, lol!

I take quite a bit of time with my posts and photos etc, but can't do much more than 1 per week. I hardly ever photo hot food, takes too long, and I write far less when I have limited time.

And this is going to sound bad, but when I go to other blogs, the post/photos have got to really interest me - I haven't got the time to read loads of waffle! I really can't keep up with blogs that write every day.
I didn't sign up to do D Bakers or TWD because I knew I couldn't fit it in, and even though I love to read what these groups have been baking, I only go and look at a few.

It's hard to find the right balance, but I try to remember why I'm blogging in the first place and who I'm doing it for (me!). It's not like I'm getting paid for it and I'm not competing to be in the top whatever!

Now, I'm going to stop waffling myself and print off that fabulous fish recipe!!

test it comm said...

I know how you feel. I spend almost all of my free time food blogging. I am still working on trying to get the balance right.

Anonymous said...

It's so interesting reading everyone's comments about their blogging. I started a blog the first of May. The first month, I was really excited, then for about a month my enthusiasm waned when I was spending all of my time on the computer. I still spend too much time reading blogs, but I'm not quite as bad as I was. I'm not the best writer, so I don't spend a lot of time on that aspect. The most time consuming part for me is typing in the recipes. I don't manipulate my photos much besides resizing and maybe cropping, so that doesn't take much time. And I don't have kids, so that makes things lots easier. I was working part-time, and the blogging was easier then. Now that I'm working full time again, it's more challenging. One thing I do, if I have extra time, and lots of ideas/photos waiting, is to type up multiple posts and schedule them out for future dates. Some weeks I post more than others, probably with an average of 3 or so a week.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, you're not alone!

Another vote of support here... I can totally relate to pretty much everything you wrote.

When I started my blog, I was unemployed and it was a great way to fill a bit of the void. I was posting two or three times a week. Of course, I eventually re-entered the work force and really struggled to keep up. Then we moved... and I started another new job... and I continue to struggle. Right now I count it as a win if I get one post up a week!

But - I think it's just a matter of rolling with the punches... enjoying life... and making sure that blogging remains an enjoyable thing for you. If you have to shift your posting frequency or pare down your post length to make a little extra time for yourself... so be it. Yanno?

PheMom said...

That dish looks wonderful. As for the rest of it, I've already started seeing what you mean and I'm only about 7 months in. Thanks to lovely and brave bloggers like yourself who speak up and say "hey, wait, I'm missing my life" I've been trying hard to be aware of what I'm doing. Good for you for taking time to enjoy yourself! We'll all still check in and love to hear about the tennis matches and good books too!

Nina Timm said...


Barbara said...

Because I don't work I should have all the time in the world to blog. I found when I was going through chemo, blogging every day kept me sane. Now chemo is over I post less and don't feel any guilt if I don't post for a week or more. Not running adds means I don't need to check my stats constantly and therefore I don't stress if my readership drops. With RSS feeders regulars will know when to visit for the latest post.

Anonymous said...

I soooo admire your honesty in this post. I think so many of us struggle with the same things but are hesitant to say it out loud.

I'm going to read through the comments left here and will hopefully get some advice.

I am married with three kids under 6. I work part-time as a recruiter and actually just quit that job because it was making me very out of balance. I also do freelance writing... have 4-5 articles to write a month.

I love reading blogs and am a little overwhelmed at times at the number I want to read and comment on. WE can't do it all... and when blogging starts to take a toll on our family life, something has to give.

I used to post almost every day, then I cut back to 2-3 times a week. Did my blog suffer? Yes, it did some. It isn't nearly as popular as it used to be, but I am also not as stressed out about upkeep as I am.

I'd love to chat about this further with you! Maybe we can work on this together!

Kalyn Denny said...

This is a great post which many people could benefit from. I just came back from the BlogHer conference where Elise from Simply Recipes gave a session on building blog traffic and she said "blogging is a marathon that never ends." Remembering that can help keep things in balance.

In the winter when I'm teaching school and blogging, plus writing for BlogHer sometimes I just about go crazy. It has been hard for me to realize that no one really cares if I skip a day and don't post anything. I am slowly trying to talk myself into a schedule of posting something every 2 or 3 days.

You have got to do what feels right and what lets you still have a "real life." I'm still working on that!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Here's how I look at blogging that might help give it some perspective. Blogging is a job. A very fun job, but a job. If you were spending the same hours working outside the home, you would have an end to your work day and a beginning to your family time. But because we blog at home, on computers that are always available, we forget to set the same limits on blogging as we set on our other jobs. Whatever your limit -- an hour, or eight hours -- set it, and don't exceed it. The deadlines for blog posting are only what you impose on yourself.

Brilynn said...

I understand this post completely. Lately I've been struggling to write things. I've taken lots of pictures but still need to edit those too. Sometimes it just feels like it's become too much. Unfortunately I'm not very good at offering advice on how to balance everything because I'm not all that good at it. Sometimes it's a good idea to take a break for a while and see if you miss it.

Andrea Meyers said...

Hi Susan! I completely understand where you are coming from and struggle with the question of balance, too. You have my full support!

I have three boys and a husband that travels a lot with his job, so blogging gets done when it gets done. Cooking is the same, for that matter. Since I went back to work in June (part time, but work is work and takes X hours of the day), I've found myself loosing inspiration and feeling utterly exhausted. I used to do several different blogging events, but over the last year I narrowed it down to just a few that mean something to me, mostly because of the relationships I formed through them.

My goal has always been to post twice a week, though I went through a period when I wanted to post three times a week. I'm also trying to cut down the amount of time I spend working on a post. When I count up the amount of time it takes for cooking, writing, linking, photo touching (lots for that since I still have a little P&S), editing, etc., it's multiple hours on many of my posts. Trying to find time for it during summer school break is very difficult, and it takes away from other things I want to do. Blogging should be fun! I started it as a hobby and I don't want to lose the joy.

Anonymous said...

I meant to add that it takes me no longer than one hour to write a post. I take only 2-3 photos of the food I make and don't spend a lot of time obsessing about things. If a post isn't coming naturally to me, I don't try to force it and just don't write about it then (because it would take a lot of time then!).

Maybe you just found your balance... try to limit your writing time to a specific amount of time during the day. Get done what you can during that time only and if you aren't done, move on to something different.

Emily said...

Oh man! I hear you! I'm feeling the EXACT same way. When did you start this blog? I started mine in October. It's like a full time job!
If it's not feeling fun anymore, I would say, take a break or don't post as often. That's what I do.

Susan @ SGCC said...

Grace- You're lucky to still be in the honeymoon stage of blogging. Hopefully, that will never end. If it does, remember this post and all of the wonderful advice that has been graciously shared here.

S(d)OC- You are so right, Rachel. I think we can only keep up a certain pace for so long and then we need to step back a little.

Nic- I guess I have posted a lot this year, Lol. Compared to some, though, I feel like a slacker! I can tell that you spend a lot of time on your posts. It shows. Your photos are stunning!

Kevin- You must be a single guy, because no woman could keep up with you! You're one of the most prolific posters around.

Cindy- I've been finding all the comments interesting too - and helpful. Enjoy your blog and don't let the rest of us bring you down. Ride that wave of enthusiasm as long as you have it! :)

Culinography- I do seem to be in pretty good company here! I was kind of aprehensive about writing the post, but now I'm glad I did. It's comforting to know that so many of us are dealing with the same issues.

PheMom- Thank you. You are too sweet! Once I start doing more, I'll probably have a lot more interesting material to write about. ;)

Nina- Thanks! Good for you for setting limits. That's hard to do. I find I stay up way too late at night trying to squeeze in more comments.

Barbara- Blogging can definitely help you through the rough patches. When I first started, I checked my stats 20 times a day. Now, I go days without doing it.


Well, it's 2:00 a.m. and my eyes are closing. I'm going to have get back to the rest of these comments in the morning.

Sarah said...

Susan, as you know, I'm a fan of your writing. It concerns me to hear that you're feeling burnt out, but rest assured, everyone goes through periods of time in which they have to rebalance things. You're in the middle of one of those periods right now and the best thing you can do is respond to what you're experiencing in a way that makes you happy.

I have a full time job, so that the way that I handle my blog habit is to post only twice per week, on Sundays and Wednesdays. This gives me a few days to mull over my upcoming posts. If a recipe does not work out, I can try another one without feeling pressured to write about it. I spend about 1-2 hours formulating my posts.

As for comments, I spend about 1 hour in the early morning before work perusing my favorite sites. Sometimes I comment, sometimes I don't. This is meant to be fun, not work!

Next weekend, find something fun to do with the family that has nothing to do with blogging or cooking. Take lots of pictures of your kids and you and your husband, and you'll start to get your balance back. :)

Helene said...

I try to get organized between the blog and life. I block times for posting, comments and visiting others. I don't have access to a computer at work so I have to make blocks like "posting dates are this-this-this", "blog visits are beteen 7am-8am", "comments response are between 6pm-7pm",...I have also stopped addressing each blogger in my comment box. I figured that if I was not checking a blog comment box after I posted mine, some people might do the same thus my thanking each commenter might be a waste of time. I am not being blazay about it or anything but most people understand you can't possibly be at your computer every hour of the day.
I respond to specific questions and thank people as a group.
I don't Twitt....I can't even imagine or wrap my brain around it. I know it would become addictive so I don't even start.
I have noticed that if I don't have a little discipline I just don't get anything done. My "time blocks" system works for me but I might be a weird one.

Summer are also known to send us into a slower mode. Heck! Enjoy the sun and the outdoors. It is ok to have a little moment. We all go through phases.

You are doing a fabulous job....take a deep breath, it's all good :)

Unknown said...

the fish looks amazing! thanks for the idea!

i hv a full time job and yes it isn't easy to come up with something interesting to say almost daily.

i tried not to post just recipes online...i try to put bits and pieces of my life and my opinions with the recipes...i guess i'll be out of idea when there's nothing going on in my life...^_^

i'll work hard to stay otherwise

Anonymous said...

Aw, Susan. (hug) I'm sorry. I can relate to the the obsessive posting and commenting and photographing...I've been through something similar here. So, what I've done, is to start posting less, both on my own blog and on others'. I think everyone understands that we can't be on the computer all day every day. We have lives to live, children to raise...especially during the summer months, I find it difficult to keep up. Something has to give, and I'm sorry, but the blog goes first. And do you know what? It feels *good* to be out doing other things. The blog will still be there when we have time. Our blogging friends will still be there. If we miss a few posts, the world won't stop on its axis, and maybe? Just maybe? We'll have even more fun doing the things we've put on the back burner than blogging. So, Susan. I will still be here when you have time to write. I understand that we don't have time to comment on every single post. Take time for you, for your family, and blog when you have time or when you feel like it. :)

Patsyk said...

Susan - I can relate to being a bit obsessive with the blog and creating posts for it. Although this summer has kind of forced me to not post as much due to vacations and other activities. With my 2 little men, I am very aware that time can pass me by much too quickly, so I try not to pass up a chance to spend time with them. I tend to do my writing after they are in bed and (sometimes - shhhh!) at work. I have decided to post more on an every other day schedule rather than trying to do it each day. That also gives me a little more time to compose my thoughts and I feel that my posts have improved as a result. I think it's good to maintain your other interests and spend time with your family as those things will inspire your writing.

I'm always impressed with those who can post daily week after week as I think my family would want to shoot me after awhile!

Deborah said...

Fortunately, I have a job that has a lot of down time, so that is when I do my blogging - both posting and commenting. My husband is not a happy camper when I spend my evenings at the computer, so I make sure when I'm home, I'm not on the computer. It all might change, soon though. Once our baby is born, I'm hoping to be a stay at home mom, and I know that I feel guilty if I spend lots of time on the computer at home, even if my husband's not there. I can imagine that I probably won't be commenting as much then, and I'll probably set aside an hour or two a day, and that's it. I love my blog, and reading other's blogs, but you have to draw the line somewhere before it becomes more of a chore than a hobby!

Y said...

I work 70 hours a week, so that kinda puts the breaks on any excessive blogging I might do! Blogging is sort of my reward which I leave to when I have days off. I enjoy the process of cooking, which I find really relaxing. The blogging is a bonus. Sometimes, you just have to walk away from the computer though, and remember that there are other things in life that need doing too.. I guess :)

What a yummy fish dish, by the way !:)

Patricia Scarpin said...

I'm late for this, sweetie, but I would love to take part in the discussion.
I work as an executive assistant and, although I have to be here from 8:30 to 5:30, I don't have loads of things to do - I just have to be alert for the times when my boss needs me. He is in meeting and conf. calls all the time, and travels a lot too, so the blogs save me from boredom. I visit blogs and also prepare my posts here in the office (which is great, since I post in Portuguese and English). If I didn't have time here, it would be very hard, because the time I'm home I want to spend with the hubby.
I don't have kids, and that helps a lot, too. And I post 3 times a week, not more than that.

I would never want you to quit (your delicious recipes and hilarious posts make my day), but if it's not fun anymore, what's the point? You can post less and see how if feels for you, Susan.

Hope you find your way out of this situation.


Neen said...

Wow. Thanks for the warning. Back when I had a job, blogging had to stay within reasonably healthy bounds, but now that I'm unemployed... reading this post made me see myself in your shoes. Thanks for posting this as heads up to the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

Great post Susan and it's an issue that I'm sure we all are confronted with.
We started the blog over a year ago but only wrote for ourselves and family to read, which was about twice a month. No one visited us, no one commented and we never visited other blogs because we never knew they even existed. It wasn't until January of 2008 that we started finding about all these food blogs, starting visiting and then life kinda changed a bit for the first 2 months.
We sat down one night and had a very long discussion about how the blog was affecting our lives and if it was a good thing. Mind you, we had only really blogged for 2 serious months (Jan-Feb 2008) and already realized the time commitment it required to continue. We came very close to shutting down our WORC blog in Feb.2008 because it took up alot of time. But then we realized that it could only continue if we BOTH did it together and BOTH enjoyed doing it. Blogging was going to be a joint effort, or not at all.
It took us 2 days of talking to reach a decision and decided to continue blogging, but only at our own pace, when we feel like it and if it was fun. It's impossible to blog about everything we cook and post only when we feel that the recipe would be fun to share.

Mama Mia said...

Great post! Although I dont work full time or have kids I feel like ive been neglecting my husband for the sake of blogging lately too. Your post was an eye opener and made me realize that Ive been having similar problems as you. hehe.

Elle said...

Great comments and great questions and musings. The truth for me is that I wax and wane as far at blogging. Try to read comments daily or at least every other day and answer,too. I've cut way back on events. Still doing the Daring Bakers...and that's still the only really complicated recipe I blog about, usually, each month.
Whit the cooking, photos and writing and (mostly) proofing a post, it takes about 2 hours, except for Daring Bakers. Evening after dinner is usually my time to post and visit other blogs and do e-mail. I don't IM or twitter...too much input...and I work and have lots of other things going on in my life. My Sweetie has first call on my time outside of work. He seems proud of my blogging!
You will figure out what works best for you. Blogging is important creative time, so don't ive it up if you don't have to. Relationships with friends and family who aren't virtual are still more can't get an actual hug from a computer. Most of all, we never know how long any of the people we love will be with us, actual or on the internet. Lost my son in an auto accident 9 years ago last I make sure to love the ones I'm with and everything else come after that.
Happy blogging. Your blog is a delight.

Christa said...

I think what you are feeling is very normal.
I took almost a year off from my blog except for a few random posts. I was too wrapped up in other responsibilities and also didn't keep up w/ my internet friends. I recently started to blog again and my friends are still there.
Do what you need to do and don't stress over it. Sometimes I think we have too many expectations on ourselves.

La Bella Cooks said...

I have been feeling as you have lately. I try to do 3-4 posts a week but if I don't feel like cooking anything blog-worthy, then I am feeling guilty. I hate that!! It's just a blog!! But I do enjoy it.
I always put my family and our needs first and do it alone sometimes due to my hubby's long hours dealing with patients.

I started missing reading books and watching movies,going for walks, etc so I just stop making the blog rounds every single night and just do it a couple nights a week. No one is ever obligated to post on mine, so I truly hope they understand I can't always be there to post on theirs.
By the way, you have a fantastic blog. Forgive me if I don't post a comment every time.

p.s. The trout almondine makes me want to give fish another try. It looks delicious with that crunchy coating.

Nicole said...

I am right there with you!! I don't know how to find balance. Never could. And with two very small children and a small young business that needs a lot of work, I shouldn't even blog at all! My husband is rarely home so the kids need most all of my attention.

I have cut back on posts. Doing only an average of 1 or 1.5 per week and I just cannot visit and comment on blogs as I was doing for a while. Every once in a while I check out one or two while the kids watch TV and then spend 1 or 2 days a week taking an hour or so to check out others posts. It is hard. I feel bad too.

I feel I am loosing quality and quantity. But for now, I am just doing what I can.

Amy said...

I think the most important thing is just make sure you still have fun. Blogging shouldn't be an obligation. Your blog is fantastic but it's important to do all that other pre-blog stuff too. :) I totally agree that blogging can be really time consuming. Sometimes you just need a haitus or to blog less frequently. The trout looks delicious, btw.

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan!
I know exactly what you mean! I was up until 4:00am last night...this morning posting something and farting around with my photos! John got up to pee at 3, hey that rhymed! and found me slumped over my computer!

It's been nuts for me too and I never feel like I've done enough, commented enough, replied to enough comments, looked at enough blogs, baked, enough, cooked enough, and taken enough pictures! Enough said!

I need to take a step back and regroup, think about why I'm doing this and where I want this to go.

Thanks for sharing your heart. Would you mind if I quoted you in a few sentences on my blog? Let my readers know it's not just me?

Donna, another insane blogger!