Why I’ll Never Blog Out Of Duty

imagesLast year I took three months off from public blogging. Back then, my attitude, my motivation, my focus was all way off. Ambition was consuming me, an obsession with stats and success.

Today I’m considering taking another break from public blogging. But this time, my motivation is very different.

In my last post I mentioned how I’d been struggling with writers block and how I managed to have a major breakthrough, which reawakened my love of writing. My writers block is well and truly over now. Lots of ideas and pieces of writing are being birthed.

But something still wasn’t quite right.

Then it became clear.

I haven’t fallen out of love with writing. I’m losing my passion for blogging.

Blogging can be fun, without doubt, pieces don’t take too long to write, and it’s informal. Above all, I love that it’s great way to communicate and share my work directly with my readers. There’s much to enjoy about blogging, and I would never give it up for good.

I’ve never shared something on my blog I knew wasn’t the best and most honest work I could create. I never have, and I never will. And I still love writing as much as I ever have. But recently, though I still have lots of great ideas, I know my enthusiasm for blogging is going slightly. The result being that whilst I have blog and book ideas I want to develop, I’m not devoting as much energy to them as I could, or should.

And so something had to change.

Because I want to create great work on issues I care about. Honest, real, birthed from deep inside. Not forced out of me by duty.

Don’t get me wrong, blogging regularly is a good discipline to get into as a writer, to connect with your audience, develop your message, test ideas out, and build community. And I continue to value all of these things.

But just as important is not to let anything become an idol.

I can’t let my healthy desire to expand my reach as a writer morph back into an obsession and worship of success and status.

Our identity should be grounded in who we are, not what we do.  If we ground our identity, value and worth in our work, our art suffers – and everyone loses. (you can tweet that)

Not just ourselves, but those our work could potentially help.

In light of all this, I’m going to make a small but important change in my approach to blogging for the immediate future, which is simply this:

I’m giving myself permission not to blog every week.

For the foreseeable future I’ll only share something if I’m inspired to. And if not, I won’t – and I won’t feel guilty about it.

I’ll keep writing regularly, and if an idea grabs me and I feel it’s right to share it, I will. But I’m not going to blog to say something, I’ll blog if I have something to say. If I don’t get round to blogging one week, I won’t.  If I need to work on developing a blog series, e-book or some other project and there’s no time to even think about posting a blog post, I won’t.

And I won’t feel guilty about it.

The Secret To Work That Matters

Typewriter 2015

I’ve got lots of ideas for blog series, books and other projects – I certainly have enough ideas in my mind which should get me back into a pattern of weekly blogging in due course. Freeing myself from obligation will just give me some space to develop them – which ultimately benefits you, my readers, because it ensures you get my best work.

And it benefits me, because I’ll be able to create better, more honest work.

You see, if you want to create work which matters, which is a reflection of who you really are, which is truly authentic, sometimes you need to lay it all down and go back to your roots.

To strip it all away, and go back to where it all began.

So what does this break mean for you? Well in some ways, nothing will change. I’ll still be blogging here. Indeed, I have two more blog posts written ready to be published over the next couple of weeks. And I’ll still be keeping in contact with subscribers.

At some point, I’ll recommit to blogging once a week, as an act of discipline. But I won’t do this as long as this sense of obligation and guilt remains, and until I’ve developed ideas I can share in this context.

But right now, I’m going to remove that sense of obligation, pressure and guilt I have felt about having to blog every week.

I’m going to use this space to try and get back into a rhythm of writing 6 days a week. If it’s only 50 words, so be it. If it’s 2000 words, that’s OK too. And I’m going to devote more time to creating the work I really care about.

But ultimately, I want to remind myself again how much I love the simple craft of writing. Writing for writings’ sake, from the heart. Honest, truthful, authentic writing, which holds nothing back.

This is where all of our best work comes from.

And it’s where we can be most beneficial to others.

Are you with me?



Question For Reflection

Are you willing to lay down your art in order to make it better?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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(Pictures: Online sources)

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  1. Mary Harwell Sayler on June 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    James, your post will speak to many members of our Christian Poets & Writers group on Facebook. Thanks. I’ll highlight this on http://www.christianpoetsandwriters.com. God bless.

  2. Anne Peterson on June 1, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I appreciated your post, James. As always being honest about struggles will resonate with readers. Writing regularly on my blog has always been a struggle for me. But I have been writing continuously. I found it interesting that when I read Jeff Goin’s book The Art of Work I had no trouble writing not one or two but three blogs about it. I just don’t seem to gravitate toward regular consistent blogging.

    I agree with you about how we can feel obligatory in our writing at times. And let’s not even get into guilt when we Don’t write.

    Thanks for touching on a subject all of us think about. I think I would benefit from just writing ahead and scheduling, something I have never done.

    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks for your comment Anne – so glad you appreciated the post. Really encouraged by your comment, thanks.

  3. Lisa M. Collins on June 1, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I go through self imposed non-writing times. Usually right after I finish a project. I know a lot of bestselling authors state you have keep publishing and putting out work on monthly basis…I just can’t work that way. If I don’t take a week or so to recharge my batteries then everything I write afterward is a mess.

    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks for sharing your own experience Lisa, always fascinates me to hear how different people experience and deal with this type of issue. Great comment.

  4. Alexandra Lanc on June 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    Great post, James! This is something I’ve struggled with, too, and I finally reached the point where sometimes I just take off blogging for a few months, or I miss a week, or whatever; I also enjoy blogging, but sometimes it can get in the way of writing other things. I, like Anne, don’t do well with consistency — in my blogging or writing; I just have to go with the flow when it comes to writing at all. I agree that you shouldn’t release a blog (story, etc.) until you feel it is as ready as it can be. I’ve unfortunately done that before out of pressure, and it’s always a disaster.

    To answer your question about art: yes. You have to be willing to either stop working, or start working in a different way. You have to be willing to be able to step outside of your comfort zone — mine has been writing on the computer, and recently I’ve stepped out and tried good old fashioned notebooks once again; your comfort zone seems to be blogging, and I think it’s good you’re willing to take a break. But I know that stepping back, or stepping in another direction when you feel that you should leads to better art — and good art is what it’s all about, right?

    Best of luck to you, and good job for being willing to take a break when you need to!


    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      Great comment Alexandra, thanks so much for the wisdom and encouragement. It’s always great to hear you’re not alone in your experience, thanks for sharing a bit of your story and being so honest. And thanks for the best wishes too! J.

  5. Diane Rapp on June 1, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I believe you’ve just discovered the right thing for yourself as a writer. We all sit in our computer room alone (except for the dog or cat) and that screen stares at us. When you have ideas to write about the time speeds by and happiness fills your heart. Do what makes you happy and we’ll all enjoy the result. Why not post snippets of your WIP so we can see what you’re working on?

    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      This is so encouraging Diane, thank you so so much for this comment. I do want to be professional with my writing, rather than it be simply a hobby. However, I also want to be honest, authentic, and create from what’s inside – maintaining that balance is what I talk about in my free book ‘Dance Of The Writer’. But my new approach hopefully will allow me to maintain this balance in a more healthy way. Thanks again!

  6. Elyse Salpeter on June 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Once you feel like you HAVE to blog – you should stop. Think about it, people are coming to your page time and again for specific content, but if you don’t have something to share and just feel like you must put something up, well, that’s not your best and truest work. I think it’s totally fine to take a break until you have something to say. Some people only blog once a month. Some 2x a year – it all depends on what you have to say.

    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Great comment Elyse, and totally, completely agree.

  7. Scott Bury on June 1, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    I go through periods when I have to force myself to blog, because I feel I have to keep putting something out there pretty regularly in order to maintain whatever public I have, alternating with periods when I have so much to write, there aren’t enough hours in the day to write it all, let alone slots to publish it. But it’s true that sometimes, when you let yourself rest, your art gets stronger.

    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Interesting stuff Scott, thanks for sharing your own experience here – great comment.

  8. mnicholeh on June 1, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I think each writer has to find out what works for them. As someone who is seeking traditional publication, I blog once a week. It’s a good balance for me and allows me to focus on my books. I’ve been told consistency is key. No matter how frequently you choose if you aren’t consistent in your efforts you will lose readers. My readers know they get something in their inbox every Thursday morning when they wake. That’s what works for me and my readers. I know you will find what works for you! I agree with Scott that sometimes I do have to make myself do it. And those times are hard, but the discipline is what creates consistency. Glad you are searching! Keep going until you find what works for you!

    • James Prescott on June 1, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Great comment Nichole. Like you, I am hoping to pursue traditional publication – publish books, create course content, devote more time to pursuing and developing this gift. I’ve never seen this as a hobby. And certainly it’s my preference to be blogging once a week if possible and give my readers something every Monday. I think for me it’s simply that I don’t want to force out material for the sake of it, which isn’t authentic, isn’t from my heart, and is simply to ‘keep up appearances’ – that won’t be my best work, and my readers deserve my best, most honest work.

      The key to being professional but being authentic, is to find the secret of the balance of keeping the discipline of blogging regularly, but also keeping true to your writing heart, your passion, your authenticity. I’m hoping doing this for a period will help with that, and allow regular blogging to become natural, rather than forced.

      Great comment Nichole – thanks for this!

  9. Stacy Claflin on June 3, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Sounds like a good plan, James. I’ve taken to blogging when I feel like it because I don’t want to stress about it. I blogged every day in April, on top of a lot of fiction writing, so I still need downtime.

    My ideal place is writing a promotional piece of some sort once a week (sharing a new release, sale, excerpt, etc.) and one day a week sharing writing or publishing advice. Maybe by next month I’ll be ready to get back into that routine.

    The key, like you said, is to not get overburdened by the “need” to blog. There are a lot of other things we need to take care of, and if blogging needs to take a backseat, then so be it. It’s not going to hurt anyone, although if we push ourselves when we need the break, we could hurt ourselves.

    • James Prescott on June 3, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Great comment Stacy, thanks for sharing a bit of your story here – totally agree, definitely shouldn’t get ‘overburdened’ by our blogging. If we do, there’s no point in doing it. Thanks again.

  10. Dan Erickson on June 3, 2015 at 5:35 am

    I’m with you here, James. I’ve got four blogs, three are posted out through most of the year. the fourth, my own, is running on fumes. My favorite thing to blog is my creative works: songs and poems. Otherwise it feels like I begin to repeat myself. I’m considering letting my content run out, switching hosts, and downsizing to one blog in 2016.

    • James Prescott on June 3, 2015 at 7:06 pm

      Great comment Dan so glad to hear you’re with me here – and yes, I would say scaling back on blogs is an awesome idea, with you all the way! 🙂

  11. Joan Hall on June 5, 2015 at 3:01 am

    James, I have struggled with this very thing for some time. Like you, I enjoy connecting with readers, but I often struggle to think of blog posts. It’s hard to balance writing fiction and non-fiction blog posts. Like you, I’m giving myself permission not to blog each week.

    Great post!

    • James Prescott on June 5, 2015 at 6:53 am

      Thanks for sharing Joan – and well done on giving yourself that permission not to blog. Thanks for the kind words of encouragement too! 🙂

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