Life

Reflections on My Blogging Hiatus

I didn’t plan to take such a long hiatus from the blog. As it happens to so many of us, life just got in the way. For me, it was my Master’s program that seemed to just suck all my time and energy. Granted, I could have better managed my time. But after a long day of writing reports, reading and looking at the computer screen, I didn’t feel like writing blog posts and editing photos. There was always tomorrow, or this weekend. Or the plane ride where I can catch up. Then, nothing materialized.

I realize now that I began putting too much pressure on myself over this hobby of mine. As I started learning more about building an audience and marketing online, I brainstormed constantly about what I could do with this blog. Could I monetize it? Should I start an email list? What should I focus the blog on? What’s my niche? Do I want to keep writing about travel but make it more practical for readers? Should I focus on life in Aberdeen and be a resource for expats who live here or plan to move here? Should I just write about expat life, all the hardships and joys, no filter?
With so many options and ideas, I was paralyzed. Paralyzed into not making a decision. Paralyzed by the fear of failure. Fear of setting a goal for this blog and not achieving it. Of looking foolish and like an imposter. I’d browse so many other successful blogs and think, I can’t do that. Then, I would think, I can do that. But do I really want to?

Over time, paralyzed by indecision. Letting other priorities get in the way. Losing the motivation to write. And racking up a number of fun travels and life events that I actually wanted to share, it became too overwhelming. Then entered another question: “where and how do I start again?”

This first blog post back from my hiatus has been on my mind for months now. While driving, in the shower, just waking up in the morning, I’d recite the first few lines. But it would stay there trapped and when I got to the computer, something else would take my attention away. In fact this morning, I awoke in my half slumber with these words running through my consciousness. It was 5:50am and I thought to myself, I should get up and capture this. By my body wouldn’t let me and I wanted the extra hour in bed. But I couldn’t go back to sleep. After breakfast and our morning routine, wasting some time on Facebook and reading through emails, I’ve finally sat down to share these words with you.

It’s been so long now, I’m not sure who will read this blog post. But I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t matter. I care about my readers and hope that my posts inspire, educate and entertain but at this point, I need to reconnect with the real reason I started this blog. That is, it was a way of documenting our live abroad and sharing it with those who care. Trying to make it bigger than that, made me miss out on sharing some wonderful moments and experiences we had this year. My goal is to catch-up on the important stuff that I want to capture and also share as resources so there will be a lot of ‘flashback’ and retrospective posts. I imagine a decade from now, when David and I want to remember what life in Aberdeen was like, we can go through this blog, my online journal. And for those with whom we don’t talk to every day and want to feel connected with us, they can have a glimpse into our life. And perhaps others on this expat journey can say, we can do that too. Or we should do that. Or expat life is pretty great. Or expat life sucks for them too sometimes.

Lastly, this is my outlet. I’ve always loved writing and being creative. I seemed to have forgotten that in the past few months. I struggle with loving to do too many things.  With being multi-passionate. And I struggle with wanting to do all the things that are good for me, that you are supposed to do to live a balanced, happy life.  It’s a never-ending list. Practicing yoga. Going to Crossfit. Practicing self-care through meditation and with a gratitude journal. I’ve recently started learning to do modern calligraphy and I’m going back to French classes once a week. My volunteer roles on the FIGT communication committee and as newsletter editor for the AWA. My freelancing clients and efforts to build a business as a digital marketer. Plus spending time with friends and David. Trying to read books for book club and then some. Listening to podcasts and running my newly created Expat Podcast Club. Watching all my favourite TV shows and documentaries. Plus, grocery shopping, cooking, household chores, sleeping and relaxing… if I try to fit it all in, then something’s got to give. I still am in search of balance. If I don’t meditate today or forget to write down what I’m grateful for, I’ll try not to beat myself up. If I play too many games of Two Dots instead of using that time to practice calligraphy or doing French homework, it’s okay too sometimes.

And this takes me back to the blog. It is something I want to keep up even if no one reads it. And perhaps I should look at the time away with gratefulness as it allowed me to become clear as to what I want from this blog and what its purpose is. And that might still change. But for now, I will start writing again. And I will share our adventures and beautiful photos. And will enjoy it rather than see it as a burden.

So I guess this means I’m back! And if I proclaim here, given my “obliger” tendency, then it means I’ll do it.    So watch this space.

And did you notice?  This blog is now on a new URL, www.thesmallsabroad.com.

How do you stay motivated to keep working on the things you love? Is your love of them enough to keep you going all the time?

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  • Ray

    Good to see another post! And even moreso, good to catchup on all the happenings. Plus, this is a much prettier format than short Facebook snippets.

    • hey hey! fancy seeing you here. 🙂 I agree. Trying to get back at this whole blogging thing… otherwise why take a million photos and make videos of all the places we go?? 😛 Hope all is well. I heard you’re not in Paris anymore!

  • Kerry Whyte

    Welcome back! This is the first post I’ve read of yours but looking forward to more and I’m also going to read your previous posts!

  • Welcome Back!! I agree with everything you said as to me, blogging is a hobby too. If it ever gets overwhelming and begins to feel like a chore, then it doesn’t feel like a hobby. I also want to read back on all my posts in years to come and remember the adventures we had 🙂 Enjoy being back!

    • Thanks! It feels good to be back and catching up with all of you. Just one step in front of the other and doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore.

  • I struggle with all these feelings too!! The bottom line is that your blog is what you need it to be at any given point… you just have to rectify in your mind what you want that to be – and it’s more than okay if it changes. I know mine definitely ebbs and flows despite the fact that in my mind, I want to be on top of it, lol.

    • So true. I do realize it can change again. But for now, I just need to accept what it is and what I want it to be and just have fun again.

  • Welcome back to blogging! I for one think I appreciate reading reflective posts like this, more than ones that are blatantly written for SEO and increasing audience size etc. It sounds like you have come to a super healthy outlook on blogging, especially as you have so much else going on!! I also identify as “multi-passionate” lol – and sometimes it does feel like I’m skimming the surface on lots of things rather than being really devoted to one! I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts 🙂

    • Thank you! I did my dissertation on SEO strategy for a client’s new website and I didn’t even think of SEO once for this post – and it was liberating! lol

  • Neha

    Welcome back to blogging. This is my first visit to your blog but I really like it so I know I will be back. I agree with pretty much everything you’ve written in this post. When something that we started out of love starts to feel overwhelming, it makes sense to step back and take a breath. I used to blog off and on for a while before giving up altogether a few years ago. Then a few months back I realised I missed it, and made a fresh start. With two blogs. On top of my full time job and a part time marketing course. There are days I feel tired and unable to cope. But the good days make up for most of the difficult ones. I love blogging; I don’t have many readers now but I guess I refuse to obsess over stats and things like that.

    Keep writing! #wanderfulwednesday

  • Welcome back to the blogosphere! I know what you mean about finding the motivation and drive to get back in the swing of things… I took a 1.5 year hiatus (crazy long now that I think about it lol) and it took me months to finally sit down and say okay, I’m doing this. And like you said, I don’t know why it took me so long cause I love my blog and being creative. Glad you’re back! 🙂 And I look forward to reading about your adventures!

  • Ha, I’m a rebel so I frequently take leaves of absence from my blog! That’s also why I haven’t and won’t make mine a business – that will make it not fun anymore. Plus I enjoy the rest of my life too much to fill it with worrying about stats, readers, etc! I’m just like you, I want to be able to look back at my time as an expat and remember it properly and with pictures, because my memory isn’t what it used to be… Anyway all that to say welcome back and I’m glad you’ve rediscovered your blogging joy!

  • Welcome back! It’s necessary to occasionally take a break from blogging to focus on other things. I recently did that over the holidays so focus more on family and enjoying the season, shopping and seeing friends. You don’t realize quite how much time it takes to upkeep the blog until you’re not blogging. #WanderfulWednesday

    • It does take up so much time! I honestly forgot. For me it’s the editing of photos, resizing and all that. Nevermind promoting and engaging with other bloggers. But it is worth it and fun to meet other people virtually and share a bit of your like so other might get inspired as well.

  • You have quite a bit on your plate! I’ve gone through the same thoughts about my blog, but at the end of the day I just like having a journal of our life here whether that’s Pinterest worthy or not. I like your Gretchen reference at the end, I’m such an obliger too.

    • It does feel overwhelming. There’s a reason full time bloggers are full time! I’ve been wanting to understand and learn Pinterest for so long… just keeps getting kicked down the priority list. Oh well 😛

  • Welcome back girl! This resonates with me on so many levels. The way I look at it is when I need a break I’ll take one or post less. I blog because I love to share, places I’ve been, places I liked that I ate at and lifestyle things I come across. That’s why I read other blogs, so I figure if I still to that philosophy I’ll always be inspired to share! Can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to! Liked the Gretchen Rubin reference too!

    • Thank you so much! So nice to hear I’m not alone in feeling this way. I haven’t finished reading her book but from the short descriptions, I’m an obliger to a tee.

  • I really know what you mean! To monetize, to not…. why is my blog not successful, blah blah blah, micro-blogging on IG instead of writing blog posts… the last few years have been tough on us bloggers. It’s so good to connect to that original reason why you wanted to start blogging in the first place! I am trying to remember to write what I want and not be influenced by these external factors too much. I think readers will appreciate that you are staying true to what you want, and you will do it better than trying to do something else. In any case, I hope you are “back to blogging” now 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, at this rate I’m at one post a week but that’s okay! Being part of the Wanderful Wednesday group has motivated me to do at least that.

  • Mummy Mimi

    Glad to see your back – looking forward to seeing more of your adventures!

  • Oufff I’m so with you on ALL of this! I too fall into the time-suck-scary-trap of trying to work out what I “should” be doing with my blog… instead of just writing it! As you say, the best thing is to try not to beat yourself up too much… Candy Crush is my personal mind-break, haha! Looking forward to reading what you do share with us!

    • haha I was addicted to Candy Crush and in a fit of frustration over realizing how much time I had wasted on it, I deleted the app and ever look back. But I can’t seem to do the same for Two Dots… I’ve been close but they get you good! I always want to see what new levels they have… ugh pathetic! I’ve been trying now to colour or do calligraphy when listening to podcasts instead of Two Dots… but we’ll see how well I do.

      • I definitely justify my Candy Crush by also playing while I listen to podcasts but you’re right, it’s still not good to be so hooked!

  • I’m exploring your blog and thinking wow, you’ve done such a great job of writing about your travels. I always intend to write more travel pieces on my blog, but my niche is expat issues and as you say…life takes over. I think as long as you’re putting out work you’re proud of…and people obviously enjoy reading your blog, then you’re winning! See you at FIGT!

  • Mia Lupo

    There are so many things that I can relate to throughout your post! It can be frustrating to temporarily step away from the things we enjoy doing vs. the things we *need* to do, but it’s not forever. Happy to see that you’re back to blogging—one real, honest post every once in a while is better than a flurry of shortsighted content.