Change is Coming …

IMG_6901Ten years ago I got into a PhD programme. I was incredibly lucky to be fully funded by my university: they covered my living costs and tuition fees. In return, I had to teach EU law seminars to undergraduate students. Given that I was a university lecturer in Azerbaijan before I moved to England, I was excited about this aspect of the programme. It was the idea of finishing my 80,000-word thesis that was daunting.

On my induction day, I realised other students were overwhelmed by this prospect too. Academic staff banged on about the importance of staying on track and completing a thesis on time. Apparently, the completion rates of PhD programme weren’t great. I heard a lot of advice on that day: some went straight over my head, some I hung on to for dear life. The best advice was given by someone who’s done the same programme a few years before me.

‘It’s very tempting to put all your attention on teaching. You get immediate gratification from interacting with students. There’s an on-going feedback mechanism embedded in teaching, because you have a sense of how well you are doing. You don’t get that with your PhD thesis until the very end. It’s easy to prioritise teaching. Do teaching well, but don’t get lost in it.’

I followed this advice consistenly and it meant that I completed my PhD a few months before the deadline (and passed my viva without a single correction).

Now years later, I realise that the same dynamic applies to blogging and writing a book. It’s so much nicer to engage with the blog readers, than keep editing and improving on my manuscript. I came to realise that without striking the right balance, my book may be on a backburner for a long time. Although I thoroughly enjoy blogging and connecting with my amazing readers, it’s time for me to spruce up my manuscript and put it out into the world.

Earlier this month, after completing the April A to Z blogging challenge, I asked for your advice – what do you like on my blog, what would you like more or less of. Many thanks to everyone who took the time to reflect and respond here. The key messages I got from your responses was ‘Quality over quantity.’

So, I’m cutting back.

I’m closing down The Story Behind The Story series. In the last few weeks, I’ve asked a couple of people to contribute to the series. When they are ready, I’ll be happy to publish their posts, but it’s not going to be a weekly feature anymore. No more flash fiction either, I’m afraid. I enjoyed trying it out, but it’s not my thing. My aim is to post once or maximum twice a week. I’d like to find and maintain a pace I can sustain for many years to come.

Another important piece of news: over the summer, I’ll be moving to a self-hosted site. Please, stay tuned.

Last but not least, I’m taking a week off next week to recover from the intensity of exam marking. See you all in June.

As always, thank you for reading.

45 thoughts on “Change is Coming …

  1. Quality over quantity. Definitely. Except I’ve never felt that your blog did the opposite. Still, you’re definitely right in cutting back if it means more noveling time (yes, I believe we should make a verb out of it. I novel, you novel, we all novel.)

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I get it. Besides having two written books that I need to edit and market, I have the short story collection I’m working on, my music, etc. I spend more time blogging than working on any of these things or all of these things combined. Recently I’ve taken a blogging slow down, but it isn’t slow enough.

    Have a great blogging break!

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you for reading and your supportive comment. The pull of blogging is really strong. I love it! And I’ve been slowing down throughout May to see how it works out. Good luck with all your projects – wonderful to know what you are working on.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Gulara, I have to say the A-Z Blogging Challenge almost did me in this year, I think I might still be recovering. I have backed off on blogging for a while because life stuff has taken priority. I think you are right though, you can’t possibly write frequent posts and a book at the same time – something has to give, but the instant feedback is nice. Have fun grading those exams!!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! I finished grading exams and feel on my last leg 🙂 A-Z was really intense this year. I just returned to work in April and having the challenge on top of everything else consolidated the idea of stepping back a bit. Need a break. 🙂 Glad you’ve been taking it easy.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That had to be a difficult decision you made, Gulara. Remember, never regret the choice you make, since at the moment you make the choice, it’s the right one at that moment.
    I know you’ve learned to listen to your gut feeling, your instinct, therefor I’m certain this choice to cut back on blogging, is right for you.
    Like in ‘real’ life, here in this virtual world people who really cherish your posts and blog, cherish you, will understand and still follow your every step.
    Enjoy your lovely family, your work, you book writing and all other great plans waiting for you.
    Enjoy your break and ’till soon! Big hug, Patty

    Liked by 5 people

    • You are right, Patty, it’s a choice. It’s bitter-sweet, because I love blogging and it was my outlet for connecting with the world at large when I was on maternity leave. But with a full-time job and all other commitments, I don’t want the quality to slip somehow. There’s enough noise in the internet. I’d rather post once a week and have something meaningful to say than post because I should. Ideas don’t come easily when I’m tired and I’m currently very tired. Very much look forward to recharging my batteries. Back soon with (hopefully) some great posts! 🙂 Big hug, Patty, I very much appreciate you!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Well done for making this decision Gulara, surely not an easy one to make. Like SD Gates above/below the A-Z nearly did me in too … 🙂 Lately what with visitors here left right and centre (cooking shopping cooking some more) and winter truly being felt, blogging has taken a back seat – and I feel quite ok about that. I’m paying attention to editing the WIP. Enjoyed this post very much thank you …

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Susan, much appreciated. The decision wasn’t too difficult. Between marking 112 exam scripts in five days and looking after kids, applying for a competition and enjoying the garden there simply wasn’t space for blogging. I didn’t want it to slip unconsciously though. I wanted to make a conscious choice and see how it all pans out. Glad you are editing the WIP. Can’t wait to read it!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Blogging gives instant rewards, instant readers, and I understand. I used to blog a lot more than I do now, because it eats into time I could be spending on my novel. Having said that, it has a role—it keeps you in contact with readers, builds your ‘platform’—but once/twice a week is will be more than enough to do that! Looking forward to still reading your posts!
    PS. It’s brave of you to survey your readers and what they want more of! I don’t think I want to know the answer to that. Actually, I suspect I already know, and I know that I’m not giving it …

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I’ve found that when it comes to blogging, it’s my commitment to being here each week that keeps me going. While quality is important, it can become an easy way to rationalize not posting to your blog. Be forewarned. I’ve seen many a good blogger lose their mojo because they’re worried about being a great blogger. That being said, enjoy your time off and your new posting schedule. Change is good.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I take you point. I think I let go of idea of perfectionism a long time ago and allowed myself to do my best on a regular basis. It taught me how to blog 🙂 I couldn’t do it well without doing regularly. But something needs to give way and I’m afraid it happens to be the frequency of blogging. Let’s see how long I last. I’ve made this promise before…

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m a new reader, but I love the “quality over quantity” advice. That’s why I only post twice a month. In theory, I have two weeks to craft my post and it definitely helps me out in the “self care” department.

    I’m glad you’re taking some time for yourself :).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Rachel. You are right, balancing blogging with family, full-time job and life in general can be tricky. It feels like a step in the right direction. Thank you for your support.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes, I too believe that you received excellent advice… “quality over quantity.” Especially since I prefer your excellent words of advice. Taking time for you to recharge is valuable too… Congratulations on your decisions…and enjoy your vacation!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Gwynn. The decision was organic 🙂 Now that I’m in full-time employment, I simply don’t have time or energy to post too often. Once a week is about right. Thank you for your support.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m paying £85 per year for Premium WordPress. It doesn’t give me much. I can’t even install any extra functions. For example, I want a scheduling link to offer sessions, and I can’t do much about it. So, I’ve been thinking….

      Liked by 2 people

  10. “Do teaching well but don’t get lost in it.” I think that’s great advice, Gulara. One also has to lead a life, away from the project at hand. I think that’s a great way to look at everything in life.
    Congratulations on getting into the programme. Sounds exciting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Silvia, yes, it was a great programme. I graduated in 2010 but advice obviously still lives in me 🙂 Took a little bit of time to make the parallel 🙂 Thank you for reading and your support.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. Gulara, I understand your decision and perhaps the intensity of the A-Z Challenge tipped the balance too far and tipped your hand. I went into another zone doing mine but now have a manuscript, so I’m thrilled.
    I have two kids and struggle to balance writing and the blog and family commitments at times. Due to my health, I haven’t been able to work for a few years but I’ve also needed to recover. While cutting back sounds like good sense, I also sense that blogging provides you with a stimulating social context. Blogging is far from idle chat and the whole working parent thing can leave you quite socially isolated. “Friends” can be a bit of a luxury. My kids changed schools at the end of last year and I’ve lost that daily run into layer from my life and miss it. Blogging has really helped bridge that gap for me, especially as it can be very hard for me to meet like-minded writers or creatives where I live.
    I have always felt blogging is working towards my book but it could also be a distraction. Not sure.
    I wish you well with a very heavy juggling act and for having the wisdom to realise it was getting too much.
    LOve and best wishes,
    Ro

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Ro, thank you for your generous comment. I really appreciate your support. You are so right about the social context of blogging. It was a life-saviour when I was on maternity leave. We are a bit isolated here and I find that I have more friends in the blogosphere than in my day-to-day life. I value and cherish the connections and friendships I’ve built over the time. Besides, nothing is set in stone. I make these decisions about pulling back and slowing down and then…. Anyway, let’s see how things evolve. Thank you for all your ongoing support. Love and blessings, Gulara x

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Gulara. I can also get quite isolated but I’m trying to get out more again and have a job interview next week. I’m quite an extrovert so I do need that people interaction and I can struggle to find like-minded people out in the real world. I am rather deep. So, I can see the need for blogging but you’re doing a lot and you don’t want to implode. I do strive for balance in my own life, which totally went out the window with the A-Z but I’m getting back into more equilibrium now. Take care and all the best with the perpetual juggling act but take care of you as well! Love & blessings, Rowena

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good luck with your job interview, Rowena, I’ll keep fingers crossed for you. It’s interesting, I’m an introvert, but I love blogging because it gives me a safe environment to connect with like-minded people. Love&blessings, Gulara

        Liked by 1 person

      • I find most bloggers are introverts and I think they like blogging for the same reason as you.
        I have wondered what it would be like meeting all these people I chat to in real life and whether we’d take one look at each other and run the other way. We know each other pretty well in some instances and yet its only a fraction of who we are.
        Take care xx Ro

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s amazing to th ink that some readers know more about me than my family of origin… But it’s not all of who I’m, you are so right. We are on our way to the family camp. I’ll be in touch in a week’s time. Have a great week. Warmly, Gulara xx

        Like

  12. Thank you, Gulara. I really enjoy reading your posts, but have been struggling to keep up, especially with the A-Z challenge, and there’s still a backlog in my inbox.
    I love the advice you were given when being inducted for your PhD course – to enjoy the teaching but to not get lost in it. It is a great advice and transfers so well to blogging, as you have shown.
    I too have been trying to pull back on the time devoted to all that blogging entails. I am still consistently posting twice a week, but trying to shorten posts so that they don’t take as much writing time. When my website goes live it also will include a blog, so I will reduce my current blog to one post a week and write one for my website. I am prioritizing work for my website at the moment so I am slow getting to others’ posts to read and comment, but try to get to everyone at least once a week, possibly twice to return the favour if they visit mine.
    As a reader, quality over quantity works for me, especially shorter posts about twice weekly. I don’t try to keep up with those who post daily or/and write lengthy posts. I just don’t have the time. Your posts have always been a pleasure to read and of suitable length and excellent quality. I look forward to continuing to read in whatever time and format you choose.
    Best wishes with the balancing act. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Norah. I greatly appreciated your input on this from the outset. For me what’s important is consistency. When I take on something, unless I plan to do it for a long time, it’s not worth my energy. It’s possible to blog intensively for a while, but it’s not something one can sustain easily. So, this feels the right decision which was further supported by regular readers. Good luck with your website, Norah. I look forward to visiting and reading your posts on learning. Many thanks for all your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh how I understand your dilemma, Gulara, and how I applaud your wise decision. As much as i love to blog and to read blogs, I cannot do it on a regular basis if I want to move on with the writing projects I am currently working on. Since the end of the A to Z Challenge I’ve cut my blogging time as well as my time on any other social network and have finally finished my YA novel. I’m already deep into revision and it’s only because I’ve limited my other writing. It’s hard to balance but it’s great if you can check your priorities. Good luck with your book. I assume that’s your memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congratulations, Evelyne! What great news – I’m delighted for you. Good luck with editing. I’m in the middle of editing my manuscript too 🙂 Yes, I don’t know why, but this year’s A to Z was especially intense. Glad that you are focusing on your book. I’ll pop around soon to say hi.

      Like

  14. So happy you’re working on your writing. 💕 Blogging is wonderful but very time-consuming. Quality over quantity. I am all for that with my short posts once (or twice) a week. It all comes down to this: “find and maintain a pace I can sustain for many years to come.” Yes. That. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. That is excellent advice, about teaching well but not at the sacrifice of your PhD thesis.

    I can see where it would be a struggle to choose between working on your book or a blog. Blogging can be very gratifying…and little too much so, at the expense of other things.

    All the best with your move to a self hosted site. This is exciting!

    Liked by 1 person

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