Information Overload and Writing Burnout: How to Keep Calm and Carry on Blogging

You may have noticed that this blog went quiet for nearly two years. I disappeared for a lot of reasons. Mainly it was a mixture of writing burnout, imposter syndrome and blogging advice overload. Add a hefty dose of perfectionism and a full-time job and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an abandoned creative outlet. Maybe you can relate.

Information overload from shiny blogs and expensive courses

Kitten staring at laptop screen on table

It’s hard to avoid information overload, especially if you feel like you know nothing. And there are a lot of blogs out there offering to help turn you into a successful writer and blogger. While this knowledge can be incredibly valuable, It often ends up sending you round and round in circles trying to implement every suggestion in order to succeed. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

Everyone’s step-by-step guide is definitive, everyone’s course is the only one you will ever need, and everyone’s ebook formula for publishing success is a must-have. You end up comparing yourself to someone already in the middle of the journey you’ve just begun.

And you’re going in a different direction anyway.  

The only question you really need to ask yourself is whether people enjoy your work. Does your audience like your writing? Do your clients come back? Are people reading your posts -even if it’s a tiny number?  (Hello, that one reader in Japan- I see you) If they are, it means you’ve helped someone in some small way. You put something good into the world and that’s got to count for something.

Besides, small things often grow.

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

And a busy squirrel.

Niche! For Heaven’s sake niche!

When you’re about done with information overload, the piece of advice you’ll most remember is finding a niche. Preferably a very small one that no one has discovered yet. I started blogging because I’m a writer. Not that niche I’m afraid.

I also write about a few different subjects (not to overload you with even more information). But like many of us, I’m not actually an expert unless you count lived experience. And good old imposter syndrome informs me that it doesn’t.

So. NRR is a lifestyle blog. Lifestyle, writing, and wellness. That’s nichey enough, isn’t it? 

And I’m not pretending to be a doctor or have any kind of medical experience when I write about IBS or the joys of rosacea and getting older.

This blog is not about one subject and you know what? it’s doing OK.

If you niche down, you may get some traction quickly. But if you’re anything like me you’ll also get bored of your topic pretty fast. Follow your gut. Don’t niche too much unless you want to and can stick at it for a very long time.

Got some magic FDA-approved IBS-eliminating pills? Go nuts on the niche. Otherwise, be you.

Do it your way, because you won’t last 5 minutes unless you do. And the best thing is something will come of it, even if it’s not quite what you expected. You’ll be doing what you love and doing it well.

…Speaking of Imposter syndrome

I generally tell people I stopped blogging to work full-time for a while. I needed to build up the funds, get through the pandemic industry standstill and get back to it.

Got to keep the positivity going right? And keep to the party line.

The truth is I felt inadequate. Imposter syndrome was getting to me pretty hard at the time. Comparing yourself to established bloggers and successful writers doesn’t help. It’s even worse when you see how long it’s taken you to write one post, while it seems everyone else has managed about ten. What I hadn’t really thought about though, is that I was still in learning mode.

It takes time to learn. When there’s no clear guide, it leads you right back to information overload, trying to absorb everything and do everything at once. So much creative energy is spent on figuring stuff out. It becomes overwhelming and you end up thinking it’s you. You’re clearly not enough, and you’re not an expect either.

A lot of successful bloggers struggled to get traction early on. Every creative industry has examples of overnight success stories that actually took 10 years to achieve.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Yes, we’re in a new world of AI but the fundamentals are the same. Blogging requires patience, persistence, and continuous learning. So I’ve given myself permission to be small, and flawed and to just get on with it. 

The best part about that is that I get to celebrate the small wins. Keep the goals achievable. If it’s too much, lower the bar.

It means you can call yourself a success when you hit publish and not worry about the rest of it. This is the growth period, the anecdote you’ll tell, somewhere down the road when you’re cheering someone else on.

Keeping up with the internet noise

Woman standing in-between stacks in library

The internet is a crowded place. There are 600 million blogs out there and 70 million posts go live every month- so thank you for choosing this one- but how can anyone possibly compete with that level of noise?

Everyone is shouting about the amount of value you have to give your audience. It’s the only way to get them to pay attention for more than 10 seconds. Inundate them with free information (which let’s face it they can get anywhere) and they might stick around and buy your ‘insert product here’!

The thing is it’s not bad advice. It genuinely seems to work for lots of bloggers. but you can feel burnt out from the constant hustle.

It’s like trying to keep up with the F1 cars when you’ve got yourself a shiny new bike. Don’t get me wrong I like the bike, I’ve put all my eggs in the little basket on the front. It’s just not got a chance against a Ferrari SF70H. (I googled that, I know nothing about cars).

Back to the point.

Imposter syndrome rears its head again to remind us all to compare ourselves harshly with others who are much further ahead.

It takes a stupidly long time to figure out that you just have to go your own way.

Rules and more rules for blog writing

Google favours Long-form content. Every post you read in the top 10 Serps will be ridiculously long and packed with ‘value’. Now I’m not deriding other bloggers here. They’ve put a lot of work into those posts and they are incredibly useful. My beef is the need to produce something the length of a book to get Google’s attention.

Think about how you use Google. When you search for something do you sit down and prepare yourself for a long read by the fire, cocoa in hand? Probably not. We skim, looking at the subheadings for something relevant to our search term. Or better yet do a control+F for the flipping keyword. 

Why? Because the post is as long as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It’s not like I’m not guilty of long posts (side eyes this 1700-word beast) And thank you if you’ve actually read this far. But the point is, people are busy. They don’t have time for the history of the Kumquat if they’re only looking to make marmalade. 

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with information overload when you’re bombarded with advice on SEO, content marketing, social media strategies, and more. The only way to stick at this is to go with your gut. Writing what you’re passionate about, in your own way, is really your best chance of avoiding burnout.

Impossible expectations and writing burnout

Burnt out match on a white background

By the time we reached Christmas 2020, I was beginning to feel writing burnout. I’d really slogged away at the small number of posts I’d been able to get published. That alone should’ve been a red flag.

trying not to overload myself with information again, I was reading advice about planning your quarters and content calendars. They said that you really needed to batch your ‘holiday’ content. And if you want any traction at all, do it in November.

Now, like the lacking-in-confidence, no-nothin’ writer I was, I took that to heart and realised that I’d been late to the party yet again. What I couldn’t make myself do was show up anyway and hope for the best.

I decided it was fine. I’d save it for next year; it was mostly written anyway. All good.

Except.

I didn’t come back in January. or February. By the time we hit March, I was working full-time to pay those pesky bills. The further away I got from writing the harder it was to return. Especially when I could see I was putting in way more than I was getting back. It became impossible to write anything at all.

Recovering from burnout and Rediscovering the joy of writing

Earlier this year, I made myself a promise I would at least try to write something every day.

Some days I failed, but eventually, it turned into a 500-word-a-day writing habit. And that journal has been the basis for much of my writing since. It’s been invaluable in helping rebuild my writing routine and recovery from burnout. 

Embracing Imperfection

I know my posts aren’t perfect. I no longer attempt to make them so. If I’d carried on that way, the burnout from writing restrictions would’ve stopped me completely.

The most freeing thing I ever did for my writing was hit publish. Once you figure out that perfection is an illusion, you see that you get better and further ahead with every post you publish.

It may be an imperfect blog but you know what? it’s a blog that exists. which is better than a perfect blog that’s just an idea. 

Lastly

I came back to blogging because I never planned to stop. I’m sharing the challenges and moments of self-doubt because I know there are others who feel the same, trying to make their writing a success.

Setbacks may be part of the journey but so is taking care of your well-being. Be kind to yourself. And if you’re struggling like I was, you can always look to other creators who understand what you’re going through.

Join writing groups, find a class, or hey, drop me a line or a comment below! I’d love to hear how your writing is coming along.

For now, I’ll leave you with this:

You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

Mary Pickford.

Nicole x

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