Did you know that I can write?
And I write well actually.
Not sure you knew that.
I used to anyway……but I don’t anymore and I’ve been trying to figure out why.
When I was in college I won prizes for my writing, prizes with money attached to them; a total of $1,500 worth of cold hard cash and in the 90’s that was a lot more money than it is now.
So what happened?
I mean, I have the perfect outlet to practice and hone my literary skills, in fact I didn’t start a blog because I couldn’t write, I started it because I could.
It’s not an increase in responsibility, because even though I have a house and two kids to take care of, Architecture School was no picnic and was fraught with all-nighters, as were my subsequent years as a lowly architectural intern.
So what happened to my writing? Sure I don’t make time for it, much like my drawing, but why. WHY?
I hesitate to place blame but in an effort to solve the problem, I’m going to have to point fingers.
I blame “mommy blogging.” There I said it. Mommy blogging is the cause of all the troubles in the world. Ok, wait, that is a little extreme. Mommy blogging is that cause of all MY problems. Well, no, that’s a bit presumptuous too. But as much as I jest, it’s not that far from the truth.
I don’t believe that all moms who blog fall into the category of “mommy blogger.” To me, that term defines a niche of women who not only blog about their kids but also actively use social networking and product reviews as a way to grow their audience. It goes beyond writing and community and really becomes public relations. Not only do mommy bloggers work with PR, they are PR, communicating messages from brands and products to their readers, just not as well paid.
I’m not saying this is a negative thing, or that mommy bloggers are no more valuable to the blogosphere than a blogger whose main focus is the writing itself. It’s a niche, and one that obviously had room to be filled. But I do think that once you step out of the title of “blogger” and into one of “mommy blogger” you become distracted and your focus changes. When you are romanced by Frigidaire, Dyson, Sony and so many others, it is no wonder you fall in love with it all.
Plenty of mommy bloggers are exactly where they want to be. High-end product reviews, trips and popular, well-trafficked blogs filled with reader giveaways and advertising sponsors. And that is great. I believe that if you are doing what you want to do, then you are doing just fine. But what about those of us who have started questioning not only our focus but why we are blogging altogether? Those of us who, while we appreciate the relationships we have built with advertisers and PR reps, feel disillusioned, trapped and misguided – some to the point of considering closing their blogs and moving on?
There are more mommy bloggers who feel this way than they will even admit. Because it’s nice being sought out. It’s nice being asked to share our opinions and often the products we receive to review help our families, especially those of us who have been crunched by the economy. But to what end? For those of us who started a blog to write, we are finding our content riddled with promotional posts and often devoid of personality and certainly not overtly displaying any skill we have as writers.
Again, I want to stress that if this is your choice and you are happy with it and making it work, then keep it up! This is not a soapbox for judgement and it surely is not a commentary with the goal of telling anyone they are doing something wrong. It also is not a forum for complaint either. No one comes to mommy blogging by force. It was personal choice and each of us made the decision for ourselves to follow after the free yogurt and snack cakes, and often this quest has led to bigger and better things – vacuums, appliances and more. This is not a “woe is me” discussion as much as it is a “how do I find balance” discussion.
I want to write well. I want readers who come here because they connect with me and my writing, not because I am giving away free stuff. But I also want the opportunity to work with brands and companies and I certainly want to reward my loyal readers with great giveaways.
But how does one reconcile this and still want to write well? Working with brands and PR is not as easy as being handed “free” products and walking away. Most of us care about our relationships with companies and with our readers and put time and effort into reviews and promotional posts. Time and effort that often makes it next to impossible to do much else, or at least squelches any interest you have in doing much else, at least from a writing standpoint. And frankly, I can only write so many product reviews and fulfill so many obligations before my perceptions are muted. When I am not observing the world around me with the same intent as I once was because my brain is simply tired of writing “fluff”, I become oblivious to the things that would make great blog fodder. Not to mention a loathing to even open the blog editor to start writing a post.
In short, burnout.
And burnout turns passion into responsibility, and responsibility into a chore.
So how do I have my cake and eat it too? How do I maintain and grow my relationships with brands and PR, yet also continue to develop the critical senses required to not only write but also to find things to actually write about that people will want to read?
Can I do both?
Is it possible?
Or am I forced to choose one over the other?
Did the mommy blogger kill the writer, or can there be a compromise that allows them to co-exists peacefully within the same blog and even possibly help each other?