Failing at challenges and can you help ?

Last year I signed up for a few challenges that appealed but as year went on I failed at them terribly ,so for 2012 I l be doing no challenges in fact I ll just do the odd thing here and there as I try to get my failing blog back on the rails I ve neglect winstonsdad of late .In part due some ill-health ,wanting to spend more time with Amanda and my own laziness but when I spoke last night and realised I had 20 plus books unreviewed Ive decided I need to get a routine going so in  2012 I want to get a better routine with the blog and this is a question to you all especially those who post regularly  HOW DO YOU DO IT ? any tips are welcome I have been writing a post at a time but not sure if this is best way maybe a day and write a few at a time would work what do you do ? Do you like challenges ? where am I going wrong ? I am a butterfly reader I like jumping from place to place and very disorganised .so any tips and advice be more than welcome  thanks as from jan I want get back to regular posting .

39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nymeth
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 12:56:09

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I’m a big believer in letting go of pressure or stress when it comes to blogging, so my approach to challenges is completely relaxed. I like them well enough, but if I don’t finish them (which I didn’t this year), oh well. Making the lists was fun anyway.


  2. whisperinggums
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:02:54

    This is a hobby Stu … so there should be no talk of failing. If you haven’t done challenges it’s because you chose to read or do other things instead.

    I don’t do challenges. Every now and then I’m tempted but I already have enough demands on my reading time – such as a couple of groups I belong to – that if I did challenges I’d never do any self-directed reading.

    I do normally write one post at a time – except for the Man Asian project where I build my weekly review round-up over the week OR the occasional Monday Musings post which I might write over a day or so and then schedule. I usually read one book at a time (though I currently have a book on the kindle too) and write one past at a time. The old brain you know!


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:43:36

      I think that is main thing I get caught on other books very easily ,I was doing one at time but then reading more than had time to review ,I m love man asian thou I d read some of the books but great seeing every ones thoughts on the books ,all the best stu


  3. Bellezza
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:03:07

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong either. For me, I must write a review after I finish the book or I will lose the essence, the mood, the message still in my heart. Or, at least, the impact will fade away. So, I just write a post right away. Some books are not important enough to me to take the time to do that; I don’t write a review post on every book I read.

    But, you’ve hit on an important point here, about ‘obligation’, and I’m going to address that in a few days as I’ve been mulling it over myself.

    In other news, the library came through with a copy of Henry Green’s Living, Loving, and Party Going for January with Winstonsdad. 🙂


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:38:18

      I use to but over time I read quicker than I ve been writing I think I may have to lose some I ve read and maybe reread them at a later date ,great you got A Green ready I ve two myself unless I see any others second hand ,looking forward to it as love greens work and he is so overlook ,all the best stu


  4. Lisa Hill
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:13:50

    I’m a bit like you, Stu: I signed up for a lot of challenges when I first discovered them – but then I found that they were controlling my reading more than I wanted them to. And like you, I tend to be a bit of a butterfly – I make plans and I follow them a bit, but then I get distracted.
    But I don’t consider this to be ‘failing’. Failing is what happens when there’s a test or a deadline and you don’t measure up or you can’t do it on time. But reading for pleasure isn’t a test, and the reviewing we do isn’t a job. Amateur bloggers like us are doing the publishing industry a favour by using our spare time to read their books and then publicise them to our readership – it’s publicity for them that money can’t buy.
    But the value of the ‘free’ book is nothing like the value of the time we spend reading it and writing a review, is it? Even the lowest paid workers get paid more per hour than that. So if we feel like reading something else that appeals, well, why not? I’m grateful to publishers who send me nice books to read, but I don’t feel obligated to them.
    One of the best aspects about the book blogging world is that it’s very individual. Some people are very organised – like Sue, who does her Monday Musings every Monday, and Matt who does his reviews on Tuesdays etc, and then there’s people like me who do three in one day and then nothing for a week. Some people blog everything they read and others only the ones they like.
    I think you’ve built up a very successful blog that we all love to read because we discover interesting books that are out of the mainstream. So (keeping Amanda as your first priority, because as I always say to staff, family always comes first) I would like you to just keep going the way you are. If you’re not a routine person, don’t try to be.
    PS Re the 20 books, relax. It is a great benefit to an author to have their ‘new book’ reviewed ‘late’. All the initial publicity has died down, and then they get a ‘second wind’ bringing more publicity a little later down the track.


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:48:32

      I had started with the idea of blogging all I read just think I read quicker than I have time to blog ,I ll just try and up my post in jan but want get routine back had it a few months ago and then life got in the way but hoping in new year I ll have some thing to help me with it from Amanda for christmas ,I love find books that have fallen out of the limelight some of my favourite books have been chance finds in secondhand shops that I ve blogged ,family is impportant and one main reasons is we ve been having more evening together of late were we watch films and chat and don’t have computer on so much ,all the best stu


  5. kimbofo
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:39:52

    Stop beating yourself up, Stu! This is supposed to be a hobby, not something that makes you feel like a failure.

    I’ve never signed up to a challenge, mainly because I have too many other commitments and I like to read on a whim, as it were, rather than have everything too planned out. I spent enough time at school and uni studying for exams and trying to read all the set texts, that I don’t want to spend my leisure time repeating the experience. Reading should be fun, relaxing, entertaining, joyful not something that stresses you out.

    As for how I blog, I tend to do them one post at a time, but that post might take me a couple of days to craft, particularly if it’s a review. And I go through phases dependent on my blogging mojo — sometimes I’ll post every day, other times I’ll only post once or twice a week. It usually depends on what else is going on in my life.

    I’m currently unemployed so I’ve got a bit more spare time up my sleeve, but I do wish I wouldn’t fritter it away on the internet instead of being a bit more proactive about the job search!


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 16, 2011 @ 13:53:17

      I m not just know let things slip of late ,I think I like reading on a whim hence I m so bad at challenges I may love italian books but may read one in a year or ten and feel I maybe pushed my reading to fit challenges early on in year ,I tend to think myu post out in head for a few days then write them ,I like to compare books to things and that can take time ,all the best stu


  6. Gavin
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 15:36:09

    When I first started blogging I signed up for lots of challenges and felt pressured to complete them. I did not like the stress! So I stopped feeling bad and worrying about it. I blog to have fun, write about books and connect with people. Now I only join challenges I am really attracted to, take part in a few read-alongs and write about books if I think I have something to say about them. I used to believe I had to write about every book I read but other bloggers convinced me that was silly, it take all the fun out of it!

    If I read a book and love it I usually take a couple of days to let it sink in and then try and get a post up within a week of finishing it. That way I find I am posting about two or three books a week and I am happy with that. Do what you love, Stu.


  7. farmlanebooks
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 16:47:05

    I experienced exactly the same thing last year and so didn’t sign up for any challenges in 2011 – I don’t want the added pressure.

    My only tip with blogging is to try to write as much in advance as possible. I am really bad at doing this, but if you can get a weeks worth of posts stored up it takes the pressure off – especially if something happens in real life that means you don’t have the time to write posts. I only write one post at a time and am amazed at all the people who tweet about the fact they’ve written 6 posts in one morning, but I guess we all work in different ways,

    Try not to worry about it! I hadn’t noticed any decline in your blog recently. Everyone is busy, especially over Christmas.


  8. Tom Cunliffe
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 19:11:39

    My aim is to write two reviews a week. That’s seems enough for me. I also take breaks from time to time – three months this summer! You soon pick up again where you left off.

    I write one post at a time and I write early in the morning – if I leave it to later in the day I can’t feel inspired.

    Your blog is just fine – perhaps you should post once a week for a month or so and then see how you pick up. Certainly it shouldn’t have a bad effect on your life in the real world, which is much more important than the blogosphere


  9. lizzysiddal
    Dec 16, 2011 @ 19:55:35

    The only time I’ve ever planned the blog was during German Literature Month. Other than that it’s one post at a time about the subject I most want to write about at the time. That inevitably means that some books won’t get reviewed but it’s coming to the end of the year, so I may compile a post of mini-reviews to catch-up. May being the operative word

    As for challenges, I still love them but don’t stress about them. I only pick challenges that fit in with my interests anyway. So I find by the end of the year, they’ve fulfilled themselves without too much obligation though possibly not with the books I thought I’d read at the begining of the year.

    What I am not good at is visiting the hosts and the whole Mr Linky obligation.

    As for quantity – I aim for 2 posts a week and when I don’t manage that, I don’t beat myself up about it either.

    FIrst and foremost, it’s about the reading for me.


  10. Tony
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 00:51:31

    I find it does help to have a loose plan (e.g. posting on Mondays and Thursdays), with room to change that when things come up. I definitely understand the problem with being too far ahead with your reading; I have been overposting at times simply because I’ve read a lot of books! I’ve tried posting on multiple books, but it doesn’t always work for me. In fact, there have been occasions (unsuspected by my readers!) where I’ve intended to write a three-review post and ended up writing a post so long that I later split it into three posts anyway…

    As for challenges, it’s best to let your reading tastes shape your challenges, and not the other way around. I know that I’ll read at least a dozen J-Lit/V-Lit/Oz-Lit/G-Lit books over the course of a year, so it’s not a hardship to sign up for challenges which cover those areas. If, however, I let myself be dragged into areas I’m not so sure about, simply to play nicely with my friends, I suspect that this is when I’ll start to fall behind and feel pressured – and that’s not what it’s all about…

    One last tip: it’s good to have a vague idea about what you’re planning to read, especially with regard to length. Reading a dozen, beautiful 100/150-page translated works in a row will always give you grief if you’re planning to review them all! Make sure you’ve got a few chunksters in there to give yourself time to get your reviews done too 😉

    Wow. That was almost a post in itself…


  11. Kelly
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 01:48:02

    I know how you feel 🙂 I have a stack of books that need reviewing, but with the holidays right around the corner, I have been so busy with my family that I’ve had almost no time to write reviews. As far as challenges go, I usually love them and finish them, but this year I won’t be reading 3 books on my lists because I’ve been getting distracted by other books. Like you, I’m taking this next year off from challenges. I’m just going to read what I feel like reading. Plus, I’m going to be starting grad school in September and don’t know how much time I’ll have for reading for pleasure. Looking foward to reading all your book reviews 🙂


  12. parrish
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 08:33:56

    Hi Stu, This is a question we’ve played around with before, but before I pretend to a degree of wisdom I don’t have, I’ve a confession, I’ve also failed spectacularly with my challenges this year, in my case I did so well in my first year, that I got over-ambitious & said yes to everything, will also cut back in 2012. As to the wisdom, You already know I’ve a schedule, It’s once a week, with the occasional addition, this gives me plenty of time for reading & also allows me time to write, I’m normally at least a couple of post ahead of what I need.
    But my best, from the great font of all wisdom & the sacred oracle of the goddess knowitall, is to remember this is fun, a hobby & secondary to the actual Reading.
    Hope this helps.


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:14:55

      I read more than I ve been reviewing that is the main problem I not got balence right and end up with pile of unreviewed books but hope to get routine back in new year ,all the best stu


  13. Violet
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 09:26:07

    Lately I’ve been writing a post as soon as I finish a book I want to post about, but I leave it in draft form for a few days, and then go back and tidy it up before I publish it. Sometimes I have 3 or 4 drafts waiting to be scheduled, but I don’t write about every book I read. Sometimes I just don’t feel like writing blog posts, or I’m too busy. I did sign up for a few challenges last year, but found it wasn’t my thing at all. I am doing the Australian Women Writers Reading challenge next year to support a good cause, and the Historical Fiction Reading challenge, because I have some unread books on the shelves. But, I think that putting pressure on ourselves to read a certain number of books or post to a schedule detracts from our reading, and I’m resolved to put more focus on my reading next year, and not be concerned whether I post once or twice a week, or once a month. I find it’s getting more and more time-consuming to leave comments on blogs and do all the blog housekeeping, and really, I just want to enjoy my reading. I do like to share my thoughts on books and to read other’s opinions, but when blogging and reading blogs feels like a chore that has to be done, then I begin to lack motivation to keep on blogging. It’s tricky, but I think our reading should always come first, because that’s what nourishes our brains, hearts, and souls.


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:13:43

      I find commenting hard work at time Violet I mm not a great commenter at all ,I will not do any challenges next year unless near end of year they tie in with what I read through the year,all the best stu


  14. Kinna
    Dec 17, 2011 @ 10:53:02

    I think I’m one of the most disorganized book bloggers around. I signed up for two challenges which I hope to complete by ed of December. And I will sign up for a more next year. I may or may not complete them but I will try and do my best. I also plan on hosting a challenge of my own. But my life and my laziness does get in the way. And that’s okay, I guess. You have a wonderful blog Stu. From where I’m sitting I’d say that you are doing fine. Do what you can with the challenges but don’t beat yourself up about them.


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:12:06

      Thanks Kinna ,I took to many on this year and have lket my review rate slip a lot last few months but hope to get back on track next year ,all the best stu


  15. Sarah
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 21:00:35

    I signed up for several challenges and if I get round to it I will look and see if I have read any books that fit the bill… No, that isn’t at all in the spirit of the thing, but as others have said this is supposed to be fun.

    Great post, Stu. I don’t think any of us is a lazy blogger: we just need to accept that it is okay to do just as much as we want to (blog-wise) when we want to do it. But it doesn’t hurt to keep telling each other that 🙂


  16. iamamro
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 11:34:46

    I think you’re being awfully hard on yourself. This is only secondary to the other things in your life. It’s all better than doing nothing extra. Well done for this year, good lick for next!


  17. Matt Craig
    Dec 19, 2011 @ 23:23:57

    Stu, like others have said, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself. Winston’s Dad is one of my regular stops and one of the things I like about it is the relaxed approach – the lack of any set schedule.

    I find it’s a difficult balancing act. With a 2-year-old in the house, time for reading is scant enough without worrying about time for blogging, but it’s something I enjoy doing. The one thing I was clear about from day one was that there would be no set schedule: I don’t post reviews every day, or every week. I write them as I read the book and post them right away (unless I’ve specifically been asked by the publisher not to do so until a certain date, in which case I write them and schedule them). It’s an approach that works for me, but won’t necessarily work for everyone (my blog stats are very much up-and-down, reflecting the irregularity of my postings).

    Here’s how I work: read. Finish book. Take an hour (or half an hour, or whatever) of my reading time to write and post the review. Choose next book. Repeat. Okay, so it’s eating into time that I’d typically have set aside for reading, but the review is written and out the door before I move onto the next book and I can stop worrying about it.

    If you’re a Windows user and you’re not already using it, I’d recommend Windows Live Writer, which will let you save local drafts and is a much nicer interface than the WordPress one. It also means you don’t need to be online to write a review, only to publish it.

    I hope you find something that works for you, Stu.

    Best of luck!



    • winstonsdad
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:09:12

      Im sure I will at some point just felt I slipped behind what standards I d set my self but sure I ll get back on track ,thanks for windows tip will try that at some point ,all the best stu


  18. amymckie
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 00:26:05

    I think you’re doing great Stu. Personally I just write when I get time and often fall way behind as well, but just have this obsession problem where I find it immensely difficult to let a day go by without a post. I’ve been getting better though so hopefully won’t post as much in the future. heh.


  19. Max Cairnduff
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 16:05:04

    I don’t do challenges. To be honest I don’t particularly understand them. If I want to read the books in question I’ll read them anyway. If I don’t why am I doing so for some challenge? A challenge to me means reading a book I might enjoy at a time when the challenge requires reading it, rather than the time that’s right for me to read that book. I’ve no intention of starting to do them either.

    Obviously lots of people find challenges fun and inspiring and that’s absolutely cool, it’s just not me. That’s the thing though. If participating in challenges gives you an extra little push that gets you reading books you’d like to read but somehow aren’t getting round to then fair play, but if they’re becoming an obligation then that’s turning your hobby into a job and that makes no sense at all.

    Similarly, free copies and review copies are things to be careful of. Again, it’s someone else choosing your reading for you. The only person though deciding what you read should be you, and it should be without obligation to anyone except yourself.

    It’s flattering to receive free books, but there is still a price of sorts.


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:06:50

      I ll be doing less ,I get some review copies but have now stopped doing ones tha\t don’t appeal to me max as I need free time for books I choose which tend to be more obscure as they are the books I love the oddities of literature ,this is a hobby just I want it to be a hobby I do well as I tend to fizzle out of things after time ,all the best stu


  20. JoV
    Dec 20, 2011 @ 21:55:50

    I think no challenge is great. Frees you up to read whatever you want. Sometimes I think if I spent too much time writing reviews, it actually eats into my reading time. So it is a trade-off. I review every book I read, except one that I missed this year, which didn’t happen before. Do I read more or write about the book more? I think it is a balancing act.


    • winstonsdad
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:04:31

      I m definitely do less in future I tend to be to much of a free spirit in my reading ,I tend to read a lot need balence the reviewing side out a bit as fallen well behind at moment ,all thew best stu


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December 2011


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