Guest post: Why I quit blogging*

finish Her blog, Scribbling Mum, won awards, fans and oodles of traffic – plus offers of tv and radio appearances. So why the heck did Caroline Black give it all up?  

Like many of us I’m sure, I didn’t set out to become a mummy blogger. I just wanted to see if I could write. No master plan, no strategy.

When a colleague suggested it, I didn’t know what a blog was but he help me set up Scribbling Mum and within weeks I was immersed in the online world. Clicking on links, ending up in new blogs, reading, commenting – the hours flew by. Oh yes I thought, this is fun, I could do this.

And to my delight it seemed that people liked reading my words, some even commenting on my style – I’ll never forget first reading those comments – “I have a style?! Really?! Who knew?!”

I loved sitting down and just scribbling down my thoughts, capturing the little things that were happening as a family day in day out, then hitting publish and seeing my words go live instantly. And I was swept up by it all, spending more and more time not only on writing but all of the other things that I thought a blogger was supposed to do.

But were there enough hours in the day to read all the blogs in my feed, leave comments, join in with memes and linkys, share views on networks, chit chat on twitter, keep a Facebook fan page up to date, check rankings, check my Klout, pimp my posts on various sites, consider sponsored posts, reply to PR requests, arrange site advertising, appear in a local newspaper article, have a chat on Radio Scotland, be a MADS finalist oh and did I want to be on a web TV parenting panel?!

*and breath*

It was taking up more and more hours and I started to feel like I should write a post. My very own cartoon blogging devil would sit on my shoulder – “It’s been five days since you last posted. Five days. CAN YOU HEAR ME?!” Sometimes when I wrote I felt like I was writing as Scribbling Mum and not me, Caroline, if that makes sense.

Then came the kicker.

I wrote a post that was taken the wrong way by some people.

It was about how as I’d sat in a soft play on my own and observed some local mums playing with their young children, each pregnant – I could remember being like that and I reflected on how I was so glad to be past that all-consuming baby stage, when all I talked about was baby this and baby that.

I live in a small community and a local Mum read this and was quick to comment that I had clearly been describing women she knew and who did I think I was to eavesdrop on conversations and run back to the internet to ridicule people. She told me that I had used the real names of local children and I had no right to do this.

As I stood in my kitchen reading the comment I felt sick. Had I done that? Is that how it read? But that wasn’t me, I’m not like that, she’d missed the point, really I’m not like that.

I approved her comment, apologised and changed the children’s names on the post. But I got two more from locals and one more from someone who I suspect just wanted in on the fun of leaving nasty comments. I approved and responded to them all but I was gutted, embarrassed and felt sick in the pit of my tummy.

Online I was completely supported by other bloggers, my online friends. It seems that everyone makes at least one mistake, hindsight is a wonderful thing. “..stick by your words and it will pass, don’t let them win, keep the post up there, it’s your corner of the internet, if they don’t like it they don’t have to read…”

But, days on and I still felt sick.

I was hugely self-conscious standing at the school gate and didn’t go to a kids’ party that was held at the soft play scene of my crime. Did people watch what they said in front of me now?

In the end it was my sister who hit the nail on the head. I’d called her from work crying, stomach still churning and dreading another comment pinging into my inbox. She asked me whether it was really worth it. We talked about how keeping the post up meant I didn’t have control over it and in a small community it could go round like wildfire if these woman felt so inclined to share it.

In the end my real life was more important – #fact. So I deleted the post, took a week off and then wrote my last post at Scribbling Mum. Do I miss it? I don’t miss my little cartoon blogging devil shouting at me. I don’t miss sourcing good article images. I don’t miss pimping my posts. I don’t miss friends saying “I read your post” and feeling a bit self aware. I don’t miss feeling guilty about having my laptop on instead of chatting to my husband in the evenings. I don’t miss Scribbling Mum.

I do miss writing.

Well, strictly speaking, I should say I did miss writing. Because I’ve just started again, I could ignore the itch no longer. Only this time I like to think of it as low key.

I’ve turned off comment moderation and all email notifications, I have deleted my Facebook page, unplugged my stats and have a standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ PR reply. I have however allowed myself one auto update to Twitter – I’m not going completely cold turkey!

We all have our own reasons for why we blog and for me it’s always been about the writing, connecting with my favourite bloggers and the friendships I’ve made with some very cool people. I guess time will tell whether I’ll manage to strike a better balance this time. Oh, and I shall do my best not to ostracise myself from my local community whilst I’m at it.

* ok, that’s not strictly true.

–Caroline Black

 

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About Holly Seddon

Holly Seddon is a writer, editor and community consultant and helped launched the community for Adoption UK, which won charity website of the year just 9 months later. She also writes a music blog.

16 Comments

  1. 10 October 2011 / 13:40

    Thanks for a really interesting insight into the ‘other’ side of blogging. I’ve been feeling the stress of having readers disagree too but I’m not yet feeling like I want to give it all up. Frequent breaks are good though. I’m sorry your post was taken the wrong way but such is the way that the written word is interpreted differently by many.
    XxX

  2. 10 October 2011 / 13:41

    Wow! Caroline…this is a very powerful post. I had a situation recently where I mentioned, without mentioning names, a situation at a bday party for a neighbour where the bday child had repeatedly sought out my daughter and been physically agressive toward her while the parents/relative did absolutely nothing. Later, after posting the video on my blog, I received a private, scathing message from the mother of the child saying “How dare I?” etc, etc, and “That explains why you have no friends!” I was sick. I immediately apologised, removed the post & video and issued an immediate general apology for any wrong-doing I had done over the year. The situation was remedied and everyone forgave each other but it shook me and made me consider giving up as well. I’m obviously not as strong as you though…I didn’t. But thank you for sharing your experience. It’s nice to know that I am not the only sensitive blogger out here! Can’t wait to check out your “secret” new site! 😉
    Karin

  3. 10 October 2011 / 13:45

    I received a coupl eof nasty emails based on a post I wrote last week. I considered giving it up for a moment, and then remembered I enjoy it far too much.
    I write very very little about people I know or even people I see. I stick to ranting about journalists and politicians 🙂

  4. 17 October 2011 / 22:14

    Ah, it’s like an online school playground sometimes, unfortunately.
    Very brave of you to give it up, re-evaluate what you are doing and start afresh. More people should do that to be honest. Feels like too many people are churning out content because they can, not because it is interesting or in line with what they are trying to achieve. It’s all too easy to get carried away down the wrong path.

  5. michelle twin mum
    17 October 2011 / 23:38

    Lovely to see you writing again Caroline.
    Mich x

  6. 18 October 2011 / 21:53

    So sorry to hear that Karin but I don’t think it’s about being ‘strong’ or not, it’s all such a personal feeling and I’m glad that you’re not quitting! It really is such a horrible feeling, I felt for you as I read your comment. Incredibly hard when people you know read your site – amazing when it’s positive but so much harder when it’s negative.

  7. 18 October 2011 / 21:54

    Good for you! Hmm, maybe I’ll give you a shout next time I feel the need for a good old rant!

  8. 18 October 2011 / 21:56

    That’s what my sister said too – powerful things words. I’d agree that frequent breaks are a must, we all need to actually live our lives and not just blog about them! 😉

  9. 18 October 2011 / 22:43

    I’m thrilled to see you writing again – and your new project has had me belly laughing with almost every post already. I know everybody blogs for a different reason but I really empathise with your position of just wanting to write for writings sake… and I also really empathise with your description of how the ‘blog maintenance’ of rankings, tweeting, Facebooking, promoting, responding etc starts to suck you in so quickly. Go you – hope have fun with the new blog, can’t wait to read more xx

  10. 19 October 2011 / 14:38

    I took a wee break from blogging myself for a few months, for some of the reasons you outlined (mostly got do do with a feeling of “oops, I really should feed the children”).
    I’m back at it now, and enjoying it more than ever. I’m also not obsessing about the amount of comments or the number of “like”s anymore. If one person reads it and gets something from it, that’s enough for me.
    Nice post.
    Just remember, when the writing itch hits, resistance is futile
    XXX
    Jean from http://planetoutreach-asd.blogspot.com/

  11. 19 October 2011 / 20:42

    Great post. As a newbie blogger it’s good to hear the pitfalls though I feel sad it made you stop writing. I’m definitely guilty of the not talking to husband in the evenings one. Trying to only blog on evenings when he’s at work.

  12. Julie
    20 October 2011 / 11:47

    I agree with your post. I’ve also stopped blogging for a while and given up Twitter completely. I think they’re are great things about the internet & being able to access so many interesting people & conversations. But also, there are risks of hiding behind a screen; sometimes it can seem like talking behind someone’s back, specifically if you live in a small community. Even if you hide names & change key characteristics, often people know who you’re talking about. And the power of being able to blog it to loads of people is not always a good thing, particularly if you’re angry and feel that you’ve been wronged in some way. It’s just way too easy to say things that you’d never dream of saying in front of people. I’ve seen examples where someone rants about a product or company and that person’s name is tarnished whether there’s any truth or not.

  13. 20 October 2011 / 13:06

    Good post. I have been careful not to blog about people we know, and blog under a pseudonym but it is good to have a reminder that these are not just words on a screen.

    And that we should be careful that real life is not passing us by as we strain to blog about everything.

  14. 20 October 2011 / 13:51

    I’m so sorry that you stopped writing and glad that you are able to continue – if slightly differently. It is all a bit much – I have just joined twitter after a year of fellow bloggers practically passing out when i told them I didn’t do it ( they did it in a nice way of course – yes you know who you are and don’t get huffy!!)

    This is all basically why I blog anonymously. I have changed my kids names and my name is not really Jane Austen. I deliberately chose a famous name so people might guess it was a pseudonym. It hasn’t worked that well and I feel rather dishonest at conferences telling people my name is Jane – tho many do know it isn’t but stick to
    Jane anyway

    I recently wrote a post about my son and all the girlfriends he has acquired ( aged 5) and even then changed all the names of the girls. I made them sound similar but didn’t want to take the risk http://www.notanottinghillmum.co.uk/2011/10/how-many-girlfriends-does-a-boy-need/

    I do not tell mums at school the name of my blog either or that I blog at all which is a shame as there are a couple where i’d like to link to their new businesses – but sometimes you have to put yourself first.
    It’s also a strange life – but I am quite deliberately blogging as someone else – but it enables me to be honest about how I feel and say stuff about my kids without making them public property.
    I still don’t say much about individuals outside my family just in case.

    Because I’m a journalist ( serious news type as opposed to mags which might not be a problem) I’ve spent years with my bosses not even knowing whether I had kids so I can’t afford to mix the two sides of my life – and of course as a reporter you have to be unbiased so again there would be a conflict.

    But it’s also meant I was probably more aware of what could happen and the things people say if they don’t like an article or a report. For the first few weeks of my blog I did not enable the comment facility ( only later finding out that on iweb it made little difference as it worked so badly) Once I turned it on and got over my fear of course I craved comments!!

    Despite the anonymity I’m always wary of people online taking offence – mainly when I very occasionally suggest people ease off a bit in a Facebook spat. I just hate to see that ganging up that can go on – but of course fear becoming the victim of it. SO far I’ve been lucky and people have just taken the hint and wound it down a bit.

    I also have no link with klout or any listings which I think is quite a release – tho again I can’t help wishing I was top of all the polls and considered an influential blogger. But the way I look at it I have a small loyal following – I know who most of the people are who comment and there’s an element of trust there.

    Having said all this I guess I have 24 hours before someone writes something really nasty on my blog!! See how scared I am. Keep in touch xx

  15. 21 October 2011 / 10:54

    A great post and an insight into how all consuming it can all become. The sad thing is that you felt ‘forced’ to stop writing. That’s so sad (but totally understandable.) I think our online friends can relate to us better as far as blogging is concerned – IRL ones, hmmm not so much. So glad you’re back though. Good for you. Writing on your terms.

  16. 02 November 2011 / 22:51

    I felt your sick feeling as I read this. Ugh. I think also there is an element of people who don’t blog not understanding that mistakes happen online and so does forgiveness. I wrote a post once sending myself up for being a jet lagged idiot getting it wrong at Heathrow and I got one commenter basically telling me ‘WTF did you think would happen, you thick girl?’ That wasn’t even as scary as what you’ve described and yet I still felt a bit sick at the comment! And he wasn’t a regular blogger, he just stumbled across my post and decided to have his say. Ugh. While trying to be as sensitive as possible to my readers, I am also trying to develop a thick skin as it seems important to do so if we are going to write publicly! Well done for bravely returning 🙂