I was hoping to escape the latest wave of blog angst, as one might hope to miss the latest flu outbreak going around the office, and I suddenly realized that the similarities are uncanny. Both are extremely uncomfortable. Both can cause a weakened state, uneasy sleep, and loss of appetite. Extremely contagious, they can wipe out a community. Recovery can be slow. The best hope is that during the summer, the illness dies out as people are less connected.
In thinking about this latest epidemic, I’ve been wondering what I can do to help myself and my fellow bloggers. Truly, I don’t underestimate the power of the disease. At times, blogs have even died I’ve seen it happen. As it occupied the back of my mind these last two weeks, the old standards for preventing disease came to me as my own blog salvation, and maybe yours.
1) Wash Your Hands
The first rule of preventing the spread of illness is based on continual vigilance. If you are in the habit of washing your hands frequently, you’ll pick up fewer germs. If you become even more aware of the practice during particular outbreaks, you can reduce your risk significantly. As it applies to your blog, I’d say you can prevent a blog flu or reduce its severity by maintaining an ongoing awareness of your personal blog mission. Some may find it contained in their review policy, though I tend to see that as more of a statement to the outside world than to yourself. Personally, I could name my reasons for blogging in priority order at any time, and in none of them do ARCs or free books make an appearance. I am comfortable with the choices I’ve made in balancing my relationships with my reviewing and my sense of fun with a nod to professionalism. More important perhaps than my comfort is my constant awareness of those choices.
2) Boost Your Immunity
As illnesses sweep down, I swear by Vitamin C even though everything I read says it doesn’t make any difference. But I think that there’s a case for it. There is the element that one believes that it is working, but I’d put even more emphasis on the sense of taking control, being active, doing something. For blog flu, you can boost your immunity by getting involved in something you love about book blogging. Do that interview, or write that exciting review, or even take a short break to read that amazing book. Drop briefly the things that are draining your energy, because you need your strength.
3) Cover Your Mouth When You Cough
If we want to prevent the spread of disease, we have to acknowledge that we may become the cause. Perhaps as carriers with a mild case, or on our way to getting sick. Either way, we have a responsibility to cover our mouths when we cough. Okay, this rule may be the most direct an analogy to blogging. Because as bloggers, we tend to share. And when we have something to really share, it’s hard to hold back. But it’s one of the ways we spread the blog flu from blogger to blogger until everyone is sick sick and tired of talking about blog angst. Notice though that I said cover your mouth when you cough. I didn’t say don’t cough. It isn’t realistic to expect that we would hold back talking about our blog flu any more than it’s realistic to not cough during a cold. But we can be careful about how it impacts others, and maybe that involves softening the sound, reducing the force, turning away.
If, despite efforts at prevention, you find yourself coming down with the blog flu, remember to take good care of yourself. Just as you can go a few days without eating much more than saltines and soup, you can go a few days without blogging (or blogging very little). Your blog won’t starve during a case of blog flu. And just like you don’t lose weight during those days of low-calorie meals, your blog won’t lose statistics. And if you do lose weight or stats, once you’re back at full power, both the pounds and visitors come back.
Look to the things that make you feel good, or at least feel better. Tap into strong relationships. Find things that make you smile. A sense of humor can be a saving grace. A well-developed sense of irony is better than a good night’s sleep.
I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that laughter is the best medicine. Except for Percocet, which is really good, too.