The Backloggers Blog Update: AKA, A Letter to Irina’s “Blogging Breaks” Post

Note: I’m starting off this post by saying that this is my no means to be any reflection of the other members of the Backloggers. This is solely my thoughts on this topic alone. Although this post will talk about general blog updates and general impressions of the blog, I obviously cannot speak for anyone but myself and my opinions on the subject at hand.

This post will probably be the longest post I’ve ever written, but I think this will offer some explanation and insight behind our blog here at The Backloggers, and also explain some of our recent behavior (or lack thereof). So, I encourage you to read this post as a sort of response to Irina’s “Blogging Breaks” post on Karandi’s blog, although it won’t directly pertain to the content in that post, along with some of the stuff that’s been happening with this blog.

If you haven’t read the post in full, it basically talks about this sort of “cycle” that happens with anime blogs. One gets started, the posting is off-and-on as the blog is started, it gets somewhat popular, the posts surge out, some big event happens that causes a hiatus, activity declines, another hiatus due to lack of motivation/other issues, and it spirals downward from there. Irina pretty well discusses a lot of potential reasons that this could happen and how to fix those issues in their post, which is extremely helpful to those that need it.

How does that apply to us? Well, if you’ve seen the amount of posts that have come out of here recently, I think it’s rather obvious. This blog has been through a lot of changes over the past 4 and (almost) a half years, and growing pains have definitely been a problem but it goes beyond that as well. Before I get into an explanation of that though, I think it’s important to establish what this blog has been built upon and how it operates very differently from a typical anime blog before I go into some of the specifics of how Irina’s post relates to us and the blog.

Many of the core issues and problems that we are experiencing now are related to the foundations of the blog. These “foundations” are mentioned in the “About” sections of our blog, but boil down to two main points.

  1. This is a blog run by close friends (AKA my good friends Mythos and General Tofu) that work with each other in order to produce content.
  2. The foundational posts of this blog are meant to deep-dive particular aspects and themes of anime and related works (manga, light novels, mobage, ect.)

It may not be obvious at first, but both of these combined have created some rather interesting and unique issues that we’ve had to deal with as an anime blog since the creation of The Backloggers, as neither of these things are often done and especially haven’t been done together. We’ve tried to take a look at other blogs for comparison for each point individually and sort of “felt” our way out from there. Blogs like Wave Motion Cannon, Fantastic Memes, and Therefore It Is had driven our inspiration for creating a blog initially, and thus, we’ve taken a lot of inspiration from them in creating our blog to what it is now, and it worked for a long time. Arguably, this method would still work now as well, had this been a perfect world and outsides issues weren’t a factor.

With few inspirations to take from, since that sort of content of point #2 was a rarity to begin with, we were on our own in solving many of the issues that we encountered as a blog. We have said (and continued to say) that we refuse to compromise on this point, and (hopefully) all of our content still reflects it rather well. However, the main issues with maintaining this point is that it’s exhausting and takes a lot of effort as a writer to continue to rapidly discuss these issues to keep their relevance, and that’s where the main issue of this point stems from: blog evolution and keeping things relevant.

Point #2 has been by far the hardest point to continue to keep as modern anime discussion has shifted to Twitter and other social media, as one of the benefits of having “deep-dive discussions” is talking about it with other people, which doesn’t really cater to lengthy and in-depth discussion. This isn’t even mentioning the other issue of the changing relevancy from older series to the age of simulcasting and seasonal shows, where discussions of anime outside the season get overlooked rather easily. While we’ve never done these posts for any sort of popularity, it’s immensely discouraging when we post looking for discussion, yet have evidence of very little of that happening even to this day, and in the end, we have no one to really blame but ourselves.

Blaming this lack of posting entirely on point #2 is plainly incorrect though, and it would be dishonest and disrespectful of me to those in the community that have done those things with us. Honestly, I cannot thank those who have done so enough. The joy of interacting with others that love this medium as much as I do is always just amazing when we respond to you guys. I’m truly thankful for all of our followers, commenters, and regular visitors that have stuck with us, and in no way have we ever thought that the community has been the real problem in the sorts of responses or the amount of responses we’ve gotten.

As the saying goes, “It’s not you, it’s me”, and that’s exactly where point #1 plays into this.

It’s sort of a misconception at first: you think that with three people running a blog instead of one, things like regular content and posting would become much easier since it becomes a rule of numbers at that point, but it’s hardly ever been that at The Backloggers.

We’re all adults here and we all definitely have a fair amount of issues that we deal with everyday. We work, we suffer from health problems, we have living situation issues, we get burnt out; these are all probably familiar situations to anyone living in today’s society. These were all less of issues when we started this blog in our university days, but now these adult issues are ones that we have to deal with weekly, and saying that it hasn’t put a damper on our content would be rather incorrect.

On the other side of the coin though, we’ve done a disservice to everyone, including ourselves, in that we’ve basically just said “this is how it is now; we just can’t do the content we used to do, so we have to scale back”, and that’s exactly what we did, have done, and still continue to do.

We cut back on the regular scheduled content that we had (one big “deep-dive” post every month), mostly because we were also starting the Log Time podcast at that time, which was a workload in of itself (and still is to some degree), and it ran into getting posts done in a timely manner. This led us to doing the seasonal episodic posts, hoping to combat some of the fatigue gained from writing that many “deep-dive” posts in succession, along with changing the blog to fit modern times; a great idea at the time, yet disastrous in its execution.

I won’t go into the plethora of details, as you can surely find those in the Anniversary posts, but we ended up scratching that idea after 4 “successful seasons” due to burn-out, lack of time, and massive amounts of confusion and chaos that we created for ourselves every season. This is where we’re at now, at the point where we decided among the three of us that posts happen “when they happen” in order to prevent excessive burn-out and maximum schedule flexibility, another great idea at the time.

This has created what you see now; an “article desolation” from what we once used to do. To some extent, this was inevitable with the amount of burn-out that we experienced, as this has almost been a hiatus for us for a long time (almost a year to this day), with posts just surprisingly cropping up when they can and the Log Time Podcast (the one thing that hasn’t suffered tremendously) still going strong, with some various quality cuts to preserve what we value in our podcasts.

The hiatus was good for a while and served as a nice break from the craziness of managing a blog, thinking of new ideas to stay relevant and garner community interaction, and allowed me to deal with my hectic work schedule at the time. Unfortunately, what I didn’t know is that the hiatus itself would create the most stress I’ve ever succumbed while working on this blog, and created a problem for myself that I’ve called “writer’s guilt”.

This feeling is what caused me to want to respond to Irina’s post, almost as a way to apologize for the behavior that’s occurred, even though there’s no proven connection between the post and our behavior as a blog.

It’s that feeling that has made me want to re-invigorate this blog with my own posts about this medium that I love so much, interacting with this community that I love so much. The medium that’s given me some of the best blog-mates and friends I could’ve asked for, the community that I read and react to everyday while suffering through the work day, the medium that I have garnered every emotion in the world for after watching shows of many kinds.

It’s these things that make me want to write as many posts as I can about the medium and involve myself with the community, and yet, when I go to write a post, the only thing I’m confronted with is a blank page. Because of this guilt.

Every time I think about writing about something, I just think about how much I haven’t written in forever, and how whatever I write now can in no way measure up to the standards that I’ve created for myself or the blog. It’s textbook “Impostor syndrome”, but it runs that much deeper when you have the overhanging feeling of guilt looming in your mind everyday.

The amount of times that I’ve had “I need to work on the blog”, “I need to revitalize the blog”, “I need to find a way to get us active again”, “I’ve got a post idea, but is it even worth posting?”, “Will this post even be successful?”, “What does the community think of us?”, “Have we failed as a blog?”, go through my head in the past 6-9 months can’t even be counted, and not a day goes by where I try to solve the unsolvable problem in my head that has the simple of solution of “Just write something already”. The frustration doesn’t end there though.

It’s one thing when a single writer has these issues on their own blog and they take a large hiatus, but it feels even worse when you have multiple writers on your blog that are creating a drought of content. I absolutely don’t want to blame any of them for what’s happening with myself and I have no context as to what they go through on a daily basis either, but I think the worst feeling of all, beyond the “writer’s guilt” and beyond the Impostor Syndrome, is that the blog structure should be compensating for all of this ideally with having multiple people that can “fill in the gaps”, and it hasn’t happened and is likely unable to happen for some unknown reason.

A feeling of hopelessness, failure, and helplessness comes from not even knowing how to tackle the issues for myself, not to mention how to handle issues for two other people that may be experiencing the same thing as well. Beyond that, it feels almost rude or disingenuous to ask anyone about these sorts of issues besides being able to talk about it amongst ourselves and desperately to try and come up with a solution besides “just push through it”. Having nobody to turn to just feels like it exacerbates our failure to interact with others up until this point, which has just created this downward spiral of emotions that make writing that much more difficult.

There’s absolutely no way to describe how much anguish all of these emotions together make me feel about this blog, when I feel so passionate at heart, as if I could do this for hundreds of years, yet mentally, as if it’d be easier just to throw in the towel right now and call it a day.

But even now, I absolutely refuse to do that. There is a way through this, even if it takes me another 5 years to figure it out. Even if I have to ask everyone I know how they got through something like this, to have the answer be “It’s different for everyone”, “Everyone goes through this”, “Your blog situation is too unique to advise”, I will still ask, as many times as I need to in order to restore the blog to what I imagine it being: a place where we can talk about anime together as a community.

My burning passion, even in the darkest hour, cannot be weathered by this storm of despair.

As a response post to Irina, I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry that this hasn’t been the best response post I could have given you to your “Blogging Break” post.

The only thing I can hope for is that someone takes something away from the dangerous trappings of unplanned blog breaks, and all the mistakes that go with them. You’re one of the best there is when talking about “How to run a blog”, and I truly hope this advice helps someone and lets them avoid this black-hole of emotions that I’m currently trapped in.

I wish I could’ve written a better post, but unfortunately, this is all I can give to you as a response at this time. I hope my genuine feelings are enough; that’s all.

As for my answer of “Do Blogging Breaks Work?” as pertaining to The Backloggers…

No. They don’t.

5 thoughts on “The Backloggers Blog Update: AKA, A Letter to Irina’s “Blogging Breaks” Post

  1. May I try to sum up your post in a single observation?

    It sounds like you’re a writer who cares about your craft.

    In my experience, there’s no greater gift and no greater curse. In case it helps, what you described sounds eerily familiar. I went through several periods like that, across literary magazines, local newspapers, and the like.

    “There is a way through this, even if it takes me another 5 years to figure it out. ”

    I think that’s a good attitude.

    It seems like our community is having a lot of these discussions, and I think that’s healthy. We have a lot to offer one another. Heck, maybe you could write a post about your efforts here, and ask for comments at each step! We’d all learn from each other’s shared experiences, and it might help you find a way forward.

    You’re right that a lot of the deeper dives have moved to Youtube or other media, but you know what? It’s neither permanent nor absolute. Sure, you should think about traffic, but an authentic voice is best for long term success. I think you’re well on your way. Your content is distinctive, and even if I didn’t know which site published a given piece, it’s likely I’d recognize it.

    Do you write as a team? Do you have a writer’s room or similar kind of setup? One of the things I’ve noticed is that when I actively collaborate (like I’m doing now with Irina and the series Demon Slayer) is that the material almost writes itself. I’ve rarely seen anything like it. Maybe you already do something like this, but if you writer separately, maybe collaborating among yourselves might be a way to re-energize you.

    Anyway, I really shouldn’t give advice because I know nothing about the particulars of your situation. Your situation sounded so familiar that I felt compelled to say something, so apologizes if that “something” was too much!

    And good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the kind words and advice. Every bit helps when faced with a situation that feels as insurmountable as this.

      As you’ve said, I felt that these problems have happened to several blogs and writers alike, one of the many reasons why I thought posting all of what I was feeling necessary. Strength in solidarity is something I believe in and it will be one of the key factors in pushing through these issues for me as a writer and for us as a blog. I think you’ve suggested some great ideas to help us work through it as well.

      Collaborating with each other is something I’ve always wanted to do with this blog, but even then, we always end up asking ourselves “How do you even collab with someone?”. We even have a document titled this with a whole bunch of ideas, almost as a self-deprecating joke about our inability to ever successfully do so. Moving forward, I think just trying out these ideas instead of sitting on them out of fear is something we have to do, and utilizing a “Writer’s Room” chat is something we have to enact as well, a concept that we’ve had for a while but never communicated through it well.

      Overall, I think we’re heading in the right direction, and this post was a step into admitting to ourselves about the flaws, problems, and issues that we’ve been experiencing. It was both a notice to the community about what’s been going on with us, but also as an admittance of those problems to myself and my blog team. The advice and words you’ve offered us have been encouraging and helpful, and I think the “something” that you gave us in that regard was exactly what we needed in order to start looking for solutions to this problem.

      Again, thank you.

      Liked by 2 people

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