A Different Sort of Blogging Break

It’s considered good form in the perfume blogging world to give your readers a heads-up if you’re going to be away from the computer for a while. This is not that kind of notice. I’m still writing posts; it’s the reading and commenting I’m taking a break from for a month.

The Engineer and I decided about ten years ago to see what would happen if our family took a month-long hiatus from the media we typically consume. The experiment turned out to be a success, so we’ve done it every year since. Basically it means no TV, no internet except to check e-mails, no music for 30 days. It’s a kind of recalibration: we rediscover some of the simpler things like getting outside, reading, playing board games, getting enough sleep, and the highly underrated phenomenon of quiet. After the month is up, we look forward to turning the TV on again and blasting the tunes while dancing in the kitchen, but the aftereffects of the break linger on.

I recognize this all sounds very Brady Bunch, but it works for us. And to be perfectly frank, the first week is always BRUTAL – I’m at that beginning stage where I’m questioning why we’re doing something this moronic and gritting my teeth through the withdrawal. But I know from past experience that this will pass, and the rest of the break will be enjoyable.

This year presented a never-encountered-before dilemma. What about my posts for Beauty on the Outside? Being a group blog, I feel like I’d made a commitment to my fellow writers. Should I stop writing for a full month? After talking about it with The Engineer and the Wild Things, we determined that it was appropriate to continue posting, but my Google Reader would go unopened for a month. (We could have a count-the-jellybeans kind of contest, just for kicks: Just how many unread posts will be in there after 30 days?)

I don’t think my absence in the comment sections will be that obvious, personally. It was only about Christmastime that I decided to move from the lurking fringes of perfume-land and become more involved by actually commenting regularly. However, this break presents me with an opportunity to ponder a question I’ve been grappling with. Namely:

What’s an appropriate balance between reading and commenting on perfume blogs, and writing your own posts?

My Google Reader has grown a great deal since I joined Beauty on the Outside. I understand more how nice it is to have comments on a post, which is why I try to read the blogs of those who comment and respond to their posts. Unfortunately, it seems that lately I spend far more time reading and commenting than I do writing, plus I’m online a lot more than I’m really comfortable with. The irony is that taking a break from the computer will probably result in more posts.

I don’t have an answer yet to this dilemma, but hopefully the hiatus will provide some perspective. Has anyone else struggled with this? What works for you personally? I’d love to hear how other bloggers have found a balance that works for them. And after June 22nd, I’ll follow up with some thoughts.

20 thoughts on “A Different Sort of Blogging Break

  1. I think a media break is a great idea. Could I do it with my family? I somehow doubt it. No music for 30 days would absolutely kill me. Walking away from the TV and the laptop are easier for me. For my husband who works in Silicon Valley it’s near impossible. He hates it when I make him leave his computer at home when we go on vacation for a week!
    At least 3 or 4 days a week, my husband and I try to go for a walk/run together. An hour to 2 hours where we walk and talk about what’s going on in our family and life around us. And then we run and then walk and talk again. Our daughter is home for the summer, so she goes with us now. We go almost daily in the summer and less often when the weather turns in the winter. But that’s as close as we come to a “no media” time in our family.

    1. Tatiana, my philosophy is “Do what works for your family.” I’ve had many friends tell me they really admire that we do this, but don’t think they could. I love that you exercise and get out with your husband the way you do. The Engineer and I talk regularly, but exercising together is a great idea.

      And to be perfectly frank, the break is partly for me, because it’s NOT easy for me to stay away from the TV and computer. I chuckle when others commend me on my discipline in doing this: I do this because I’m not that disciplined – sometimes cold turkey is what I need to regain moderation.

  2. It’s funny you say that, Barbara, because that is overwhelmingly the comment I hear from adults. People will often ask me, “What’s wrong with music?” My reply is “There’s nothing wrong with music, I love music. I’m a piano teacher and a choir director, my life wouldn’t be the same without music.”

    However, I think we’re a society that’s terrified of silence, of just giving ourselves time to think and be still. And there’s still music in the house this month: we sing, and I still play. It’s the passive consumption of music that’s gone for a while.

  3. Hey Dionne,
    I will miss your comments, just to be absolutely selfish about it, but I can’t wait to read what you come up with after all this media free time. I didn’t have a TV in my entertaining end of the house for just over a year and it gave the house a whole different feel when we got the big job put in last Christmas.
    As to reading, there are about 20 blogs that come to my inbox every day and then maybe 50 that go to spam, which I read when I have extra time. My reader is good too but I only check that about once a week. Have a great month and hopefully see you when you get back. Does this include books?
    Portia xx

    1. Hey Portia, good to see you. I find I prefer my Google Reader to getting posts in my inbox, not sure why. And yes, I will be back at Australian Perfume Junkies after the break.

      And the break most definitely does NOT include books. Heaven forfend! There are *more* books during this time. Went to the library last night with Dragongirl to load her up and pick up some stuff that was on hold for me, my reading piles have now extended to the floor around my night table. Reading is like breathing for me, something I cannot be without.

      1. OMG! Me too. There is SO MUCH to read. Lately life has been getting in the way but I still manage a book a week. I’m thinking about doing a monthly Books Read page. Do you think that would be interesting or too off topic?
        Portia xx

        1. Well, I can’t speak for the masses, but I’d be interested. Besides, since a blog is by nature a self-publication, that translates into “do whatever you want.”

          1. You are right. Sometimes it’s hard to be flexible, even in my own mind.
            He He
            I shall self-publish a book list monthly. See you when you’re back from your media holiday.
            Portia x

  4. My family could easily give up music… Well, we’re not listening to too much music as is so it wouldn’t have been even a sacrifice. As to the rest… Nah, don’t want to do that. I understand the idea I just don’t find it appealing. I do not believe in fasting of any kind (other than for health reasons).

    I like reading your posts. I enjoy both the story and the conversation that follows. But I do not think you should be writing those posts while you’re taking that break from the media. I mean you can write them but you shouldn’t be posting them until you are “back”. Here’s my reasoning: if you post them and do not respond to readers’ comments you’ll be cheating your readers off the conversation with you; and if you do respond you’ll cheat your family!

    As to my writing/reading ballance, since on the best week I post only twice (and usually even less often than that) I definitely read more than I write. But I have an internal “filter” for the situations when I phisically cannot read everything in my RSS reader: there are bloggers who I consider to be my virtual friends; so I always read all their posts, maybe 3-4 days later but I’ll get there. And I comment on all of those. Everybody else who is on my blog’s Reading List I’ll read all posts eventually but will comment only on those that attracted my attention. And then the rest of my RSS feed (I call that “reads and noises”) I just look through for something of interest but I almost never comment.

    1. I like your filter idea, Undina. It makes sense to have a priority system in place for helping deal with the ebb and flow of life. As far as the fasting thing goes, I believe that since people and families are not one-size-fits-all what works for mine could be a reeeeaaaally bad idea for another; do what works for yours. I’m a big believer in listening to your intuition for stuff like this.

      As far as responding to comments or writing posts, I think I’ve worked out a suitable system for it that won’t cheat anyone, or make The Wild Things think, “Hey, how come Mom’s on the computer?” E-mail notifications are great for knowing when someone’s written, and I’ve got the evenings after smaller ones are in bed to respond to comments, as well as several afternoons a week while Spud’s in preschool or at a friend’s house. (I’m actually listening to him chat away to himself in bed right now while I type. Dragongirl’s already dropped off – she conks out in 5 minutes at the end of the day – Frodo and Archimedes are reading in their rooms, Bones is at work, and I’m about to sign off and go cuddle with The Engineer. After 8:00 things get very mellow around here during a media break.)

      It means a lot to me that you like reading my posts. That just made my day.

      1. Well, as long as it won’t cause any rebellions in your family (or feelings “you want me to do what you say and not what you do”) it should be fine. I’m only all for that “not cheating” 😉

        1. I don’t think it will cause any hard feelings, and they’d definitely let me know if they thought it wasn’t fair. 😉 (Archimedes is sitting beside me as I write this, and wants to let you know he would definitely call me out if I wasn’t being fair.)

          The younger Wild Things see the older ones check e-mail, and they know I need to use the computer for a few tasks: checking the weather first thing in the morning, doing finances, communicating with my choir or book club, using google maps, that kind of thing. Our computer is in a very public spot, and there’s almost always someone peeking over a shoulder. Many is the time I’ve laughed at a blog entry to find a bunch of heads clustered beside mine, “Mom, what’s so funny?” My gang know all about Man-Repelling Fragrances, and That Slut Tocade, or March’s Death by Cherry post with that eye-raising candy packaging.

  5. My response, such as it is, to the ‘too many blogs’ issue is not to subscribe to any at all. I have a mental list of my favourites and I go to them, not wait for them to come to me. There is a core group that I never forget. If I forget the rest sometimes, that’s just too bad. So there is a natural sloughing off of things I don’t need.

    My kids and I have an enforced break from the internet once a year because we holiday in a place that has no internet access. It does us no harm at all!

    Enjoy your break, and have fun with those piles of books!

    1. Anne-Marie, it sounds like you prioritize similar to Undina, this approach makes a lot of sense to me. And we also take a break from the internet while camping, but it’s funny that that never occurred to me as a break, as we all look forward to it as the highlight of the year. Surfing the web vs. sitting on a clear sandy beach on a lake? No contest!

      I have been enjoying the break; not only the reading, but also visiting all the local nurseries as I plan a container garden. (Yes, believe it or not, the beginning of June is the time to plant around here.)

  6. I am constantly wrestling with both the posting/reading/commenting balance and the wider posting/reading/commenting & life balance. If anything even more so lately, as there are some major changes happening on the home front and hobbies have receded somewhat from the picture. Then my online reading led me to this zen-like article which was a comfort!


    And Undina is also characteristically wise in her approach…

    Enjoy your quieter phase, Dionne. : – )

    1. Vaness, what a great article that is, thanks so much for that! I think that’s the kind of insight I’m looking for.

      That post could also apply to perfumes as well, and the impossible quest of smelling everything and finding the “very best.” I tend to be someone who wants to explore all the options before settling on a perfume – seriously, you should see the spreadsheet I’ve made for trying ALL the figs…. See, this is why I need to stopand smell the flowers from time to time. 🙂


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