After almost ten full months of posting consistently on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, the time has come at last to end the great streak of 2018.
Those of you who frequent Adventure Rules probably know that maintaining a consistent posting schedule is the most important goal on my blog. It is, in my mind, the best way to maintain a pace of steady growth. Every post is an opportunity to draw in a new follower; a steady stream of them keeps me in the minds of those who already follow. And each post published adds to an ever-growing library of content which can draw in readers through search engines long after my regular followers have forgotten about a particular article. Posting regularly is an important part of how Adventure Rules has reached the modest level of success that it now has.
It’s also a big source of stress.
Bloggers, much like YouTube personalities or streamers, can fall into a trap where they feel the need to always “be on.” When your financial success – or in my case, even just your level of success at a hobby that’s important to you – is dependent on constantly creating your art form and maintaining a presence online, it’s easy to feel like you can never really take any time off. I can’t remember where I originally read it, but apparently the streamer Ninja once said he loses literally thousands of subscribers if he ever tries to take a day off from streaming games. And while someone on his level of financial success can probably afford that loss, for smaller creators who are trying to build their audience, it can feel heartbreaking to give up progress. It can make everything you did up to that point to build towards success feel like a waste of time.
Of course, constantly “being on” isn’t good for anybody either. The human mind is a delicate thing, and time to rest it is essential to its continued health. And the health of the mind is perhaps even more significant to creatives, because it is our minds which gives us the art that we create for our audiences. We are caught, then, between the proverbial rock and hard place: keep working and tax your brain, or give yourself the rest you need and give ground in the battle for the attention of the masses. For ten straight months, I’ve chosen to tax myself. When I took a “break,” I did so by doubling up on posts so that there would be content posted even during the time I was away from my computer.
Last night, some of my close friends reached out to ask if I wanted to hang out and play a game. We’ve been trying to set up an RPG session and last week we weren’t able to play at all. Monday, I was too overwhelmed with some other things I was dealing with to say yes, and I was also too mentally drained that day to write a blog post. With today being a normal posting day, I had a choice: neglect my friendship and an activity I was very excited about in order to make sure I kept up my schedule, or break my ten-month posting streak so I could have a relaxing and fun night that provided me with some much-needed stress relief. I chose to spend that night playing a tabletop with my friends, and golly am I glad I did. Even though the game itself didn’t go as smoothly as we were hoping, there was a ton of laughter and goofing off and it did a lot for the stress I have been carrying.
Whenever another blogger posts something about how they are struggling with a mental health battle against depression or anxiety, or they are grieving over the loss of a loved one, I always reach out to tell them to take as much time as they need. I try to encourage a community where mental health is seen as a priority over blogging success. I push that message with my words and my encouragement to other creators, but I never set that example myself by prioritizing my health and my stress over Adventure Rules. I do not practice what I preach, and while it can sometimes feel validating to hear people be impressed about my ability to maintain a posting schedule during the Blogger Blitz or whatever, I’ve been slowly chipping away at my mind until it hit the breaking point.
To reduce my recent stress to only my blog would be ridiculous. There are a dozen factors that have contributed to me being on-edge recently, and even the issue which finally set me over the edge this past weekend was in reality a “straw that broke the camel’s back” kind of situation. I am carrying stress about so many things – proving myself at work, still not moving after over a year of looking for a home in the city where my job is actually located, feeling precarious financially, doubting myself as a father, concern over my wife’s physical health. Thinking that Adventure Rules was heading into a slump was pushing me to put focus and energy on my blog, to think about the next big project to get my stats back up, but there are infinitely more important things for me to be worried about right now. Or rather, worries I need to let go of but am not giving myself the opportunity to work through.
So, I’m taking a break. A real break, during which there will not be content posted on this website. I don’t know right now how long that break might be, but it has become apparent to me that my energy needs to be put not towards writing articles, but to doing the emotional labor that’s necessary to get me out of this maelstrom of stress and worry. When any of you have been struggling under a similar weight, I’ve told you to put yourself first, that I and the rest of the blogging community would still be here when the time came for you to return. Now, I’m going to finally take my own advice. Instead of continuing to push myself, I’m going to rest and recover. And I know that those who support me the most will be here for me throughout the process.