How to Recover From Burnout

I’ve seen several tweets this past month about the lack of resources on recovering from burnout.

“Everyone talks about how to avoid it,” one Twitterer noted, “but nobody talks about what to do once you’re already there.”

This strikes me as an unforgivable gap in available knowledge. In the interests of doing what I can to fix that, here’s what I’ve done to recover after I went down in flames in the fall of 2009.

How to Recover From Burnout

Prologue: Some Background

I am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or any sort of mental health professional. I strongly recommend finding one or more people in this field whom you trust and working with them as part of the recovery process if you possibly can.

I am, however, a person who was hospitalized for burnout three times before the age of 30 and once more at age 33. I’ve been told by several doctors that if I did not slow down, I would die. I am addicted to work.

So here’s what worked for me. It may not work for everyone.

First: Know Thyself

A lot of people get into the burnout zone because we don’t see what’s happening to us until we’re burned out.

I don’t say that to assign blame. There are a lot of real and compelling reasons we don’t see it. We have bills to pay. We have families to support. We really believe that if we just work hard enough, we’ll reach the state of Successful Adulting(TM). Often, we want to believe that we can fix problems in our lives by working harder, because working harder is a thing we can actually control.

So we don’t look too hard at whether the work we’re doing is sustainable. That’s not a fault, but it becomes a responsibility.

The first step to reversing the burnout course is to see it for what it is.

Do This:

  • Make a list of all the stuff you actually do in a day. All of it. If you’re so fried you spent five hours lying in bed listening to Spotify, write that down. This is not the time to judge whether something was sufficiently “productive” to “count”; this is the time to note where it is you actually are.
  • Make a list of all the stuff you’re not doing, but is worrying you. That bill you haven’t paid in three months. The mystery Tupperware in the fridge that has learned seven languages and is currently the mayor of South Bend. Your chronically disorganized laundry pile. The fact that you missed your best friend’s birthday – again. Again, this is not the time to judge; it’s the time to get all that stuff out of your head.

This is often an uncomfortable experience. You might start feeling angry or panicky. You may blame yourself for having “wasted” a bunch of time or feel the need to get up and do one or more of the things on the list. Strong negative reactions are normal and okay (although they, by definition, do not feel okay at the time).

As much as you can, be present with those feelings. Breathing exercises can help you manage the load (there are guided tutorials on YouTube and in apps like Headspace), too. If you need to walk away from the list and come back later, do that.

Remember, you are in a tough situation that is not your fault but is your responsibility. That might feel unfair as fuck. It is. But you don’t have to let it stay that way.

Second: Increase Friction

I recently wrote a piece (which I will link here once it’s live) on the negative effects of frictionless UX online. The instant and often passive way we can fill our brains with inputs by scrolling Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or by letting YouTube or Netflix autoplay whatever’s next, means that we’re filling our brains in a way that we as a species have never really been able to do.

For example: My husband rolls out of bed at about 6:30 am in order to be out the door at 7:00 am and fully awake and engaged with teenagers by 7:20 am.

The first thing he does when he gets up is to grab his phone and stagger to the toilet, where he scrolls through his email and messages and starts to plan his day. In the first five minutes, he reads and deals with as many as fifty different bits of information.

We’re both old enough to remember the days of yore before ubiquitous Internet and social media, in which that kind of information load wouldn’t have been possible. Now it’s not only possible, it’s expected: My husband says there’s no way he could possibly be ready for his job if he didn’t do it each morning. He’s expected to walk into work knowing all the stuff people sent him after he left the evening before.

This is a “frictionless” world for information. And I’m convinced it is a major factor in our burnout.

Do This:

  • Pay attention to where your information inputs have gotten frictionless. Are you zoning out after dinner and scrolling Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr for hours on end (whether or not you “should” be doing something else?) How often does Netflix stop to ask you if you’re still alive?
  • Make it harder for other people’s content to reach you. Delete one or more social media apps, or turn off push notifications, or bury them somewhere in your phone. Mute or unfollow contacts you don’t interact with much or that you see often enough in real life that you don’t need to keep up with them online as well. Do this in stages, starting with the ones you use/need to see least. The goal is to give yourself greater control over what information actually reaches your brain.
  • Replace with content you really want to consume. Instead of scrolling Twitter in the morning, read one or two blogs you love. Subscribe to a fiction magazine or journal: it’s a great way to get short, entertaining reads in your favorite genre, especially if your brain isn’t handling full-length stories yet. Or just consume the “content” of less damn noise in your life.

The goal is to carve out space for your brain. It’s not always easy, especially if (like me) you developed the habit of scrolling endlessly through Pinterest in order to avoid both doing what you needed to do and realizing how burned out you are.

There are good reasons for doing this, though. Even Facebook has admitted that too much passive scrolling causes worse moods. And at least one study found that limiting social media reduced loneliness and depression, at least in undergrads.

But That’s My Social Circle!

For a lot of folks, especially disabled folks, social media is a lifeline to the rest of the world. Even if you still spend a lot of time on social media, fight to increase friction where you can. Curate your lists, and spend more time engaging (the Facebook study claims that moods improve when people like and comment instead of just scrolling).

The goal is to put yourself in control of the information that is currently overloading your brain. To do that, you’ll need to change your relationship with your sources of information.

Third: Commit to Existence

Increasing information friction in your life helps carve out space and free time. Space and free time are absolutely necessary to resolving burnout.

Let me repeat that, because it’s that important: Space and free time are absolutely necessary to resolving burnout. 

Burnout occurs because the pace at which we attempt to do things isn’t sustainable. We don’t restore the energy we use day after day. Instead, we eat into our reserves – until we don’t have reserves anymore.

Do This:

  • Get a blank calendar. Or play on hardcore mode and delete everything in your existing calendar.
  • Schedule the following four priorities: sleep, meals, movement, and relaxation. The last category can include play, fun hobbies, religious/spiritual pursuits, or anything else that has helped you feel more like yourself in the past. Schedule all four separately. “Sleep” and “relaxation” are not the same category. Don’t assume you can both eat and go for a walk at the same time.
  • Schedule everything else around these four priorities. Sleep, meals, movement and relaxation are non-negotiable if you want to continue living.
  • Reevaluate those lists. If there are things on your “things I should be doing” list that you can’t fit in the schedule, ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t do them. Not if they didn’t get done – if you didn’t do them. Delegate or let them go as necessary.

I’ll repeat this too, because it’s important: Sleep, meals, movement and relaxation are non-negotiable if you want to continue living. 

Fourth: Fuck You, Pay Me

In the process of reevaluating those lists, notice how many things you’ve agreed to do, or have been handed to you, or that you think you should do, that you aren’t getting paid to do.

I don’t just mean pay in terms of cold hard cash, although that’s certainly important in order to afford things like food and a safe place to sleep. I also mean “pay” in terms of mental and emotional energy and support.

I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating: Your mental and emotional energies work in some ways like a bank account. If you loan out too much of them without getting reapid or receiving interest, eventually the bank goes bust. And if you’re burned out, your bank is going bust.

One of the keys to reversing burnout and avoiding relapse is to resolutely refuse to do things for which you do not get paid.

Do This:

Look at your lists from the first step. For each item on the list, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What do I get out of doing this? For work, the answer might be “a paycheck.” For cooking, “a hot meal.” For doing laundry, “clean underwear.” For picking up the yard, “So that Mrs. Nosy next door doesn’t call the ordinance guy on me again.” And so on.
  2. Does what I get from doing this adequately compensate me for the energies I expend in doing it? Only you can answer this question for yourself, because only you can decide how much energy it takes you to do something and whether you’re happy with what you get in return.

Use these two questions to evaluate things you do with your time. If you’re not satisfied with the answers to both questions, reconsider whether you need to do the thing. Maybe you can just stop doing it altogether. Maybe there’s an alternative way to do it, or to get it done, that makes you feel more satisfied with the return on your investment.

The goal is never to invest physical, mental, emotional or spiritual energy in anything that does not adequately compensate you for doing so. I call this the “fuck you, pay me” attitude. If it doesn’t pay you, don’t do it.

In some cases, you may need to take a few steps to see where the payment is. For instance, driving your kids to sports practice may not seem to compensate you at all; but having happy, healthy kids who feel supported may be extremely valuable. (Of course, if you’re driving kids to practices they don’t even want to attend, it may be time to ask them whether they’re happy with what they get from this activity.)

Take Note: If the answer to the first question is “nothing” or “nothing that actually matters to me,” don’t even bother with the second question. Strike the thing off your list. It’s a vampire. Revoke its invitation into your physical or mental space and never invite it in again.

When in doubt, ask yourself, “What if I just never had to deal with this ever again?” If your feeling is one of overwhelming relief, it’s time to eliminate the thing or find another way to do it.

Fifth: Forget Quick Fixes

If you’re hoping you can do the above four steps and fix your burnout overnight, I have bad news.

Burnout doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t resolve overnight. Burnout is the result of a longstanding pattern of non-sustainable behavior. While these steps can help you redirect yourself onto a more sustainable path, you still have two major factors to contend with:

  1. You’re going to need time to recover what you’ve already lost, and
  2. You’re going to have to guard against relapse – probably for the rest of your life.

I had my last hospital stay in 2015. While I was there, my psychologist and I worked hard on creating a plan to prevent relapse. I’ve adhered to that plan, but it takes conscious effort every day. And I’m still finding ways to improve it; for instance, I recently deleted every social media app I have except for Twitter, which I buried in a folder on my phone so that accessing it has to be a deliberate decision.

A Note on Selfishness

It’s very hard to maintain recovery from burnout if you’re a naturally giving type. Finding a sustainable way to live your life can feel very much like devolving to a state of utter selfishness.

In fact, the opposite is true. Burn out for long enough, and you’ll end up permanently disabled, if not dead. I’m considerably more disabled than I would have been if I had started dealing with my burnout symptoms in 2004, when I first noticed them.

By focusing on my sustainability first, however, I’ve become much more able to keep the commitments I do make. I’m more reliable, because I make sure I have the energy to do things before I agree to do them. And while I’m more disabled than I was in 2004, I am far less disabled than I was in 2009 or 2014.

Burnout is one of those situations in which selfishness is a necessity and a good. If you do not protect your basic needs, you will have nothing left to give anyone – ever.


If you found this post helpful, please consider showing your appreciation by buying me a coffee or sharing this information with others. Thank you!

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I Asked a Neural Network to Help Me Write

I’ve been scrambling to finish the draft of Nahara the last few weeks, which hasn’t left much time or brainpower left for trenchant blog commentary. But it has left time to giggle madly at neural networks.

Meet Transformer, which completes texts one word at a time based on what it learns by reading the Internet. It’s a bit like predictive text, only much, much more well-read (well…it’s read more, anyway).

Being a neural network, however, it’s remarkably bad at some things. In particular, lists.

So of course I asked it to make me some lists. My prompts are in bold.

I Asked a Neural Network to Help Me Write

Birthstones

1. January: Garnet
2. February: Amethyst
3. March: 
 Mauve
4. April: Pearl
5. May: Ruby
6. June: Topaz
7. July: Citrine (if you have it)
8. July 31 – August 4
9. September: Garnet
10. October:  Amethyst
11. November: Pearl
12. December: Ruby
13. January: Topaz
14. February: Garnet
15. March: Citrine
16. April:  Amethyst
17. March 31 – January 9 (2 days after patch – patch is available, but won’t update.)

Nancy Drew Mysteries

1. The Secret of the Old Clock
2. The Hidden Staircase
3. The Bungalow Mystery
4. 
 The Secret of the Big Bottom Beds
5. The Mysterious Black Door in the Clock Tower
6. The Disappearance of a Woman at the Clock Tower
7. The Clock Shop Maniac Who Sold His Wedding Ring to Jack Sparrow
8. The Clock Tower, Where the Clockmaker Has Died
9. The Clock Factory
10. The Clockmaker Who Never Came Back

Every Disney Princess

1. Snow White
2. Cinderella
3. Aurora
4. Ariel
5. Belle

6. Donald
7. Tiana
8. Sleeping Beauty
9. Anna or Olaf
10. Sleeping Beauty

US Cabinet Positions

1. State
2. Defense
3. Treasury
4. Energy
5. 
 Other

So, that’s a complete list of potential threats to the federal government.

“Happy Birthday” is the Worst Song Ever Written

Folks, there’s something I need to get off my chest.

It’s “Happy Birthday.”

THIS SONG IS A GARBAGE NIGHTMARE DISASTER.

Think about it. If you were writing a song that all kinds of people would be obligated to sing several times a year, regardless of their background in music, wouldn’t you pick something that was, say, easy to sing? Something with notes and intervals that were easy to hear and mimic?

Well, we didn’t get that. We got this monstrosity.

Here’s why “Happy Birthday” is absolutely the worst song ever written.

worstbirthday

First of all, it doesn’t start on do. Try to write this thing down, or accompany it on piano or guitar, based on what you think you know about simple children’s melodies every freaking person in the Western world has known for a century and GET READY FOR THE ACCIDENTALS BECAUSE HOLY CRAP THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.

So the first note: crap.

The second note: also crap. Sol-la is one of the hardest intervals to sing in tune. You can fake your way through “Happy,” but “Birth” is always going to sound like your dog just died. Always.

“Day” is back to sol, but hold onto your cheap paper hat, because “to” jumps all the way up to “do,” and then “you” lands on “ti.” Wanna know what the other hardest interval to sing in tune is? SURPRISE IT’S RIGHT HERE.

We’re four words in and this song is already a nightmare. Not least because the shape of that line puts the emphasis not on any word that ACTUALLY MATTERS. What’s the most important thing about this event? Not happy, birthday, or you. Oh no. It’s TO.

Oh good, at least the lyrics repeat! But wait…

THE MELODY DOES NOT REPEAT EVEN THOUGH THE LYRICS DO.

You think it’s going to. You even get a second try at that crappy sol-la interval. But instead of going back up to “do,” you need to push even higher, to “re.” I hope you practiced your sixths haha just kidding of course you didn’t.

Again, the most important thing in this song, according to the melody, is that it is TO someone. Who they are or what day it is or what kind of day you wish them to have is irrelevant nonsense.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

Quick: Name a song that forces you to jump an octave and that is easy to sing. You can’t. But you’re about to do it anyway, because the next leap between “birth” and “day” is one.

Why is this melody so unsingable? Ah well, it’s not like anyone will ever need to sing this in public OH WAIT.

Next up is do-la-do, an absolutely astounding set of intervals. It’s definitely not just close enough to do-sol-do, THE ONE EVERYONE CAN ACTUALLY HEAR, to royally mess with everyone’s feeble attempt to sing it. You can’t even remember who you’re singing to at this point anyway, so mumbling their name wildly out of pitch is for the best.

Also, you are now mumbling a tenth lower than you were forced to sing earlier. Sure. Fine. Whatever. 1000 years of Western music went home drunk four measures ago.

And the chord structure. Dear God, the chord structure.

I’ll accept I-V-V-I, which are the first two lines. Uninspired, but at least it sounds okay.

Then we skip to IV, which is a nice way to indicate that something new is going on. Okay.

But then. BUT THEN.

I. We’re back on I. But it’s not just any I; it’s do-fa-la, not do-mi-sol. And it lasts only two beats before we’re back to IV, aka fa-la-ti.

I would accept this in a normal song, but “Happy Birthday” is not a normal song. It’s a toxic hellbeast bent on making every human with a functioning set of vocal chords sing out of tune. TWO BEATS ON THE ROOT AIN’T GONNA CUT IT.

Now, normal chord structures for simple songs repeat. Does this one? OF COURSE NOT. Have two beats of IV, then V, then I. You haven’t seen this pattern before or since!

HAVE A COMPLETELY BIZARRE AND POINTLESS CHORD STRUCTURE ON THE HOUSE. IT’S SOMEONE’S BIRTHDAY APPARENTLY.

The only good thing – I repeat, the ONLY good thing – about this song is that it resolves on do, in a nice solid I chord, allowing everyone present to clap heartily that this overrated vocal nightmare has finally ended.


Birthday songs are terrible; birthday coffee is awesome.

The Celebration of Mothers and Motherhood and Maternal People Who Mothered Us: A Predictive-Text History of Mother’s Day

It’s that time again, folks. I dumped the top 20 Google search results for “Mother’s Day” into Botnik’s predictive-text app, and here are the results. 

Please enjoy this predictive-text history of Mother’s Day in the US and other countries, brought to you by Botnik.

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The Celebration of Mothers and Motherhood and Maternal People Who Mothered Us: A History of Mother’s Face

Mother’s Day was needed.

Anna Jarvis trademarked the first official mother, who was originally imported from Antwerp. [citation needed] 

Anna resented that mother’s traditional commercialization was celebrated. Women were unsuccessful at being seen as much of anything.  Only women’s golf could reclaim their pawned sewing. 

Motherhood needed to improve. The sacrifices mothers made for the holidays would overwhelm most people.

Political Carnations for Mother’s Day

On the first Mother’s Day, cards were slaughtered by the state governors. Children helped mother give herself an occasion for sales. 

The same day, a special cake resembling a white carnation was held at least four times. The special cake made mothers everywhere organize protests, because it cost too much. 

Advocating peace and freedom, mothers fought hard to prevent businesses from profiting by giving away New York. Unsuccessful control of women led to voters.

President Woodrow Wilson named mother goddesses to the Protestant Church, which consumed much of Lent in 1908. In 1925, November was first ridiculed by President Roosevelt. 

Years later, broadened by continuing enthusiasm, peace became popular again. In 1904, 1948, and April 2017, three children were awarded medals for helping their mothers with breakfast. All three children were notorious attention-seekers.

Anna Jarvis never profited from Mother’s Day. Because of this, Anna resented Nazi control of flowers and other gifts. Anna Jarvis died thousands of years later, denouncing mother’s annual remembrance from her hometown.

Families Gather Together

Children spend approximately $2.6 billion on pampering their mothers. Breakfast is considered mother’s favorite, and plastic flowers are the leading food choice.

Kids peak on this day, so tradition is to give their school a public protest. Or mom can just sleep in. 

Fundraisers outside the home offer roses to families that cannot celebrate the individual.

Today, fathers can also receive gifts, including spa services held in Philadelphia. Fathers can be mothers who died, too.

Father’s Day is celebrated in preschools, but only by children. Mother’s actions and patience for disturbing chores power Mother’s Day guilt.

Celebrating This Special Day

Secular American traditions of Mother’s Day have been created by conflicts around the world. War ended in 1865, years earlier than anyone needed.

According to Hallmark, mortality is widely associated with revering mothers. Cards remain the most important choices honoring motherhood. Letters honoring spa packages have withered, but anyone can pick up the phone. Vacuums put mother in a sanitarium.

Honor mothers and humans by spending most of your own money on women. Motherhood can feel bad, so feminist groups are encouraged.

To make Mother’s Day special, practice mother’s favorite ethics. Improve mom with different forms of $, and try to lower your wallet. Society will enjoy the idea.

 

History of Jesus Day: A Predictive Text Guide to Holiday Fun

It’s time once again for holiday joy brought to you by Botnik‘s predictive-text writer.

One of the most bemusing parts of building a predictive text bank for several US holidays is that these holidays are both highly religious and highly commercial in nature. We saw a hint of this with the St. Patrick’s Day post, but it gets even weirder with Easter – arguably the most important day in the Christian calendar and also in the chocolate bunny sales calendar.

I dropped the top 20 search results for “Easter” into Botnik. Here’s everything you need for a “hoppy” holiday.

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History of Jesus Day

(a predictive-text guide to Easter by Botnik)

Easter, or White Sparkly Easter, celebrates the resurrection of Jesus’s crochet skills. Consequently, it’s the tutorial we love giving and getting.

Lent: A Great Treat

Easter begins with Lent, a small piece of tape, and a pipe cleaner through the eye. Lent is believed to bring health over the next year, when bunnies lay fertility leaves across your chair. Lent astounds me.

God foam just makes Lent immediately more fun. Special ideas for activities include going to visit church and taking pictures of the foam on the Christian agenda. This is called “Palm Sunday” and serves as the start of Jesus Week.

Passover: Feasts for Everyone

Easter is also associated with the hexagonal corners of Passover, in which one takes less than a second to create this adorable woodland creature. Historians question Easter bunnies’ creativity, but by cutting cupcakes out of Passover feasts, you can probably change everything they know.

Passover feasts are as easy as human sized traditions to share. Crackers and icing make an omelet, or you can eat real food. Some households even let kids get their own template!

 Pagan Origins in Pagan Celebrations

Jesus celebrated fertility and mud pies. In pagan times before Jesus, branches of Christianity had such an awesome handmade craft!

Pagans claimed to create Easter over 25+ years in a DIY plastic egg. Decorating Easter quietly, or turning kids into makeshift stamps, can help historians question this story.

Pagan traditions include salmon crafting, afternoon bunny slime, and recipes for more creativity. Pagans do not be edible, but after Mass, rolling eggs downhill can make even the most popular kids suffer. These sufferings are viewed as an agricultural victory.

Easter Services That Pop

At an Easter service, females with flowers sit on top of the Gospels, while essentially ignoring their own death. Men may dump cold water on potato halves, making handprints on Ash Wednesday to keep in Eastern Orthodox countries. Children run about their rooms, holding onto salvation and flossing with God.

Are crafty things perfect for your perfect kiddos? Make adorable art for your favorite death by crucifixion! Easy peasy fun ideas for making all religions Easter include attaching googly eyes on your family to share salvation.

Surprise the tutorial by cutting eggs into tiny craft balls. Glue gun instructions to Pontius Pilate and wrap a ribbon around the season.  Don’t forget blood!


Whether your Easter involves celebrating the Resurrection or stuffing your face with chocolate – or both – you can share the spirit by buying me a coffee or sharing this post.

Free to Loving Home: This Terrible Raccoon

Friends, I’m not made of stone. I know when I have reached my limits. And I have reached my limits with this raccoon:

55752527_10111330049172453_7151877484286312448_n

LOOK AT HOW RIDICULOUS THIS RACCOON IS. LOOK AT IT.

I didn’t even want this raccoon. This raccoon climbed my husband while we were splitting wood last October, and he begged me to keep it. Sure, his words said “it’s up to you” but his eyes said “please?!?!”

Anyway, this raccoon is genuinely terrible. For instance:

55823791_10111330049531733_3718113932146114560_n
“Don’t eat the plant,” I said to the raccoon.

“Eat the plant and then go to sleep,” the raccoon heard.

This raccoon’s primary skill is destroying household objects. If there were a Destroying Household Objects Olympics, this raccoon would win every gold medal. Those gold medals would be awarded before the opening ceremonies even began. “This raccoon is the only destroyer of household objects humanity will ever need,” the International Destroying Household Objects Olympic Committee would say. “Just give this raccoon all the medals so it can destroy them on the ride home.”

Which is great, because this raccoon will NEVER win an Olympic medal in napping:

D3AHoSfW0AA0vFc

Look at this hot mess? Is this some kind of joke?

56373573_10111330049127543_266645060227956736_n

You have to be punking me here, raccoon. Do you not even understand how to sleep?!

This raccoon’s butt is also made of velcro and sadness. For some reason, this raccoon has to stick its sad velcro butt to my side at all times:

D22UDFkWwAAxLFx

Which would be fine, except that, like most raccoons, it eats trash. Its consumption of trash is directly proportional to the amount and quality of raccoon food in its food bowl. Full bowl of premium raccoon food = trash hoover.

Also, it farts. And raccoon farts are the WORST.

All of which is to say that if you have a large home that needs to be totally destroyed, if you have a dog or small child that needs to be permanently traumatized, or if there just aren’t enough atomic critter farts in your life, THIS IS THE RACCOON FOR YOU.

D2slnJaWoAUOB0n

Next time, we are getting a cat.


April Fools’ jokes come only once a year, but cash is forever. Support this blog by buying me a coffee or sharing this post.

Real-Life Writer Lifestyle Blog!

I have been glamorously fighting a cold for the past week, which has involved ingesting copious quantities of glamorous chicken soup, Vernor’s and Tylenol; glamorously sleeping 15 hours a day; and glamorously sneezing into an ever-expanding pile of glamorously wadded Kleenex.

At some point during one of my virus-fueled fever dreams, my muse came unto me and told me I should start a lifestyle blog. Featuring my actual lifestyle.

I’ve already fielded a couple different questions about writer lifestyles on Quora this month, and I’m also full of cold medicine, so my response was a resounding “Yes!”

…Followed by a resounding “What’s a lifestyle blog?”

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Since Googling things and then pretending I knew that all along is completely on-brand in my particular writer lifestyle, here’s what I have learned have sagely always known about lifestyle blogging.

1. It’s basically a digital zoo exhibit.

This post at MediaKix says:

A lifestyle blog is best defined as a digital content representation of its author’s everyday life and interests. A lifestyle blogger creates content inspired and curated by their personal interests and daily activities.

I’ve been trying to write content inspired and curated by “things I find interesting about writing and creativity that other people might also find interesting about writing and creativity.” Apparently, my illness-impelled muse says this is all wrong, and I should just be badly Instagramming my food instead. (“How to Take Photos That Are Definitely Not Insta-Worthy,” coming soon to this blog!)

2. …Except it’s supposed to teach you how to brush the cheetahs.

Meanwhile, blogger Ashley Coleman has this to say about the difference between personal blogging and lifestyle blogging:

Personal blogs will rely heavily on personal narrative, essay, opinion. Lifestyle blogs include personal elements but often give you some really tangible things to take away. How to make a great cake. How to design your workspace. Meanwhile, personal stories will either inspire you, inform you, or maybe make you laugh.

…I mean, I can definitely teach people how to emulate my glamorously snotty  writer lifestyle. In fact, here’s a free printable (I guess that’s a thing now?) for emulating my glamorous writer wardrobe!

writer dress infographic

Actionable takeaways! This lifestyle blog thing is really taking off.

3.  I’m supposed to make people jealous, I guess?

I’m a little confused on this point, because Googling “lifestyle blogging jealousy” turned up a ton of posts on how to stop being jealous of other people’s perfectly-curated lifestyle blogs and Instagram accounts, but the whole point of perfect curation seems to be to make other people jealous of your lifestyle in the first place.

So here’s my best shot at making you all jealous of me:

I write for a living, which is to say that I have no day job or side gig: Writing is what I do. I’ve been doing that for about ten years now. I live in an adorably venerable house with three adorable cats who adorably destroy things for fun, I have a husband who thinks I’m the greatest thing since sliced greatness, I have spent the last week sneezing my brain matter into handfuls of tissues, and I only sometimes wear pants.

And I can show you how to do it, too. I guess.

4. Write about everything but also only these things.

So: My muse wants me to present my life the way it is in order to engender jealousy in others, which is obviously not going to work. I mean, just check out my totally cute and enviable kitchen:

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WRITER LIFE is all about the deluxe-sized bag of corn chips, empty food containers nobody’s put in the recycling yet, and a sinkful of dishes I’m ignoring in order to write this blog post. You, too, can have this amazingly glamorous lifestyle!

What the heck is my lifestyle blog supposed to be about, then? MediaKix recommends:

Lifestyle bloggers share a broad variety of content centered around and inspired by their personal lives — most notably family, home, travel, beauty, food, recipes, fashion, makeup, design and decor.

*rubs hands together* *cracks knuckles* Okay, I got this.

Coming soon, from my totally awesome writer lifestyle blog that is totally awesome and definitely not something I got told to do by the Nyquil-addled voices in my head….

  • Family: How to Spend Quality Time With Your Manuscript Instead of These Weirdos!
  • Home: My Favorite Houses to Not Die of Consumption In
  • Travel: The Bright Thing In the Sky: What It Is and Why You Shouldn’t Stare Directly At It
  • Beauty: Hey, This Ink Smudge On My Hand Kinda Looks Like a Cat
  • Food: How to Make Coffee Part of Every Major Food Group
  • Recipes: Coffee, Coffee With Milk, Coffee With Vodka, Coffee With Milk and Vodka, Okay That’s a White Russian You Literally Just Invented a White Russian Now Stop It
  • Fashion: *points to infographic*
  • Makeup: 1.2 Ways to Make Yourself Presentable Before You Run Out for More Creamer (You NEED to Do At Least Number 0.2, Okay?)
  • Design: Creating Your Perfect Writing Space (and Then Ignoring It In Favor of Scribbling on the Toilet)
  • Decor: 50 Fun Organization Hacks to Avoid Your Looming Deadlines

…Y’all, I am so excited about this new lifestyle blog! Praise to my plague-prompted muse!