Consistent blogging in 2017: Slumps, tips & goals

I’ve been in a right old blogging slump recently.

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When I first started blogging last year, the excitement and the discovery of having my own little slice of the internet pie took over my life for a while. I met people from all over the world who were interested in the same things as me, and wanted to talk about books as much as I did and still do. It’s the most incredibly inspiring feeling; finding people on the same wavelength as you (love you guys!). The first few months of blogging was like a revolution for me. Ideas were pouring out of my head left, right and centre and my fingers were constantly itching to put words on the screen and send them out into the world.

But what happens when you’ve established your blog, hit your stride with your writing style and then, BAM, life gets in the way? How do you stop your blog from becoming a chore, and ensure that it stays fresh, consistent and ultimately, fun?

The end of 2016 was full of lots of exciting happenings in my ‘real’ life, which I wouldn’t have changed for the world. I moved out of my family home and into a new house with my boyfriend and I got a new, much busier job, which I love. Both of these big things, and lots of other little things, mean that blogging took a backseat for me, at least much more of a backseat than I would have liked.

Now I’m settled, and 2017 is just getting started, I want to share some tips and goals with you guys for what I hope will spell more consistent, fun and engaging blogging for me this year. I know so many of you are incredible at balancing your day-to-day lives and your blogs, and I’d love to hear how you cope with blog-related stress, and what tricks and tips you use to keep everything ticking over!


Blogging goals for 2017

Post twice a week

I think twice a week is a pretty manageable goal for me, between work, socialising, sleeping and actually reading! My posts per week have fluctuated massively since I started last February – sometimes I’d post four or five times a week (how?!) and other weeks I’d post absolutely zip. Nada. I’ve never actually laid out an ideal number of posts per week, but I hope that this will help to keep me on track.

More original content

I love doing tags and reviews are essential for me, but I’m never more happy with the way my blog runs than when I’ve thought up something bonkers or new to write about. My posts on books and cocktails, Netflix and book recommendations and how to get over book hangovers were some of favourite pieces of writing from 2016, purely because they were so much fun to put together and talk to you guys about. Generating more original content and different posts is definitely something I’m aiming to do more of this year.

Engage with new bloggers and welcome them into the community

I’ve said it so many times, but the book blogging community really is so kind and just generally lovely. I felt really welcome almost immediately, and was really appreciative to the more established bloggers who brought me into the fold and helped me to get involved and find out what was what. I don’t necessarily consider myself established, but this year, I’d love to pay it forward. If you’re reading this and relatively new to blogging, please please drop me a line (either in the comments, or on bookshelvesandbiros@gmail.com) and we can collaborate on something fun! Likewise to those of you who I already know and love, let’s think up some snazzy stuff together.

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Get a logo

God, this has been on the list FOREVER. This has to be the year where I finally get it done. I get such logo envy and my design skills are pretty damn basic, so I’m gonna have to source some clever artsy person and put them to work for me. If y’all know anyone awesome, please nudge me in the right direction! ❤

WRITE GODDAMN NOTES WHEN YOU READ, SAMMIE

Yeah, I really need to master this one. Hence the shouty capitals.

Tips and tricks for more consistent blogging (hopefully)

Schedule, schedule, schedule

Self-explanatory. Whenever I schedule posts in advance, I feel so much more chilled and in control of my writing, but I’m so disorganised that I rarely utilise the tool. Basically, I need to write when I feel inspired and happy and chill and then fit the posts into a schedule, not force myself to write when I haven’t blogged for an AGE and then flash publish.

Make graphics in advance

Again, self-explanatory. I always think I should do this and I never do. One of the best things I did at the end of last year though was to create one generic header for all of my reviews. It not only makes the posts more easily identifiable and more ‘branded’ (lol), but it also means that I don’t spend 34 and a half hours swearing at both my phone and Canva because of poor picture quality and lack of aforementioned design skill.

Take breaks

When I went on holiday last year, I scheduled a few posts in advance for when I was away. Great, because it meant my blog was still ‘live’ while I was away, but also not so great, because it meant that while I was on holiday I was still making mini-edits to posts and replying to comments. As much as I love you guys, blogging can be mentally exhausting, so I’m definitely going to be better at self-care and giving myself sometime to recharge my batteries and my brain this year. It’s OK to have time to yourself, and no one will get angry or forget about your or your blog while you take advantage of a sunny weekend, a shopping trip or simply a few days snoozing on the sofa under a cozy blanket. Looking after your mental health = better, happier blogging.

Don’t get crazy with ARCs

All book bloggers know that ARCs can be one of the massive benefits of blogging. Book bloggers weirdly seem to be the only sort of bloggers that don’t get paid for posts in the same way that a beauty blogger or a gaming vlogger might do for promoting products in their content, so ARCs can go some way to compensating you for your time. As much as I love getting an unreleased book in the post from a publisher or being approved for an advance review copy on NetGalley, these deadline-fuelled reads can be one of the most stress-inducing aspects of blogging. Basically, the moral of the story is to read what you want, when you want, and only request the ARCs that you really, really want to read and have the time to commit to. Trying to speed read a book before the publication date and the the subsequent guilt when you don’t finish it or want to DNF it isn’t fun. Trust me.

Use notebooks

My name is Sammie and I am a notebook addict. I have many a beautiful notebook and diary just waiting to be filled, but I’m pretty sporadic when it comes to using them. When I first started Bookshelves & Biros, something that really helped me to come up with ideas was jotting down fun things that I’d seen, quotes that I’d loved or bits of book news that I’d come across. I haven’t done so much of that recently, but having a notebook and a pen handy for when inspiration strikes is so handy and super useful. Some of my favourite posts have come from one line or one word of messy scrawl in an old notepad.

Set aside time for blog hopping

I am always apologising for being rubbish at replying to comments and catching up with all of your seriously uh-mazing content and it is literally because I am both disorganised and quite easily distracted. One thing that I’ve always found helps me is to set aside an hour or two a week on a certain night to catch up with everything I’ve missed – it means I spend less time online overall, because I’m not distracted by other stuff.


What are your goals for better, happier blogging in 2017? Do you have any must-know tips or tricks for keeping blogging fun or consistent? Advice on how to stop blogging becoming a chore? Let me know all in the comments!

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The Importance of Young Adult Literature: Responding to THAT article

So it looks like we’ve gotten to that fun part of the year again where everyone wants to take a swipe at YA because it’s the easy option. 

Yesterday, it was the turn of TES columnist and English teacher turned Educational Consultant, Joe Nutt, to declare war on young adult literature in spectacularly spiteful fashion. Describing YA as a ‘dangerous fantasy’, he managed to insult readers, librarians, bloggers, authors and writers in one fell swoop.

Mr Nutt believes that young adult literature is preventing young people from becoming “genuinely literate adults“, which is interesting because the very definition of literate is to be able to read and write. The people he’s referring to clearly are reading, just not necessarily the material that Joe would seemingly shove in their direction.

The article also seems to have a problem with the terminology itself, stating that there is simply no such thing as young adulthood because the author didn’t experience it. In that case, how can it possibly exist? I’ve never been to the Empire State Building, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, my friend.

The logic just keeps on rolling with the following statement:

“Several generations of teenagers, especially boys, have been effectively prevented from ever becoming literate adults by a publishing industry that has decided young adult readers have an insatiable appetite for what amounts to nothing more than gossip fodder.”

Um. What?!

It is in fact, true that it is more difficult to engage boys in reading when compared to their female counterparts. Perhaps that’s because they’re being recommended books about 18th century America by Fanny Trollope on BBC Radio 4 or being told that young adult books couldn’t possibly be relevant to them? As Juno Dawson so eloquently put in her response article, to make a statement like this suggests that “there is only one one way to be a boy”. At best, it’s poor research and at worst, casual sexism.

Off of the top of my head, I can think of at least ten young adult authors who write books that aren’t exclusively read by or aimed at one gender. Patrick Ness, Philip Reeve, Melvin Burgess, Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth and Kevin Brooks (among many others) all write fantastic books that run a gamut of topics from space, to religion, to technology, to mythology, to friendship, to family to science.

Considering the sheer breadth and depth of YA literature, I can only assume that the reason why the teenage boys in Joe Nutt’s English class didn’t like reading was because he was forcing James Joyce upon them when really, all they might have needed was a taste of Percy Jackson or The Fifth Wave. 

Equally, there are some young people (gender regardless) who may never want to pick up a book no matter the author or subject matter. I don’t like salad cream. You get over it. 

The overarching problem with this article is not the half-hearted arguments that are made, but rather the snob-tastic tone with which the whole of the piece is written. It reads as if YA books are akin to an enthusiastic, but ultimately dumb pet dog. 

To suggest that the entirety of fiction produced for teenagers is little more than gossip column fodder and “self-harming vampires” (wow, can you say offensive?) is what really pushed me to write this post. It’s common knowledge that in all genres, there are bad apples, but if you’re going to tar that genre with your one lonely brush then at least be ready with a bank of examples to back up your arguments.

“If I were a publisher I would be asking some serious questions about the cultural value and validity of the young adult fiction agents are peddling. I would be asking them where are those vital books for teenagers that introduce them to the real, adult world?”

Young adult literature does not need me to fight it’s corner: it’s thriving and the backlash this article has already provoked tells a better story than I ever could. People who actually read young adult books know that it’s a progressive genre full of authors championing diversity, taking down taboos and helping people to feel less alone. Authors from Holly Bourne and Malorie Blackman to Sarah J. Maas and Louise O’Neill are using their work to talk frankly about topics like society, feminism, racism, rape, sex and mental health. If that doesn’t count as introducing teenagers to the “real, adult world” then I’d like to throw my hat into the ring and question what does.

I’m 24 and young adult books STILL teach me about the real, adult world.

I don’t much like the classics, but I would never write a post saying that they aren’t worth reading. I believe that any book that encourages someone to pick up one more, whether it’s George Orwell’s 1984, or Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging is worthy of praise. Dead, white men will continue to dominate the school curriculum in the UK and whilst the government closes libraries and the media pull coverage of children’s books, I can’t believe that there are genuinely people out there worrying about what young people are reading? Surely the important thing is that they’re reading at all. 

If they’re reading, they’re on their way to being “genuinely literate adults”. Turns out they just don’t need Joe Nutt’s Guide to Paradise Lost to do it. 

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You Know You’re a Book Blogger When…

  • The gallery on your phone constantly looks like this:

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  • You keep a notepad in your bag/next to your bed/in your car for when inspiration strikes.
  • You live in fear of your laptop breaking, having to pay for Canva or the WiFi going down.
  • You wake up in the middle of the night for a wee and find that to be a good excuse to check your WordPress stats.
  • Your non-book blogging friends unfollow you on Twitter because every Friday night their feed is suddenly full of #ukyachat and despite you explaining, they still don’t know what it means.

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  • Your friendly local book shop staff recognise you, plus they definitely know that you’re too old to be spending that much time in the teen section.
  • The pile of books you want to read and review is so big, that your family fear it might well crush you one day.
  • You start thinking of days out as potential blogging opportunities, ‘I’m sure I can make that shopping trip around Warwick relate to Shakespeare somehow…we are fairly close to Stratford-Upon-Avon after all…’
  • Abbreviations like ARC, TBR, MC, OTP and YA become part of your every day vocab and you look at your friends and family blankly when they tell you they have no idea what you’re talking about.

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  • Sunny days make you want to stand on a chair and take photos of your latest book crush surrounded by a number of carefully selected, color coordinated objects. THE LIGHT IS JUST SO GOOD FOR BOOKSTAGRAM.
  • Your Google history is mostly made up of bizarre things like ‘throwing book against the wall gif’ and ‘Harry Potter book hangover’.
  • You did a little happy dance when your first ARC got approved on NetGalley, but keeping that little feedback percentage at 80 is the bane of your life.
  • Goodreads to you is what Facebook is to other people. I’ll take your blurry pictures of Sunday dinner and raise you a status update about The Raven Cycle.

It’s fun being a book blogger, ain’t it?


PS. I’m currently on holiday with all of my books, so if you are so kind as to leave a comment and I’m super slow to reply (or don’t reply at all), rest assured that I am neither ignoring you or an ungrateful blogger! ❤

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