When You’re An Unhappy Blogger

Having recently written a couple of blog posts linking sewing and blogging with happiness, I thought I’d touch on the opposite end of the spectrum. What happens when you become an unhappy blogger?

Most of us set up a blog or Instagram feed in a spurt of creative energy and at a time when life feels good – right? The early months of your new social media profile can be exciting, satisfying and FUN. But for anyone who pursues a sustained blogging career, sooner or later life is going to trip you up and send some awfulness your way.

A detail you never even consider when you write that first giddy blog post.

Craftivist Collective Evening

An early blurry blog photo!

I’ve been blogging for nearly eight years. (Wowee!) During that time, I’ve had two separate challenges, each of which made me very unhappy. Not depressed – I don’t claim any expertise or insight in that field – but pretty down in the dumps.

There are blog photos that still cause me real pain to look at. I was shutting down on friends, yet would cry in front of my hairdresser. I couldn’t find the energy to exercise beyond dog walking. Healthy eating was managing to throw a ready meal in the microwave. (Please. Don’t ever tell an unhappy person to do some yoga or steam their broccoli. Sometimes, the best self love you can manage is a ready meal.)

A few perceptive blog readers picked up on the story behind the stories, and emailed me their concern. One evening, the man serving me in the Co-op handed me my change and said, ‘Darling, you look SO unhappy.’ I was.

But I kept blogging. And here’s how it helped.

You Can Control It

When the rest of life feels as though it is going to hell in a handcart, there is one detail of the world you can still control. You can still write a blog post. During each of my difficult times, my blog was a lifeline and I knew that if I actually stopped blogging about sewing that something irreparable had broken. Thankfully, I never stopped blogging.

A Variety Of Interests Is Good For Self Worth

You’ve had a bad day at work, but you still know how to operate a sewing machine. Your 10K run was awful, but you can make people laugh. You might be struggling with your dissertation, but you can write a 500-word blog post. Divert your attention away from what’s making you unhappy, and do something you know you’re good at. This one definitely works.

when you are an unhappy blogger

Wearing a make, taking succour from my new friend

There Are Friends Out There

You might be too physically and emotionally exhausted to go to that gig or party – sometimes even having fun can be a chore – but there’s a whole bunch of online friends happy, willing and able to have a conversation with you via your blog. The sewing community is known for its strength and camaraderie. You don’t need to be alone, even when you’re stuck to the sofa.

You’re Not The Only One

If you have a predilection for self-absorbed navel gazing (What, moi?!), social media can be brilliantly humbling. Any given week in your blog feed, you’ll see the full spectrum of other people’s lives – the good and the bad. Despite the roasting that social media receives for surface glamour, you don’t need to dig deep to find the real stories lurking behind the photo filters. It’s good to know you’re not alone and it’s encouraging to see other people come out the other side of their unhappiness. This too shall pass.

So, look. This is what worked for me. And happiness isn’t a tap to wrench on or off – there shall still be days when I feel miserable and have a blog post to write. And there are some life events I dread as a blogger – how shall I possibly manage those? But my blog is my badge of survival and I’m happy that this online diary has helped me process my emotions in some small way.

You blog. You’re happy. You blog. You’re unhappy. Life’s a mess and life’s a joy. But writing is my lifeblood. Over the past few months, I’ve had several people ask me what I think to the future of social media. Is the blog format dead? Might I ever stop writing? Nah. I don’t want to make any of you guys unhappy but … you ain’t rid of me yet.

Okay. Enough introspection. Back to sewing!

If you’re interested in reading more behind-the-scenes musings, feel free to sign up to my newsletter here.

Sewing Meet Up Six

Still one of my favourite photos!

This entry was posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to When You’re An Unhappy Blogger

  1. Ems says:

    So sorry to read that but so true. I guess the main consolation is that you hadn’t gone beyond the point where nothing mattered. Having had bad times too I know how hard it must have been to keep going and to keep doing what you were doing. All the best for 2018

  2. Kathy Lynch says:

    Oh Karen, I suspect you have no idea of how truly lovely a person you are! You write with such compassion, honesty & humility. We’ve never met “in the flesh” & yet you feel like a friend so I, for one, am very happy you intend to continue to blog! Warm wishes from Brisbane, Australia. x

  3. A brave post to write and one that surely will help others who may be feeling ‘bleugh’. I’m aware that my perceptions of bloggers’ lifestyles is mainly idealistic, but you do speak to me in an authentic voice, I thought that you were jaded and perhaps losing interest in sewing, entirely reasonable, life moves along, other interests enter stage left. Good to know your emerging from the doldrums. I always read your posts but seldom comment but want you to know that I wish you well and I’m happy that you’re feeling better.

  4. Sarah says:

    I’ve never commented on your blog before (shy perhaps?) but today I had to change that as a way of saying thank you. I found it about a year ago. I love it and always read it from top to bottom. You write so beautifully and always bring a smile to my face – your wonderful personality shines through. Please don’t ever stop writing or sharing little Ella with us.

  5. Michele says:

    such a humbling experience to read your blog with your honesty and gritty determination. I love your posts – and don’t always comment – cant always think of something witty or interesting to say!!
    But big hug to you and Ella from a fan who looks forward to many more of your observations and life experiences that you pen so well, and often make me laugh out loud.

  6. elmhirst2014 says:

    Good Morning From Cape Cod. As a reader of blogs and not a writer of blogs, it is very helpful when experiencing the realities of life, to read amongst the happy cheerfulness of the sewing world, a post that does reflect these realities. And as you have expressed, the need to hold on to ones life lines, and to carry on and stay grounded in the truth that there is good and hope and love also. Lovely post. M

  7. Big loves to you, wonderful woman. I’ve kept blogging determinedly if rather erratically for nine years, without any signs of real popular success, and that was an unexpected disappointment that I’ve moved on from and now I just do it for me and whoever may be listening.
    All the best!!

  8. I completely agree with that. I just started blogging in the summer and it is a slow going process. There are times when, okay lots of time when I forget to take photos and then remember, oh darn! There are times when there are too many demands on you. But like you, I agree sewing is a lifeline. It is always there and blogging about sewing makes you sooooo happy. Great post and thanks for sharing. Yes, we are never alone in the sewing community!

  9. Francesca Amodeo says:

    New friend? where’s lovely Ella? oh my dear, i hope that’s not one of the sad thingsπŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡

  10. Losing a beloved pet is heartbreaking … still getting over my Oscar passing away before Christmas … crafting is keeping me on an even keel and stops my mind from wandering. Will never forget him but crafting is just the therapy I need and I completely relate to what you are saying.

  11. Arletta says:

    I don’t sew, I never did and probably never will. Nevertheless your blog is one of my favorites. And this very post here is probably the best I have ever read on a blog. It’s so honest. So brave. So true. And so incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for this Karen!

  12. C.S. Lews is supposed to have said, “We read to know we are not alone.” It is so kind of you to let many of us know we are not alone, and, in doing so, I hope you are finding you are not alone either.

  13. Jill says:

    Interesting! I used to have a blog but let it slip, I guess for the flipside reason. That if I was going though a time where I was too tired, too sad, to busy to post…that I’d be letting people down. Not participating the right way in the sewing community. Not being good enough. That’s a lot of pressure so I just let the blog slip.

    I guess I never stopped to consider that I shouldn’t care so much about impressing the community. I should just write when I have something to say, or when I need the distraction, or as a form of therapy. There’s just so much pressure to make one’s blog A Thing. Like if you don’t have a certain number of readers, or if you don’t generate income from it, you shouldn’t waste your time.

    You’ve given some good perspective here! Thank you!!

  14. me pendleton says:

    Thanks you for such a heart wrenching post . I have followed you for a long time but have rarely commented . Hopefully sewing & blogging will bring you focus & happiness

  15. peggy says:

    I love you blog. Sometimes when a person feels as though she is the only one going through
    a problem that life has thrown her way, it is refreshing to be remindered she is not alone.
    Yesterday, sitting at Panera’s with two dears friends, I wanted to scream when they talked
    about different exciting elements of their lives while my personal problem was tearing me
    up. I choked up trying to discuss it but couldn’t and I know that IS what friends are for. Coffee
    time was not as therapeutic as I had hoped. Sewing can keep my mind occupied when I
    can actually get myself started. Often in times like this, that is more than difficult too.
    I hate that I almost resented my two best friends good fortune. How awful of me! Thanks for
    being human.

  16. Thank you.
    I actually started my online shop and blog days before I was let go from my job. Talk about whirlwind! You can say 2018 hasn’t started exactly stellar for me at all.
    I’m having a tough time making sense of what happened to my job yet trying to focus on using this time to do something I’ve always wanted to do AND then I revert back to but OMG how are we going to pay the bills? Searching for a job and trying to remain positive, calm and centered….It’s tough. SO seriously, thank you for putting this out there. It touched my soul today and I needed it.

  17. Kathy says:

    Love you Karen. I’ve been following you for a long time and love how genuine and warm you are. I love the photo with baby Ella; she is a true, loyal friend.

  18. JenL says:

    I started sewing again to deal with a long-term stressful life event (ongoing). Before I took that step I happened upon this blog, some years ago now. It was a great source of inspiration and enthusiasm when I needed it. Thank you for that, Karen. I know its not always easy to engage in creative endeavors when the bigger picture is not the most happy one. Unhappiness is a part of life, as is happiness. I think it may be a buddhist saying — the one thing you can count on in life is change. So, there is always that : ). I really do enjoy your blog, but of course, you must do what is best for you and what you enjoy. Glad to hear you will be sticking around for awhile though!

  19. Good morning from Washington DC. Your blog was wonderful. Thank you for your authenticity. I know it must be hard, but I’m sure I’m not alone among your readers when I say that it’s most appreciated. I find myself avoiding social media at times to avoid the over abundance of success stories, etc. I remind myself that bloggers, FBers, etc, tend to post in those moments of giddy highs, as you say. I try to remind myself that it is natural to want to share only the positive and exciting. But, it makes me feel like a total loser sometimes. Thank you for bringing your true self, good, bad, and everything in between. I feel like you’re having an honest relationship with us. I hope you do NOT feel pressure to be anything other than your true self. We are here for you either way! Take care –

  20. I think this post is the perfect candidate for the #SMYLY challenge (although I think of it more as a celebration rather than “challenge”) – sewing does help and I agree that blogging about our sewing helps too! I always love to read your blog posts so I for one am thrilled you won’t be stopping it anytime soon!

  21. JanHanPhoto says:

    What an inspirational post! Thank you. This is so true of so many people and I think for many bloggers ‘the blog’ is a lifeline, as it were. A truly inspiring post!

  22. Can I tell you that for the majority of time I was writing my blog I was sooooooo unhappy with my job and that my blog and sewing is what made everything else bearable. Knowing that I had an outlet other than the way I financed my life, that defined me, celebrated me, understood my passion, and even criticized me was sooooo comforting. It’s only been the last three years that I’ve written my blog from the standpoint of joy and I’m thrilled I had that creative outlet during the bad years.

    Like you I’m not going anywhere. I love writing my blog and sharing all about sewing with the sewing community and will be doing it until I just can’t anymore!

    • didyoumakethat says:

      This is soothing to my soul, thank you! Not to relish that someone else was unhappy, but to know that we aren’t alone in these times.

      • Karen – I actually believe that we all experience more pain than we share, for whatever reasons, and that we should understand the reason people post the best parts of their life is to have hope that the bad parts aren’t so bad or unbearable. So no you aren’t alone!

  23. Mary says:

    Bravo. A realistic portrait of the highs and the lows of most life experiences makes for a well-rounded blog. If it helps to give you a reason to keep slogging through the tougher days, so much the better. As Carolyn said, you aren’t alone.

  24. Every word is true, mostly the happy part is shown. At times, it just feels so unnatural and unimportant to blog about a trivial sewn piece, but it can be so liberating at the same time.

  25. Megan says:

    What a lovely photo of baby Ella. I think this is what is good about the internet and online community. Too many people are not honest and that can be very alienating. It is nice to read about the good times and the bad times, we all have them and it does help the blogger and the reader. I think you are brave and honest and that is why you have such a loyal following. Oh and I love that pink floral dress in that lovely last photo.

  26. Mary says:

    Greetings from Pittsburgh. You always inspire me. I envy your sewing talents. I admire you job skill and your gutsy decision to go off on your a own. l love that you love your Ella. Just so much about you makes me smile and wish I could visit someday. Here’s to a healthy, wealthy and happy 2018.

  27. Whistle says:

    Very glad you managed to blog through the hard times (and benefit from it) so you are still posting! Loved the pink dress in the first photo.

  28. Annelieke Schauer says:

    Hello: I have followed you for years, am grateful to you for all of your posts, and just enjoy reading them and drooling over photos:) Thank you!

  29. Yaffle says:

    I rarely comment on blogs (I’m always reading on my phone, I’m a bit shy about introducing myself) but I really enjoy yours.
    I find the winters hard, and I never know how much of that kind of thing I want to put in my blog, which is really mostly for my own personal notes. But then: here I am! What do people need/want to know is not as important as, what do I want to write?

  30. Barbara Barrett says:

    I really enjoy your blogs and the connection you provide to the worldwide sewing community. Reading your post is a little like reading a nice sewing travel blog. I love hearing about your shopping adventures. I can have a little peak at life in your part of the world from my phone here in the USA. Thanks for sharing such honest and sincere emotions. We appreciate you!

  31. So much appreciation for this post Karen. Thank you! At the moment I can’t articulate my thoughts coherently…so much of what you have written resonates deeply in me. My blog posts have been light even when I’ve been feeling sad and that has brought me moments of wondering if I’m inauthentic. Your reflections are helping me to acknowledge and embrace the reality that my writing actually makes me feel good. Or at least better…

  32. szosborne57 says:

    What a brave and powerful post. Thanks for sharing. I never “read between the lines” sorry to say and I have enjoyed reading your blog for awhile now. I like your blog because you’re witty, smart and interesting. I like that your blog has “just enough” pictures, but not too many. You provide great details about your projects, but there’s never too much that I feel like I’m not going to get through it. I’m glad you’ll continue writing and I’ll continue reading. Treat yourself kindly – you deserve it πŸ™‚

  33. notso50s says:

    As a therapist, I’d like to say thank you for being brave enough to put this post out there. There’s so much stigma, especially around mental health concerns in social media, that having someone being willing to talk about the challenges they face is a balm to those going through it as well. You never know who you’ll touch with your words. Today has been a blah day for me, but after this reminder, I think I might just go do a little sewing to try and pull myself through.

  34. Jo says:

    This is a great post, I am doing the same at the moment but Blogging feels like a safe place when family are ill and I am pulled in all directions. Every paragraph resonated with me. Thanks. Jo x

  35. Karen Kershaw says:

    Hi Karen, thank you for sharing your inner self, life is horribly challenging at times.
    This past week I should have been in Stratford upon Avon with Jules on a pattern cutting course. Instead I went under general anaesthetic for the first time in 56 years to have a plate fitted in my left wrist (writing hand), after a wee accident on the ice rink at Somerset House…It has totally knocked mr for six – second broken wrist in under three years, but the last one was in the summer and a less severe break.
    So sewing plans abandoned, a month in SE Asia on a cycling holiday cancelled, swing dancing put on hold and I feel entirely useless, tearful and lonely.
    On top of that I attended a friend’s funeral in Paris on Thursday – 57 – so the start to 2018 has not been good.
    Funnily enough though I asked my yoga teacher if yoga was possible, and have indulged in some 1:1 sessions. They are hard work but do make me feel better; AND the funeral was at Pere Lachaise not too far from Marche St Pierre, so on Friday I indulged in yet more fabric in the under ten minutes I had to choose…so when I’m fully functional again I’ll embark on a coat for my niece as she loved my Lisette B6423 so much!
    I have plenty of time for coffee Karen, and can always jump on the bus to Walthamstow
    Karen x

    • didyoumakethat says:

      Oh, I’m sorry you’ve had such a horrible time. A broken wrist sounds ouch! And what a shame it’s spoilt so many plans (and your writing hand – yuck). I’m sorry to hear about the funeral too, but glad you’re getting some yoga and fabric shopping in. xx

  36. I can totally relate to this post, going through some very dark personal times in my own eight year blogging life. Sewing and blogging and reading other blogs have been like a safe space for me where I can unwind and get my mind off things in real life.I always felt good when someone might leave a comment on a dress I made. I have enjoyed your blog as well!

  37. tgedavis says:

    All power to you Karen πŸ™‚

  38. Jo says:

    Karen, after reading your post, I wrote my own. Inspirational. Jo x

  39. Claire says:

    Hi, I’ve followed your blog for 3 or 4 years and always enjoy your chats. Most bloggers I followed appear to have dropped off! Thank you for continuing.
    Life throws stuff at you along the way. None of us are immune. If your blog helps you then great! And the sewing and creativity too πŸ™‚

  40. Renata Laura says:

    I get upset when : sometimes when i dont get picked for pattern testing or club blogging (group things), when it’s grey everyday or raining so hard to take photos, when the weekend is up and no real sewing is done, making clothes for people who might not care, not liking how i look in photos, trying new patterns which dont fit or dont suit, hating fabric bought online, small niggly things! Things that are exciting – new pattern releases and sewing up a successful pattern, clear photos, matching outfits! I blog for me ultimately like a journal. It’s more special than instagram and i love reading other peoples blogs.

  41. stitchesoftime says:

    I love your blog as well, you write such brilliant technical advice as well as the fun stuff and I really appreciate all the advice you give. I have just celebrated my 10th blogaversary and love the fact that I have connected with people all over the world through it. I had a major life change the year after it started and what has really helped me is going back sometimes over my posts and seeing that I got through it all am still here and enjoying things. I never post about personal things but it helps me to focus on the positive for my posts and focus on all the good things in life.

  42. poppykettle says:

    Through the good times… AND the bad times. Lovely to read this Karen. I’m reminded of my favourite Dr Seuss book ‘Oh the places you’ll go’. It’s just so real and heartwarming, and reminds me that any journey is going to have ups and downs x

  43. LaineeMakes says:

    Late in but i wanted to say that you add something positive to others. I returned to Sewing and started my blog to help me recover from some of that life bleurgh. Stuff is still hapoenibg but the blog and community I’ve connected to definiteky helps get me through those low times..Thanks for being there.

  44. Lisa says:

    Thank you Karen.

  45. I know this is an old post, but it just resonated with me, thank you for writing that. I too have been blogging for about 7 years, and it started as a gardening blog. I was setting up my new garden and very gung ho about finding out what plants worked where, and getting advice from anyone and everyone. We formed a nice community. I had friends… then when my gardening stagnated and i thought everyone had seen a photo of every flower, I thought I would stop blogging. there were other parts of my life i wanted to share though and so i have slowly come back to blogging and now share crafts, cooking and still the occasional garden post. I was looking for crafts and that is how i stumbled on your blog, will be following along now!

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