Charles Bukowski, a great poet and novelist, once said:
‘Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain from you your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you, and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover’.
Now, I don’t know about you, but upon reading this statement, I immediately admired its striking fierceness. The idea of committing ourselves to relentlessly pursuing a particular love sounds to me like an extremely meaningful way of living. In a world brimming with possibility, such wholehearted devotion to a passion seems to offer life a unique sense of purpose—something, whether you care to admit it or not—we’re all searching for (cue existential crisis).
In my case, I love reading and writing. In fact, I originally created my bookstagram with the intention of sharing my love of literature. In recent times, as my online presence has grown, I’ve been living by Bukowski’s words and pouring my everything into running my account whilst also working on my writing projects. And I’m not going to lie; as much as I love it, I’ve been burning out!
After experiencing months of mounting stress, tension headaches and disrupted sleep—all in the name of fervently pursuing my literary interests—I’ve finally come to the long overdue realisation that maybe I’ve taken good ol’ Charles’ advice a little too literally! As such, I thought I’d take some time to explore the concept of ‘bookstagram burnout’ and the actions we can take to avoid falling victim to it. After all, there must be a way of pursuing our passions without them sucking us dry of every last drop of life in the process… right?
So, what exactly is bookstagram burnout? Well, the term ‘burnout’ refers to a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It’s usually precipitated by periods of stress in which someone feels drained, overwhelmed and unable to meet continual demands. In the context of bookstagram, burnout can arise due to a number of circumstances that cause increased pressure on the bookstagrammer. These are most commonly a direct result of the bookstagrammer a) obsessively scrutinising their account growth b) constantly trying to ‘one up’ their previous work or c) taking on too many bookish projects. As a result, the bookstagrammer usually finds themselves experiencing a loss of enjoyment and increased feelings of anxiety, incompetence and pessimism at the thought of bookstagramming.
So, what can we do to avoid falling victim to a dreaded case of bookstagram burnout? Allow me to offer a few suggestions:
As humans, we have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. On bookstagram, it’s incredibly easy to compare our account to someone else’s and wonder why they have a larger following, more frequent uploading schedule and all-round prettier feed. We must remember what we’re viewing on the screen is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. Just because someone has a booming bookstagram certainly doesn’t mean their life is a bed of roses. You don’t see the challenges that went into creating the content or know what issues they may be facing. Sure, draw inspiration from others, but ultimately focus on running your account in a way that makes you happy! After all, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and you’ll only ruin yourself trying to ‘measure up’ to someone else!
Ignore the Numbers:
Although it might seem like bookstagram growth boils down to a game of numbers, nothing will burn you out faster than constantly scrutinising a bunch of digits! On Instagram, numbers ebb and flow. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t gain as many followers as last month or if one photo has less reach than another. Bookstagram engagement constantly fluctuates due to a range of shifting variables; we’re talking everything from the type of content posted and timing of the uploads to algorithm influence and whether Mercury has entered retrograde (okay, joking—but you get the point!). Just let the numbers do their thing and focus on creating meaningful content you can be proud of!
Quality Over Quantity:
When running a bookstagram, it can be tempting to commit to pumping out as many posts as possible in an effort to increase your presence. Yes, this might boost your growth, but if you can’t keep up with your posting schedule, chances are you’ll burn out pretty quickly. I’ve noticed posting less frequent but higher quality photos will not only grow your account with time and patience but also prevent you from collapsing in a heap as you do so!
This one goes without saying: put yourself before your bookstagram! Decide to soak in the bath instead of photographing that extra book display. Make that cup of tea and enjoy a quiet night reading instead of editing your latest picture. Bookstagram isn’t going anywhere. If you feel yourself tiring, slow down and set aside some time to pamper to your personal needs!
Take a Break:
Running a bookstagram can be a serious grind and even the most hardcore workaholics need a rest. If you feel the burnout creeping in, log out of your account and take a couple weeks off. If you need a longer hiatus, don’t be afraid to take it! Just notify your followers before you go so they don’t think you’ve dropped off the edge of the earth! Sometimes a digital detox is all it takes to help you return refreshed and inspired!
Learn Your Limits:
There’s no use kidding yourself, biting off more than you can chew won’t do anyone any favours. Sometimes it can be hard to resist agreeing to that extra book review or publisher collaboration, but if you’re already backlogged with work and know it’s only going to exacerbate your stress then you need to consider if it’s worth it. Sometimes you’ll need to make compromises with people or flat out say no to bookish offers if it means saving yourself from burning out. Fortunately, bookstagram is swarming with opportunities—you just have to be selective about what is manageable for you!
Shake It Up:
After bookstagramming for a while, it’s not uncommon to get tired of producing similar content. Don’t settle for a creative routine that doesn’t fulfill you —this is a one-way ticket to destination burnout! Instead, try changing up your workflow and photography style if your previous uploads are feeling stale. Shaking up your creative process is a great way to reboot your motivation and rekindle your bookstagramming enthusiasm!