In case you haven't noticed, I've been pretty silent on the blog front, particularly when it comes to Modern Jo March. I've already published a post discussing some of the reasons why MJM has been dark for most of this year, but I wanted to take some time and discuss the other reason now.
I have been suffering from chronic migraines for about 2 or 3 years now that have been progressively getting worse. As part of the treatment and attempts to relieve and reduce them, I was told to limit my screen time, because obviously staring at a screen for long periods of time isn't good for you (in more ways than one). As a result, the last several months has found me putting down the kindle and other devices, and picking up physical books, and it's actually been really great!
As a book blogger, beta reader, and proofreader, I am often sent far more digital copies of books than physical ones, with good reason, digital copies are easier and cheaper to share for authors and publishers. The problem I've come up against is the fact that in order to read and review, or read and give feedback, I find myself spending a lot of time staring at my kindle screen (or laptop, depending on what kind of work each book requires of me). That's not good for my brain and is a prominent trigger for my migraines.
So what to do?
As of February, I started cutting back on my screen time all around, not only putting down my kindle, but also cutting back on my time scrolling through social media and staring at screens as a whole. I have requested a physical copy when I can, explaining my issues with migraines, while cutting back on the digital copies I accept. This has done two things for me: 1) I am much better (and pickier) at choosing the books (digital copies) that I cover, as I only have a limited amount of screen time to devote to them these days (and a limited budget to buy physical copies!), and 2) I've also gotten much better at making the most of my screen time.
As a freelance writer and blogger, I do have to maintain not only a social media presence (though it's not a large one), but also keep up the content for both my blogs. I've learned to use social media management platforms (I use Hootsuite and Buffer) which helps me cut down my daily screen time as they allow me to schedule posts in bulk for the week as well as see all of my social feeds in one place (organized into columns). They've been a huge help!
NOTE: A few other helpful things for me are to check the time whenever I open an App to be more mindful about how much time I spend on it (I only allow myself about 5 minutes at a time on my socials) and to dim my screens when I do use my devices. Both have made a huge difference in my migraine frequency.
While navigating this journey to better brain health, I have come to learn a few things. I realized that I tend to retain a book better when I'm looking at a physical page, rather than a screen. For some reason, I have a much better, deeper experience with books when I'm reading physical copies as opposed to digital. This doesn't surprise me too much, as I have always preferred physical books to digital anyway, I just didn't realize how much more I got out of a physical book versus a digital.
I've also learned how much more productive I can be when I cut out time spent on social media and scrolling the internet. It's truly a marvel the amount of work you can get done when you're not tied to a device. ;) Also, it's amazing how much happier I am when I don't spend a lot of time staring at a screen!
These days, my screen time is about 85% devoted to writing, researching for my books and projects, the upkeep of my website and blogs, and freelance work for other authors. It's a simpler and more organized way to conduct your day, and I for one am happy with the outcome.
Who knew migraines could end up being helpful?! ;) (But make no mistake, they are also a really trying and painful aspect of life)
I would challenge others to be more mindful of your screen time and how it impacts your life. I believe you'll be surprised. ;)
As some of you may have noticed... ok, ok, let's be real, no one noticed.... Modern Jo March has been quiet for the better part of this year. I've had such a hard time figuring out how to make everything work, particularly how to make this blog work. Last year I rebranded and tried a few different approaches, this year, mainly due to illness, I've just neglected it completely.
For the last 6 months, every time I thought of the blog, I would feel frustrated with myself for not being able to make it all work and be the top-notch blogger who has loads of content, who's at the head of the game and schedules posts so that they are evenly dispersed throughout the weeks and months, etc. Last year I got so caught up in "content" and trying to stay ahead, I actually got to the point where reading felt more like a chore than the pure joy it has been for me all these years. That's when I put the blog on hiatus last summer. I came back in the Fall refreshed and ready to go...…… only to burnout yet again come the middle of Winter.
Part of my burnout issues is the fact that I suffer from a chronic illness and as a result, am often dealing with periods of illness, pain, and fatigue, which doesn't help productivity. I've come to learn over the last year or so, that I really only have a certain amount of energy per day, and therefore need to be very mindful about how I spend that energy. That's the hard part...
There are so many things I want to do. Every. Single. Day. I'm a creative and want to do all the things all the time. I'm also an Enneagram 5, which means that I constantly want to be learning something and often have multiple projects going at one time...… but it also means that I have limited emotional energy to give each day, couple that with an illness that brings chronic fatigue and you get yourself a complete mess.
So what do I do? That's an excellent question, one I've been asking for a little over a year or so now. Thankfully, I think I've found the answer.... FINALLY. I've come to realize that while I enjoy running this blog, I don't really have the inclination or the energy to turn it into a brand/money-maker. That's just not what I want to do. I don't want that to be my profession. I started this because it was fun and I enjoyed it, so that's the way it's going to stay. I realized I have no interest in keeping up "content" and further more don't have the energy or the time to do so.
I've learned that I can do a couple of things really well, or a bunch of things subpar. So I've decided to focus on my writing in the form of Writing Just In Case (where I share my poetry and such) and my book, and to move forward with Modern Jo March as a hobby project, fun and breezy, posting when I want. Less stress, more fun.
I hope you'll stick with me along the way.
Karen Witemeyer's second novel in her wonderful Patchwork Family series, More Than Words Can Say, releases June 4th, and you will not want to miss it!
I was privileged to work on Karen's promo team for both More Than Meets The Eye (the 1st book in the series) and More Than Words Can Say, and have greatly enjoyed the experience and the books. Though I received this book in advance and am on Karen's team, it was with the understanding that I would give an HONEST review of the book. I am in no way obligated to give a good review if I don't feel it deserves one. Thankfully for me, Karen never disappoints with her stories. She continues to produce superbly woven tales with earthy characters, interesting plots, and a beautiful message weaved throughout the story.
In More Than Words Can Say, the reader gets a front row seat to Zacharias "Zach" Hamilton's deeper story. We first met Zach in More Than Meets The Eye, but he was on the fringes, the dark, mysterious character within the story. More Than Words Can Say brings him front and center and really helps the readers that have been following this series gain a fuller understanding of his past and what drives him.
I found Zach such an interesting character right from the beginning when we met him in the Prologue of More Than Meets The Eye as a 13 year old boy on an orphan train, on through to the end as a full grown man who has done the best he could in raising his adoptive siblings and keeping them safe, albeit making mistakes and a few questionable decisions along the way. Those very mistakes and decisions haunt him like ghosts on through to More Than Words Can Say. The question is: Will he be able to come to terms with them and accept the forgiveness that God has already given him?
More Than Words Can Say also introduces a set of new characters and a new town, though Evangeline, Seth (Zach's siblings), and Logan (Evie's husband and a reminder of Zach's greatest ghost) all make a brief appearance as well. The heroine of this story is Abigail Kemp, owner of the town's bakery. Faced with losing the bakery, which is Abigail's means to provide a home and future for her sister and herself, she turns to drastic measures to hold onto her beloved business. But will she succeed? And more importantly, will she find something more important to her than her business?
I love the way Karen weaves her stories, creating characters that are earthy, real, and flawed. In More Than Words Can Say, we have a man who is far out of his depth with communication, particularly when it comes to how he feels, and a woman who see's herself as fat and undesirable, rather than a "fearfully and wonderfully" made young woman who deserves love and admiration. Witemeyer gives the reader the enjoyable experience of watching these two learn and grow, while banding together to help one another. And Spoil Alert! There is a happy ending. ;)
I'd highly recommend this book. It's well written, keeps you interested until the very end, and is a joy to read. Karen never disappoints.
I give it an 8/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....