Hi everyone! I know it’s been ages since I last did one of these, but the reasons why actually lead on quite nicely to what I’m talking about today. As most of you know by now, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while (if you’re new, then welcome!), I am a Uni student, in my third year at University of Stirling doing a joint History and Journalism degree. Earlier this year, I did a discussion post about Tips For New Book Bloggers and it was pretty well received, so I thought I’d do another Tips post, but this time for Student Book Bloggers. It’s a big change for anyone, starting Uni and I know that when I started, I was worried about how I was going to balance my blog with everything else. So I thought that today I’d put together a list of tips, things I’ve learned over the last three years blogging at Uni, in the hopes that I will be able to help out next year’s crop of student book bloggers and any students currently at Uni who are struggling to keep up their blog whilst at Uni. I hope you guys find these tips helpful:
- Find a schedule (or not) that works for you
I personally don’t schedule my blog posts, I know a lot of people swear by it, but for me, I’m not really a planner so it doesn’t work. I have a rough idea of what I’m doing in any given week/month, Top Ten Tuesdays, reviews, TBR updates and discussion posts are my staples and I write Quarterly Rewinds as and when needed, but I never schedule any of it in advance, I just sit and write in the moment because that’s what works for me. However, if you are a big planner, then a schedule might be the perfect thing for you, you can sit and write all your blog posts on one given day of the week. It all depends on what works for you.
2. Travel is your new best friend
Seriously. You will never have so much free time as when you’re travelling between home and Uni (assuming that you don’t go to Uni in your home town), it’s a great time to get reading done/blog posts written (assuming you’re on transport with Wifi), so make the most of it. When I’m on the train home, I have five hours to spare, and you can get so much reading done in that time. Even if you’re just on the train or on the bus somewhere, it’s a great chance to sneak in some extra reading (if you don’t get motion sickness, I’ve been told a lot that I’m weird for being able to read on public transport, so if this doesn’t apply to you then I’m sorry!).
3. Always set aside some time in your day to read
You will get busy when you’re at Uni. It’s a fact. Between classes, friends, clubs, nights out, essays, it seems like things will never stop and it’s easy to forget about reading. This is why one of my tips is to always set aside some time in the day when you’re going to read. This will give you a chance to decompress, which if you’re an introvert like me, is essential, it’s also an easy way to keep up with your own personal reading whilst you’re at Uni. Even if it’s just half an hour that you can squeeze in between classes, it’s worth it. Personally I read before I go to bed, it’s a habit I’ve had since I was a kid, and a great way to relax and decompress at the end of the day. It also gave me a sense of comfort when I first started at Uni because even when everything was changing, I always had that hour at the end of the day where it could just be me and my book.
4. Pick your reads carefully
I’m sure you all already do this, but when you’re at Uni, it’s twice as important. You will probably have less time to read when you’re at Uni, so you want to pick books that you’re pretty certain you’ll enjoy, there’s nothing worse than being overwhelmed with Uni work and struggling through a bad book at the same time. Also take into account your reading speed and workload when it comes to picking your reads. My first year of Uni, I only managed to read 3 books, I think part of that was just the whole starting Uni thing, but I also wasn’t very good at managing reading and blogging with my new workload. The past two years I’ve managed to read a lot more and part of that is being better at managing my workload, but the other part is picking books carefully. I am a slow reader, one book every two weeks for the most part (summer is an exception, I have more free time and read more), and so I have adjusted that accordingly with Uni. For the most part I read books that are on average between 300-500 pages because that’s what works for me. I save the 500 page plus books for the summer when I have more time to devote to them. It might be different for you, but you have to find what works. If you have lots of assignments or during an exam week, it might be better to read a shorter book. If you’re having a light week, go for that hefty book! It’s all about working out what the best book is for the amount of time you have.
5. Your work comes first. Take a break when you have to/need to
Blogging is a great thing to have and it’s a nice way to relax from Uni, but ultimately you are there to get your degree. Your work always has to come first. If you have to take a few weeks off from your blog because they are particularly heavy with assignments then do that. If you have to take a few weeks off because your mental health is suffering, then do that. NEVER feel like you are obligated to blog. Your readers will understand and be there for you when you are ready to come back, when your work load is less stressful.
6. Reading e-ARCs whilst watching Netflix is a great way to get more read
If you’re like me, then most days, you will feel more like watching Netflix in your down time. However, there is a way you can binge watch your favourite shows and get reading done. When you’re just chilling watching Netflix, you can always knock some of your e-ARCs out the park whilst doing it. This obviously won’t work for everyone, as I know some people like silence whilst they read, but if you’re like me and don’t mind a little background noise, then throwing on an old TV show you’ve watched thousand of times whilst knocking out an e-ARC, is not a terrible idea.
7. Don’t go request crazy and don’t be afraid to turn down offers if you don’t have time
That last one leads quite nicely onto this one. Don’t go request crazy on Netgalley, Edelweiss or whatever other platform you use, or for physical ARCs either. I made that mistake recently and now I’m trying to catch up with 4 or 5 ARCs that all came out in September/October. So be conservative with e-ARC requests when you start/go back to Uni. You may not have as much time as you’d think to read them. You also don’t need to accept every blog tour, review or whatever other requests you get. You don’t want to be overwhelmed with stuff for your blog as well as Uni, blogging is supposed to be fun, if it’s becoming as stressful as Uni, then you’re taking on too much. It’s okay to get a few e-ARCs and do some blog tours if you have time for them, but don’t take on everything. Publishers will be far more understanding if you explain you have Uni and you don’t have time to do everything right now, than if you take on something and then don’t deliver because you don’t have time.
8. Uni doesn’t necessarily have to be a barrier to your blogging. You’re having a whole new set of experiences, use them!
Yes you are busier, yes you might not have as much time to devote to your blog as you did when you were at home, but look at this way, you are having all these new experiences that you can write about! Personally, I don’t blog about Uni much, I tend to steer clear of more personal posts, but if you do write personal posts, then going to Uni could add a whole new aspect to your blog, it doesn’t have to be a barrier, it could be an inspiration!
9. Adjust your Goodreads challenge accordingly
If you’re a student book blogger using Goodreads, which I feel like most of us are, then you likely do the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Now before Uni you might have been managing 70, 80 even 100 books a year. The likelihood is, when you’re at Uni, you might need to adjust this a little. There will be weeks when you’re so overwhelmed with deadlines that you won’t get as much reading done as you’d like. So don’t pressure yourself! If you’re going to do the Goodreads Challenge set it slightly lower than you usually would. That way, you can adjust up if your reading is going well, but you can also adjust down if you have a really heavy assignment week. The point is balance. Be realistic about how much you are able to read alongside your deadlines, it’s all very well challenging yourself, but you don’t want to have a breakdown mid year when you realise a) your assignments are kicking your butt and b) you’re behind on your Goodreads challenge. There also may come points in Uni when you get a bit slumpy because you have so much work to do and you’re just not in the mood to read, so take that into consideration too.
10. Have fun!
I know this is cliche and I included it in my last tips post, but it really is the most important thing, both with your blog and your Uni experience in general. You want to be having fun with it, so make sure your blog is something that you’re doing to have fun, relax and destress, if it starts feeling like a chore or an obligation, reevaluate, take a break and hopefully come back with a fresh pair of eyes and a renewed excitement for your blog.
So that’s it, my tips for student book bloggers! If you are a student book blogger, chime in, I want to hear what your tips for blogging at Uni are. If you’re a book blogger (or any other type of blogger) about to go into Uni, is there anything you’d like to know? Not just about blogging whilst at Uni, but Uni in general? Let me know in the comments!
As it’s so late in October that I’ve got this up, I don’t think I’ll have another post this month for you (I know, I know, the two posts a month thing this year hasn’t always been the best, again Uni), but I will have another discussion post for you next month, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I feel like now’s finally the time to talk about it, so I’m going to be talking about the weird place of twenty somethings in the YA community. I’d like to talk to some other twenty something bloggers for this, so if you are a twenty something blogger with Twitter then please hit me up, I’d love to hear your opinions. In the meantime, I’m planning on starting my new writing feature, hopefully tomorrow, so stay tuned for that.