Tuesday, 28 August 2012

My review writing agony

When I started blogging I'd never written a review before. I had only just started keeping a record of all the books I had read on Goodreads and although I was happy to squeee about my favourite books with the girls at UK Book Swap I hadn't really written more than a few lines about the books I was reading. I'm a pretty fast reader but I've never really found writing reviews easy or natural. I find it really time consuming and I usually go through a couple of drafts, okay loads of drafts, before I'm happy with what I've come up with. I still worry my reviews are too long, too short, not funny, a bit of a ramble, too spoilerish or just plain boring. I'm definitely a reader rather than a writer (which is blatantly obvious when you read my reviews!). Occasionally I go back and look at old reviews and think did I actually write that? I did, but it took me a looooong time to get the review to that stage. Am I perfectionist? Yeah probably, but I really wish I was more of a natural writer.

As a fast reader I never really worry about not having read enough books to talk about. I probably only review about a half of the books I've read mostly because I don't want to stop and take time out to write reviews. As a blogger I have much more access to books then I've ever had through Net Galley, Edelweiss, publishers and authors but I'm not convinced I savour books as much as I used to in my pre-blogging days and I certainly never seem to have the time to re-read my old favourites like I used to.

I made a conscious decision this year to chill out about blogging, I'm not saving lives here I'm only talking about books and I know the blogging police won't arrest me if I don't have new content on my blog every day. However, I still wonder if I put myself under pressure to read fast to get through all my review books. I hate the fact that I think about getting through books, because reading shouldn't be a chore it really should be just for fun. I know that my reluctance to write reviews causes me to pile up the reviews I need to write. I hardly ever write a review just after I've finished a book because I'm too greedy to get onto the next book and I know it will take me ages to write a review so the reviews pile up and up. As a result, I often have review writing days where I have to blitz all my outstanding reviews. I hate it because I sometimes think I'm churning it out rather than lovingly crafting a review. So, although I've chilled out a bit I think I still have a long way to go.

I guess I was just wondering if anyone else agonises over writing reviews? I hope someone else does! (I feel like bursting into song here, "All by Myself" by Celine Dion springs to mind) I bought this cool little notepad to help me keep on track with my review writing.

I don't know if it will actually help or not or whether it's just my addiction to buying stationery (that's another story for another day!) which meant I couldn't pass buy without buy it. I know I just need to get into the habit of writing a review once I've finished a book and chillax a bit more but I'm seriously crap at taking my own advice.

P.S I realise this is a big giant ramble but just humour me will you? Oh and if anyone has any review writing tips I'd love to hear them.


  1. I have major issues writing reviews too! I've started to force myself to write the review as soon as I'm done reading the book. Because if I don't then I never seem to get around to it. It doesn't matter if I like the book or not. Although I've found with books I don't like it is a bit harder since I want to be able to say exactly why I didn't like the book and not bash it in the process. But even with books I like I have a hard time because I don't want to sound like I'm just gushing over the book without a reason too.
    I think I stall on writing reviews because I'm absolutely terrified that someone will read my review and tell me I'm an idiot. (I've had someone tell me this before and nobody died...but still I get paranoid.) I need one of those book journals. If only so I can have a neat place to list all of the books I need to review and then cross them off as I'm done them so I at least feel like I've accomplished something!

  2. Yes. I agree completely. My friend Andrea and I have had these same thoughts lately. I have piles of books that I've bought that haven't been read yet, because of reviews. Now, I take the blame of course, because I can so NO, but it's hard for me sometimes. So, I'm focusing on getting what I have left done this year and will limit myself more next year. Great post!

  3. Yes!! You've pretty much summed up my exact thoughts. I take full blame for overwhelming myself, and am determined to make a change. Thank you for your words of inspiration!

  4. Phew, you have all made me feel so much better I was worried I was the only person who found review writing hard.

    @AimeeKay- I need to get into the habit too of reviewing once I've finished and I've read your reviews and can't see why ANYONE would tell you that you're an idiot. CLEARLY they are the idiots!!!

    @The Autumn Review- It is hard to say no isn't it? I'm getting better at it I think, but then I don't want to miss the opportunity to read and review a really good book!

    @Andrea- We can be determined to make a change together then!!! Glad you liked the post too, that's cheered me up no end:)

  5. I'm totally with you Lesley, I used to just do it for fun and fit it around what I wanted to read but now I fit 'my reads' in with reviews and I feel the review books dictate what I read now and now I only write reviews for books i've taken on rather than for what I've enjoyed. I enjoy doing it - I love reading authors that I wouldn't necessarily have read if I wasn't reviewing but I think I need to start being a bit more choosy in what I accept plus nothing is exciting me the way it used to - you know ?

  6. I just wanted to let you know that NO you are NOT ALONE! I have been running KindleObsessed for 3 years now and it took me until about a month ago to realize I needed to calm the crap down. Like you, I take forever to write a review. Mine are usually pretty long, and I try to open my reviews with a personal note (and that's not always easy.) Because I put so much stress on myself to write an outstanding relatable review, I don't get as many out to the public as I would like (aka I read more books than I write reviews for...like you.) Because of THIS my stress level spikes. "Oh no, I didn't post 3 (which is what I aim for) reviews this week!" "OMG - the publishers are going to think I'm slacking off!" These were constantly running through my head, or were until last month. Last month I had a full blown breakdown when it came to my blogging. Crying, obsessing, threatening to throw it all away. Not because I no longer liked books. But because reading was no longer fun for me. I was reading 5 books a week, staying up ALL night, and NEVER reading anything I actually bought for myself anymore. I was no longer reading I was analyzing. In short...I was reading to clear my TBR and that's NOT OK. So I took some time off. (aka I basically fell off the face of the Earth for almost 2 weeks.) I didn't get on my FB fan page, I avoided Twitter...I didn't even check my blog for comments or hits. I just shut it all down. I watched movies, I took my kids out. I cooked all day. And then...I thought about what my blog meant to me. And I figured out it was my way to chat it up with other book lovers. Nothing more. Did I write reviews? Yes. But I did other things too. I introduced people to other book lovers. I shared amazing book trailers I found, or excerpts of upcoming books. And I did it all for THE LOVE OF BOOKS! Which I was slowing flushing down the drain by pressuring myself. So THIS is what I do now. I do what I can WHEN I can. I read a TBR book. I write the review. I post it when I feel it's ready (regardless of when that is) and then... I read a book for me. NOT TO REVIEW. I disappeared for 2 WEEKS and you know what happened? I got 200 emails from my followers simply asking me if I was ok. Not...where have you been? When are you going to review a freaking book? Where the hell is Tuesday Newbies? And when I told them I decided to take a break, do you know what their response was? Awesome! You deserve it. Enjoy your vacation, I look forward to seeing what you have for us whenever you decide to come back. That is the moment I realized that the people that follow my blog are just like me...readers who just like to read about books. They aren't watching to see how many posts I can manage in a week or how active I am. They take what I post and appreciate it for what it is. Something I did without being ASKED. So my advice to you (after ALL of that rambling) is.... it's just a blog. Read what you want to read, when you want to read it. Write what you want to write, when you want to write it, and remember that it's not life or death... it's JUST A BLOG! And causing yourself to stress out about it, will only cause you to despise it. Hope that helps. Good luck hon. xoxo - Misty

  7. Aw no like the other ladies said you definitely aren't on your own. I have a really hard time with reviews too. I always feel like I'm saying way too much but then when I try to trim them it doesn't feel like enough. I'm trying to remind myself it's just for fun and not to worry too much over it. Still every time I push that "publish" button my heart kicks up a notch ;)

    Love that journal. I got a new one today for reviews from B&N that has Penguin books on it.

  8. Oh don't worry Lesley, you're definitely not alone! I usually try to force myself to write the review as soon as I'm done (maybe a day or two later) because if I put it off, the number of reviews that I need to write just pile up! Sometimes I look at the books that I'm supposed to review for authors and I get a little panicky thinking "oh no, what if it's taking me too long to read through them and post" so I should probably be more choosy in the review requests I take on in the future...
    Great post Lesley! And I love that book review planner! :)

  9. I rarely write a review as soon as I finish a book because I just don't have the time during the week. I do most of my blogging and review writing at weekends when I can take a couple of hours to put together some vaguely coherent sentances and content! Altough this usually runs into the evening when I should be cooking which is why there are a lot of food metaphors in my reviews!
    I try to limited the review books I have just because I feel like they are obligations rather books I will read anyway...my requests to netgalley have slowed considerably in the last couple of months so I can try to finish the ones I have and the books already in my towering TBR pile.
    I do find it stressful trying to get the balance right in reviews - one of the reasons why mine are quite short...especially as on occasion authors do read their reviews!


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