I typically talk about Twitter-related controversies in my discussion series. But I’ve wanted to discuss why reviews are so bloody hard to write. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been blogging. Reviews are intimidating. And sometimes, you just don’t feel like writing them. And given that I’m behind on my reviews, I’m okay with that. It takes a lot of effort to write just one. Just imagine writing two or more a week.
We bloggers are up against a lot: competition, other platforms that demand more of our time, life, work, and reading and blogging slumps. When life gets in the way of blogging, reviews don’t truly matter. They don’t. But guilt eats at you and me. So why are they so damn difficult?
Here are some reasons that stick out to me:
You Aren’t a Professional Critic, so Don’t Write like One
Do you get paid by the word? No. Do you get paid, period? No. So why are trying to be professional about it? And who are you trying to impress? Even if you have 5,000 followers, you’re competing against everyone, even critics who do get paid. Just show your true voice, not the voice you want people to hear. There’s a reason why they keep coming back to your blog, so follow what you’ve been doing.
You Forgot to Write Notes about the Book You’ve Read
I do this. And unfortunately, I have several (many) reviews where I’ve forgotten what has happened, how I felt about the characters or story, and why I loved or didn’t love the book. Writing notes is more important than you think. They can remind of the pivotal issues or points you want to bring up in your review. So don’t forget to use them. Even if you make point form ones in your review post, then you’re better off.
You Take Your Reviews Too Seriously
Why so serious? Sorry, I had to. I had no choice in the matter. Anyways. You shouldn’t take reviewing so seriously. Even writing a ismini-review is fine, especially if you’re reviewing an ARC. Many publicists or their assistants aren’t looking for long reviews. They’re looking into the reasons why the book is great, why you love it, and why you’re promoting said title. Even if you aren’t reviewing an ARC, you don’t need to take it so seriously.
Many of my reviews have a lower viewer rating for that day. So sometimes, even when you write a great review, that doesn’t mean you’ll get a lot of eyes on it. Instead, have fun writing it.
You Don’t Have a Review Outline You Can Follow
I’ve created my own outline. And it starts like this:
- a hook to draw the readers in
- mini overview of the book (or will integrate it into multiple sections of the review)
- the major selling points consisting of characters, character development, storytelling and plot, the writing, and any tropes I love
- the ending
I’ve followed it since I’ve been blogging. Now I’ve seen other reviewers do the same. And I’ve also seen other bloggers who went with a different outline. Sometimes though, an outline doesn’t exist, and you simply write what’s in your head. Go with whatever works for you and stick with it. Consistency is key for any blogger.
You Don’t Give Yourself Enough Time between Books to Collect Your Thoughts
Yup, I’m with you here as well. Once I finish a book, the next day, I’m onto the next. I usually give myself a week to read a book so I can reach my Goodreads Challenge. Unfortunately, I don’t always have that timeline though, especially if I take more than seven days to read a book, so I’m behind on my challenge. I rush from one book to the next sometimes. Other times, I do need some space between the books so I know how I’m thinking about the novel.
Don’t rush this process. You need the time to process your thoughts and the reasons why you want to review the book.
You’ve Put Too Much Pressure onto Yourself
Stop that! Yes, now. You don’t need that pressure. We bloggers face enough of it, especially self-imposed stress. If you don’t feel like writing that review, then don’t force yourself. If you need another day, give yourself that. Or you’ll hate the review and won’t appreciate it as much as you would have if you hadn’t pushed yourself.