Thinking About The Pen Habit


For those of you who follow The Pen Habit, you may have already heard about his announcement to cease recording his pen review videos and the subsequent follow-up about amending his format and explain in more detail his reasoning. Matt’s comments rang loudly for me about the amount of time he spends preparing and recording his reviews, not to mention the amount of money he has spent on pens.

Matt’s decision came on the heels on  Brad’s recent announcement to cease publishing his weekly Ink Links.

All of this led me to think about what I do and why I do it. How much time (and money) is too much to spend on a hobby? Its made me wonder if I should reconsider how much time I spend doing this blog versus actually living and reading and writing?

I have not made any decisions one way or the other because I like what I do. However, every week I do struggle to stay on top of all my reviews as well as working my full-time job and all those daily tasks that often get overlooked to squeeze in one more blog post, photo shoot, photo editing session or some other blog-related project.

I love this community. I love pens and inks and paper and all the other things to make a beautiful place to work. So bear with me while I get over my own growing pains.

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19 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Well, however you are able to come to some sort of workable solution for you, I am grateful for your work up to this point…and I certainly appreciate how much work can be involved!

    For me, the real marker became, “Is it fun anymore?” This hobby/habit is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. I’m sure you’ll figure out a situation that works best for you, and know that we’ll be happy to consume whatever work you create.

    1. You are totally right. The most important question is, “Is this fun?” At present, its still lots of fun and the thing I most like to do. But I think its always good to stop and think about it. When you mentioned that you were reviewing products you didn’t want or like, that was a wake-up call for me too. I don’t want to only review things I know I will like but I also don’t want to turn this into something I dread. Thanks for being my sounding board.

      1. I think it is not uncommon for anyone who blogs about something they are passionate about, hobby or otherwise, to hit a wall. I think most people who have been around the internet long enough will recognize this as commonplace, either from watching it happen repeatedly to others or experiencing it themselves.

        There is no shame in taking a break to re-evaluate, to reduce the amount of time devoted to the blog or stopping altogether. I’d take it one step further than asking yourself if it’s still fun and instead suggest; ‘do you stress about it?’ If so? Step back. Step back now. Don’t apologize. Explain perhaps but remember that this isn’t a job and if it no longer makes you happy, then you need to figure out why you are doing it & whether or not it’s worth it.

        Good Luck 🙂

  2. It’s always good to look at your life now and then, good to place your time in good alignment to your life’s needs and goals. But know how much I learn from your blog – I really appreciate your great posts.

  3. I love your posts and look forward to reading them. That said, I completely understand where you (and others) are coming from about the commitment involved in doing reviews. I know it has to take a lot of time to put together one review and how precious time with family and friends can be. I am a pilot and am gone from my family for up to 6 days at a time and typically have 2-3 days off after and on those days off I am practically nonexistent on social media because I would rather spend that time with my family.

    Regardless of which path you choose, I will gladly support it. Thanks for all your time and for the excellent posts thus far

  4. I enjoy your posts and will forever love the “Good Mail” stamp I ordered from you. If continuing with your blog makes you happy then you have your answer. But if you find yourself wanting to do something else it’s time to take up that challenge. Balance in life is key, you only go around once, eh ?

    1. Speaking of the “Good Mail” stamp, that’s the other thing I need to make sure I leave time for. I want to make more stamp designs and make sure I keep the shop stocked. That said, I’m not going anywhere but I may need to reconsider how many posts per week I do.

    1. I am not planning to go anywhere but I just needed to say these things out loud. Seeing other prominent bloggers struggle with the whys and hows made me feel like I could bring it up too.

  5. I can see how you could get burnt out trying to keep on top of all the new products and posting as many wonderful reviews as you do. One of the nice things about blogging, or at least I’ve found, is that you can take a hiatus for a while to regroup, then come back to your loyal fans. Honestly, I don’t know how you do it. I’m having enough trouble keeping up with this monthly challenge I decided to do of writing a post a day. Hang in there and when all else fails, have a cup of tea. That is not to make light of anything, but sometimes having a cup of tea does help settle you down. Or coffee (since I’m a huge fan of coffee as well )

    1. Thanks for the kind words and I’m sipping tea right now. And I found candy corn. My favorite seasonal treat! Things look brighter already.

  6. It’s always good to identify “pain points” before they become too big to overcome, and then you come to resent something you previously enjoyed. When I was in school, I came to resent reading, which I had previously loved, because as an English major, I was given so much reading I couldn’t keep up with it and none of the books were enjoyable or entertaining, and I had to attempt to analyze them as I read, which took even more pleasure out of the task. I ended up switching majors, and I couldn’t enjoy reading for years. I’m happy to say I’ve recovered and again love reading. But I would never wish that kind of experience on anyone else! It’s always good to stop and take a moment to think about what you’re doing, especially when it’s something like keeping up a blog, as that can be incredibly time consuming. There’s definitely a big difference between something you want to do versus something you HAVE to do. That said, I very much enjoy your blog, so I hope it continues to be something you love and want to do, even if you have to take a step back sometimes!

  7. It’s a good idea to think about things the way you are right now. I am so grateful for this blog, for you and for how much fun I have just reading your voice in this work. I think it’s smart to consider fewer posts and see how you feel. Whatever you decide, another dedicated reader supports you. Maybe some guest posts too?

  8. You’re pretty much amazing.

    The timing of these thoughts mixed with Matt’s are very interesting. I think this is something we all go through from time to time (pen bloggers I guess). I’ve had times where I posted 4 times a week and others 1 time a week for a month straight it seemed. If we feel we have to fit a tight “schedule” it is pretty much work, right? If our goal is to generate revenue off of the blog itself, then that may be a good plan, but as a hobby there needs to be life/blog/work balance.

    One of the big questions is “do I control the hobby or does the hobby control me?” There have been times where I fought with this or even became concerned that I was spending more time than I should on it. Although, I suppose it takes a little bit of a fanatic to spend our evenings writing about pens… : )

    Reflecting on it is good. Puts things into a real perspective when you get things out on the table.

  9. I enjoy what you do. I know I had to scale back some of my crafty jobs as it became a “JOB” and I wasn’t enjoying the cards I was making for others. They wanted some very interesting cards and they would take me a long while to do and really, I started hating my own work! Now, I make cards for people when I can, and am choosy about the ones I take on. I still recall making a giraffe card dressed like a chef, cooking oatmeal (kid you not) for someone. It made them happy to give, but I felt stressed. Now, I set time aside to blog when I can, and creating time for me. PS. I also love the stamps I got from you that you made. I use them on my envelopes and pen pal letters!

  10. I don’t comment often, but I LOVE your blog and I check it several times per week. I barely follow any other blogs. I find your posts soothing for my brain, and I value your opinion.

  11. Your reviews are wonderful, and I consistently come back to your blog to check for new information. As long as you are still finding your hobby enjoyable, and that it doesn’t become another job, the amount of time spent on it is really up to you.

  12. I’ve spent about an hour mulling on this post and the resulting (insightful) comments. You’ve hit a nerve and I thank you for sharing your soul-search with your readers. For a very long time you’ve given us the gift of your thoughtful, generous blog and I’ve also very much enjoyed your spots on the podcast. Give yourself permission to change. We’ll either get to enjoy you as we always have or maybe see a posted comment out in the interwebs here and there. Either way, thank you, Ana. You are a treasure.

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