The Responsibility of Having a Successful Idea

Posted 1 June, 2012 by Amanda / 26 Comments

I say successful idea here rather than good idea because there are tons of good ideas that, for whatever reason, never turn successful — even if they should.

You all know the kind of successful ideas I’m talking about.  Follow Friday.  Waiting on Wednesday.  Teaser Tuesday.  Bloggiesta.  Dewey’s Readathon.  Bout of Books.

The continued success of these memes and events is not by chance.  They fill a need within the community, and they do it well enough that people come flocking to it.  But it requires a lot of work.

Like, A LOT of work.

Though I wouldn’t want to speak for any other host, I have been in charge of running Bout of Books, and I can talk about that event.  We’ve had four readathons since August 2011.  During that time, I’ve learned a bit about what it means to have an idea of yours explode into something that many people love and enjoy.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret:

Sometimes I hate it.

Having a successful idea means that you are regulated to a supervisory role, and you can never recapture the fun you had when your job was minimal, or for me, when I was still naive about the process.

The fun is for your participants.

My work behind the scenes begins at least a month before the readathon starts.  I have a 2.5 page checklist that only scratches the surface of everything that I need to accomplish in the time it takes me to set up and run Bout of Books.  The checklist does not bear witness to the multitude of questions that I consider when planning:

Do the dates of the readathon work for both me and many people?  Are there any other events going on around the same time that might interfere or overlap?  Should there be challenges or co-hosts?  Which seems to work better for the greatest number of people?  Which is easier for me to deal with?  How do I choose challenges?  Do I stick with people I’m familiar with or do I take a chance on people I don’t know if I can rely on so we have new blood in the readathon?  How do I make sure everyone gets a day they want?  How are we going to run @boutofbooks?  Do we need to prepare a schedule?  What is going to be the most efficient way of disseminating the important information?  How can I make the important information visible so I don’t get 20 million questions about the the same thing?  How do I prepare for the unexpected?

And so on.  This doesn’t include the amount of time I spend emailing people, creating the google forms, setting up the linky for each day, writing the daily posts, writing the sign up post, fixing the pages to reflect current information, and answering questions that both challenge hosts and participants have.  Nor does it include the time I play administrator during the readathon to ensure everything goes according to plan, tweaking things here and there to make information easier to see, or clarifying something that seems to cause confusion, or trying to get people to follow directions.

Running Bout of Books is a job I don’t get paid for.  I rarely even get acknowledgement for the work that I do in order to make Bout of Books run as smoothly as it does.  If I get frustrated or upset by people, I’m not allowed to vent.  I must smile and be friendly to everyone.  It doesn’t matter how hard I’ve worked, how stressed I am, or how shitty my own week has been.  As the host, you must always be on your best behavior.  And then there are people who don’t even connect me with the readathon anymore.

I don’t say this to whine about not being appreciated enough.  I say this to emphasize that planning an event or hosting a meme is a lot of thankless work.  Bout of Books was only fun for me the first time around.  With each successive readathon, I’ve spent more time in the background and focused on my reading rather than actively participating in blog hopping and networking, which happens to be a big part of why we’re so successful.  If I try to run the readathon AND participate in it, I burn myself out in a day or two.  This past Bout of Books, Kelly kicked me off Twitter in the middle of one of my Twitter manning session because I was on the verge of having a meltdown and/or anxiety attack.  That’s not good when there are seven days to get through.

When so many people decided to stop participating in IMM and a very small number turned to Clock Rewinders, I could easily see how CR would progress in a similar fashion to Bout of Books.  Not on the same scale, and much less work, of course, but two weeks of Clock Rewinders with more than 10 people, and the responsibility overwhelmed any fun I could have.

I began to hate Clock Rewinders.

This is a big part of the reason why Tara and I decided to scrap the linky.  Clock Rewinders is our baby, and I wasn’t willing to let it go the same route as Bout of Books.  At least with the readathon, I don’t have to do it every week.

The thing about your idea gaining momentum and popularity is that people begin to change your idea from whatever you intended to whatever suits their purposes.  In effect, you lose possession and control over your own idea.  There are still always going to be people who have been with you from the start, who have read your directions and information, and understand and respect the idea.  But some people don’t.  Some people see it as an easy way to gain more hits on their blog, or get more followers.  Even if that is the intention, it can be twisted from a well-meant idea to blatant self-promotion with seemingly little regard to anything else.

You either have to learn to accept it, or make serious changes.

Filed under: Discussion,


26 Responses to “The Responsibility of Having a Successful Idea”

  1. “The thing about your idea gaining momentum and popularity is that people begin to change your idea from whatever you intended to whatever suits their purposes.”

    Seriously, yes… and THIS kind of thing is hard… and something I worry about with events or memes or anything I do with other people… I worry they think *I’m* going to change something, but, yeah… Amanda, I’m really glad you did what works for you. Like you’ve said: others can do clock rewinders, but you’re keeping it about you and Tara and what works for you. Very thoughtful, fabulous post. I’m organising an event with a friend at the moment, and the work is extraordinary. I feel you. *hugs*

    • I think that changing something is a part of human nature — it’s bound to happen. It’s what we do to make it a part of our own space. And when you have an idea that takes off, you have to learn that people aren’t going to do it the way you intended it to be. It’s a tough lesson. At least for me.

      Good luck with your event! It can get a little crazy.

  2. This sounds like it was a very cathartic post. I am sorry that the fun has been sucked out of Bout of Books for you, as well as CR. I feel terrible and don’t even want to participate in CR now. I’ve felt that way since your announcement, but this makes it more personal. I feel like I’m intruding in your special place, and damn if I want to go there…

    I hope this hasn’t affected your thoughts about blogging. Please don’t go!

    • Don’t feel that way, Ash! I never meant to discourage people from posting CR, but so many people view CR as a meme (whereas I see it as a feature) and I just wanted to address why I couldn’t continue hosting it — why I never intended to be the host of anything. It’s a lot of work and I was frustrated with how some people were treating it. That’s ALL.

      For the record, you are part of this camp:

      “There are still always going to be people who have been with you from the start, who have read your directions and information, and understand and respect the idea.”

      I love your CR posts, and I would be sad if you stopped. But I have actually seen someone tweet something like “Clock Rewinders – Come see the books I got!” And that right there is what tires me out and makes me frustrated with the whole process. So I’ve given myself permission to ignore the people who ignore what CR was intended to be.

      When I wrote this post, I think I was in the middle of Bout of Books, and I was struggling with a lot of the work. I thought that people need to be aware that behind ANY blogging event is a lot of time and effort being spent without reward. Events don’t just magically appear fully formed, and they certainly don’t run smoothly on their own.

      • I always thought it was something strictly between you and Tara, and then others started to slowly join (Kelly & Ruby) and I wanted in. I always enjoyed the variety of it and really enjoy reading everyone’s posts. They are always highly entertaining and informative.

        I commend you and Tara for wanting to pump up the community aspect of blogging and I think it’s something we all love very, very much about our hobby. I feel special for being part of your feature and I will always uphold the purpose CR. YOU are appreciated and I adore you to pieces. I know you haven’t always felt that and I completely get it. I feel that way mostly every day in my line of work.

        Keep your head up and reach out to your peeps when you need us! ♥

        • *huggles you* I know I wrote about the starts of CR as a meme, but I don’t recall if I ever posted it. Anyway: I said, “Yes,” when Ruby asked me if she could do a CR post, too, and that’s how others joined in as well (imagine that if I had said no to begin with?). I was content with it staying small. I loved it that way. But it broke down after more started joining after all the SS drama and I couldn’t take it. So I made changes. I felt like most of my “announcements” on the CR posts themselves weren’t really clear about why certain changes were being made, and this allowed me to explain things a bit more, and also to address a lot of the thankless work that is Bout of Books. Which I adore organizing, but constantly get burnt out when it comes to making sure it runs smoothly. It’s an exercise in patience, and sometimes I lack that.

  3. This is why I am glad that Top Off Tuesdays stayed small and we are able to be silly with it! Someone asked why I don’t advertise it more and I was like “frankly I like it just how it is”. I would have to take it way more seriously if it was bigger and I like being a goof!

    I appreciated all your work with Bout of Books but I can totally see where it could be a bigger job than work. It is why I don’t “plan” any events and only a handful of blog friends (you included) can get me to participate in them. I don’t want the fun sucked out of my blogging but I also don’t want to feel like it is a job.

    This is a great post :) Fantastic even —ok now I sound like that cartoon character!

    You should do what makes blogging fun to you because I certainly don’t want you to disappear!

    • Felicia, I totally agree about Top Off Tuesdays. I love that it’s small, and I think that’s why I didn’t mind when people wanted to do their own CR posts. It wasn’t a big deal, I was following those people anyway, so it wasn’t like it was a lot of extra work. And I liked to see what everyone else found.

      Once it got bigger my head exploded and seeing new people join actually made me more sad than excited. That’s when I knew I had to do something to bring it back to something that I loved to do.

      Between Bout of Books and this, I think I’ve come to realize that I have to balance good ideas with the time and effort it takes to implement them. Because you are so right: blogging has to be fun for me.

  4. Well said, Amanda! The Giraffe Shifters approve of this post. They whispered it in my ear as they were peering in my window.

    Until I worked behind the scenes on Bout of Books, I knew that a lot of time and energy went into having a big event run smoothly but KNOWING and EXPERIENCING it are two entirely different things. The people who can pull it off week after week impress me.

    You impress me, also. *huggles you*

  5. I can’t even imagine how much work something like Bout of Books takes to get off the ground, I have enough trouble just doing my own review/interview posts and keeping up with them! There are even times when my review schedule sucks some of the fun out of blogging – all of a sudden I’ve gone from reading whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to having an organized list that I have to methodically go through. Like you said, it’s not really a complaint, just something you didn’t really realize would happen when you started.

    I’m glad you’ve given yourself a break with Clock Rewinders, I don’t want you to get burnt out and leave blogging, I would miss you entirely too much! And yes, I managed to turn your issues with Bout of Books into something about me ;)

    • Actually, I think you make a good point, though — as long as we have never done something for ourselves, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like until you’re actually doing it. I never imagined that blogging would take as much time as it does, but it’s something that I wouldn’t ever want to give up. I think it’s a matter of finding a balance and whatever works for you. For me, it was turning Clock Rewinders back into a feature.

  6. You’re amazing for doing all that you do! I started a weekly feature a couple of months ago and, even though it’s really no big thing, it’s work. I can’t imagine how much more it could be if it ever grew. That’s kind of why I do my own thing, focusing more on the commenting than on the creation or participation in memes/giveaways/etc. Still, there are some that catch my eye (like Bout of Books and Top Off Tuesdays) that I can’t help myself with.

    Do what you have to do. This is an unpaid HOBBY that’s supposed to be fun. If people complain about you dropping something, whatevs. You don’t want to do things that suck the fun and enjoyment out of blogging; you certainly don’t want to lose the love and then quit. That would really suck!

    Hang with those crazy giraffe shifters, have a drink, read a book, and ENJOY! :)

    • I generally like to do my own thing, too. I just never thought that more people participating in CR would be a bad thing, and I was like, “Hey! This is community, so we’ll all link up to each other,” without realizing that once it extended beyond the blogs already in my Google reader, I would have to give up too much time and energy to play the host, which is never something I wanted to do to begin with.

      I do feel slightly bad for discouraging people from participating in CR (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not), but in the end, I had to do what is best for me.

      And, I think I shall do as you suggest. :)

  7. I know your pain, sistah!

    I am proud of the success we’ve had with certain features, namely RAK but there is a WHOLE lot of work that goes into it and you’re right, it sucks the fun right out of it. Shortly after we launched RAK and it started gaining momentum, we’d have people emailing and tweeting us things like, “When is the next RAK starting? what time is the post going up? When can we do our wrap-up? Have you updated the doc? Can you change this or that for me?” Etc. It got to be too much. In an attempt to organize the questions thrown at us, we created an email account specifically for RAK but then we starting getting over 100 emails a month in that account too (in addition to our reg blog account)! I’d be full of shit if I didn’t say it gets overwhelming!

    Truth is that I do love blogging but lately I’ve really been questioning if I’m any good at it anymore and it’s RAK that’s really kept me around. We’ve invested so much time and energy into it, I’d hate to let it die and I’d really hate to see someone else take it over. I’m a little possessive like that! lol

    I’m sorry that you haven’t always felt appreciated! I think sometimes we ALL forget how much effort it takes to run a successful feature/meme/event/blog or all of the above, lol. You have done an INCREDIBLE job with Bout of Books and CR :)

    Huggles you hard!

    • Dear Goddess, I think I would go crazy if I had to run RAK. And I think having things run smoothly is a double-edged sword, because people suddenly think that you will do things for them on demand (which increases their questions and requests).

      Do you think that RAK could be hindering your blogging as much as it keeps you here? Separating Bout of Books from my blog was probably one of the best ideas I ever had. I think it streamlined the entire operation, and I could focus more on making sure most of the questions were answered on the blog itself. It allowed me to then focus on my OWN blog as a separate entity.

      The only way you can do blogging “wrong” is if you do it for everyone else. At the end of the day, you have to blog for yourself, Isa. It’s not about numbers of comments or hits, or anything else like that. It’s about, after you hit publish, being proud of what you wrote. I’ve found that the reception to my posts are weird: things that I feel will generate a lot of discussion don’t and other things that I do on a whim because I think it’s funny or I need a filler Friday post (my In Denial post!) generate a ton of discussion. Blogging is a crap shoot that way, which is why you have to be content with what you have.

  8. Having been on the opposite end of the spectrum, in that I’ve tried numerous times to start a meme-like idea, but have yet to be successful with any, I can still say that I understand. Not to the extent you’ve gotten through Bout of Books, but I do understand the thinking processes going on behind the scenes of every idea. It’s a lot of work in itself just thinking of something that others may or may not enjoy, and then manipulating it until it resembles how you envisioned it… only to have participants tweak your very own thoughtful, carefully constructed plan.

    I think that, aside from the work that needs to be put into the construction, running and maintenance of the idea, it’s just as much work to carry out an eternally blissful, professional presence. And YOU are a master at doing so. No lie. I’ve learned so much from you that I hope to one day use and implement in any idea I carry out (whether on my own or in conjunction with others). You’ve gone above and beyond for Bout of Books, always looking to better improve the next. And that’s something you didn’t have to do, but you did anyway, for the enjoyment of those participating.

    We may not Twitter rant and chat as much as we used to, but I’ve always been aware of all the outside work you have going on in your life. And to tackle Bout of Books along with the rest is a feat in itself.

    I admire the wonderful work you’ve shared with this community, whether that’s this site itself or Bout of Books or Top Off Tuesday or Clock Rewinders. I think people can learn a lot from you, like I have. I realize you can’t have 100% cooperation or acknowledgment from others, and that sucks, but you’ve still always done your best to run things as smoothly as possible.

    I also admire that you reached out and allowed others to contribute help to Bout of Books. And especially that you had Kelly as a co-host/runner/boss lady. ;P It takes a lot to hand off something you’ve so carefully planned and constructed to other people, whom you have limited control over.

    I think it’s important sometimes to realize we all need breaks. And you def deserve one! After all, we’re not crime fighting, blogging machines.

    You’re awesome, Amanda. :) And I don’t care if that sounds cheesy! Hugs! <3

    • Alissa, you know, I originally titled this with “good idea,” and then realized that there are so many good ideas that NEVER get noticed the way they should. So I changed it to “successful idea.” I’m sure there is some weird and obscure equation for what all goes into a good idea turning into a successful one. I, for one, have no idea what it might be. But keep at it! If something doesn’t work the first time, tweak something about it (the time frame, who helps, etc) and try it again.

      And thank you for this comment. It TOTALLY made my day. I’m happy to know that I have made an impact of any size just by doing my thing. :) *hugs*

  9. It’s never good for you to feel too stressed out. I haven’t known you for very long, but from what I’ve seen you’re great at organizing these things and coming up with wonderful ideas, but not as great as putting your foot down and saying “Um, hello, what about me?!” (not to be critical or anything – I’m the same way, when it comes to doing stuff for other people.) I’m in the same boat as Alissa, where I’ve tried starting memes or other fun events and they never took off, so I can only imagine how stressful it is, but I would say you are totally justified in the above-mentioned putting your foot down. Blogging is a great community activity, but ultimately we have to look after ourselves first.

    I’ll be spending a lot of time thinking about this issue in the next week, both because of meme/feature ideas I’ve been tossing around in my head, and because I really don’t want to be intruding on your space with CR. *huggles you lots* Please don’t burn yourself out. I think I speak for lots of people (judging from the comments anyway) when I say too many people would miss you too much!

    • No, you are completely right. I do have a difficult time putting my foot down, probably because I feel bitchy if I’m all like, “Um, excuse me, but you’re tromping all over me.” Which is silly, really.

      There’s a part of me that sad I had to scrap the CR linky, but a part of me that doesn’t feel bad at all. I have to stick with that latter feeling, I think.

  10. *hugs you* Smash used her beautiful words to convey how I feel. *hugs her*

    If it isn’t fun, I’m not doing it. Thank you for giving us a solidly special feature to share on Sundays. I love that it kind of feel like “coffee talk”: “…did you see…check it out.”

    • I love that, too, but I’ve realized that I can’t cope with CR when it extends beyond my Google reader. Even then it can be time consuming just to hit all the CR posts in my reader. I guess I have to realize that just because my name is on the feature, it doesn’t mean I am obligated to comment?

      • You’ve set a really high & noble standard for yourself, but all you can do is the best you can do. If you spend all day chasing comments then you miss out on probably half of why you started the blog time to read & decompress. You inspire me in your efforts. But do the best you can do & you’ll catch them/me/whoever next time.

          • Personal growth can be a real bitch, especially when you feel like you are sacrificing being the best human you can be. I don’t need another “have-to” in my life. I’ve had to face a few things about my blog & blogging this year. I set out every day to do the best I can, but at some point I have no more to give. That point is different every day & some days I start at the stopping point. I’ve stopped beating myself up & you should to. “No”, “done”, and “enough” aren’t bad words.