I set myself a challenge at the beginning of January – to blog every single day of the month. And I did. I completed the challenge. Sitting here, writing to you, and telling you about my accomplishment feels fucking brilliant.
There were a few days where it was rough going, but mostly, it was a hugely enriching experience. It hauled me out of and miles away from my comfort zone (I couldn’t even see it anymore) and made me a better blogger.
I’ve done some reflection on the past month’s blogging, and would love to share some of what I’ve been able to take away from the journey.
What I Discovered By Blogging For 31 Days
I had some niggling doubts right at the beginning that I’d be able to complete the challenge. But what helped, what really, really helped, was putting Blog under the Most Important category on my daily To Do list. Doing this tiny thing immediately cemented the importance of blogging in my day.
There was also some anxiety about what I was sharing. That it wasn’t, well, worthy of being shared. Thankfully I knocked that on the head pretty fucking quickly.
I Love, Love, Love What I Do
I’ve been blogging since the days of Live Journal. (I was there…3,000 years ago) and, while I’ve always loved it, I love it with a fiercer intensity nowadays. It’s always felt integral to my mental and emotional well-being – for me, therapy has nothing on blogging – but today it feels even more so.
I love every aspect of the blogging process – conceiving ideas, making plans, writing posts, creating images, proofreading (an area I need to focus on improving), and publishing when everything is done. As well as, of course, the responses I get from you folks.
The challenge had me realize that the reward I get from writing and publishing blog posts is really quite profound. To try and imagine a life without blogging isn’t something I like to do. (Though if someone offers me a cabin in the Norwegian wilderness, somewhere where there’s no access to the internet, I wouldn’t say no…)
My Craft Has Improved
You folks are ultimately the judge of whether this is true or not, but I’d like to think that by posting every day, I’ve managed to better hone my voice, pick up on and correct errors and provide writing that is, I hope (!) coherent, illuminating and, in some way, inspiring.
I Can Abandon My Comfort Zone
Several of the posts I published discussed things waaaay out of my comfort zone. But it did me the world of good. After I posted ‘I Want To Love You – The Complicated Relationship I Have With My Face,’ I felt invincible. One of the reasons I’m telling you this is because ‘invincible’ is what I hope I can encourage other bloggers to feel when they speak out abut something which typically sets their nerves on edge.
It’s Good To Plan
The best experiences I had blogging during January were when I’d decided on my post the night before and, the day after, made a plan of what I wanted to cover in my post that day.
For two out of the four weeks, I made lists of posts I thought I’d want to write. I didn’t always create everything I listed – other ideas crept in and were sometimes used instead – but it was good to have it there anyway, and several of the ideas I didn’t act on can be used some other time. I didn’t always plan either, but when I did, the writing process was much quicker, I felt more in control of what I was creating and I felt happier with the end result of the post.
Creating A Post Always Took Longer Than I Thought It Would
Some days of the challenge were pretty much entirely focused on creating a post. It was never my intention to spend most of a day putting one together – I wanted each post written and published by 4pm daily – but some took longer (much longer) than anticipated to come together.
I quickly realized that the best thing to do in this instance was to go with the flow, and not become irate about not completing everything on my To Do list. Bizarrely, it was posts I thought would be quickest to do that ended up taking the longest damn time.
Some Things To Bear In Mind With Regards To Blogging
- Don’t wait. There’s no ‘ideal time’ to start a blog. If you want to do it, begin now.
- When you’re going to create a post, set aside more time than you think you’re going to need.
- Make a post schedule for the week ahead, but remember that it isn’t set in stone. You’re free to post whatever the fuck you feel like on any given day. When I do make a schedule, I always put it in my notebook. The ideas flow more freely than when I use my computer.
- Have a plan for your post of things you want to cover. This can be as detailed or as sparse as you like. I also create my plan in my notebook, for exactly the same reason as above – everything flows easier and I feel more connected to what I’m doing.
- Proofread your post, then proofread it again before you press publish. Proofread it for a final time once it’s live. 9 times out of 10 when I’ve pressed ‘publish,’ a mistake – or several – have sneaked though. Also, Grammarly is great. I use it whenever I remember to. (I don’t use the pro version, but I’m mulling over whether it would be a worthy investment.)
- Don’t try and appeal to everyone. Find your niche and put your all into it.
- The more you create, the easier it is to come up with new content.
- Don’t obsess over your stats. It can be useful to know which posts are the most popular, but it isn’t necessary by any means. I know roughly how many people visit my blog every day, but I don’t dig for an exact count, and I don’t ever let numbers determine my mood.
- When you’ve published a post (and checked the live version one last time for errors), leave it, walk away and start thinking about the next post you want to create.
- Always make time to reply to comments, except hateful ones. Delete those without responding and block the sender.
- Set aside some time every now and then to reflect on how blogging is making you feel.
What I Was Listening To While Writing This Post