This is part of The Blogging Gauntlet of May 2016, where I try to write 500 words every day. See the May 1st post for full details.
I’ll be honest, I expected to feel a lot different after this month than I actually do.
Perhaps that’s my bias from stories about One Big Revelation That Changes Everything. The kind of turning point that people use when writing memoirs.
It doesn’t feel like I changed that much. Maybe there was a big change, but it’s only something I can recognize after the fact. In the now, the me of yesterday is too familiar, and the me of two days ago is still fresh in my mind, and both of these “me”s are too similar to the current me. It’s too hard to see the accumulation of subtle shifts, if there were any.
What went well, and what didn’t? For starters, writing 500 words every day was both less and more time consuming than expected. Some of my posts were written under an hour, which is stupidly fast for me. That happened because on some days I only had an hour…
If you do it at the last minute, it only takes a minute.
(Anonymous Berkeley professor)
However, some posts took over four hours. Hopefully, this is just because of work ballooning to fill my free time, of which I had a lot of this month, and it won’t take me that long to write once I start working full-time.
For something that went poorly, writing about a new topic every day was and is too much for me. There are quite a few posts that I genuinely regret writing. The ideas backing them are either ill-formed or nonexistent, but I was forced to use them in the name of daily posts. I have blog-worthy ideas more often than once every two weeks, but less often than every day.
I could have avoided this by dedicating more than one post to a given topic, and in fact was expecting to do so, but that ended up falling apart. I’m simply not familiar with the serial mindset of posting part after part of a whole. When I write, I like to rearrange paragraphs and ideas all over the place, until I get an ordering I like. This stops working in serial writing. Publishing the beginning of a post fixes the ideas I start with and the order they are presented in, and trying to continue from a bad start is awful. I have on occasion scrapped entire drafts when I realized I wasn’t writing about what I actually wanted to write about, and if I had published the start of those drafts, I would have been forced to continue topics I disliked. I know serial writing is doable, it’s just that I can’t do it yet.
On to what went well. I managed to write a post every day, only missing the deadline once. The money cost worked as planned, because it gave me impetus to write posts even when I could have justified skipping a day. After enough writing, I learned blogging was something I wanted as a regular part of my life, and the potential penalty of losing twenty dollars diminished in importance. It still mattered, but it wasn’t the only thing that mattered.
I flushed most of my blogging idea queue. The only ideas left are ideas that require tons of introspection (meaning they had to take more than a day) and ideas that require tons of planning. I hope to get the planning ones out soon, or at least start the introspection/planning process.
I have a better appreciation for doing a little bit each day. I may try to incorporate similar thinking into tasks that are inherently long term, like learning a new language.
I successfully beta-tested posts I’ve always wanted to write, and although not all of them worked out, some were very well received, more than I expected them to be. Getting to write in a context where people knew they shouldn’t expect something perfect was a big help.
On that note, this is where you, the reader, come in. This has been a journey for me, and I could use more detailed feedback. If you could fill this quick survey, I’d appreciate it - it’ll directly contributes to making this blog better.
Next steps: going to stop blogging for about a week because I’m technically on vacation, then I’ll start working on longer posts and/or rewriting posts from this month that I liked. I’m thinking about adding an update schedule, but need time to think about the details. In either case - stay tuned.