I’ve been off the grid for the past week – partly against my will (those thesis papers were holding me hostage) and partly from losing some steam.
I just finished the NaBloPoMo Challenge, and I honestly felt spent. I said to myself, ‘Katie, you’ve posted every day for a month. Take a day off. Just post tomorrow.’
Well, tomorrow turned into one more day. Then, another. Then another.
This has been the first bout of writing lethargy I’ve felt since I started blogging last summer. Dragging myself to the computer felt the same as dragging myself off the couch to exercise. The first time back on the horse again is the hardest, but Day 1 has to come sometime.
So, the challenge – post every day for a month.
Here’s my review of the whole experience as I interview myself:
What I Liked
The Challenge to Find Content: I genuinely liked being pushed to come up with interesting things to write. Some days, they weren’t necessarily long and substantial; some days, it was just a quote. But I sort of liked that there wasn’t really a backdoor if I didn’t ‘feel’ like posting. It forced me to the edges of my creativity. Knowing that I had to come up with something every day kept my eyes and mind open for new ideas. I felt like I was much more aware of what was going on around me than I normally am. Anything was potential material for a new blog post.
Pockets of Time to Blog: I found out that there really are other times and ways I could blog than what I had been doing. For instance, many days, I would use my lunch break at work to write a post. It might only be a rough draft, but I could get my ideas out. Then, when I got home, at least the bulk was done; all I had to do was clean it up, find a picture – bam. Done. Sometimes I would just write something quick from my phone, and that would count as a post. I realized I didn’t always need huge blocks of time to get something written and posted.
Therapy for My Perfectionism: When you are churning out a post a day, there is no time to obsess over every word. There were definitely posts I put out there knowing it wasn’t my absolute best. But, it was OK. It had to be. My site didn’t crash; people didn’t stop reading (as far as I know). I realized that not every post has to be perfect before it goes live. I would not adopt that concept as a rule of thumb, but it was somewhat freeing for me.
Real-Time Writing: I like the pressure to write about life or things going on in the world in real-time. A lot of times, something happens in my day that I want to write or comment on, but by the time I get around to it, the moment and the inspiration has passed. In posting every day, a lot of those ideas made it to the press that probably wouldn’t have if I wasn’t forced.
What I Didn’t Like
Lack of Interaction: Posting every day made it very hard to read other blogs, comment, and return comments. I don’t like that. I love the conversations that get started via blogs, and I didn’t like feeling that I was missing that part. I didn’t get to follow up with new followers or commenters and read their blogs. I missed reading with regularity my favorite blogs. With posting every day, I just couldn’t keep up with any of that (I still have a handful of comments I haven’t responded to. Still. Shame.). I don’t like to think that maybe some of my relationships on here suffered or that maybe I lost some momentum in that area.
All-Consuming: Doing this challenge didn’t leave a lot of time for much else. I went to work, tutored or had meetings after school, made dinner, cleaned up, blogged, went to bed. There really wasn’t any exercising, quality time with my husband during the week – no time for really much of anything. I felt like I was trying to squeeze my life in around blogging. Ordinarily, I have pretty good boundaries – but I did get swept up in the challenge (If I committed to do it, then I was doing it). Other things in my life suffered and took a backseat. Not ideal.
Lack of Social Media: I’m not a huge fan nor addict of social media, but I do like to find new blogs via Facebook, Twitter, Google+. I do my fair share of blog-stalking. In March, I was almost entirely absent. That didn’t necessarily hurt my numbers, but I do like to engage and return the favor when I can. At this point, I’m not overly concerned with having a social media presence, but I feel like this set me back a little.
Burn-Out: Yes, I did feel a little burnt out on writing when I finished. I wanted a break for a few days. And as I said before, it was hard to take the first step to get back into it again. Not only that, the burn-out may have cost me a paid writing opportunity. I was approached to write an article for another site, and getting my ideas together for that pitch got lost in this shuffle. I know. How stupid am I??? Keeping my fingers crossed that I didn’t lose my chance.
2: Number of days I missed out of 31
43: Number of new followers (I only counted new WordPress followers because, to me, they at least had to physically come to this site to follow. Twitter or FB followers technically can follow without ever being here).
1200: Number by which my page views increased this month. For January and February, I was holding right around 2400 per month. For March, I was about 3,600. For me, this is notable because, in January and February, I made a concerted effort to interact and network on social media, link-ups, blog groups, etc. In March, I did none of that (my blog is automatically linked to my FB and Twitter accounts, but I made no additional efforts). Posting every day did more for my monthly page views than interacting, networking or engaging in social media. Interesting.
30: Increase in my daily page views. My average had been about 88 views per day. It went up to 117.
This wasn’t about numbers for me, but I was curious to see the trends.
Would I Do This Again?
Not anytime soon. I loved writing and posting so frequently, but I just don’t have the time to invest right now. I knew March was going to be a busy month for me, so if I did this again, I might try during the summer.
Would I Recommend It?
Actually, yes, I would. I think it definitely stretches you as a writer, and I think you land on some new writing techniques, strategies and content that you might miss otherwise. Definitely worth the effort.
Well, as stated, I can’t keep up with that kind of schedule. However, I would like to push myself a little more. Instead of posting 1-2 times a week, I’m going to aim for 4-5. I now know that it can be done.
I would love to hear your comments if you followed/read along at all last month. Anything stand out? Topics you liked or didn’t like? Was every day too much? Any and all comments/criticisms welcome!
OK, kids. I’m back on the grid. 🙂
[Photo Credit: Justin Russell]