In early February, I was given the challenge to write a blog post a day for seven weeks starting on February 20th. I willingly took it on, and had only one question. I wondered about the question of quantity vs. quality. I mean, should I just post each day because of the challenge, even if I know a particular post isn’t anything I would publish under normal circumstances? In response, I was told that yes, I would create a few clunkers, but the overall experience would outweigh that one limitation.
So I embraced the challenge, and after watching the calendar, decided to start my challenge a day early. Why wait when I could just as easily start? So I started with a bang. I went the first week without missing day. That second week was crazy, and with everything going on, I found myself unable to squeeze out the time for a blog post on a couple days.
I did a little justification. It went something like this: Google measures a blog post between 300 and 500 words. So that is what I need to write each day. Before I missed the first day, I had several days where my posts went well over 1,000 words. Certainly, the extra words counted as writing productivity and I could miss a day here and there after writing so much in the preceding days.
Right or wrong, justification or reasonable thinking, that’s how it has played out. I’ve missed several days, but given the hectic pace of my working life as I prepare for the WritersUA conference next week, I don’t feel guilty about my misses. I realize I didn’t follow the letter of the challenge, but I do believe I’ve fulfilled the spirit of the challenge.
And I’ve learned quite a bit.
First, I didn’t realize I had so many words and ideas backlogged inside me. There were moments when I felt totally uninspired, but when I shifted my attention to the backstory of my week, the lessons learned from my research, preparations, and community interactions, I found rich material.
Second, I realized how much I love the writing process. Yes, I’ve know that since I was 10 years old, but I had lost a little of that glimmer over the last few years of cranking out practical business writing, thousands of words a week of it. Things that didn’t excite me, or engage me.
Third, I’ve gotten some interesting feedback from people who didn’t realize I was writing a blog post a day and were amazing that I was cranking out such quality on that schedule. I truly appreciated those compliments, and I did what I advice others to do: I listened, I breathed them in, and I said “thank you” on the exhale.
Fourth, I’ve gotten some interesting traction on a few of the articles, and some interesting responses. Unexpected responses. I wish I could say that I’ve figured out a formula for creating blog posts that readers love to read and share, but I haven’t. At least not yet.
Fifth, my own words have gotten even less precious to me. I’m decades past the point in my career where my words and phrases are precious. I love being edited by someone who can really rip through my sludge to show me the razor’s edge, and point out all of my grammar and usage sloppiness. Although, in fairness to me, it’s not as much sloppiness as it is forgetfulness or lack of clarity. I never write something I know is wrong, but I often slip into habits of improper usage without realizing it. I love good editors.
What’s Still Ahead
I’m in the last weeks of my challenge, and even though I’m going to be travelling and attending the conference, I’m not giving myself permission in advance to miss a single day during the rest of this time.
What will I discover that I’ve learned at the very end? I’ll know that pretty soon, and you can be sure I’ll share it here with you.