In the middle of November, when I had time on my hands and a desire to be a better writer, I set myself a task of writing every day for 30 days. The task was to write a 500-word blog post, complete with a complementary image, every single day for 30 consecutive days.
To craft a grammatically correct and well-formatted blog post, with an image or series of images, usually takes around two hours. I realize now that this was a significant undertaking for a stay at home mother of a one-year-old with a part-time consulting job.
I started well. The first few posts came easily because I had ideas. By post 8, my top-of-mind ideas were diminishing. I had to dig deep.
This was also the point when we had visitors for a few days and when visitors come, as wonderful as it is, my already limited free time reduces further.
Once our visitors left, I got back into the swing of things and, with time to think, the ideas began to flow again. This didn’t mean the writing was easy; there were still days when I struggled to get the writing to flow and when two hours turned in to four. However, without the pressure of trying to squeeze my words into a 30-minute window, I began to enjoy the process again.
The last week of the challenge we were travelling to England for our Christmas vacation. With prep for Christmas, travel and spending time with loved ones we hadn’t seen for five months, finding two hours to myself each day wasn’t realistic. Unfortunately, this meant I failed my challenge with two days to go.
Despite failing, I got so much value from the process. I learned about the parts of the writing process I enjoy most and what I’m best at and where I struggle. I learned more deeply about my desires as a writer, and I extended my repertoire from non-fiction to dabbling in short fiction.
Blogging is a special form of writing
As writers, the advice is to write every day – my main motivation for the challenge, but one of the major things I learned is that there’s a difference between writing and editing.
Naturally, I knew the technical distinction between these two through years of putting words on paper. However, until I was doing it daily, I hadn’t realized how much of my blogging time I put into perfecting the words before I post them.
When writing for a blog audience, the words need to flow; they can’t just be a stream of consciousness. Well, they can, but they’re unlikely to be easy for the reader to digest.
Writing for yourself doesn’t require editing in the beginning. It only requires that you write from the heart. That can mean writing any sort of gibberish and is a much faster process than a perfecting a blog post for an audience.
Blogging needs imagery
Blogs, by nature, tend to include some sort of imagery. Whether it’s photographs, videos, charts or graphs, readers of blogs usually want something to entice them in before they start to read, and, as they read, to break down the wall of text. Finding and creating good images is also time-consuming.
What I gained from the challenge
- I love the act of writing daily.
- I love dabbling with words.
- It gave me confidence in my ability to write.
- I felt more comfortable calling myself a writer.
- It gave me time to myself – a meditation of sorts – by helping me to process or bask in what was happening in the world around me; or, to escape it.
- I felt I was achieving something in my writing endeavours.
- It gave me the confidence to consider myself as more than a blogger or article writer.
- It gave me the push to enter my first writing competition.
- I felt withdrawals when I wasn’t writing.
- Not having the time (or energy) to write after socializing and looking after a baby all day meant I read more instead. [I think reading is essential to being a good writer.]
- I re-found my love of books and read some crackers!
- Writing each day, and holding myself accountable to that goal, helped me to create a habit
- It made me want to become a better and more established writer
- Writing daily doesn’t mean I have to spend two hours perfecting a blog post. It can mean writing for 10 or 15 minutes on something no-one will ever read. It could also mean drafting a post, starting, or adding to, a new story for a competition or working towards a book. As long as I’m writing it keeps the habit on track and gets me closer to my writing goals.
- Thinking bigger about my writing encouraged me to create a Twitter account dedicated to following writers and looking for ways to read others’ and share my writing.
It encouraged me to explore writing fiction
I’d never written fiction until I wrote ‘The Letter’ (post 18 of the challenge). It was much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, and it made me want to write it more. However, I know very little about writing fiction so there is a lot to learn and practice.
I learned that if I want to progress as a writer/blogger, I need to choose a nicheMy blog has never been anything other than me sharing my observations of my world, and although I love that style of writing, my musings are never going to hit the best seller list. If I want to be serious about writing, I need to streamline my approach. I’ll still write my blog here and there but, from now on I plan to broaden my writing horizons.
It was worth every minute
I am so glad I did the challenge, even if I didn’t complete it. I learned so much, and it gave me a kick start I need to develop as a writer. Watch this space…
I’d love to hear your comments on the challenge, my writing, my reflections or any other tips, tricks and ideas you’ve used to grow as a writer.