Today (Or rather yesterday because this was supposed to be published yesterday) marks the end of my 30 days blogging challenge. I announced on November 13, 2020 that this coming December I will be blogging for 30 days. Well, the 30 days went so fast and here are the 30 lessons I learned blogging for 30 days. If you would like to take a look at a short summary that lists highlights and all the headlines for my posts, visit this short summary page.
Here we go...
1. Writing is not easy
Writing any kind of formal content is subject to a lot of 'scrutiny' in terms of grammar, the choice of words etc. My first blog post in this challenge had a wrong choice of word or you can say it was a typo on the headline - I used worthy instead of worth. Thanks to a user on Hacker News who pointed that out.
2. Writing can be exhausting
When you write every day for no specific purpose like chatting with friends here and there...you can actually easily reach 1000 words without knowing. However, writing intentionally for a specific audience every day with a minimum of 1000 words can be mentally draining. I remember after finishing my first blog post which was over 2500 words I went to bed that day thinking … Oh my! It has been long since I have felt this mental exhaustion …I was ready for bed!
3. Writing is time sensitive!
Time-sensitive not in the sense you're used too. Time-sensitive (again I think have chosen the wrong word here), in the sense that there will be times where your mind is full of ideas...and in those times you can easily jot down a thousand words... within 10 minutes and without even stopping. Cherish those times when they come. They're normally referred to as being in the flow! When you're in the flow...keep writing...never stop.
You will appreciate that when the times come and you don't feel like writing anything. The things you wrote when in the flow will compensate during your writing dry spell. Also please note this flow time can last for a short time...sometimes it can be 10 minutes, sometimes 30minues, 1 hour or even 2 hours. But for sure flow time won't be that long...and funny enough when you're in the flow you might not know it till after it has happened. You focus so much on the task at hand that your mind automatically blocks out all other ideas.
4. Writing can be fun!
I thought I might start feeling the exhaustion after just a few days, but you won't believe it...it got exciting as days move on. I couldn't wait for tomorrow to come so that I can come up with a new blog post. You wouldn't know writing is fun till you try it.
5. Planning is everything!
Ok, I am not a big planning person...As a matter of fact I don't have any plans for what I will eat tonight or this afternoon for that matter...but when it comes to writing planning saved me. I announced on this day that I will be entering this challenge...and that helped me out to plan out my ideas and I even listed topics on what I was hoping to write on each day.
6. Social Media is Your Friend
I can't emphasize enough how important sharing your work with others is. On my blogging, I utilized Twitter, LinkedIn and Hacker News to share the blog posts I published. Of course, I didn't share every day but on the very few times I did...I reached more people even if it was just 5 people. My first blog posts actually stayed on the first page of Hacker News for a few minutes or so and close to 1000 people came to my blog through me sharing it. So Social Media is where it is.
7. Writing and Publishing are two different things
A blog post starts with ideas on your head, then writing them down, then editing, proofreading (if you have time) and publishing. The process of writing on its own can be so enriching...don't feel the pressure that you have to publish if you think what you have written is not yet ready to be out there...Just enjoy the process and have fun!
8. You write for others to read
It's a good ego boost if what you write is being read by other people. Hence it's important to always keep your readers in mind. Will they understand when I use this word. Actually, I learned in this journey the importance of using 'plain English' when writing. Plain English was also an excuse for my own low vocab count :).
9. Writing Helps You To Know Yourself
I have tried to create different types of content in the past. For example I have this Udemy channel where I created a few online courses about three years ago. The whole video creation process was not exciting at all. I wasn't pumped up to create the next course. Actually I couldn't wait for the work to be done. Video creation is not similar to writing.
In recording videos you need to have all the tools ready, if it's the computer software, camera, mic for audio, etc. Your surrounding has to be quite too to make sure there are no background noises. So all of that was just too much to take care of and it took away valuable time from the act of creating itself. But writing is different and free of all of those struggles. So many times I was on my bed and finalizing my blog post while lying down or I could work on the coffee shops and background noises wouldn't bother me. In the process I learned that I enjoy writing...it makes me happy :)
10. Not All People Will Like Your Content
Some people won't like either your content or your writing style and that's fine. Take the constructive feedback offered and improve on it. And at the same time...have the courage to be you...write you. Though you shouldn't ignore the critics, focus on the majority that loves your work and that will give you the energy to keep on moving
11. Have the courage to break rules
I have learned that writing has a lot of rules such as sentence structure, grammar, the use of the right words, punctuation, etc. Once you know the rules sometimes they can be limiting...So have the courage to break them once in a while...if you have read my posts you will see that I like using three dots (...) to show the flow of my ideas and to break between sentences. I don't think it's within the rules to do that...but I like it.
12. 1000 words is not a lot!
1000 words is not a lot as you might want to believe. In college, writing wasn't fun at all unless I was writing my favorite Psychology or Philosophy paper but even then there were a lot of restrictions and I had to answer the questions posed. You just can't keep rambling in college papers...But when you write for yourself where there are absolutely no rules...Ideas keep flowing and before you know it you're just a few words to reach 1000 words.
13. Challenges are fun
I loved this writing challenge and I will be doing it at least twice a year. The time when am on break from a challenge will be used to come up with ideas for the next challenge. So maybe sometime in this coming year I will do a similar challenge...even for two weeks it will be worth it for sure.
14. Creating is better than consuming
We're living right now in a world full of consumers...from the time we wake up...where is my phone...so that I can scroll Instagram, view WhatsApp stories, read email, etc. The first thing we do in the morning is to consume...we add little value in society by consuming. Try the opposite once in a while...Try to create as soon as you wake up in the morning.
That's what I did and it felt amazing...the first thing I would do when I woke up was to think of this challenge...and I had to use that morning to at least come up with initial ideas and writings for my blog posts. So people, if you're not creating, you are consuming...pick your battle! There is more value in creating than in consuming
15. Growing is a slow process
Reaching people and growing your blog is a slow process. Don't let it discourage you when a few people have read or subscribed to your blog. Keep on going! …Like Churchill (or whoever is credited to the saying) said "If you go through hell [in this case a slow and discouraging growth] keep going! …As of right now though I can see I have a lot of readers (a lot at this time means about 100 or so) BUT I only have 4 subscribers to my blog.
16. Ideas need freedom to flourish
Content creation works well when your mind is at ease. I don't think if I would have been able to do this had I been working my full-time job...9 to 5, 40hours a week. After I quit my full-time job and started working part-time I had plenty of time on my plate...And being the creative type (Or I would want to believe that!), My mind wouldn't stop coming up with ideas...So am sure even if I hadn't planned ahead on what to write about...I would have woken up with fresh ideas everyday. My mind wasn't convoluted with a rigid work schedule...I was free like a bird!
17. You're going to get burned out
You are going to get burned out after continuous days of blogging, or sometimes even immediately after writing your longest post. There are two long posts I wrote, the first blog post was over 2500 words and the other over 3500 words. By the time I was done editing and publishing...I felt as if I can't do anything else at that moment that involved brain power...I felt my head was heavy literally and needed a rest. So take these rests whenever possible, they will refuel you for your next blog post. Also, it's important to alternate...after a day of writing a 3500 words blog post, the next blog post was only about 1000 words...and it didn't require as much research.
18. Focus is very important
During this challenge, of course, I got tempted either to finish some past projects or even start a new project but I said to myself...they will wait till January when am done with the challenge. A day only has 24 hours, and your brain can only focus and produce great work for just a few of those hours. So it's important not to divide that attention among multiple things...they will each compete for part of your brain power (I think I mean...will power)…while you could have put all your willpower into only one thing and produce great work. Also when doing something while you have in the back of your mind other stuff you're planning to do...it's kinda affecting the job at hand. Focus is 'muy importante'. It's about saying NO to all the other tempting things you might want to do that are not part of the big agenda.
19. Don't be hard on yourself
Take it easy! Of course, it's a challenge I set to myself and I was actually sharing on social media about my progress. But in no day did I ever felt the pressure that I have to post something...in fact, I had two blog posts that were written but not edited well...so I didn't publish them and I said maybe at the end of the challenge I will go back and publish them. I kept on moving forward and I didn't want to produce unfinished subpar work just to say that I didn't miss a day of blogging. From very early my focus was to produce something I will be proud of...and if I fail for a day or two or three that's okay. I keep moving!
20. Blogging allowed me to learn a lot
The whole process of blogging was a learning adventure. From coming up with topics, knowing how to organize them, start writing, editing, etc. all that involves a lot of learning. I did learn a lot of new words because I had to check if the words meant as I intended. Also, blogging allowed me to know more about the specific topics I was writing about. I had to read, watch YouTube videos at times just to make sure what I write is right.
21. Things won't go as expected
Wanting to blog over 1000 words every day for 30 days, wasn't an easy task. There were a few days where I was so busy with other work that I had to do and I got no time to write at all. That day passed without me even opening up my blog. So it's necessary to know that, unexpected things will happen and you might not be able to reach your goals for that day. That shouldn't discourage you. You can see on this summary that for three days in a row on week 2 I didn't publish anything.
It's beautiful and satisfying to see your blog growing from 2 posts to 10 posts to 15 posts to 20 posts etc. Just looking at the gradual increase of your posts and blog can bring a feeling of satisfaction. By the time I hit 10 blog posts, then I could feel that I can call myself a blogger - and I had something to show. Bloggers write and I had written...a lot! As of right now, my blog has over 20 blog posts...So I can happily call myself...a blogger!
23. The Big Picture
Looking at the big picture - I can see that my blog could grow into something big one day - I still wanna keep the consistency of at least publishing a blog post every week or so. This challenge showed me that.
24. I can write a book
I have written 20 blog posts in this challenge...and I had to count the total number of words. In total I have written about 29k words, it's actually more if you counted the 4 blog posts I wasn't able to publish. And just to understand that well, an average American book has about 50k words. One of my favorite books, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho has about 45k words. So I have not written an equivalent of a book yet...but yet 29k isn't so far from an average small book.
25. Build in Public
Building in public is the way to go right now. I am glad I had the support of ideas from members of blogging for devs from the very moment I announced that in the month of December I will be blogging for 30days. I got asked questions that made me think about the challenge and a few others offered some advice and recommendation on how I should embark on the challenge. So it's very important when doing something such as a challenge to involve other people by just sharing your idea...they might help you along the way...and also in the back of the mind it keeps you in line...because they will ask you how the challenge is going.
26. Be flexible
Be flexible! Some days you might get inspired to write a completely different thing that was not even on the agenda...go with the flow...write it. I remember this one day I was reading about the recruitment process and I just remembered how the whole process sucks for job seekers. Hence I was inspired to write this: "Why resumes suck". So Be flexible some nice ideas will come from anywhere.
27. People won't read your blog posts!
Well! At least in the beginning no one will care about your blog...Keep sharing your ideas nonetheless...I think momentum will build as you go on and even if just one person reads your blog that's a great thing. Don't let that discourage you. Keep moving! Upwards and Onwards! (Or is it the other round..?)
28. People you least Expect...
People you least expect might take an interest in either your blog as a whole or some topics in your blog posts. This one day I was talking to friends and I shared with them I have started a tech blog so I don't think they will find anything interesting since it's mostly about tech. Yet they took a look at it and actually found this blog post quite useful to them.
29. Naming Things
Sometimes there is really no good reason on how and why we name things the way we do...like 30 blog posts in 30 days...I meant it just rhymes (does it?) but it has got no special significance. Another one is this … 30 lessons I learned blogging for 30 days...well it might easily be 10 or 12 or even 5, but for some reason 30 in 30 looks cool. So there you have it...sometimes names are just that names...and from there we derive meaning but not the other way round.
30. 30th lesson
Did I say there were 30 lessons..? Well, this one is up for grabs!
Jack of all trades, master of none, though often times better than master of one!