My 30-Day Blogging Challenge is finally over, and truthfully, both the accomplishment and the end of an obligation are two amazing Christmas gifts to myself. Before I take a much needed break, let’s look back on what I learned.
“Your Requests: Blogged” (both parts) rank in the top half of this blog’s recorded page views, and neither of them required much research. My ramblings about kung-fu and monster movies is dead last, and in the process of finding something to say, I got to revisit a lot of classics.
My most popular post, “Time Capsule,” was, by leaps and bounds, the least fun to do. It was a slog of repetitive archiving, on top of which was the rotten process of rereading breakup letters, reacquainting myself with deceased pets and relatives, and cringing as I waded through so much emotional baggage from my teenage years. Some of it was interesting, but the more I think about it, the more I just want to burn that yellow folder and never look back.
I had a journalism professor in college who implored us to follow a very specific writing style. He said that if you have something you really want to say, it’s like a cute little puppy that you want to coddle and train and sculpt into a loyal and obedient dog. His advice: “drown your puppies.” It may be fun to write and, once you get it right, there’s a chance it’ll be fun to read, but in the meantime, you’re ignoring everything else going on around you and annoying the hell out of everyone around you with your incessant cooing and coddling. Generally, this boils down to the 80-20 rule. 80% of the stuff anyone produces is going to be junk. That’s typically based on the notion that we produce the first thing that comes into our heads. One school of thought on this is if you have 100 things in your head, push past the first 80 that come to you and then start looking at the remaining ideas. It doesn’t mean that those first ideas are inherently crap; it just means that they’re easy, and what is easy is rarely good. Give those ideas time to mature, and they might become useful.
The school of thought that powered this 30-day experiment was to take those half-baked ideas and run with them. They may not be the best, but the point is not to have 30 phenomenal posts; it’s to get into a rhythm, so that when a great idea does come along, the endurance to perfect it is there.
Also, it should be noted that you shouldn’t actually drown any real puppies. What are you, a monster?
Another thing I learned is that I may need to give the blog more direction. Writing every day might have been an easier task if my ideas were all focused in one direction (travel or science fiction or philosophical musings or personal miscellany) instead of being scattered all over the spectrum. With a greater range of choices, I found it much harder to actually choose an idea and take a whole-hearted run at it.
I also simply need more time to write. I juggle writing with a day job, and trying to publish a post per day makes the quality suffer. For example, even though it ranked near the top of my page views, I think the “Guilty Pleasures” post, among others, could have been better if I’d had the time to expand, revisit, and revise (ERR). To ERR is human, and posting first drafts of everything made me feel a little like a machine. Luckily, I had some intelligent and well-read friends who were paying attention and were willing to add content in the comments field.
If I’m going to write about movies, media culture, and literature, I need time to actually consume and digest those things before writing about them. The stuff I did write about was already in my repertoire, but I felt like I used the same examples over and over *cough*StarWars*cough*. So, as I continue, I’ll be giving myself time to watch movies, read comics and books, and dig through the news again. It’s going to be awesome.
One last thing I learned is that stats and page views aren’t as important to me as I thought they’d be. They’re a half-decent indicator of what’s getting read, but with the available tools, comments field aside, there’s no real way to find out why. For all I know, the sheer number of tags on the “Time Capsule” post is what gave it 50% more views than the next most popular post from this 30-day challenge.
In a few days, after a much needed vacation, I’ll be back with something. Until then, have a happy New Year!