Monday, May 31, 2010

Thoughts on 31 Days of Blogging

So, Blogathon #2 is at an end, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't relieved. It was a slog at times, no doubt. But like last year, I'm glad I chose to participate and delighted I was able to finish. I didn't do a round up post last year, but I'm going to follow the lead of several other blogathon participants and finish the month off this way. Tracy Doerr started it, and others who have followed include Jen Walker at My Morning Chocolate, Barb Freda at Babette Feasts and Kathy Murray at Out and Employed. Blogathon Coordinator Extraordinaire Michelle Rafter will include a link to all of them on her WordCount blog later this week.

So, here are a few things I learned/discovered/realized in these 31 days of blogging:

1.) Externally imposed deadlines work: I knew this about myself before and know it even better now. I work infinitely better with a deadline or some externally imposed structure. Why, otherwise, is it that I barely posted at all in April and then managed to do it every single day in May? Not that I would try to blog every day year round or anything insane like that, but I want to remember that taking up challenges like this works.

2.) It's much more fun when you have company: The camaraderie and feeling of being part of a larger group embarking on the same challenge was very helpful. The #blog2010 hashtag on Twitter helped with this as well as a Google group set up for blogathon participants. I enjoyed visiting new blogs and found some I really enjoyed, and, of course, I enjoyed having blogathon visitors at my blog. (Please come back once this is over!) I'd also like to do more guest posts. (Thanks, Lisa!)'

3.) Carry your camera with you every day: This is something I don't usually do but am planning to continue to do in the months ahead. In India, I always have my camera with me because I'm never sure what I might see. I'd like to have the same attitude here. Even in sleepy Western Mass., there are still surprises. (See the brief appearance of the AMHESRT sign and the sad toppling of a massive tree.) Even more locally, lovely things can happen in my own backyard. Having the camera handy makes documenting things (and blogging about them) much easier.

4.) Planning ahead helps . . . : At the beginning of the blogathon, I mapped out the month. That's not to say that I mapped a month of posts out ahead of time. (I can't imagine being that organized.) But I plotted out the first week of posts (even though I didn't post them all on the exact day planned), and I made a list of ideas in the categories I usually write about (food, gardening, books). As the month progressed, I moved ideas into the calendar and added new ones up top. I didn't write about every idea I had at the beginning, but I wrote about many of them, and having ideas in the queue, as it were, made it more manageable. I also kept some partially written posts on hand, some of which I finished and posted and some of which I didn't.

5.) But still leave room for happenstance: In my normal blogging life, I do this too much. I wait for things to inspire a post rather than planning it out ahead of time. But during this month, I realized that I would never post everyday if I left it to chance (that's where the planning ahead comes in). On the other hand, when things occurred, I wanted to be able to take advantage of them. I hadn't planned to write again on my love for the Delhi Metro. But when the NY Times ran a story on it, the timing was perfect to update and edit an earlier post about it.

6.) Have fallback categories of posts for when you need them: I don't think I would have made it through the blogathon without my various signs of the day, photos of the day, sentence of the day, poem of the day, etc, not to mention the always fun Wordles. On the one hand, these are probably less necessary when there isn't the pressure to post every day. On the other, I was delighted to have a reason to share the Infant Jesus Cement Blocks sign that otherwise is only seen by those standing in front of my refrigerator. And the chance to spread some Elizabeth Bishop love around can never be a bad thing, I don't think.

I think that's it for the moment. It's a sunny afternoon, and the garden awaits. I won't be back tomorrow, I can say with some certainty. But I'm hoping this stint of daily blogging will help me settle on a more regular posting schedule, so please check back in later this week. I promise not to vanish.


BIKE LADY said...

Love your lessons. I am a huge fan of having that camera handy, too. It helps to have one in the phone. Love that convenience, though family and friends think I'm an odd duck taking pictures of so much all the time. It's fun for me.

tina said...

i'll miss my daily fix of sue!

Kathleen Murray said...

Terrific post. I agree with both you and Jackie on the camera. It was amazing how many times mine came in handy right here in boring old Northern VA at posting time. And ditto the power of a deadline. Loved your post on the Delhi metro too. That's my next place to visit.


Eric Novinson said...

Yes, the external deadline is a great motivational tool, I was posting about twice a week before the blogathon started. The camera's good advice, a picture makes posts a lot more popular and valuable from what I hear.

kerry dexter said...

I've never participated in a blogathon, because posting every day just isn't right for my readers or my goals. I always enjoy stopping in now and then reading along, though, and hearing what people learn from doing it. I'm with you on the leave room for happenstance -- both that it's necessary, and that at times I do it too much...

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

The camera is so pivotal. I've learned to carry it AND to use it regularly, too. I really liked your idea of the topic calendar with themes. That's brilliant. I'm hoping to keep a regular posting schedule up, and that would help loads. I'm also giving thought to posting every day for a year...yikes. And I love Elizabeth Bishop! It's nice to find someone else who does, too.

lisa peet said...

Sue, you know you're welcome at Like Fire any old time! It was fun being a little part of your month.