This month, I am participating in a self-imposed “blog every day” challenge. The idea was suggested to me by Caroliena at Polyprotic Amory, who is doing the same thing this month. Given that, up until the challenge began a couple weeks ago, I would not describe my blog-updating schedule as “frequent,” “regular,” or even “intermittent.” In fact, I wouldn’t even describe it as a “schedule.” The switch from “essentially never posting” to the whole “one day, one post” thing has been a big jump, very zero-to-sixty. Since I’m halfway through the month-long challenge, I thought that today would be an appropriate time to pause, take a step back, and collect my thoughts about the whole experience so far. Here we go:
So far, I’m enjoying it immensely. I think that artificially imposing this constraint on myself has already made me better at just sitting down and writing something, even on days when I don’t really feel like it, or even really don’t feel like it. Every time I finish a post, the sense of actually having got something done that day gives me something of a rush. And since I have typically been writing my posts in the late hours of the evening before heading to bed (sometimes only just barely making the midnight deadline to ensure I technically post “every day”), this means that I have always been ending my days on a high note. A note of accomplishment. Even if there were no other good aspects to this, that single fact alone would be worth it.
I am glad to see that other folks have been enjoying it too. I hadn’t expected to be regularly getting notifications of new “follows” on the blog and “likes” on various posts this early in the game. However, thanks to the awesome folks who’ve read and appreciated the stuff I’ve been posting, I wake up each morning to new notifications just like this. That has been an unanticipated extra benefit, and I’m really grateful to everyone who has been reading, liking, and commenting on my posts. I’m especially grateful to the folks who have decided to follow the blog, whether with a WordPress account or by email, and to those who were captivated enough by something I wrote to share it with others, either through a WordPress blog of their own or on other forms of social media. Thank you!
However, there have been some challenges. In particular, as I’ve talked about before, spending a significant amount of time each day writing a post for this blog has cut into the time I usually spend on other forms of writing, from thesis drafting to daily journal entries to working on my first novel. (Yeah, I write a lot.) Primarily, this time has been coming from my journal-writing, since I had previously been in the habit of writing in my journal last, at the end of the day. As I promised myself in that earlier post, I’ve been working on ironing this out, particularly by using my journal to bounce ideas around before sitting down to blog about it in full. This hasn’t been going as well as I planned, mainly because the verdict in the Zimmerman trial this past weekend left me with a lot I wanted to say. The journal writing has recommenced, but I haven’t really been using it the way I meant to: as a kind of proving ground for potential blog post ideas, to help me separate the wheat from the chaff, and give me a chance to work on my posts ahead of time, before the day I post them. Which brings me to my one big complaint about daily posting….
The hardest part about blogging every day is finding the time to do it well. As you can probably tell by looking at my earlier posts (or even, you know, this one), when I write about something, I like to cover it in depth. I like to do my research. I like to show my work. In particular, it hurts me to post any unsourced statements when I know that I have a source, I just don’t have the link open in front of me. I’m always skeptical of unsourced statements in other posts and articles online, and I subject myself to the same kind of scrutiny. However, given my other time commitments, it’s usually hard to find the time to do as much in-depth research as I really should when discussing hot-button, big-ticket issues like environmentalism, sexuality, and too-big-to-fail banks. The information is out there, and I have sources for the things I say, but taking the time to go through each 1000-word post and link each claim to its source takes a significant amount of time. I want to spend that time, because I like writing that kind of well-researched post, and I like writing about the kinds of issues that really require good documentation of sources, but when you post once a day, that extra time can be hard to find. And that’s why….
Posting every day pressures me to write about less important topics by making it harder to write well about the important ones. I’ve been actively trying to fight against this one, but it’s hard to escape the simple fact that if you have a set, specific amount of time each day to spend on blogging, quality and quantity will necessarily be traded off. You can either post very frequently, but not put as much time into each post, or you can post more time-intensive posts at the cost of posting less frequently. Different people are drawn to different points along the spectrum. Don’t get me wrong; I like where I am now (writing daily posts, but not as well-crafted as I’d like) much better than where I was before taking up the daily post challenge (writing only very occasional posts, but spending a lot of time on each post). But I don’t think this is quite the right place on the frequency-of-posts/time-investment spectrum I’d ideally like to be. And given that, come fall, I will have much less total time to spend on my blog, I will probably have to ration it out differently. This wouldn’t necessarily mean giving up daily posts, and instead posting only once or twice a week. That’s one option, of course, but there are others, like writing shorter posts as a rule, and only posting a “full-length” post (over 1000 words) maybe once or twice a week. For example, I could answer the daily prompts (I actually really love today’s one, “design your dream home,” and will probably write about it soon even though the prompt date will have passed) in short posts under 300 words on weekdays, saving the longer posts that require more work for the weekends (and giving me time to write multiple drafts, do extensive research, etc before the day of posting). This would allow me to maintain a daily posting schedule while still giving the more intense issues the thorough treatment they deserve.
So there we go. There are my thoughts after a couple weeks of daily blogging. The bottom line: I really love it, especially the positive responses I’ve been getting from readers, but I know that when the school-year starts up again, I won’t have the time to write 1000-word (or 1275-word) posts every day, especially not the kind that require extensive research and source-linking to put together. So I need to strike some kind of balance. Hopefully, over the next couple weeks—the second half of the month-long challenge—I can begin to work out how I’m going to do that.