This guest post is by Karen Andrews of Miscellaneous Mum.
As problogger.net reported earlier this year, November is traditionally National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). This year I decided to set myself a personal challenge by giving them a try. Yes, together. In the spirit of imparting some tales of my intrepid adventures, I thought I’d share with you some important (and surprising) things I learned along the way.
1. Don’t be afraid to cut away the safety net
Is your blogging routine as old and worn as your favorite pair of slippers? Do you post at the same time on the same day, week in and out?
I see the comfort this can provide, and usually prescribe to the method, but on the other hand might this negate a thing blogging is often known for—the spirit of experimentalism? What if an alternate time, or topic, or way of publicizing your content happened to work even better? Isn’t it worth trialling?
2. Application cultivates discipline
It’s an old adage that the more a muscle is exercised, the better it performs and is strengthened, and I think this applies to writing. I found that by making the commitment, I found the time I needed to perform my tasks—in batches, I will add, as I have a child at home—and I sat down to work guilt-free and purposeful. This more positive mindset really helped.
3. Creativity rises in the ranks of precedence
It would take a remarkable talent to post thirty straight days (or more) of absolute winning content: talent, planning, assistance, and even a little luck might be closer to the mark. Even the most serious and best of us have silly off-the-cuff days, and I, personally, find them refreshing to both read and write.
It gives you the chance to share a part of yourself that a different kind of reader will identify with and appreciate. If your blog is more business or niche orientated this might be trickier, but I can cite some instances here on problogger.net where Darren has done something similar with great results—like an April Fools joke post which stated that ProBlogger had been acquired by Google, or a special guest post by his son.
So I’m issuing a challenge: post your own photographs instead of sourcing them from creative commons, write some flash fiction. Do you draw? Show us!
4. Determining your blogging future might just be made that much clearer
Once the month is over, stand back and take a breather. You’ve earned one. But what’s next? If you’re like me, worrying about traffic and subscribers takes a backseat when you’re in the middle of the task of laying down words until you emerge from the fog. Lucky there’s a wealth of information waiting to be looked over via Feedburner or Statcounter or Google Analytics (if you choose to do so).
Sometimes you’ll be able to tell what worked “better” by commenter count or good old gut instinct. The question now is: which way will you go? Will you apply your new tactics or chalk them up to mere play? It’s never an easy question to answer, but think about it this way: you’re better situated to do so now than you were a month ago.
5. This above all: life happens. Make peace with the fact
Did I finish NaNoWriMo? No, I barely cracked the 3,500 word mark. What happened? Illness, end-of-year school concerts, events, errands. You know the usual excuses. Still, those 3,500 are better than nothing—which might have happened if I hadn’t signed up at all. Besides, I still met the NaBloPoMo goal.
I believe above all else that the best thing you can offer your blogging is the best you. This might mean taking a rest or postponing such challenges if they become too untenable. The best thing of all is, you’ve got the next thirty days, you can begin again. Go solo if you want, you’ve already got the practice in. Maybe recruit some blogging buddies, and make it a community project. You can do it.
Karen Andrews is an author, publisher at Miscellaneous Press, award-winning short story writer and poet. She is also known through her personal blog as ‘Miscellaneous Mum‘. She is on Twitter as @miscmum.