I was going to write 30 things I learned from blogging for 30 days but that was just too ridiculous; I’m done with the whole 30 Day shtick for awhile.
So, I am going to attempt to reflect here on some of the (many, though maybe not 30) lessons I learned from my recent experiment of writing something—anything—for 30 straight days on my blog.
A little review: I took on the 30 Day Blogging Challenge because, while I have been blogging for many years now, my regular, natural, and almost effortless rhythm of publishing 2-3 times per week has suffered a cruel blow in this past year. The reasons for this are probably varied but I think I can sum them up by saying that professionally my work has begun to demand even more from me than it did before, and personally this past year has been one of extreme difficulty and trauma, demanding every ounce of pretty much everything I had just to keep breathing.
All of that said, living through this past year has also taught me that I must write—somehow—it seems to be a life-giving activity for me. As I am all about promoting life-giving activities these days, I naturally had to find a way to get back to blogging. The 30 Day Blogging Challenge seemed like a good way to jump in again, particularly since I knew that just by declaring my intent I would have a chorus of folks cheering me on (or yelling at me, either way).
So, as you know, I did it. I did it! My 30 Day Blogging Challenge posts are all labeled with that label so you can find them if you want to read my deep thoughts. In the meantime, here are some things I learned about writing, blogging, the world, and myself through this exercise:
- Writing every day for 30 days straight is really, really hard. Snobbily, I would like to say that this must be harder than writing in a journal (at which I am abysmally bad) because there’s the whole issue that people might actually read what you write on the blog, thus ramping up the pressure to produce something reasonably acceptable.
- If one is serious about writing, one must keep a notebook with her at all times because she never knows where inspiration (of which you need a lot for this sort of thing) will strike. I got a lot of ideas while driving, in the movies, exercising, etc.
- There are things to write about everywhere you look. You’ll notice that I gleaned a lot of ideas from listening to NPR. I think I could have paid even more attention to the world around me if I wasn’t feeling pressure to write all the time!!
- Deep theological reflection needs time to sink in and develop. I found that when I was writing everyday I tended to keep things much lighter than usual. For me, anyway, I’ve learned that a developing theological idea takes several days of musing to coalesce into something I can express. Let all those who listen to my sermons pause here to thank the Lord that Sunday comes once a week instead of everyday.
- Nobody cares about my blog as much as I do. Why this might be a revelation to me I have no idea, but I found myself stressing out about getting my blog entries up, worrying about how late I posted them, obsessing over variations in topics . . . . I soon discovered that no one cared, really. Really. So I often ended up having long conversations with myself about these topics, which I felt at the time were critical or at least really, really, really, really super important. (Just add it to the list of evidence that I am losing it.)
- The world will not end if I don’t do every single thing on my to-do list. This is an ongoing lesson, which I seem to have opportunities to learn in many different forums. I did miss one day of blogging (which I made up . . . I made it up!!). I forgot to blog one day, and subsequently woke up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. But, as far as I know no one died. And the world seems not to have ended as a result. Whew.
- I write in a lot of other places besides my blog. While I struggled to create blog entries for each day of the challenge, I finally realized that I was writing other places, too. You may have noticed that I cross-posted my columns at ABP and even began posting my sermons, which I also (by the way) write! Who knew? It was good for me to bring all of these things together in my mind.
I am sure there are other critical life lessons I learned from this experience, but these will do for now. What’s next, you ask?
Well, the secret intent behind all of this is to write a book.
I can’t believe I just wrote that down, because even the thought makes me want to curl up in a ball on the floor. But I have this idea for a book . . . it almost feels like it is somewhere inside of me trying to get out . . . and that, whether or not anyone besides me reads it, I somehow will not be able to rest until it’s down on paper.
So . . . step one to writing a book: get back to blogging regularly by successfully doing the 30 Day Blogging Challenge.
Step two to writing a book: send email to make an appointment with writing coach who said she would work with me.
Step three to writing a book: meet with writing coach to determine next steps toward actual writing of book.
Step four to writing a book: complete first assignment from writing coach . . .