I did it!
I wrote 30 blog posts in 30 days (including this one).
I’m including this one because I wanted to look back at what I got out of this little experiment in the hopes that it will be useful to others, so I intend this post to be a useful edition to my blog rather than some sort of self-backpatting (not a real word).
Let’s start with the positives.
They turned out OK
I did this little experiment in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, where people write a 50,000+ word novel in a month.
Now, I know that if I dedicated an entire month to nothing but writing and managed a 50,000+ word novel, it wouldn’t be good. It feels like a goal so unrealistic that I’d lose the motivation very soon and write rubbish.
I was worried that this logic would carry over to this project; that after 30 days I’d be so fed up of writing blog posts that they’d start turning out terribly.
I’d like to think that there wasn’t a visible drop in quality over the 30 days. I mean, I managed to write them all in full sentences, stayed on-topic, and didn’t resort to rambling about random subjects.
I have 30 more blog posts than I started with
Obviously this was the entire purpose of the exercise, but because I feel they turned out OK, I have 30 more usable blog posts than I started with.
At my previous pace it would have taken me decades to generate this much content.
No time to overthink
Having a daily deadline really got rid of all the distractions and self-doubt that plagued my blogging efforts before. I had no time to think about whether a topic was worth discussing – if it was related, and I felt I could write something useful about it, it was good enough.
“Good enough” is a concept I’m better friends with now.
Putting yourself out there
I tweeted about every blog post to make sure I was keeping myself honest. It created a habit that helped me focus on getting the next post written.
Obviously things weren’t all rosy.
Make it STOP!
This was a long month. Having even an hour commitment each evening was hard work sometimes.
Being an adult is hard.
Do I even have 30 ideas?
I’m not going to lie, there were some days I struggled to think of what to write about.
I had maybe 7-8 topics I knew I wanted to write about beforehand, and a few small machine learning tutorials I wanted to write up, but the other two thirds of the time the posts were conceived on the day or the day before.
If I were to do this for another 30 days I might simply run out of ideas.
Big topics, small posts
Sometimes I had the opposite problem. I thought of a good topic to tackle, but due to the time pressure probably didn’t do it justice. Or I responded to a piece of news, such as the UK’s IP bill, but would have liked to write a more complete, well-researched view of it. I actually did that with the IP bill.
Conclusion and Advice to Future Bloggers (or past me)
All in all, doing something like this forced me out of my comfort zone.
For a whole month I regularly had to create content and put it out there without the level of scrutiny and deliberation I normally would have subjected it to.
I’m now more comfortable with my posts being good enough instead of always aiming for ‘perfection’.
I realised I had lots of code snippets, Jupyter notebooks, and half-finished machine learning tutorials lying around that I never got around to writing up. Now they’re out there.
I actually enjoy writing and, apart from a few days where I wished I didn’t have this task looming over me, I’m glad I’ve been writing so much recently.
The momentum is with me, although I will almost certainly stop producing daily posts (I also have another writing challenge to finish in the near future, in the form of a Master’s thesis).
So my advice to anyone reading this, including a past version of me, would be to do it!
If you’re struggling to add to your blog/portfolio, want a boost to help you complete half-finished code projects, or you want to get over your insistence on perfection (I’m looking at you, past me), start a similar challenge!
It doesn’t have to be a whole month, start with less if you want. As I’ve alluded to before, starting is almost certainly always the hardest part.
To get you going, here’s some text that you can copy-and-paste into a tweet to announce your challenge to the world. Fill in the gaps where appropriate:
I’m starting a blogging challenge: ___ posts in ___ days. My first topic will be ____, watch this space!
As silly and patronising as this might appear, the “secret” is to reduce the barrier to entry, to remove obstacles. I’ve reduced it now to almost just Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V. No excuses.
Once that tweet is out there, you’d be surprised at how much focus and discipline you can muster to make sure you actually complete your challenge.
Here’s to more blogging!
Footnote: I think you know by now that this is the 30th, and final, entry in my 30 day blog challenge.