Well, It’s now day 31 and I’ve finished the 30-day challenge to blog for 30 days. The original challenge that I read didn’t include weekends but I went ahead and blogged straight through since there’s actually more time to write on the weekend than during the week.
I did manage to put a post up every day with the exception of day 23. I wrote the day 22 and 23 entries on day 22 using my Kindle HD Fire, Draft and Dropbox and didn’t actually post them until day 24. I didn’t actually do any writing on day 23. I’ll leave it to the 30-day blogging judges to decide how to count that.
Some posts were long, some were medium length, some had pictures and links, some were only a link, a couple were basically just “re-tweets.”
Reflecting on the experience I’m amazed at how short 30 days is. It doesn’t seem like there are 30+ posts and it felt like a much shorter time. But then, 30 days, months, years do seem to go by super-fast lately.
I enjoyed the freedom of not hesitating to write the short, tweet-length posts and then working on the longer ones when I had something to say. I didn’t work hard to find pictures to add but only used them when I felt they were appropriate or needed. Just writing words was okay and that freedom made it fun and doable.
The thing I liked the least about the experience was the quality of my writing which I think is considerably decreased from what it used to be. I could have put more effort into better writing but I was just getting some words down. In essense, I was publishing maybe the second draft of what I wrote, but not a “final draft.” That was the most dissatisfying part. I got into the habit of writing but maybe not writing well or at least better. Maybe that will be the next challenge I take on, to write at least as well as I think I used to.
Another result of all of this blogging was a better work flow. I fixed my process by smoothing out lot of friction in the steps I take to post. I wrote a fully-automated script so I can locally publish the blog (I actually do proof read entries there, spell check and see how they look), and then push the update to public on Github with a single command. I fixed emacs to automatically go into text mode and made some changes on Github to make pushing easier.
One of the lessons other bloggers shared as they were doing this process was the appropriateness of the mid-length post. That means it’s okay to write more than a tweet but less than a long essay. That’s part of the life-blood of journaling. Sometimes you just pen a brief entry but that’s enough to stake out that day. Being able to go beyond 140 characters is a chief advantage that puts blogging above tweeting while keeping the ability to write as little as desired.
I’ve come to enjoy writing in Markdown even more. It’s simple to use and, in the end, I have a completely readable and portable collection of text files that aren’t tied to a particular platform or site. I can take this site anywhere now.
One down side is that I’m running up against the performance of Octopress. At this very point it takes 35 seconds of wall clock time to generate the site. That’s not bad but it seems like a long wait in computer “waiting for a command to finish” time. I think I need to look into breaking off the archives into a separate site or section so they are generated independently. Most of the archive, all of it really, is static at this point and shouldn’t need to be regenerated for every post. However, there would be some tricks in blending it in to the main site, e.g., so that search covers the whole site including archives. It might be as simple as a different repo on Github and posting it as a separate site with a different name but the exact same look and feel. There’s more research, thinking and maybe experimenting to do here.
So what next? I’m not going to focus on making sure I post something every day. I think I’ll keep blogging more than I was for a while. I’m definitely going to take advantage of the freedom to blog anyway way I wish, long or short, elaborate or trivially simple. I’m going to read more blogs by other folks that have taken up the challenge and try to benefit from their lessons learned.
When I started the 30 days, I brainstormed a nice long list of post ideas in just a few minuts. After managing to cover a lot of them and adding ideas through the month, amazingly, the list doesn’t seem any shorter. There’s still a lot to write about!