Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ten Lessons From Blaugust

As of today, the Blaugust challenge has been ongoing for 19 days, with nearly 30 participants that have posted every day, and another 20 bloggers who are also lending their support.  That represents over 600 blog posts, and we're only two-thirds of the way through the challenge. I think that's a pretty impressive assemblage of the written word, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

I know that there are many veteran bloggers for whom posting every day is a common practice.  For me, however, this has been a huge escalation in my blogging, and its been eye-opening on several fronts. Forcing myself (encouraging myself) to blog every day has both good and bad points and its changed how I write and what I write about.  Here are ten observations from the other side of the keyboard:

1.  Most obvious to me is that posting every day tends to make my posts short and to the point.  That can be good and bad, though.  If I have a topic that I'd really like to explore, it's hard to do it in a short post.  An alternative is to create a series of posts on the same topic, but that takes skill and practice which are in pretty short supply for me at the moment.

2.  Short posts are easier to read, and more difficult to write.  No one wants to slog through a thousand words of my turgid prose.  Blaugust has been a boot camp on trimming away the bloat.

3.  Blogging is about writing, true.  But it's also about non-writing stuff too, like maintaining your blog site, updating and curating links, making the blog visually clear and easy to visit, mastering other forms of social media (like Anook).  It's started me down the path of becoming a better web-resident.

4.  The constraint to write "right now" hones your thinking.  You don't have all semester to write an essay.  You need to get right to the heart of the matter and convey it clearly and with insight.  And do it again tomorrow.  Rapid blogging forces me to pick out that single gem from the chaos of my thoughts and present it simply.

5.  With many authors posting, now is a great time to sample a lot of different writing.  When you're writing mostly within your own bubble, things might become stale.  Reading other authors makes you a better writer.  Listening to other opinions makes you a more rounded thinker.

6.  Daily blogging for me lends itself to a personal schedule.  When I don't stick to one I'm likely to procrastinate, which increases the pressure I create for myself.  Under stress, I'm more prone to writer's block.

7.  I write better when my blogging schedule includes non-writing activities as well.  I now set aside time to read blogs, gather ideas and try to understand alternative viewpoints.

8. Some of the best blog post from gaming blogs can be about non-gaming subjects.  They can reveal a lot about the writer, which then informs that writer's perspective but also identifies areas you have in common with them.

9.  Posting cogent comments on other people's blogs encourages me to appreciate what they're trying to say and forges personal connections.  They aren't just anonymous people with mistaken ideas.  I have a better sense of the challenge bloggers are going through just to put words on the page.  I see them working through thorny problems, striving to be both incisive in their thinking and fair to their subject matter.

10.  Blogging about games changes the way I play games. It is classic application of the Observer effect.  The more I write about games, the more I want to know about them, so I'm more aware of what's going on within their virtual worlds.  I'm paying attention to everything a bit more and it's creating a sense of immediacy that is both intoxicating, but also alarming.

So those are my ten lessons from Blaugust, at least so far.  We've still got a long way to go, but we're on the downhill run.

Post nineteen in the Blaugust challenge to post once a day for the 31 days of August.


  1. I agree with these points and I didn't realise until just now how many of these can apply to me - I'm always trying to get more info on stuff and this month I have been obsessed with the preparation of changing my blog layout!

    Great post :)

  2. Yes, I've been gripped by layout fascination myself. It's only recently that I began using my blog as a start page for a number of other resources and I've started to look at the layout differently.

    I love the open format of your blog, btw. Very inviting.