This is day 30 of "The Thirty Day Blog Binge." Here's where it all began...
30 days of blogging. Done. It was my way of getting myself creatively unstuck and writing again. After my 30 day exploration of regimented, daily posting, I consider to have been an great learning experience. Looking back on the last month, here are 8 reasons I think everyone should give it a go.
- It's harder than you think.
And you need to try something hard. You need to prove to yourself that you can do something you set your mind to. Don't freak yourself out, just write day 1. There are days it will be an incredible challenge to find time to write: just plan to write something short on those days. Other days, you might have 8 free hours while you're home with a sick six-year-old: while they nap, that's the day for a long post. Yes, it may be hard to find time and ideas, but if you don't try, how will you grow?
- It's easier than you think.
If you stop wondering if what you have to say is any good, you'll find you have a lot more to say. Instead of self-editing before your words even hit the page, being "obligated" to blog actually makes it easier: you're forced to work with whatever you're thinking about at the time.
My sadness at the end of MythBusters 14-year-run became this post where I started thinking about how we could leverage their model in education. Instead of talking myself out of it, I just started writing. And when you just start writing, it's easier than you think.
- It releases you from having to be perfect.
One of Seth Godin's favorite phrases is "Real artists ship." A true artist understands that they're up against a deadline, and they have to get their art to a point where it's able to leave them, even if it doesn't match the ultimate picture they have in their head.
A daily deadline forces you to ship. It's no longer about refining that post until it's perfectly coiffed and it's ready to enter a pageant. Instead, it becomes about getting it presentable enough to release to the public so they can reflect on your thinking and join you in conversation.
- You start interacting with ideas instead of just observing them.
Having a writer's mindset means that anything you come across is fair game for further exploration. The inspiration for this four learning spaces post came during a less-than-interesting classroom furniture committee meeting. Had I not been looking for something to write about that day, I don't know that I would have dug any deeper into Thornburg's ideas about how primordial metaphors relate to our classroom space. I learned a lot by choosing to engage with an unexpected idea.
- It forces you to vary your style.
It's easy to get stuck in a rut. I, for one gravitate towards list posts (like this one, this one, this one, this one over here, and this one...plus a few more...and the one you're reading right now...). Not that list posts are bad, but I didn't want to write 30 of them.
So I explored image posts, a counterpoint post (that's also a list post...I know), reflections on a flooded washing machine and edtech, a post with a handy embedded Form, a video tutorial post, and a product review. Knowing that you're going to post the next day makes you willing to try something different. After all, it's only going to be on your front page for a brief moment in time.
- It frees you from the tyranny of analytics.
Everyone who blogs watches their stats (and they're lying if they tell you differently). It's not egomania (well, sometimes it is), but it's more about feeling like we're contributing to our online community. When you blog occasionally, it's very easy to feel frustrated by a low number of pageviews or retweets. When you blog every day, you realize that just because something doesn't get viewed as much as you'd like, it was still worth writing because it helped you clarify your thinking or express something that had been on your mind.
This post on creativity was one that had been rolling around in my head for a long time and that I needed to get out. It wasn't read an insane amount of times, but it was something I needed to write because I felt it was important and I wanted to share it.
- It helps you make new connections.
I wrote this post after a presentation to my Superintendent. In it, I offhandedly mentioned a 27-page-report we had submitted analyzing our 1:1 pilot. Ryan Camire, an instructional technologist from Medway Public Schools in Massachusetts, left a comment and asked to see it.
After I sent it to him, we realized that our districts were in very similar places in our digital journey. A few days later, we spent 45 minutes on the phone discussing professional development and potential future edtech collaboration. When you put what you're doing out there, it helps other people find you so you can learn together.
- You'll learn something about yourself.
If you're writing posts that are meaningful to you, you'll learn something about who you are and what you're passionate about. Somewhere in this thirty-day binge, I finally internalized what I had been learning: instruction comes first, then tech. Although it was something I knew, it hadn't gone deep enough to become a part of my thought process. I was too app-focused and not instructionally focused.
In a small but meaningful change, the description on my blog header went from "Educational Technology" to "Education + Technology." It may seem minor, but that's a significant shift in thinking. My focus is now less about edtech than it is about how tech supports best practices in curriculum and instruction. I'm still going to blog about apps and tools, but I realize the need to look deeper at how we incorporate them to support research-based instructional practices.
So if you decide to binge for 30 days, let me know. I'd love to support you. For now, I'm interested in what tomorrow will be like. Who knows? Maybe I'll write something...