Sunday, October 5, 2014

What I Learned During The 30-Day Blogging Challenge.

This word cloud captures all of my blog posts up to this date.

I recently completed TeachThought's 30-Day blogging challenge, and now that I've taken a few days off to recover from the writing-marathon that it was, I'd like to wrap it up with some reflection on what I learned about writing, blogging, and myself by participating in the challenge.

First, some background. I started my blog about a year ago because I was writing a lot for a class I was taking and it was easy to post my written assignments to a blog in order to submit them for the class. I continued to write blog posts throughout the year, probably averaging about one per month. I felt like I should probably write more, but a variety of factors were holding me back. When I saw the TeachThought challenge on Twitter, I figured it would be the perfect jump-start to get me over some of those blogging hurdles. Starting on September 1, I successfully posted an article on my blog every day for 30 days, using the prompts provided by TeachThought.  Here's what I learned:

1) Blogging regularly takes a lot of time. There were nights when I would be working away diligently on grading or lesson planning, look at the time, and just groan because it was already 11:00 and I hadn't yet started my blog. I lost a lot of sleep from staying up later at night just to write. While I was writing one post, I was actually repeatedly dozing off. I kept waking up to see that I was typing gibberish in my sleep. Despite the work and loss of sleep, however...

2) ...the process of writing can be addictive. Sometimes it's hard to start, but once I started typing, the ideas would develop at an ever-increasing rate and I gained some insight into my own teaching that I never would have otherwise experienced. During the day, I found myself reflecting about what I would write that night.

3) Even if you don't know what you're going to write about, just start writing. There were a few prompts that left me wondering what I would actually post. However, I felt responsible to write and started with simple ideas. Those simple ideas inevitably led to topics about which I had a lot to say, and I found myself writing more than I initially envisioned. For me, writing is kind of like my early morning runs. Once I get myself out of bed and onto the treadmill, I'm happy to be there. It's the "getting there" that's challenging.

4) It's hard to know which posts your readers will connect with. There were a handful of posts I cared very deeply about and for which the writing process was very emotional. There was this post, in which I almost slipped into "look at how awesome my classroom is" and thankfully backpedaled into sharing a more honest reflection. Or this post, probably my most open writing so far, in which I talk about the guilt I constantly feel from the conflict between my teacher-self and my personal-self. I expected that I would receive a lot of feedback on these ideas. Most of the time, I was wrong. The posts that had the most readers were often those that were less personal to me.

Honestly, I'm feeling somewhat relieved that the blogging challenge is over, and I have some more freedom at night again! However, I'm thankful that I participated in the experience. I know that it has made me more a more confident writer. I don't think I'll struggle with choosing topics to blog about as much anymore, and I'll blog more regularly. A post a day is a little to much for me, so I'm planning on one post per week. I'm also hoping to continue to grow in my courage and to post more personal writing throughout the year.

Thank you, TeachThought, for helping me to refine my voice and become a more reflective teacher!

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