30 Day Blogging Challenge – The good, the bad, and thanks.

In a previous post, I raised that I was participating in the 30 Day Blogging challenge. More details about the challenge itself can be found in the Facebook group here.

The motivation for partaking ranged from a New Year’s resolution (which I have actually managed to stick to) to boosting the volume of content on my blog, which began at the inception of the challenge.

As I sit in front of my laptop 30 days later, there is a feeling of satisfaction that I have managed to complete the challenge. It wasn’t easy, some days I spent longer debating with myself about what to write than I did actually writing. The most difficult times were when other things in my life (family and work) became a little pressurised and I still had this little alarm flashing in my head screeching ‘blog post, blog post, blog post’. On the trickiest days, I resorted to lists which weren’t as enjoyable from a writing perspective and not as satisfactory as those that provoked considerable thought and reflection.

To coincide with launching the blog, I opened a twitter account (yep, totally down with the kids) and used it to promote my blog and to network with other writers. That too had been a hopeful intention and one which has proved relatively fruitful. When aiming to connect with other writers, I realise I’d actually meant writers of fiction that sat comfortably within the genre I write. The reality has been far more expansive than I could have imagined.

I have found mutual interest with writers of genres that I don’t even read. Erotica and romance to sci-fi, the spectrum is vast but in some cases even more educational than sticking to my own. What is life about, if not stepping outside your comfort zone and doing so with an open mind?

There are bloggers blogging on subjects that I would never have sought which have provided amusement and inspiration in equal measures. There are non-fiction writers who have toyed with the idea of fiction or are in process of writing their first. The list goes on, journalists, literary agents, publishers, and as obvious as it seems in retrospect, readers of fiction.

I can’t, however, deny that the progress of my second novel has suffered. I remain in plotting phase and have barely touched it. So keen was I to complete the blogging challenge, I neglected the motivation that instigated it. I want to write fiction, and I haven’t been as disciplined as I should have been to continue to do that alongside blogging. For all the benefits I have experienced, this has been a disappointment, albeit a self-inflicted one.

It will be strange not getting up each day and feeling the unnegotiable compulsion to blog. The routine has become established and apart from the very few days it felt like a burden, it has been something I’d look forward to posting. I’d wake and email myself some ideas before I even got out of bed. The ideas would reverberate around my mind as I drove to work and by the time I got there, I had a good idea of what to do.

A routine is important, I try to make it one of my first jobs of the day, somewhere between waking up and starting the day job. When my alarm goes off, a habit has developed which sees me grab the iPad, email myself some ideas which I then write up when in front of my laptop. I know I need a break from the daily recurrence of the task, but I will miss it and suspect I’ll revisit the challenge at a later date. I do intend to maintain the blog regularly moving forward, just perhaps not every day for a while!

To everyone who encouraged, supported, read, liked, commented, and shared, I sincerely thank you for aiding my motivation to continue. It has been a pleasure to do, to connect, and ultimately to complete the challenge. I have learned a lot throughout the 30 day period and that in itself is hugely rewarding. I’m raising my hand for high fives so don’t leave me hanging…   I look forward to supporting you when you start the challenge (ahem!)

 

 

 

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My 7 Favourite Posts of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Fast approaching the end of my 30 day blogging challenge, I wanted to highlight what have been my favourite articles over the period. Some were selected due to the higher than average volume of traffic, whereas others flew under the radar but were satisfying from a personal perspective.

 

Here are my top seven favourites:

 

FIVE THINGS I WISH I’D KNOWN BEFORE STARTING MY NOVEL

A therapeutic reflective post based on the lessons I learned whilst completing my first manuscript.

 

WRITING AROUND FULL TIME EMPLOYMENT

A post to address the one of the two biggest challenges I face whilst trying to forge a career in writing.

 

BALANCING WRITING WITH FAMILY LIFE

The other of the two major challenges, balancing family responsibilities with the challenges of writing.

 

FIVE BOOKS THAT INSPIRED ME TO WRITE

A difficult post to write, choosing only five books that inspired me to write myself.

 

MY FAILED NOVEL – A DOCUMENTARY FOR WRITERS

A post that came out of the blue after chancing across a documentary on Sky catch up. A real must watch for aspiring writers.

 

TEACHING OF ENGLISH IN SCHOOLS

A reflection on where my passion was triggered and paying respect to the teacher who played a large part in that instigation.

 

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING OR SELF PUBLISHING

A ‘thinking aloud’ type post which debates the pro’s and con’s of each method of publishing.

 

Grammatical Annoyance

My day job consists of a variety of tasks, one of which involves reviewing documentation created from within the team that is destined for the wider business audience.

 

There are technical arguments over particular grammatical usages, but there are some mistakes that are unforgivable. I’m not referring to the intricacies of language construction, just basic words interchanged due to a lack of basic understanding of what they mean.

 

The most common annoyances are:

They’re vs. Their vs. There

Come on… This is primary school stuff.

Its vs. It’s

Is it really that difficult?

Your vs. You’re

The apostrophe in the later represents ‘ a’. Simple.

To vs. Too

Probably the most common but none-the-less irritating.

Affect vs. Effect

Effect relates to the change, affect is the act of changing.

Then vs. Than

Think of ‘than’ as a comparison, ‘then’ as a mover of time.

Me vs. I

My favourite annoyance as my Mother often corrected me on this one, time proved that it was I/me who had been correct. ‘I’ is not to be used in objects, so in that scenario, use ‘me’.

 

 

I genuinely don’t mind adding or removing commas, even apostrophes. However, the list of mistakes above which are repeated by the same people over and again frustrate me. If my work was continually corrected I would feel obliged to observe a lesson. When I first began writing as a journalist, the best advice I was given was to compare the final version to the submitted version and use a highlighter over the differences. I just wish others would follow this guidance… or perhaps I am becoming as pedantic as I considered the person who had given me that advice.

Write like Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway appears to be the most quotable author in the spectrum, my personal favourite being the rather blunt, ‘the first draft of anything is shit’.

 

The Nobel Prize-winning American writer created most of his works from 1925 over the next 30 years. He published 7 novels, 6 collections of short stories, and 2 non-fiction pieces. After his death in 1961, further publications bearing his name were released (3 novels, 4 short story collections, and 3 non-fiction). His journalistic background would go on to shape his fiction writing, a short, sharp style that left little room for auxiliary words.

 

Brian Clark’s piece on Copyblogger (http://www.copyblogger.com/ernest-hemingway-top-5-tips-for-writing-well/) highlighted 5 Hemingway tips for writing well and it is well worth a read.

 

In summary, the rules are:

 

  • Use short sentences.
  • Use short first paragraphs.
  • Use vigorous English.
  • Be positive, not negative.
  • Never have only 4 rules.