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3 things I learned blogging for 30 days in a row

Today marks the 30th day in a row of blogging here on mgherron.com!

I’m celebrating this small victory with my favorite cider…

*KACHNK*

*HHSSSSSSSS*

*SLURP*

Ahhhh, yeahup. That hits the spot.

Blogging every day for a month was a good challenge. Here are a few things I already knew, but which the challenge brought to the forefront and clarified for me.

1. Streaks don’t tolerate excuses

Inevitably, if you try to do anything worth doing for 30 days in a row (writing, exercising, getting enough sleep) there will be days when you won’t feel like doing that thing.

Just the way it goes. The sun can’t shine forever. Clouds will roll in. Such is life.

Does that mean you get to take a break? No way, buddy. Don’t even think about it.

Having a 30 day blogging streak means that I posted when I didn’t want to. I even posted when…

  • I didn’t know what I was going to say
  • I didn’t feel like writing
  • I was tired
  • I was on vacation

There were even days where I nearly forgot, and didn’t post until close to midnight.

But I didn’t give in to the excuses.

It helps when you set the bar low, and can always reach for some low hanging fruit. With blogging this means being able to post a photo or a quote and call it a night. With fiction, try setting your goal so low that it’s laughable. How’s 50 words? Five minutes? Surely you can manage five minutes a day. And when you’ve got that down pat, make it fifteen.

Piece of cake. You’ve got this.

2. Daily words add up over time

Even better is to see how many words it all adds up to in the end.

I totaled the number of words in all 31 blogs.

Total (including this blog): 7,250 words

And this took about fifteen minutes of effort per day. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

7,250 words is the length of 1 – 3 short stories.

Or 2 – 3 epic blog posts.

Of course, in that time period I also wrote about 15,000 original words of fiction 😀 But that’s my life, not yours.

Set your own standards.

Stay calm, write every day, and it will eventually add up if you can learn to be patient. This works with any kind of writing, whether that’s fiction, nonfiction, blogging, or your memoirs.

It’s amazing what’s possible with consistent practice over time.

3. The more you give, the more you have

This concept is hard to put into words. It’s even harder to explain to beginning writers in a way that they are inclined to believe because it’s counter intuitive. But I’ll try.

Take this example:

The more ideas you brainstorm, the more ideas you will have.

Don’t believe me? Try to brainstorming 10 new ideas a day. If you do that for a week, I’ll bet that you’re bursting with ideas at the end of the week. At the beginning of the week you won’t be able to imagine what those seventy ideas would even be. By the end you’ll be writing in the margins of the page because you’re running out of room. Ten won’t be nearly enough!

That’s because your creative brain gets used to the idea, gets better, and comes up with more ideas. How? By teaching it to come up with ideas in the first place.

Same with writing. The more words you write, the more you will be able to write. You build your muscle by using it. At first, fifteen minutes of writing will exhaust you. You’ll be able to increase the amount of time you spend writing given practice.

A lot of people (myself included) started out by thinking that creative energy is some kind of finite well. That you can use it up, or run it dry.

But that’s not true. Writing isn’t a well. It’s a muscle.

And how do you make muscles stronger? By using them.

I’ve overcome this hurdle so many times that I thought I was past it entirely. And yet when I undertook this challenge, one of my first thoughts was, “I’m going to need more ideas. I don’t have enough blog ideas for 30 days. What am I going to write about?”

That’s the well trap. When you see yourself speaking negatively like that, saying “I can’t” or “I don’t” or “I never,” cut it off at the root. Creativity is not a well. It doesn’t dry up…unless you don’t use it.

I don’t always know what I’m going to write in the day’s blog post. Most of the time I have no idea.

But the more I did it, the easier it became.

Having a daily practice even took the anxiety out of it. If I don’t post for a long time, I feel a huge pressure to make the next post great, perfect, wonderful. If I post every day, there’s another chance tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.

If I’m in the mood, I can write long posts like this one. If I’m not, there are other options. Half the fun is coming up with creative ways to maintain the streak with the minimum amount of effort.

I guess you could call me lazy. I call it smart.

I’ll try to keep up the daily blog, at least for now. It’s a good challenge, and fun. Hope you stick around.

***

Special thanks to Jason H. Abbott, BookDragonGirl, jenniereads, todaysechoes, Christy Esmahan, and Jason Knight for reading and liking and sharing. I see you, and I thank you.

If you’ve read anything I’ve written here in the past 30 days, would you chime in with a quick comment to let me know what you’d like to see more of?

In Search of a Better Reading Experience

Photo by Samuel Zeller: https://unsplash.com/@samuelzeller

I took some time this week to redo mgherron.com. What do you think? A lot cleaner, right?

In search of a better reading experience, I switched themes on the site. This one (Make, if you’re wondering) loads much faster, has fewer bugs, and the style of the blog is more flexible. But above all, it’s clean and easy to read.

Ease of use is also a factor. Less work for me means I can spend more time spent writing for you.

Homepage of mgherron.com as of Dec 2016
Homepage of mgherron.com 12/10/16. Click to embiggen.

I also took the opportunity to gut some needless pages, and generally reorganize things. The blog is now over on the blog page instead of the homepage. There’s a new short stories page, and the stories not available on the website link straight to Amazon where you can buy them. Best of all, the new homepage features the books and stories instead of these random ass blog posts 😀

The blog posts are fun, but it makes perfect sense to feature the books and stories first. Welcome to MGHerron.com, here’s some entertaining fiction. That’s what this is about.

I also wrote a new bio. I wrote it in third person initially…Writing about myself in first person still feels awkward, but I changed it person at the suggestion of a writer friend. These Writing Out Loud blog posts have always been transparent and honest, I remembered, so it makes sense to extend that vulnerability to the rest of the site and what I’m trying to do here.

Bonus points

Speaking of which…Bonus points if you can find the new short story. I’m not doing anything to hide it. In fact, the cover is lovely and brings great joy to my heart. But I’m holding back on announcing it until the paperback version is ready. It’s taking longer than I expected for CreateSpace to sync with Amazon for this title. The ebook, however, is available.

If you have any comments on the new site, leave it in the comments or drop me a line at matt@mgherron.com


Photo by Samuel Zeller

Nothing + Time = Something

Photo by Maxime Le Conte des Floris: https://unsplash.com/@mlcdf

Blogging is exciting when I have news to share. It’s harder on all the other days, when I have so much I want to tell you but none of it seems like big news, none of it worthy of marking as time passes. So instead of making a new blog I shrug and let it slip by.

Not today!

November was a lot of nothing in that way. I worked. I showed up for my responsibilities. Time passed. It felt like nothing until I looked up and it was December, the end of another year, and, why, would you take a look at that, it all added up to a little something in the end.

During October and November I spent my writing time working on Tales. Of course. It seems like that project is going to drag on forever, but I’m about 25% of the way through the second draft now. At the end of this draft the book goes to a copyeditor, then to beta readers, then to the world.

So, very close. It’s been a long time coming. It feels like nothing, but there it is: 25% complete the second draft. 20,000 words out of about 80k total.

The other thing I accomplished, and this is more recent, just this week in fact, is that I got a new short story edited and produced. This is a story called “The End of the World Is Better with Friends” that I wrote during the short story workshop I took in August/September. I ran it by a new copyeditor, who seems great, and produced the ebook and print book myself just today.

I’ve listed those two projects in the new Story Tracker section included below along with all the other stories I have in various stages of completion. I’ll include these Story Trackers on non-topic-based blogs like this so you can see what I’ve been working on, if you’re interested.

The Tracker helps keep me honest, and, as I’ve said, helps me see that my effort adds up to something over time.

The next time you hear from me, I should have a new short story for you!

• • •

Story Tracker

Novels

Tales of the Republic, second draft … 25% complete
20,000 words revised / 80,000 estimated total words

Short Stories

“Centurion” … 3k words … Status: Out for submission (trade pub)

“Earworm” … 3k words … Status: Out for submission (trade pub)

“The End of the World Is Better with Friends” … 6k words … Status: Post-Production (indie)

“The Door Below the Comic Store” … 6k words … Status: Out for edits (indie)

“Wendigo” … 10k words … Status: Rough draft complete (tbd)

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Photo by Maxime Le Conte des Floris