Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How the Blogathon changed my life

Now that the 2010 WordCount Blogathon is over I could technically take a day off from writing, but I find myself sitting down as usual. As I wrote to Michelle Rafter, the organizer, in a recent email, participating in the event is probably one of the best blogging decisions I've made yet. I write something every day as it is, whether in my journal, one of my many small notebooks I carry at all times, or for greenz, Project Grow, or Everyday Gardens - three other blogs I work on. There was just something different about the Blogathon.

The Blogathon forced me to write something every day. Like I said, I do write every day, but it's not always publishable quality. It's often stream-of-consciousness or drafts that I mentally say I'll return to later. Later, of course, can mean later in the day or week. Sometimes it means later that same month or year. There wasn't room for that in the Blogathon. Something had to go up every day.

The Blogathon got me to put out posts about things I'd either been only thinking about or wanting to write about for some time. There's always an assortment of ideas floating about in my head. When I'm working at the farm or in the garden I often think, "Oh, this would make a great post!" or "I should write about that." But by the time I get back home the idea is gone. The pressure of having to write each and every day though, also meant that I'd somehow given myself the room PLUS that extra push needed to get the idea out. For example, I'd been meaning to write about the change in vegetable stands for some time, but not gotten around to it. I'd also been sitting on the two final posts for a series on eco-tourism for a bit. Well, thanks to the Blogathon those pieces are done and published. They're still, in some ways, not exactly what I envisioned, but that's ok. They're out.

I've learned to let go a bit. I still try to write the best I can each time, but I also write this blog to help shape my own thoughts and ideas about things. If it's up I can relink, revisit, and share new knowledge that I gain as I go along. I can see the train of thought or development of ideas as the articles go, and that's worth quite a bit in itself.

The Blogathon opened me up to the idea of writing about things that inspired me or caught my eye on the spot. The pressure of a daily deadline meant I was always on the lookout for topics. This project heightened my awareness of things around me, which is also nice given it is our second year in Japan. It's easy to be lulled into the complacency of things as usual, but the Blogathon got me to pay attention, take notes, and write.

I also learned to carry my camera with me everywhere (and eventually to charge the battery BEFORE leaving the house), and take extensive notes while out. Blogging is in many ways about capturing the moment, and carrying and using both of those tools well made many a post possible. These are both things I knew, but the Blogathon forced me to put them into practice.

I met some great people and read some great writing because of the Blogathon. One of the most unexpected pleasures of participating in this project was the community I was suddenly immersed in. Writers and bloggers from all over the world writing about a myriad of topics from a number of persepctives participated, and I would never have discovered them if it wasn't for the Blogathon. Everyone leant a supportive word here and there, read each other's blogs, and actively participated in various discussions. It was fun doing (and hosting!) a guest post, and to read all the haiku's other folks wrote.

I can't kick the habit. Inspired by the feedback I've received as well as my own progress, I've decided to write a post each weekday. I've decided I can take weekends off, although I'm not sure I'll be able to. A good five posts a week goal should keep me moving and readers up to date on food and farming in Japan. Or at least on my little patch in Tokyo. This must be what runners feel like after they finish a marathon - exhausted but happy to have done it and inspired to do it again - and so I'm going to keep it up.


Kathleen Murray said...


This is a great post and I can really relate. I too, took to carrying a camera more and found that a lot of the ideas that I might have put off to write about later actually got done when I was forced to do a daily post. It is sort of addictive. I planned to take today off, but found myself wanting to post by the end of the day. Had I been blogging when I lived in China form 2002 to 2005, I can't imagine how much better recorded my experience would have been. How lucky you are to be doing this in Japan!


Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Thanks, Kathy! The urge is irresistible now, which I think is not a bad thing. The only part that is sometimes awkward is that I can't get to my computer when I want. Hence, the notebooks. :)

I do feel quite lucky to be able to do this here. Family and friends can follow, and I have a great excuse to write about three things I really love - food, farming, and travel!

Jen said...

Joan, these are all excellent points! I love the bit about remembering to bring your camera and charge your battery because I still can't remember to do either of these things. :) Also, I'm impressed you didn't take a day off when the Blogathon ended. Keep going strong!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Thanks, Jen! I should have clarified that it's not only bring the camera, but using it. Sometimes there's a bit of a choice about when to do that, but that's another story, too. :)

Jennifer Fink said...

I'm not sure yet about my longevity, but so far we're 2 days post-Blogathon, and I've written two blog posts. It IS addicting, isn't it? :)

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Here, here, Jennifer! I'm almost afraid to stop, I've got to say. I like the momentum. Although, I could use a nap and the house is a wee bit untidy...

Michelle Rafter said...

Beautifully put Joan. I can't kick the habit either, and frankly, now that I'm back in the groove I don't want to. I love your thoughts about being spontaneous.

Michelle Rafter

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Thanks for the good words, Michelle. I confess I'm looking for more opportunities to do similar things. I'm even (gulp) considering posting every day for a year.

Anjuli said...

You really have put things into a 'nutshell' here! What a wonderful post, which I believe mirrors many of the other blogathonner's thoughts and feelings.

I'm so glad I participated- I would have never found YOUR blog if I hadn't!!

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

Thanks, Anjuli. It was such a great experience, and I did learn a lot. It was a bit difficult to not blog this weekend, but thankfully tomorrow starts a new week of posts! And I'm glad to have found your blog, too! It's cool to read about your adventures.