It was in about early January when I began to mull over the idea of getting back into a writing habit. I wanted to renew the discussion and connectedness I enjoyed through my blog and get myself writing regularly again. The #28daysofwriting idea sprang from that desire.
It has been a fascinating experience to be sharing it with over 100 other writers, educators and bloggers from around the world. Some of those who signed up didn’t manage to stick at it and others didn’t post everyday. But it doesn’t matter. To begin with there was lots of “I am not sure if that is breaking the rules” type comments, which made me smile.
However you participated and I am grateful to everyone, whether writer, reader or commenter, who took part, I just hope the challenge has made you think about what professional or personal writing means to you and you have learned something along the way. Here are some of my reflections.
Writing as Thinking
For me I have learned that this is a vital part of the way I think and the way I work. The month has challenged me to write and publish more frequently, and the effort has only strengthened my belief that writing is core part of my life. It is vital to me and I have enjoyed every moment. It has helped me share ideas that were swimming around and has proved the cathartic process I knew it was.
Forming the Habit
This challenge was a very personal endeavour to write more frequently and regularly, to dispel the blog guilt and begin to form a habit of publishing. I still think time will tell. This spike in activity will not continue for me and I will fall into a more mellow rhythm of posting I suspect. I have learned that I can find the time to do it. One of the reasons for this is that I value it. I have been able to find the time because writing is important to me.
Reading and Commenting
In the future I am keen to turn my attention to reading and commenting (#28daysofcommenting is all set for March) as the natural parallel to maintaining a blog. This month has been about writing, but for our education communities to remain strong we need habits of reading, commenting and discussion. If you are looking back on a month of writing like me, perhaps you will consider a month of commenting and discussion.
I maintain that it is a fading part of our professional communities and the longer form discussion is being replaced by micro engagements that barely scratch the surface of what is possible. Let’s rally round and show our support for those brave enough to share by leaving an encouraging comment or challenging question. Let’s show the community we are not just lurking but there with them. Let’s increase the frequency, depth and quality of educational blog comments and discussions.
Being Accountable to My Network
I stated I was embarking on this challenge for February to tens of thousands of people. It is quite a clarifying experience being accountable to that. Scott Belsky refers to it in his book Making Ideas Happen. It has been even better to share the month long writing experience with so many others also having a go. As I have already said, I am so very grateful to everyone who accepted the challenge and followed my crazy idea.
A Wise Crowd
I have been able to learn so much from the sharing of others. Throughout the month I have been able to read blogs from connections I made years ago as well as teachers I have not had the chance to meet with yet. It has been so refreshing to see blogging and professional writing alive and well and to share in the wisdom within these special networks. I have always advocated for this particular type of professional sharing and I hope it inspires more people to start a blog and begin to share.
What is Different and Next Steps
From the experience this month I am more confident about the structure of my writing, I know how long I need for certain types of posts, I know when I write best and in what conditions. I have a better sense of the types of posts I want to write about and the core topics I will be exploring in the future. I spent a lot of time this month studying the way content is being published online nowadays and I have better understanding of the technical requirements of generating great writing.
#28daysofwriting continues. There are many who will be still writing and posting so keep tabs on the hashtag. Another round starts for some in March and although I am not blogging I will be maintaining the mailing list I set up for those who signed up. I will be sharing more tips and ideas on writing, and general curiosities about professional blogging.
#28daysofcommenting begins in March. Please consider joining this challenge to complement the success in February with your own writing. Just comment on other people’s blogs, you can do one a day or 28 minutes of commenting each day – whatever you like. Tweet and share your comments using the hashtag.
Thanks again for your support and whatever you do, keep writing.