Some things are almost guaranteed during the month of August. Picnics, shedding pets, Renaissance festivals, blogging…
This August I joined over 80 other bloggers in signing up for Blaugust. This blogging challenge was started last year by Belghast over on Tales of the Aggronaut. In short, we are all attempting to make at least one post a day, of at least 10 sentences, during the month of August. This year Belghast has added rules for vloggers and a new system wherein late participants can catch up and have their work “count.” So far, we have brought in 88 bloggers and vloggers who create content on a range of topics, though predominately video games and other geeky hobbies. Oh, and there will also be prizes at the end! 🙂
More information can be found on the Blaugust Initiative page, for anyone interested in participating. If you’re curious to check out what the Blaugust bloggers have been doing, the Nook would be a great place to start, or just check the #Blaugust hashtag on Twitter. We have some very talented bloggers participating, I only wish I could read more posts in a day!
The challenge is only about halfway done, but I’ve already seen some marked changes in my blogging. Participating is helping me grow as a blogger in more ways than I expected, and I know I’m not alone.
Besides having the incentive to post regularly, I and many others have been inspired to redo our blog themes, category listings, and other nuts and bolts of our sites. I believe part of this comes from being very aware new people will be reading our posts, but it’s also a side effect of reading the blogs of others. When I see such variety in blogging styles and site themes, it helps me come back to my own with fresh eyes.
Within the first week, I’d changed my header image, added social media icons, and added a sidebar image that links to the Beyond the Veil podcast. I also sorted through my tags and categories, setting up a menu link that collects all the posts about The Secret World. Other participants have changed their entire blog theme, or even opted to start a new blog. I certainly didn’t feel pressured at all to do the work I did, this just wound up being a convenient reason to get to projects I’d been putting off. It feels good when you can improve something you’ve created.
As fun as it is tinkering with blog layout, the real point here is the writing. The thought of writing a substantial blog post every day can seem daunting. I’m sure we’ve all had nights where we struggled with finding something to say, or finding the time to say it. Being able to write under these circumstances is excellent practice in staying on track for when we return to our regular (or new) schedules, but how are we managing it so far?
Many of us struggle with taking too long to write our blog posts, or only feeling we can post if we have a complicated theory or opinion to express. Very few people have deep, meaningful thoughts for thirty-one days straight, so Blaugust gives us “permission” to be more flexible. There are plenty of topics to write about even if you confine yourself to “gaming, and this is a great opportunity to ask ourselves how narrowly we want to define our topics in the first place. Is it really enjoyable to only talk about gaming, or would it be more fun to discuss other geeky things sometimes? What topics connect well even if they aren’t our norm? (We have quite a few bloggers who do not blog about gaming, that was just the easy example.)
Shorter posts can be just as interesting as longer articles, though I’m one who has a hard time remembering that. I’ve found that some posts I would previously have considered “too short,” wound up being perfectly fine as written. I’ve also become far more comfortable posting what Belghast calls “Swiss army posts” which have more than one topic. Part of my new comfort is probably due to posting more often. I feel less pressure to write long posts, when I’m writing more frequently.
One of my favorite posts this month was both fairly short and completely off topic from gaming – but it was something I wanted to write that resonated with a lot of people. I probably wouldn’t have written it if not for Blaugust, and it was an incredibly valuable lesson in writing what I feel passionate about.
Speaking of finding topics, it’s been great fun to browse our list of writing prompts. Many of us usually don’t like that sort of thing, and I’m among them. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed writing on some of those topics, and enjoyed reading the posts of others. It’s a good reminder that the idea for a post doesn’t have to be a special snowflake of uniqueness; it’s how we communicate our thoughts that makes a difference. Piggybacking off something we’ve read can be a great way to get our ideas flowing.
Simply having a chance to extend our network is another huge bonus to participating. It would be hard not to be interested in what others are writing when we’re all in this together! Through reading and commenting on each others’ blogs, we are building blogging networks where before we may have had none. This is valuable not just for support, but to continue the theme of learning from each other. Blogging can feel like speaking into a void at times, it’s always helpful to know you’re not alone.
As Blaugust progresses, I can see real change and improvement in my blogging. I’m taking more risks, covering more topics, and having more fun writing. I’ve made many new friends, and begun to build a valuable blogging network. I’ve redesigned many parts of my site, making it more user-friendly and enjoyable to use. I’d like to extend a special thanks out to Belghast for running this crazy thing, Void for providing so many writing prompts, and all of my fellow bloggers for help, retweets, inspiration, and a whole bunch of wonderful posts to read!
Want to join in on #Blaugust? There’s still time! Visit the Blaugust Initiative page, and then head over to the Nook to get signed up and see what everyone else is up to. If you’d like to see what I’ve been posting, my personal blog is at LFGryph.com.
I live in the American Midwest with a black lab mix named Loki, three cats, and a chinchilla. I’m in my 30’s, and I’ve enjoyed reading, writing, gaming, and assorted geeky pursuits my entire life. I’m a panelist on Beyond the Veil, a regular guest on a few non-Holosuite livestreams, and have a gaming/writing blog over at www.lfgryph.com.
Other than writing and gaming, I’ve worked at a few different Renaissance Festivals and I used to be on a Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast in the Twin Cities.
I love otters, ST:TNG, D&D, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and setting zombies on fire. My Twitter is @darkgryphon42 if you’d like to keep up with what I’m doing.