Thursday, October 16, 2014

What I Learned in Two Weeks


There's more to blogging than writing.
There's shopping. And learning!
Fifteen days ago I pledged to post here daily about one topic. 

My usual blogging schedule is once or twice a month, so I knew I was jumping into the deep end of the pool.

Try as I did, I couldn’t talk myself out of signing on to The Nester’s 31-Day Challenge. I knew the problem wouldn’t be lack of ideas. The problem would be choosing which ideas I could turn into posts that would read as interesting and helpful.
  
In other words, was I a good enough writer, organizer, and crafter?
     
I learned seven different things

I Have Bad Habits

The most value I've received from the challenge so far has been observing habits that I want to change. These habits include -- but are not limited to -- poor time management, overestimating my skillset, and a tendency to skip to new projects and ideas before completing a previous one.

They say the first step to changing behavior is to see it. When my self-defeating habits became magnified, I am seeing how they really do limit my productivity. The next step is to substitute a new behavior. I’m working on that!

I’ve Still Got It (Part of it, anyway)

When my children were in high school their grandfather bought them a video course (it’s now available on DVD) called “Where There’s a Will There’s an A.”  We watched it together, and I learned things I wish I had known in school.

One of those things was that you learn better by revisiting at brief intervals what you are studying. I was reminded of this study method when I noticed that over the past 14 days my computer skills have improved.

Any blogger knows that blogging requires multiple steps. As long as I was posting monthly, I didn’t get the rapid repetition of tasks those steps called for – writing, editing, research, camera work, photo editing, and using social media. I’m 72 years old and my short term memory gears are beginning to slip. When you’re young your brain absorbs like crazy. But aging makes learning new stuff more difficult. So I was encouraged by the improvements I made in skills, mostly the speed at which I was able to do routine blogging work. I was able to more realistically set deadlines for myself and keep to them. I developed a rhythm that helped me be more efficient.

Study is Fun

To make sure I am not boring my reader or looking stupid, I like to research what others have done online before getting too far into any tutorial. For the past two weeks I’ve increased my understanding of my topic -- artwork’s role in home staging.

One thing's for certain: there's no shortage of creative minds out there and people who are willing to share their expertise.

I also remembered how much I enjoy creating art to share, especially printmaking. I took a college course in printmaking, and realize now how much I gained from it. Long term memory seems to improve with time!

Accountability Works

I’ve always been a believer that if you socially acknowledge a goal you’re more likely to attain it. I’ve written about how committing your intentions to a journal or a friend acts as a kick in the pants.

Knowing that my button was on The Nester’s site encouraged me to keep going. I felt I had an obligation and I did not want to quit because I knew I would feel like a loser. It didn’t even matter if people were reading my posts or not. But they were.

Be True to Yourself

The most common advice new bloggers receive is, “Just be yourself and you’ll succeed.” Use your own voice, the pros tell you.

Useful advice if you’re full of self confidence. But what about the rest of us? How do we settle on a voice we’re comfortable with?

When I had to write more copy in less time than usual, I had to write faster. Faster writing forced me use my own voice, and what I learned was that being myself isn’t all that scary. I now write faster with less stop-and-go editing, even though I continue to second guess every word I write. And re-write, and re-write.
Sometimes we need reminders why we do the
things we do. Mug from Caf├ęPress.
  
It’s a Girl Thing

I also learned that stretching yourself is its own reward. When my husband sees me working on DIY projects, and getting up in the middle of the night to write something I think I might forget by morning, he wonders why I bother.
  
He doesn’t ask for an explanation. He’s good that way. But I usually feel compelled to explain.

“It’s good for me,” I tell him. “I need to step outside my comfort zone. I need a creative challenge.” 

I doubt this makes sense to him, but I am selling more eBooks, and he does notice that.
  
I Like Caffeine

Lastly, I discovered (duh!) this was not a good time to try to go cold turkey on coffee. 

Perhaps I'll discover additional lessons during the two remaining weeks of the challenge. Fingers crossed.  

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