blog, writing process

31 day writing challenge – the results

close up photo of may graphing paper
Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

In May 2018 I took part in the Ninja Writers challenge to post every day. I wrote about what I hoped to achieve from the daily challenge here. My stated aims were

Consistency
Community
Confidence

So how did it work out?

Consistency

I posted every day, using a mixture of some old posts remastered, new posts, and serialised fiction. The remastered posts were interesting to revisit. They showed that my blogging has improved: tighter writing, using pull quotes and bold text so readers can skim quickly. I can edit faster than two years ago.

I saw that some content is evergreen. Even two years later it is still relevant, as long as it is updated where needed.

Community

The Ninja Writers daily post group on Facebook had a new lease of life, with new members and more prepared to post links. This had dwindled to nothing. Occasionally I would be the only person to post in the thread, which was not encouraging. I read more, being sure to check out writers new to me in the thread, clapping and commenting. We all love acknowledgment; I made it a point to give more. And my own FB group were wonderful cheerleaders.

Confidence

This is how my stats looked for April 2018. I posted four times (one each Friday) and had 263 followers. Views varied between 2 and 122 per day.

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 23.08.13

And this is how they looked for May 2018. I posted 31 times and had 310 followers, a net gain of 47 (gained 51 and lost 4.) Views varied between 23 and 110 per day.

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 23.07.55

Views                         +150%
Reads                         +145%
Fans                            +150%
Followers                   +18%
Number of posts       +775%

I increased visibility, partly from having more content published by publications such as The Creative Cafe, PS I love you, and The Writing Cooperative. All have large readerships.

I increased interaction by replying to or clapping on all my comments. This has led to conversations with like minded writers, and we check out each other’s work. It builds a fanbase.

I increased followers by 51, 165% of my target. And lost four along the way. But I didn’t win big with anything.

Conclusion

I met my goals, but

  • It was arduous, even with a plan and reusing old content.
  • The almost eight-fold work increase was not matched by the other metrics.
  • Short fiction was hardly read even when serialised, which was discouraging as I think this is my best work.
  • Having posted 10 new and 1 old poem, I can also call myself a poet, maybe.
  • I can’t keep up my quality and post daily.
  • I managed to let a piece go that I didn’t think was great, which was new and terrifying. On the other hand I’ve posted good pieces with less engagement.
  • I’m much better at seeing ideas for blog posts in everyday life.

The sweet spot probably lies around 2-4 posts weekly for me. I’ll try that from June onwards and hope to build on the momentum I’ve picked up. I’m still gaining followers, a few at a time.

When people post about this experiment, the numbers are always fabulously large. I guess for most of us the reality is more modest. We keep slogging away, and maybe the next post is the one that goes viral.

blog, Pat Aitcheson writes

Can you feel the love?

baby-clapping_dhanelle
dhanelle via pixabay

I’m never sure how many claps to give on Medium.

It seems easy enough. We have up to fifty claps. Express how you felt, whether you were moved, signal which stories stand out. But it’s really not so simple.

I decided to engage more with stories and writers on Medium this month, as part of the Ninja Writers daily challenge for May. Writers thrive on attention, like we all do. It’s wonderful to know that somebody read your words, and was moved to respond in some way. The woman in an online group who posted “please read this but I never have time to look at anyone’s posts, sorry” horrified me. How can you expect to get what you don’t give? Especially when you’re in a group that has reciprocity as a stated principle? No, I will not read your stuff.

So I’ve been thinking much more about claps. As is the way of these things, thinking leads to paralysis.

A centipede was happy — quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
Which threw her mind in such a pitch,
She laid bewildered in the ditch
Considering how to run.

Katherine Craster

It’s much easier with a binary choice, because more options leads to fear of picking the wrong one. So on Twitter I either like it or not. Simple. Why overthink it?

I don’t want to be mean, and I want to be fair. I know writing takes effort, whether the result is good, bad or boring. But does that translate to five, ten, or fifty claps? What if I gave a piece one clap, is that an insult like under-tipping, or am I rewarding effort while saying, this wasn’t for me?

Fifty is too big. I should divide into multiples of five, but I know other people don’t do the same. Are they clapping in small numbers because it’s bad, or are they just not big clappers? I’ve never given fifty claps, and would be shocked to receive the full number. It’s better we don’t know how many claps individuals give, but as with salary secrecy it’s hard to shake the fear of being undervalued.

I’m being more generous this month, but still the etiquette of clapping eludes me. Perhaps I should just pick random numbers and forget about it. And look forward to the day I am moved to give a piece the full fifty.

blog, writing process

31 day writing challenge 2018

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pexels

It’s time for another daily writing challenge.

I took part in Shaunta Grimes challenge to Ninja Writers last year, and it changed everything. I learned about Medium, about email lists and services, and just how hard it is to post daily. Even with planning, work and life in general easily derails the best laid plans. I barely made it to the end.

But I found a wonderful community of writers along the way, grew my list of followers, and although none of my posts went viral I was encouraged to keep going. After May 2017 I continued to post weekly, and reached out to publications who accepted my pieces. Gradually I felt more at home on Medium.

This time, I have three aims in mind.

Consistency
Community
Confidence

Consistency — posting every day without fail, learning to let go of the less perfect. As Steve Jobs said, real artists ship. I will experiment more widely with style and content. My plan is to post more fiction in serial form, as well as poetry and tips/advice. We’ll see what works.

Community — building a network of readers who enjoy my work, and a network of fellow writers for mutual advice and support is very important to me. One new follower per day is a modest goal. I will also read and comment on at least three posts daily.

Confidence — something that so many writers struggle with, including me. The only way to prove you can do it, is to do it. A positive response is always encouraging, but I’m going to write regardless. That was last year’s big lesson.

Best get to it.