The Blogg52 challenge

This is my 52nd entry At the Quill tagged #Blogg52. I want to spend a little time meditating on this blog challenge and the value of blog challenges generally.

Coming to the Blogg52 challenge

I came to Blogg52 after an invitation from Susan Casserfelt, one of the two curators (the other being Anna Hellqvist). It wasn’t a personal invitation, I think Susan sent it out to all the members of Egenutgivarna, but it came at just the right time. I was looking for something to give me a reason to blog on a regular basis, but the Blogg100 challenge that some of my friends were taking part in seemed far too demanding. Blogg100 encourages participants to post blog entries one a day for a hundred days. By contrast Blogg52 calls for one blog entry a week over a year.

I started blogging with the hashtag Blogg52 in March last year (here’s my first entry). Clearly I didn’t quite manage one blog entry every week or I’d have finished in March 2015. However, counting backward from today this is my 52nd entry.

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Good discipline

On balance, I’ve enjoyed participating and the discipline has been very good for me. I’ve tried to follow the rules set out on Anna H’s website and have read, I think, the majority of all the entries that everyone taking part in the challenge has posted. I’ve also managed to comment on at least one – and often more than one – blog entry every week. As I’ve been reading many of them on my mobile phone, though, it’s often been easier to post comments on Facebook rather than on people’s blog sites.

It has to be said that I haven’t found all of the entries interesting. Some have been written on subjects about which I am indifferent, others have just not caught my attention. But many have been interesting and most weeks I think I have learnt things. And I’ve certainly been entertained.

I’ve also “met” some really nice people here. People whose comments on my own writing I have looked forward to receiving.

English

From the beginning I was aware that, as the only person blogging in English in a Swedish challenge, I was putting up a barrier between my writing and potential readers that went beyond subject matter and style. I know from personal experience in the reverse situation that, however good my receptive skills in Swedish may be, reading longer texts – especially more literary ones – requires a greater effort. Sadly, though, I remain “tone deaf” to many of the nuances and references. I presume this is the same for Swedish speakers coming to my efforts.

Yet I have been delighted to see (with the help of Google analytics and WordPress statistics) that many people have come to my blog posts over the months, even if not so many have been motivated to leave comments on the website or Facebook. (For links to the most popular entries see below the bar at the bottom of this entry.)

Of course, I greatly appreciate the comments I’ve received from everyone who’s made the effort. Especial thanks go out to my most regular commentators: Kim, Eva and Pernilla.

At the very beginning I was concerned that other Blogg52ers might think I was an English-language imperialist muscling in where I was not wanted. So I asked the curators if it was okay for me to join in as an English-language blogger. I’m grateful that they were so welcoming.

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Motivation

I’ve already mentioned discipline as one of the most important values I think taking part in a blog challenge has. Even though I missed a number of weeks on a couple of different occasions throughout the year – mostly when real-life intruded – just knowing that on Wednesday I was going to try to publish a blog entry, that some people would be looking out for it and that I might disappoint them if I didn’t manage were powerful motivators.

Some days – as today – I have found myself composing the entry actually on publication day. More often, recently, I have managed to plan my entry a couple of days in advance and draft the entry beforehand. Even today’s piece I’ve actually been turning over in my mind for a couple of days now, though as I write this sentence it is 12:59.

Along with the discipline, motivation and planning, following a blog challenge has also helped me to better compose my entries.

Better writing

I had an idea at the beginning that I should restrict myself to a maximum of 800 words. It was Kim who asked me, Why? And as I had no good answer I gave up that idea. Instead I find myself writing pieces that run naturally to about 1200 words. Sometimes a couple of hundred more, sometimes two or three hundred less.

Within this length I’m learning how to pace myself. To tell a story when I’m telling a story, or to present an idea when that’s what I have to share – so that there is a rhythm to my writing. I try to compose a good introduction, something to hook a reader’s interest. Then I follow it with a couple of higher and lower points along the way and a solid conclusion. I know I haven’t achieved this with every piece that I’ve written, and I know that some weeks I have been considerably more successful than others. Still, it’s my impression that I have become a better writer as the challenge has gone on. (If only a better writer of blog entries 🙂 )

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Ways forward

So where do I go from here? I see two ways forward.

First, I’m going to start looking for English language blog challenges and if possible find something which has a similar pace to Blogg52. Once a week for a year, or once a week for a quarter for example. I still don’t think I’m up to attempting a blog entry a day. Blog challenges are not so easy to find in the great Ocean of the Internet. It looks like I need to be a member of a writers’ group. If any readers out there would like to recommend something, please do so!

Stops and Stories

Second, as I really don’t want to give up my contact with my Blogg52 friends. As it seems as though the Blogg52 challenge is rolling on, I’m looking forward to continuing here. Still, I think I’ll need to change gear somehow. Unless there are howls of protest, from next week I’m going to respond to the challenge from more than one of my websites. Specifically, I’ll keep on writing an occasional piece about writing At the Quill, but I want to introduce you to my new website of travel writing, Stops and Stories. I mentioned it in an earlier entry and it’s just about ready to go public so I hope that next week’s Blogg52 contribution will be on that website.

So, there we have it, just about 1200 words and my fifty-second Blogg52 entry. Thank you for reading.

 


The ten most popular posts At the Quill tagged #Blogg52.

[As at the date I originally published this article. Most of the links are broken, but I’ll update them as I transfer the articles to this website. Note added 30 April 2017.]

  • Crowd funding – 18 Jun 2014 – 55 views
  • The stories we tell – 17 Sep 2014 – 47 views
  • Revamp – 21 Apr 2015 – 42 views
  • Half full or half empty? – 23 Oct 2014 – 39 views
  • In the laundry – 29 Jan 2015 – 39 views
  • A nice cup of tea- 21 Jan 2015 – 34 views
  • Besides words – 28 May 2014 – 33 views
  • My radio days – 3 Sep 2014 – 30 views

This article was written for the #Blogg52 challenge.

I originally published this article on the separate At the Quill website. I revised it for spelling and punctuation, carried out some SEO fine-tuning, and added a featured image before transferring it here on 30 April 2017.