The Next Challenge

I’ve finally completed the Blogging 101 challenge, and while I enjoyed doing it I am definitely ready for something different. About halfway through Blogging 101 I started to get bored with talking about the blogging process (which I think I’ve pretty much gotten down by this point), and I started to long to write about something different. Luckily for me, while I was working on Blogging 101, The Daily Post featured another awesome challenge called Writing 101.

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For the Writing 101 challenge, The Daily Post provided a prompt per day for 20 days. Each prompt gets you writing about something different – maybe even things you’d never otherwise think to write about, and includes ideas of the fiction and non-fiction varieties. Each prompt also includes a “twist”, or a little something extra to try to accomplish if you so desire. The rules of the challenge state that you can mix and match as you desire (do just the prompt, or just the twist with your own writing idea, or do both) but I’m going to try to do the whole thing every time because I’m baddass like that.

As a final note, since this challenge will involve some fiction writing, if said fiction happens to line up with my need for a Fiction Fragment Friday post, I will totally take advantage of that.

So look forward to it! I start soon!

Blogging 101, Day Thirty: Pat Yourselves on the Back!


You know what’s awesome? You, you glorious blogger you! And you know what else is awesome? Giving kudos where kudos are due.

Day thirty, the last day of the challenge, assigns you to visit and congratulate five other Blogging 101 bloggers, and set a goal for the next thirty days.

Finishing a blogging challenge or event is a sign of committment and dedication (and, apparently, redundancy), and that deserves a bit of recognition. So once you’re finished patting yourself on the back, give a pat to some of the fellow blogging challenge participants who completed the journey alongside you.

As for setting a new goal for the next thirty days, I challenge you to go farther. Set yourself a goal for the next thirty days, and then for the three months after that, and then for the year after that. Never stop setting goals for yourself because that’s when you start to stagnate. Push forward, and try to have fun doing it!

My next blogging goal? Well, you’ll just have to stick around and find out!

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Nine: Plan the Next Thirty


It humors me that I should be writing about this particular topic at this particular time. Did you know that at this moment you are reading words that were written over thirty days ago? Yes, at this precise moment (over thirty days in the past), I was planning out over a month’s worth of blog posts to give myself some breathing room for other projects and goals.

Planning is super important if you want to keep your blog regularly updated and your brain functioning stress-free. Therefore, today’s assignment is to sketch out an editorial calendar to cover your next thirty days of blogging.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself in a while was to buy a little personal organizer notebook to help keep track of my blog scheduling. It helps so much to have a visual of what I’ve got planned, or to keep notes on ideas that I have for future posts. I can’t tell you how confused I would be trying to plan stuff ahead of time without being able to easily visualize what I’ve already done and what is left to do.

So do yourself a favor: grab an organizer, a calendar, or find a smartphone app that you like, and get planning. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Eight: Create a New Feature


Regular posting (three days a week, five days a week, or whatever you choose) is very important to maintaining readership because people won’t stick around your blog if there’s extended periods of nothing new for them to read. A helpful trick to help achieve this is to have a “feature” on your blog – that is, something that you do every week so that people keep coming back to check it out.

Today’s assignment is to develop a regular feature for your blog.

An example of a feature would be my would be my “Fiction Fragment Friday’s”. Every Friday I post an excerpt, short story, or drabble of fiction writing of my own design. It gives readers who enjoy my writing something to look forward to each week.

Another example would be Jay D Archer’s “What Will You Write?” challenges. Readers look forward to seeing what the next prompt will be, participating in the challenge, and returning later to see who won and what the other participants have written. The key is that it keeps people coming back for more.

So think about your blog, your readers, and try to work out something that you can feature on a regular basis. Your stats page will thank you.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Seven: Build on the Popular


On day twenty-five, when talking about saving drafts and scheduling ahead of time, we mentioned looking to your most popular posts for further ideas. Today we’ll carry on with that concept viathe day twenty-seven assignment, which is to find the post that has recieved the most views, likes, or comments, and write a related follow-up post.

Now, I’m not actually going to complete this assignment today, but I’ll explain how I’ve already done so before and how it worked out.

When I first began traveling out West for work, my blog was still in its infancy. One day I decided to write a post – mostly for my friends and family – describing a common day for me out at Kearl Lake, where I was working. That post, to this day, is my most visited post for a variety of reasons. Now here’s where the follow-up part comes in. That first post recieved a lot of traffic from wives and girlfriends of Kearl Lake workers, nervous about the possibility of their significant others cheating on them while working away from home and living on a work camp. I began to get a lot of comments from these women, asking me loads of questions, and eventually I was prompted to write another post, both as a follow-up to the Kearl Lake post, and as a stand-alone post on the importance of trust in a relationship. That post is currently my second most viewed post ever.

The moral is that success begets success, so don’t be afraid to return to something that has already proven itself to be a popular, traffic-grabbing topic.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Six: Extend Your Brand


It may seem like a strange concept, but once you decide to become a public blogger, you’ve essentially branded yourself as an online good for consumption. And if you want to be regularly consumed by lots and lots of people (get your minds out of the gutter!) You have to market that brand.

Today’s assignment is to extend your brand with one of the following: a custom Blavatar, a custom image widget, or a Facebook Fan Page.

Advertising tends to be a foreign world to many artistic types (writers, for example), and personally I think that’s okay, because we live in a world where traditionally advertising methods have become so intrusive and annoying that most of us just ignore them completely. Be honest: how often do you actually click on the frustrating pop-up that appears right in front of the website you’re trying to check out? No, these days we have to do our advertising in a more polite, user-friendly way, by working it into the things that people are already enjoying.

Example: the Facebook Fan Page. Creating one for yourself gives Facebook users the opportunity to “follow” you, even if they’re peoplewho wouldn’t normally visit a blog on a day-to-day basis. I myself created my Fan Page (i.e. Author Page) a few months ago, and now I have 91 non-blog-following-people who check out my posts just as often as my actual WordPress followers.

Give a Fan Page a try! You might actually enjoy it!

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Five: Save a Few Drafts


Planning blog posts ahead of time is something that I became intimately familiar with when I first started working out West. For most of us blogging is something that we have to work in around family, work, and other parts of everyday life, so planning ahead and collecting ideas for future posts becomes a very helpful habit to help keep your sanity.

Today’s assignment is to look back over what you’ve published. What have you been most proud of? What are the common threads? Which are most popular? Create and save two draft posts with ideas that come from those.

Looking at what readers have enjoyed reading in the past is an excellent way to decide what sorts of topics to keep blogging about. For instance, I regularly get a lot of feedback when I write about kids and memories from childhood that most people can relate to, so I make an effort to blog about those kinds of things as often as I can.

Going back over your old work can also give you lots of ideas for new posts by making you rethink what you’ve previously written. Nothing is ever written in stone, so you should feel free to go back and rewrite posts, or change your mind about a previous statement, or write a response to yourself. Bring the past into the future.

And always try to keep ahead of yourself, as I’ve learned time and time again. Getting some ideas down and scheduling a few posts in advance really takes the pressure off when real life smacks you in the face.

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-Four: Publish a Round-Up


The beauty of the Internet age is that we have access to vast quantities of information and entertainment at our fingertips virtually anytime and anywhere we go. The problem with that is there is so much information that it is practically impossible to sift through. Because of this counterproductive system, we thrive on websites that consolodate awesome stuff for us. We love it when others do half the work. That’s why, today, Michelle W. tasks us to publish a round-up post of links to posts on at least three other blogs, and tell us why we should read your recommendations.

So we may as well get right to it!

The first post I want to recommend is one that was posted a few weeks ago by internet sensation, The Bloggess. The post is entitled “Women Who are Ambivalent about Women Against Women Against Feminism”. Though I am a major believer that we should cut all this feminism and men’s rights crap and start focusing on the idea of HUMAN rights instead of pitting sex against sex, I absolutely loved this post because of the amazing wording. The Bloggess gets right to the heart of the matter (though sometimes in a roundabout way) and basically explains that hating on a movement because some of the people who support it are nutso is not a helpful way to deal with things. I just thought she really hit the nail on the head, and the fact that she managed to work Sharknado in as an ananolgy really made the post for me.

The next post that I want to share is one that I stumbled across on a site called “Scary Mommy”. Post writer “Emily” wrote this wonderful bit called, “15 Things Veteran Moms Really Want to Say” ( I loved it because every point is so true, and I myself am not past the days of feeling judged because I don’t happen to do things exactly the way every other parent seems to think I should. Emily lets new moms know that, for the majority, we old hats remember what it was like, and we salute you for having not completely lost your mind yet.

And finally, I’d like to share the post of a blogger pal of mine, Tom Slatin. In Tom’s post, “What Writing Has Taught Me About Life” he makes some excellent observations about how writing can teach you some important lessons. I think Tom was spot on with this post, and I think it definitely deserves a read, so check it out, okay?

Blogging 101, Day’s Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three: Blog Events and Social Calls


I’m combining days twenty-two and twenty-three of the challenge because they are closely related and because – due to timing and other projects taking precedence – I’m not actually going to do them. But you should! It’s important! Don’t follow my poor example!

Day twenty-two’s assignment is to pick a blogging event from the Blog Event Listings to try for some instant community.

Day twenty-three’s assignment is to visit five other participants in the blogging event you chose yesterday. Leave at least two comments.

It can’t be said often enough: community is key. And blogging events (such as blog hops, or even this challenge) are an excellent way of taking part in that community. Not only do events give you ideas for things to post about, but they help you to link up with like-minded people, direct traffic toward your blog, and hopefully have a lot of fun in the process. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get involved!

Blogging 101, Day Twenty-One: Build on Your New-To-You Post


What is the point in trying and learning new things if you just turn around and forget about them afterward? Hint: the correct answer is none. There is no point in doing such a silly, silly thing.

Today’s assignment is to publish a follow-up post inspired by your post from day nineteen. If applicable, publicize it on a social media.

If you’ll remember, for my day ninteen post I shared one of my favorite writer quotes. For today’s assignment I am going to explain my feelings behind why I believe it is a great quote. In case you’ve forgotten (or didn’t see it the first time), the quote was:

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” – George Orwell

The reason I love this particular quote is because of the raw truth of it and the image that he paints of the author struggling to create even though the process is terrible. This is exactly how I feel when I’m writing. Don’t get me wrong…I love writing, I truly do. But writing a book can be kind of like a woman going through a long, horrible labor; you’re certain that something wonderful is going to come from it, but you have to go through a lot of agony on the way. There are highs and lows, and sometimes it can be so painful that you convince yourself there is no way you can go on. Sometimes exhaustion takes over, and sometimes some unseen power drives you forward, and often you end up asking yourself why you ever allowed yourself to wind up in this position in the first place. And then, when it’s finally over and the book is “born”, you realize that this is only the beginning; now you have to “raise” the fruits of your labor through revisions, edits, beta-readings, more revisions and edits, publishing, marketing, and consumer feedback. Then, when all the horror begins to fade in your memory, you decide that you rather quite enjoyed being a parent/writer, and you wind up putting yourself through the whole thing all over again. It’s the kind of thing that only a crazy person would go through on purpose, but as a parent goes through hell and back for a child, so too does a writer sacrifice for their book, because in the end it’s all about the need to give birth, to create something wonderful.

That is how I feel about writing.