Today wraps up our last day of Jeff Goins’ 7-Day Blogging Challenge. He deemed today a day of rest (very appropriate for a Sunday!) and shared his analogy of training for a marathon: while the entire race is long, the occasional sprints build endurance and make you stronger.
Yes, this pretty much summarizes my week.
Like many writers, this is not my full-time job. I’m an instructional technologist working in a public school system, providing professional development for teachers who want to integrate technology in their lessons. Much of my day is spent either in the classroom teaching students or preparing resources and training materials to support the needs of teachers and district administrators. I do my fair share of technology troubleshooting as well.
When the final bell of the school day rings, my job is still not complete. I offer training sessions after school and attend various meetings. Sometimes I tutor students or participate in webinars to enhance my own professional growth. Several nights a week I bring work home, waiting for my three children to go to bed so I can continue the unfinished work of the day.
Finding time to write is an ongoing quandary in my world.
Now let’s throw in a 7-Day Blogging Challenge to the mix. It’s one thing to carve out time to write. It’s quite another to write and learn.
The Fitbit on my arm reminds me that I haven’t met my step goal for four days in a row. My sleep goal has diminished by two hours as my writing now takes me from PM to AM most nights. I’m a night owl by nature, but at some point sleep does become a necessity. My laundry is still piled up on the floor and my vacuum remains in the closet, untouched. I’m sure those close to me are questioning, “Why does she DO this to herself?”
I did it because I needed to grow.
See, that’s the beauty of a 7-Day Blogging Challenge. It’s a choice. I wanted to learn new things. I wanted to become better at my craft of writing. I wanted to know what I didn’t know and figure out how to move from static to dynamic. I prayed for a push and received an invitation instead.
This is what I learned in the process:
1. It’s OK to not know what you are doing.
When I began this blogging challenge, I had no idea what the journey would entail. I didn’t receive a syllabus, nor an agenda for weekly assignments. Each day began with a new post from Jeff with a task to complete, most often on a platform I never knew existed. I was constantly faced with my lack of knowledge in marketing, advertising and social media management and often felt incompetent, even in the area of technology which I use every day! Learning something new, no matter the content, humbles you quickly.
2. Pressure + Persistence = Success
HTML codes. Widgets. Plug-ins. Pixels. No matter how many times I tried to follow the directions shown on my screen, I was met with a product that didn’t match my vision. Again. And again. And again. And then it worked. The pop-up appeared, I could close it out, and all was well with the world. (In my mind, the heavens parted and I could hear a choir of angels singing the Hallelujah chorus in perfect harmony.) No one watched me struggle. No one witnessed my frustration. I could have easily given up and no one would be the wiser, especially with the pressure of a daily deadline. But I persisted and, in the end, was met with success.
3. Everyone has a purpose for their writing.
With almost 3,000 people participating in this challenge, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. As each person posted links to their blog posts, manifestos, giveaways, and more, I found myself caught in the comparison game, my inadequacies as a professional writer glaring back at me with each paragraph I read. Then something amazing happened. About mid-week I stopped comparing my writing with others and started seeking out the writer’s purpose. Why was the writer sharing this story? What lessons were to be learned? How does this writing appeal to me as a reader? What could this writing teach me? It helped redefine my purpose for writing and move past the fear to write and share more.
4. Random acts of kindness are everywhere.
You wouldn’t expect a virtual blogging group to bring out the good in others, but that’s exactly what happened. Jeff’s Day 2 Challenge encouraged us to share something as a lead magnet; Day 5 was to give away something for free. Day 6 was to ask for kindness from someone else in sharing our writing with others. Bloggers I had never met were taking time to read my writing, offer suggestions, share ideas, even troubleshoot my questions. Their kindness encouraged me to keep writing and inspired me to think creatively about blessing others in this realm of writing. The greatest random acts of kindness shared this week were from Jeff Goins himself. He willingly organized this challenge, shared insights from lessons learned, and encouraged us along the way. From live video broadcasts with back-channeled questions (nice hair and nice grill!) to scheduled check-ins to gauge our comfort level, he made this journey of learning not only productive, but enjoyable.
I am thankful for the opportunity I’ve had this week to sprint as fast as I could to the finish. Now is the time to catch my breath, retie my laces, and start again.
Writing really is like a marathon and I’m in it for the long haul. Runner, spectator, or cheerleader, we each have a purpose for the journey. Won’t you join me in the race?