If you’re still with me, I’m on day eight of the #10DaysBetterBlog challenge/workshop/event put on by John Saddington of Desk.pm fame. He’s on year 14 of blogging so chances are he knows a thing or two. Today’s topic has to do with coming up with goals in relation to where I want my blogging to go using the S.M.A.R.T. principle. It is outlined like so:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Assignable – specify who will do it.
- Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Those seem easy enough. When placed over the idea of writing, it seemed a bit daunting at first but that’s really only because I just started doing so consistently. Here’s a breakdown of how the above translates to me and the whole idea of writing and blogging:
Specific Target Area
I know I can produce quality writing if I just sit down and do it. I’ve never had a problem with that. I enjoy telling stupid stories, giving slightly janky points of view on seemingly random things, and also talking about real stuff that I find important. I don’t care so much if I’m maximizing my potential audience by covering as many topics as possible, because that’s my why I’m posting this—or anything—to my site. I need to focus on actually doing. I say I’ll become a master of X subject and never actually follow through with it. I’ll say I’ll go on more hikes next year because my gut says I could lose a few. I might not be able to control those things in this scenario. I can say this: if a bear craps in the woods, then I’m writing. I’m not talking about telling a story about a bear cutting pipe. I’m talking about the assurance that words will flow out of my mind, through my hands, into my keyboard, through the bits and digital stuff inside my computer, blah blah blah, to where you can see it.
My first blog post since I started writing daily was on January 6th, 2014, which as I write this, was six days ago. It’s easy for me to say that since I’ve conquered seven days, including this post, without stopping, I could bust out a whole year. Whether or not that’s true, nobody will know, because I don’t feel like it’s realistic! I’m writing every day because I made a promise to myself that I’d do this challenge and see it through to completion. I never said “I’m going to write at least 365 blog posts over the course of the year, with at least one per day, or I’ll eat my hat.” That’s stupid. Unless I worked for a publication that required articles to be created in the turn-and-burn style, I’d get maybe a month into it and burn out.
I need to make myself a little bit more seriously and treat blogging and writing as a form of genuine expression. Because of my personality, if I’ve been talking all day, I tend to get bored of people and bored of talking. Just like talking, I’d get bored of writing. Why sit down at my computer and but out some words about something that I may care a grand total of zero percent about for twenty minutes when I could sit in front of my T.V. and not even have to think about using my brain. Exactly. That’s stupid. Even in school I enjoyed writing papers not because it was homework (that was quite foul), but that I was writing about a topic. I didn’t write every single damn day and I was alright with that. I hated the topic I was writing about, but I enjoyed the fact that I was writing about it.
Being able to split up my writing adventures to a couple times a week is much more manageable because I can spend more time, perhaps over a few days, and craft a more quality piece, than some lame three hundred words on how tasty Garlic Jim’s pizza is. (side note: it’s delicious.)
My measurement of progress is that I’m writing two to four pieces a calendar week, with two being the hard minimum. I need to still keep myself to a commitment, just like people commit to stop smoking. It’s hard to start, but with a hard limit like dying when it comes to smoking, having a hard limit on how few of times I sit down and put my thoughts on paper must be a thing, no matter what.
If it’s not obvious by now, this goal is mine and mine alone. No one else needs to be responsible for my writing tasks, assignments, topics, or anything of the sort. This is my beast so let me conquer it. By making this a solo task, this is something I can wholly own and have zero fear of something outside that I cannot control mucking it up.
Which brings me to this. As the popular saying goes: shit happens. It happened this morning when I twisted my ankle in the dark while walking the dog. Could I have done something about it? I don’t know, it was dark. I haven’t figured out how to turn on my night vision eyes, yet. With writing, sometimes life will get in the way and I’m completely OK with that. If I miss a week, then I’ll do my best to make up for it next week. If I know I’ll be missing a week in advance, I’ll put in extra time the previous week and schedule it out. WordPress has this fancy post-scheduling feature. While not as genuine and not as on-the-spot as some would like, I think I’m still totally genuine and real and on-the-spot. What I write down rarely gets condensed, censored, edited for time, etc. I just write. That’s always been one of my stronger traits when it came to writing; I hate outlines and I hate planning my words.
Secret: corporate, politically correct emails are the bane of my existence.
I’m giving my self 1/4 year (13 weeks). If I can sit down and discuss quality topics with quality time at least twice a week, but no more than four, for 13 weeks, then I’m in business. If I make it, I’ll do it again, but add another stipulation. If I fail, I’ll pull back a bit. I think it’s doable. Given the possibility of the next six months to a year changing quite radically and a whole host of new experiences coming my way, I don’t think I’ll have an issue. I’m pretty confident I’ll have enough to talk about.
*Read more from my #10DaysBetterBlog challenge to stay in the loop with my progress and the challenge as a whole. Follow me on a twitter @_JohnathanLyman, Instagram @theeJL, or email me if you’re adventurous. *