Yesterday (22nd Feb) I was on a panel at a Cardiff Blogs meet-up. I was invited along to answer questions about last year’s 365 project. The rest of the panel were great, representing a variety of blogging styles and content, they were Gemma Southgate, Elena Cresci, and Nathan Collins. The others that came along who put questions to us were a nice bunch, too. I answered some questions as best I could, but as is always the case with this kind of thing, there were things I think I could’ve put better, or things I just plain didn’t say that I should’ve, or ways that I could’ve actually tried to relate my experience from last year to actual blogging and that kind of thing, so what better medium to rectify this than a blog post?
I also admitted last night that I don’t do much proper blogging, so maybe this’ll kill two birds with one stone (which, incidentally, is an impressive thing to do if the stone is small and the birds are flying, but is less impressive if it’s a boulder and the birds are sleeping. I think the latter may be an analogy for my project).
Questions that I’ve been asked previously came up in a couple of forms last night (both directly at me and as part of the general discussion). These questions are:
“Why did you do it?”
“How did you do it?”
“Where did you find the motivation to keep going?”
Even though these are different questions, and even though it’s most likely grammatically incorrect for me to answer them all in the following way, this is probably the best answer I have that I think actually answers all of them at once: Because I wanted to do it.
Last night when asked about my motivation I tried to be funny and my inner Larry David crept out and I answered that it was guilt – which is true, and it was definitely a big motivation, particularly once the project was well underway – but the big over-arching motivator throughout the whole thing (and the reason I did it in the first place) was probably the fact that I was doing a thing that I wanted to do on my own terms and that consisted solely of my own creative input. And that’s something you don’t have the opportunity to do unless you just get on with it and do it. No one else gives us that opportunity.
And this remained a motivator whenever I was wavering. Along with the guilt which came into play a lot later in the project. Because it was a mixture of positive and negative consequences to my actions (or inactions) that kept me going when I was feeling a little overwhelmed by the whole thing. Quite often I would finish up a song and then check which number I had just written out of the 365, and it would normally go something like this:
“Jesus. That’s 254. I’ve still got more than 100 to go. Jesus. Why the hell am I doing this? Jesus, I’m tired. But just imagine finishing, it’ll be so great to have finished, I’ll be so pleased. But, bloody hell, that’s a lot. Ok, fine, if the whole ‘envisioning the goal’ nonsense isn’t working right now, how about the horrible, crushing feeling of having come this far and then just giving up? What a waste of time. I’d be pretty disappointed with myself…”
And so it would go until I’d convinced myself to carry on and write another one when the time came.
And it was always for me that I was doing it. As I said yesterday, at the start it was a public project but it might as well not have been, because no one knew about it when it started. Some people gradually started to interact with it, and then it only really started to pick up pace around about 200 days in, so if I wasn’t doing it for me then I think I would’ve lost interest pretty quickly.
This event was meant to be about blogging, and so I was a bit of a fraud being on the panel as the ‘blog’ I was talking about wasn’t your recognised form of blogging. In fact, it wasn’t really blogging at all; it was just a thing that happened to be taking place using Tumblr as a blogging platform.
I don’t want to be all patronising and assume attendees to the meet-up didn’t see the link between the two for themselves, but just in case: I think the same principles apply to blogging – to put it simply, if you want to take on a blogging challenge and you want or care about advice from some guy who did a bizarre song-writing challenge, my advice breaks down to these two things:
- It’ll probably help if you actually want to do the thing in the first place.
- It’ll probably help if you can keep yourself motivated with a mixture of actually wanting whatever the finished goal is, and reacting in a proactive way to the feeling of potential guilt or disappointment if you gave up.
I was already thinking about writing this post and then I was spurred on after reading this post by Tom Rouse who asks why people blog. He gives some possible reasons why he does it, and how he has different motivations for different blogs, which I’d definitely agree with. And again I think that these motivations all come down to the only point I seem to have made in this post and just rearranged to say in a few different ways; you need to actually want to do the thing in the first place.
Which isn’t overly insightful. Good thing I never claimed to be insightful.
EDIT: A post has been written over on Cardiff Blogs to get this discussion going. So if you blog you can let them know why you do it in a comment or a blog post of your own.