That time I participated in a blogging challenge…

If you’re used to getting a daily email from me last month you might have realized that it was a bit quiet around here for a week. I needed a break after blogging every day in October. 
At first I didn’t even want to participate in this #write31days challenge. I had experienced how friends had struggled last year, how it had ‘ruined’ their passion for writing, how time consuming it was. I was in the middle of my state board exams (meaning: studying every day for the most important exam in your career) and October was just a busy month with birthdays, weddings, travels…no way I would have time for elaborate blogging.
But when Kate Motaung put out her prompt words for “31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes” I couldn’t resist. These words just started speaking to my TCK heart and stories, thoughts, ideas came to my mind. And so they ended up in this space. 

It’s been an experience, and I thought I would share a few of the lessons I’ve learned from it. I’ll also share some of the blogs I’ve discovered during this challenge, which might be a good read for you, too!

No matter how busy you are, you need a creative outlet!
After a long day with my books and notes it was a really good distraction to put some thoughts on paper. Completely different topics and writing style. Some days were hard and I needed to challenge myself to put thoughts into words, other days were fun and my hands seemed to be dancing on the keyboard. Writing needs time and practice, and these 31 days definitely helped me to get some more flow in my writing.  

Blogging is a lot of work.
Luckily I had about two weeks before the challenge started so I pre-wrote some posts already. Coming up with a topic and complete post everyday that fits into an overall series can be really hard sometimes. The challenge offered me a bit of a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the blogging world. What does it mean to have a monthly outline for your topic? Who do I link up with? What about graphics, pictures, layout? Suddenly a few written lines of a post turn into a piece of work before you hit ‘publish’. A published post is only the beginning, afterwards there are comments and questions and answers. And then obviously there are thousands of blogs out there you could read. Which ones do you pick? Some of the work I enjoyed, some made me question the concepts behind it. 

How much work does it really take?
In the last few years the blogosphere seems to have exploded; everyone can write about almost everything in any space of the internet. I really enjoyed reading a lot of great posts this month, hosted in beautifully created spaces of the web, crafted with powerful words and images. But what does it take to have a blog with good traffic and readers? Simply a good layout? Relevant topics? Pinnable images and tweetable quotes? 
I was a bit overwhelmed at all the “advice” other bloggers gave to increase the numbers of readers, turn your blog into a business or book and many other topics. Is it really all about self-advertisement? Do I want to sell myself in this little space I call mine? 
These questions lead me back to my motivation for doing all this. Why do I write in the first place and who do I write for? 
I don’t want to write for statistics, likes, or tweets. This is not a business with a product called ME. What I want to take away from this challenge is my hope to stay true to myself. 
Not losing my voice in numbers of visitors, positive or negative comments, facebook pages, tweets and likes. Instead, what I want to put on paper are my passions, things I struggle with, wonder about. Unfinished thoughts, open questions, lessons learned. They might speak to you in the situation you’re in at the moment. They might say nothing at all to you right now. That’s okay. I am absolutely grateful for everyone who’s been reading along – thank you for all your comments, input, and encouragement! I hope you’ll continue this journey with me, as shaky as it might be…

There’s a blogger community out there!
I’ve linked up with other bloggers before, but this challenge really made me aware of so many amazing writers out there! I had the privilege to have some friends and fellow bloggers join me on my own blog, and I was so blessed by their words, experiences, and wisdom. In case you missed them, please go back and read their work! 
Johann shared a poem he wrote on the TCK identity question, Daniel wrote about fears, Katrin contributed a poem about God in the midst of TCK life, Wera did a series on TCKs and restlessness, Rachel told us about her struggles with joining in, and Marilyn gave us an insight on returning to your host country. All of them have fantastic voices and I hope you enjoy their writings!
In the middle of studying and blogging I didn’t have much time to read many of the other bloggers’ works that participated in the challenge, too. Nearly 1600 people joined and wrote about all kinds of topics, ranging from devotions to travel secrets to pumpkin recipes. We all connected on Facebook, and it was good to receive encouragement when things got tough. Plus, I got to discover some amazing writers I wouldn’t have found otherwise! I tried to read a variety of things, but it wasn’t easy to keep up with everything and there are still about a hundred posts in my reader waiting for me. I did however choose to read a few series every day, and I am glad I did! 

Here are a few of my picks…

Kate Motaung: the host of Five Minute Friday wrote on her life in South Africa, which was like homecoming for me. So many stories to relate to and so much to laugh about!

Liz von Ehrenkrook: We had briefly connected before, but her series really challenged me! She wrote on 31 Days of Breaking Religion, questioning why we believe what we believe and what faith is all about. We had some great discussions and I am so glad we “met”! 

Shelly Miller: Shelly shares the story of her family moving to London, including all the delays, open questions and life’s beauty in between. She has a talent of putting things into beautiful words which often spoke to me. Shelly also hosts “The Sabbath Society” and her emails on Fridays are perfect to start off Sabbath (whatever day you decide to take it).

Christy Campbell: Christy is a traveler and her series was all about secrets to more adventures in life. Some really great advice in there and even better stories! I am also featured with a guest post

Renee Emerson: I am not even close to finishing this series, but the start was so good! Renee and Brian write about writing as an act of worship. Lots of good input and some great practical exercises. Definitely want to continue reading!

Kristin@theincrediblek: Kristin had 31 days of encouragement on her blog, and even though I haven’t read all of them yet they are really good! Many stories and practical ideas to encourage other people and change your own life on the go. 

I hope you have some time to check them out!
31 Days are over but blogging isn’t, and I will continue writing. Not every day, but whenever I feel I need processing…:) So stay tuned for more thoughts soon!

Author: Katha von Dessien

Teacher. Believer in the Wilderness. Third Culture Kid. World Traveler. People and Food at the Table Lover. Writer.

6 thoughts on “That time I participated in a blogging challenge…”

  1. You're right, Faith, I am not saying a blogging business is wrong. It's just always good to have the “why” in the right place…thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Oh yes, I know this struggle! We want it, yet don't want it. And you're right, it might be a season of spiritual growth as well…We never know what will come out of this, so we might just have to stick with it! Thanks for your thoughts, Liz!

  3. Love this!! It's been hard for me post- 31 days!

    I don't think there is anything wrong to blog as a business – I used to do that before my youngest was born and it was my best job ever, but it's good to identify your “why” and it's freeing to let go of the statistics and comments

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! And this: “I don't want to write for statistics, likes, or tweets. This is not a business with a product called ME. What I want to take away from this challenge is my hope to stay true to myself.” Yes, that's what I feel to my core and the ultimate struggle; because if I'm honest, I want readers and social media shares, a huge platform and a best-selling book. I want to be influential and encouraging. But I don't want it if it means I lose myself. I believe until I'm at that point of spiritual health, God will not grant me that desire – and I can't say I'm mad about that.

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