Today is the 19th day of the month-long blogging dare the folks at the BlogHer website sent out to us unsuspecting bloggers. They call it NaBloPoMo, an acronym so goofy a lot of us were drawn to it like flies to honey. What IS it? What does it stand for? (National Blog Posting Month, I think. Yes. That’s it.) Then there was that promise of an Ipad to the blogger who makes the biggest impression–which, of course, I thought I would ace, but now I’m pretty sure I won’t.
But, still. . .
It’s not clear anymore how I got involved, but at this point it doesn’t matter. I promised to publish a blog post a day throughout the month of November, and I did it so publicly I can’t back down now.
But the inevitable has happened. Call this the afternoon slump writ large. Today I woke up and realized that I desperately needed a day off. I’ve been doing some heavy-duty writing on topics that meant a lot to me but required a decent amount of research and revision. I stuck with the requirement that the blog had to be written on the day it was published, but many of them would have benefited from a cool-down period, after which some pretty glaring mistakes might have surfaced before it was too late. (The beauty of publishing on the web is the edit feature. I’m not such a purist that I won’t use it. It’s like a permanent lifeline. Yesterday I completely redid a post I had written in 2009. I doubt if anyone will ever find it and read it, but I feel so much better now.)
But some pieces were topical enough that I would have been forced to write them quickly, anyway. Yesterday’s piece on the employee food bins at a Cleveland area Walmart, for example, had to be done ASAP if I wanted to be at the vanguard and not look like any old copy cat.
Turns out I wasn’t anywhere near fast enough. By the time I finished and published my post, the internet had already erupted, and the story–about the lengths a clueless manager will go to pretend to take care of poor employees without actually having to pay them enough so they would no longer be poor–was practically old news. Before long, it was all over the TV and whatever edge I might have thought I had was now a crumbling cliff. And I was at the bottom.
But I had written it and I liked the way it turned out, and I have to admit that if I weren’t in the midst of this ridiculous NaBloPoMo challenge I might not have felt the urgency to write yesterday. I might have missed the chance to make fun of Walmart management while shining a tiny little light on the plight of Walmart workers everywhere.
When I signed on to NaBloPoMo I swore I would do it this one time but then I never would do it again. I would never, ever write a blog a day again. My main goal was to draw readers to my new blog, and to practice giving them a reason to stay–and already I’m feeling freer about writing about essentially nothing. My main blog is a political opinion blog and I don’t as a rule publish it unless I have something pertinent to say about politics. That’s not necessarily every day. I’ve tried to post at minimum once a week over there but I know I need to post more often in order to build and keep a greater readership.
This exercise has opened me up by forcing me to pull my writing down off that self-imposed, way too pretentious pedestal. I’ve always been more comfortable just being me, and forcing myself to write every day keeps it real. I don’t have time to worry about perfection.
Perfection, as every writer knows, is the steel trap that crushes creativity. If we’re blocked, most often it’s because we’re trying too hard. If we’re forced to write every day, if even for a month, creativity has a chance to fly free.
Writing begets writing. We have to do it in order to do it.
So there. I’ve done it. See you tomorrow.