The daily blog is one year old today! Three hundred and sixty five daily posts! I’m not exactly sure if it should be a cause for celebration, but it somehow feels like a bit of a milestone. My first post, Two hundred, was written on the 30th of January, 2021. I haven’t missed a day of writing. Due to lack of internet, I have not been able to post twice – but obviously double-posted the day after. Doh. Daily writing is only daily writing if you do it daily. Missing a post due to being in the middle of nowhere is allowed, albeit it is quite annoying, as it breaks up your win streak. WordPress sends you a message to let you know this type of useless info. Despite it being useless info, it hurt quite badly when I had to start over at one, after making it to two hundred or so. I am currently at around a one hundred and forty post streak and although it is useless, I always try to make it to a place with internet to post my blog. It somehow motivates, too.
Okay, now let me throw some numbers in your face, to make me feel better about myself and my blogging work.
Excluding this post, I have written 193.543 words on this blog in one year. To place that in perspective, this is somewhere in between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (~190.000 words) and Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows (~198.000 words) – neither of which I have read, by the way. Now, I have never written a book (not counting my PhD dissertation, which has a real ISBN), but it feels comforting to know that you could potentially write them in a year with less than an hour per day. I’m not saying it will be a good book then, but considering that most novels are ~100.000 words or less, I would guess you could at least write a shorter but somewhat reasonable book in that time?
In one year, I have received 1.077 likes on WordPress. Most of these, I would say 99% of these, are by people that I have never met in my life. I find this pretty bizarre. 1.000 people liking posts is a lot! In total, there were 12.975 unique post views, created by 6.024 unique daily viewers. There’s no way for me to figure out whether these were the same 20 people coming back every day, or that there was some turnover, but given that the view number is almost always twice as high as the visitor number, I guess there are some new people – or people re-reading old posts. Whoever you are, thank you for reading work by a complete stranger, and showing me that you were there, at least in the form of a like. Blogging is a strange hobby, as you have no clue who you are writing for. Some numbers aside, it is a complete guess who are the readers behind the numbers. I’m grateful that people read my work. Thank you for taking some of your precious time, and spending it with my writing. I hope it was somehow worth it. Let me know what you think, what could be done better or different? What would you like me to write about? What would make you come back?
Comments are quite rare on blogs, at least they are on mine. I think this is because you need to have a WordPress account, and unless you write a blog yourself, you probably don’t have one. Or maybe I am wrong and my posts are not engaging enough? Not sure. It is probably true that I have not done enough to place myself firmly in the circle of bloggers that would engage, which is something I might work on more in the following year. I think I have had about two or three dozen comments on my blogs. Most of them were made by one person, a well-respected entomology blogger who was a loyal reader and sharer of my blogs, but has passed away last fall. Engagement in the comment section has not been the same since. I would love to see more positive engagement in the future (but the trolls can obviously stay away).
I started this blog for the sole purpose of triggering the writing muscle. I am convinced that writing works a little bit like a muscle. It’s a skill that becomes stronger and stronger, the more you train it. I need to write a lot professionally as a scientist. However, this can sometimes be quite patchy in its temporal distribution. I noticed that because of this, it sometimes took long to start up, when I had to. Always the struggle to get that first sentence on paper (after that I could usually go on). Especially so after weeks of not writing a word other than email. I wanted to change that. I figured that by writing daily, I would have a continuously activated writing muscle, and hopefully one that produces better work. Did it work? I think so. I cannot remember the last time I stared at a blank page, overthinking how to start. These days I just start, and will edit later. I think blogging has helped me with that. I always just hit the keyboard and go. I think it has made me more efficient, and perhaps reduced the need for editing by a bit, too.
An interesting and unexpected side effect of the daily blogging was getting an improved clarity of thinking. Writing about things helps me give them space in my brain. Similarly to how writing ideas down when you have them can help you avoid racing mind patterns, writing blogs can help empty the brain. An emptier brain has more room to focus on important things. It also works like journaling a little bit. Frustrated? Write it off. Angry? Write it off. Scared? Write it off. Simply acknowledging that you feel the way you feel by writing it down is an amazing thing to do. I can imagine that not everyone feels comfortable with sharing all that, and that’s also fine. You can write it down and not share. You don’t have to share everything. I share a lot, but obviously, even I think twice about what to share and what not to share. The best posts are angry posts and frustrated posts, but I often opt on not writing (or sharing) them. Sometimes for family, career or friendship ‘politics’, but quite often also because they need more time to ripen. Perhaps they will be written some day. A last aspect about writing, again involving the brain, is the mindful practice that it can turn into. Especially if you write about something you love (in my case, my family, entomology, botany, herpetology) by thinking deeply about the subject you write about, you deepen your appreciation for it. I thought that was pretty cool!
So was it worth it? Yes! Do I think more people should blog? Yes! I say it often. People try so hard to influence others on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, but in the end, these are rather empty messages, that disappear into the void of information. Blog posts are completely free in style, word count, pictures, and story. I think it is a beautiful thing.
I think everyone would benefit from writing a blog. It’s great therapy for those who do and those who don’t need therapy.
Better start today.
I will join you for another year!