Here there be a lot of links, and also maybe monsters. Well, probably not monsters. But it’s best to be prepared.
In April, I embarked on a 30-day writing challenge with the goal of 30 published pieces by the end of the month. I laid out my plans to “spend time writing every single day, and intend to publish something every single day, [but] I will not be writing a brand-new article, start to finish, thought-up-that-morning-while-brushing-my-teeth, every single day. Because that, in my mind, is a recipe for mindless listicles.”
I’m happy to say that I didn’t write any mindless listicles. But I also didn’t write something every single day. I took one break on April 13th after having had two articles published on April 12th, and then took another break April 28–29 after injuring my neck. See below…
Rest Is Not a Solo Exercise
You can’t “do it all” on your own… but you may need help to let go and relax, too.
In the end, I wrote 28 pieces in April. (Technically you could say I wrote 29 if you count the “about” section for my new publication, The Victorian Lady’s Column. But I’m not going to count that.) It was not a perfect result, but I’m pretty happy with it, all things considered. With the exception of the first day when I hurt my neck, I spent at least a few minutes (and often an hour or two) writing every single day, even if I didn’t publish something every single day.
To achieve some semblance of organization in this debriefing, I will answer three questions.
What have I learned?
I’d like to say I’ve learned the value of not procrastinating. I guess I learned that a little bit, but in general I learned that putting together a Medium publication is harder than it looks, that self-promotion on social media really does help with getting your work seen (though I’m not convinced that’s the kind of exposure I really want), and that I still work best under pressure of a deadline. I also learned that I have a lot less control over my own publishing schedule than I originally thought, because of the number of stories I submit to publications. I didn’t fully take that into consideration when I embarked on this adventure, which made for some tricky planning.
Would I do this again?
Probably not. It was an interesting exercise, but it came at a time when I really needed a creative outlet and a bit of additional mental stimulation — two things I probably won’t be lacking so much in the next few months. I will start college classes again in mid-May, and my son is becoming more mobile, determined, and adventurous each day. His three daily naps will soon drop to two, and my writing time is shrinking fast. This was an odd little island in an ocean of new-parenthood-confusion, and though I enjoyed it, this time was a short season and not a “new normal.”
Where can all this prolific April writing be found?
Glad you asked! Okay, maybe you didn’t ask. But I’m answering anyway. There’s one link at the top to my last piece of the month, and here are my top five favorites:
I’m Ashamed of the Christian Response to COVID-19
When did “my rights, my freedoms” supersede “love your neighbor?”
How a Forgotten British Princess Became a Silent Film Star and Invented the Band-Aid
History forgot her, but her legacy lives on… in drama and adhesive bandages.
Learning From Time Travel: Living History Is For Both Of Us.
Why I keep coming back to this odd hobby.
Ten Rock-Solid, Argument-Proof Reasons Why I Have Not Replied to Your Email Yet
“I’ve been using all my spare time to research honey badgers.”
No, You Are Not Going to Miss All of This Someday.
The tantrums? Nope. The snuggles? Sure. But you’ll know that when you see it.
Here is my most popular piece of the month, albeit mostly through outside traffic (thanks to a lot of Facebook shares):
An Apologetic Letter From the Avonlea School Board to the Irate Parents of Gilbert Blythe
The protagonist’s character development is surely more important than a minor thwack to the head
And here are the three pieces that (despite my best intentions) received the lowest views (though one was curated for further distribution):
The Bible Does Not Say That.
“Thou shalt be a registered Republican.” — definitely not one of the Ten Commandments
The Fairytale Origins of the White Wedding Dress
An arranged marriage that became a lifelong romance and a tradition that has endured for almost 200 years.
Sarah Boone, Pioneer of the Hinged Ironing Board
The story of the Black Victorian dressmaker who engineered the prototype for an object we still use today.
My husband gently pointed out that my piece on Sarah Boone, despite being curated in the “History” topic, has a title that is… well, pretty boring. Lesson learned: make the headline more interesting!
Now, for a long list of links that encompasses Everything Else:
I’m Not Good At Writing Book Reviews
Here’s why my star ratings on Goodreads probably won’t be helpful.
It’s Our Second Pandemic Easter, And Jesus Still Lives
So much has changed, and so much has stayed the same.
I Can’t Write If I’m Not Reading
Absorbing the ideas of someone smarter is a catalyst for my own creative thought.
I Kind of Forgot Spontaneous Combustion Was Actually a Thing
It’s a fiery day in the neighborhood, a neighborly day for a fire.
4 Things That Will Probably Freak You Out As a New Parent
Despite lots of well-meaning advice, no one prepared me for these weird newborn experiences
Why Didn’t People Smile In Old-Timey Photographs?
You might have learned a myth about this in school.
My First Anniversary: A Self-Indulgent Look Back at a Year of Writing
Stats, contemplation, and some oddball humor about my first twelve months on Medium.
Is This Green-Bean-Flinging, Oatmeal-Spitting Child Really My Kid?
I was taken aback by my son’s aversion to food
Grass Stains By the Shores of Silver Lake
A review and analysis of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s coming-of-age novel.
In Which I Try My Hand (Well, My Electric Mixer) at Quarantine Butter-Churning
We were all obsessed with bread-making last spring, but did we forget what should have gone with it?
Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters
A “guilty” verdict, a breath of relief, and a prayer for the future.
Help! I Asked For Parenting Advice on the Internet and Now I’m Starting to Question My Very…
“Have you considered just being a better mom?”
I Do Not Follow-For-Follow On Medium, and Neither Should You.
And the same goes for clapping, too. Here’s why.
Please, Keep Telling Your Joy-filled Marriage Stories
Whether you’re newly wed or together for half a century, sharing your happiness brings hope.
Three Reasons Why I Sewed My Own Wedding Dress
It was a lengthy and painstaking creative process, but it was absolutely worth it.
Wow, if you made it through all those, you should get a doughnut.
In case anyone is interested in stats, I began April with 589 followers and finished the month with 674. That’s about twice as many followers as I usually accrue per month — if you’re in that number, I hope you’ll stick around after April, too! Thank you so much for being here.
Out of 28 total pieces, 24 were curated for further distribution. I’m very happy with that number (about 85%), as it is a little higher than my previous curation rate of about 75%. And, to be fair, two of those four un-curated pieces were about Medium and therefore automatically disqualified from further distribution.
Here are two screenshots of my reading traffic, one on April 1 and one on May 2 (yes, I’m a day late). My views went up, but not astronomically. Reading time and fans were up quite a bit though, and for that I’m very appreciative. Knowing people are actually reading your work is pleasantly gratifying.
…oh, you want to know about the doughnuts? Yes. I did buy doughnuts as a reward for finishing the month. I may not have published 30 articles, but I came pretty darn close. I also met and exceeded my goal of earning at least $14.99. Tacky though it may be to disclose this, I actually earned more in April than I ever have in any other month on Medium: $53.24, in total. So I bought a dozen doughnuts and shared them with my in-laws and my niece and my husband (who is the reason there are none left 24 hours later). Hence the photo at the header.
The writing exercise was worth it; the feeling of accomplishment each time I pressed “publish” was worth it; the lemon-curd-filled pastries were worth it; all in all, I feel good about this challenge.
But you probably won’t see me ‘round these parts too often in May. Work is a good thing, but so is rest. And to quote Thoreau, “how vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
Here’s to standing up to live, and tackling the fridge-cleaning that I have been procrastinating for a month.