Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

Blaugust 2023: Lessons Learned

I completed Blaugust 2023!

I’m a very proud owner of a Diamond Rainbow Award for publishing 31 posts in 31 days during Blaugust 2023. It was quite a journey and like all challenges like these, I’m kinda happy it’s over.

Over the years, my blogging has been sporadic at best. In 2013, I wrote a lot, then there were years when it was a post here and another there. 2018 and 2019 I started to get more serious about writing and tried to publish weekly with varying results. Starting with 2020, I’ve been able to publish a blog post almost every Wednesday.

After I reached my first full year of weekly blogging, I did a reflection post of that year.

Publishing a blog post once a week is a challenge enough, especially when I want to have a good amount of technical blog posts with tested example code and that requires research and coding and testing.

Publishing a blog post every day is another story.

Every day is a lot of work

First learning is kinda the obvious I feel. Maintaining a daily schedule turned out to be a bit easier than I first imagined but also a lot of work. I did not write every day but I did publish every day. Writing into the buffer when I have time and then publishing on a given interval is the solution I’ve learned over the years as the secret sauce to keeping up with any schedule.

The website rewrite work that I did was a bit wild idea to do during this kind of month but it ended up helping a lot also because it gave me an extra boost to write as I enjoyed the new system more than the previous one.

Putting in the work rather than waiting for inspiration

A major learning from this month was that I was able to do it in the first place. Around the end of the second week, I started to notice that I got better and better at just sitting down and starting to write.

I’ve always been an inspiration writer to the extent that usually at least once a week, opportunity and inspiration met and I managed to get a post done. This made writing for work sometimes challenging but after this month, I’m way more confident and comfortable writing when needed.

That gives me a lot of hope as I dream of one day being able to write for a living. Probably not as a full-time job but as a part of it.

Blaugust community

I really enjoyed being part of a blogging community for this month. I’ve been mostly writing in isolation and only occasionally chatting with other writers. The Blaugust Discord has been a great source of inspiration, good discussions and tips for writing. I also got a few friends to join and we’ve had daily discussions and even some blog writing coffee sessions which I’ve enjoyed a ton.

That’s the part I wish to keep and even do more in the future. I’ve been thinking about starting something similar to Shut Up & Write community but I’m trying to avoid becoming a lead in new communities and rather focus on the existing ones.

A weird feeling of cheating

Throughout the month, I had this weird feeling that I was “cheating” with my blog posts to meet the requirements of the challenge. Especially when I was publishing my 5-post miniseries on projects I’m proud of or tech bloggers I read. They were blog posts I might not have written, especially all 5 of each if it wasn’t for Blaugust and I guess that’s what got my inner critic so mad.

And it’s weird because those posts lead into great discussions and other people finding interesting blogs to read so they achieved their most important job of a blog post.

Towards the end, I got really satisfied with my writing though. The website rewrite project with its accompanying projects of dark mode and cookie consent were great and the Steam Deck post turned out really good as well. Likewise for the Python TDD post.

So I aim to not give my inner critic’s opinions any weight even though it keeps screaming to my ear.

Return to weekly pace

With all that being said, I’m going to return to my previous weekly schedule starting in September. I decided to do that for a couple of reasons:

First, maintaing a daily pace for long, with the style of blog posts I like to write is not going to be sustainable and I’d just burn out eventually. Given I’ve occasionally failed to reach my weekly pace, keeping up with daily just won’t happen.

Second, even if I could keep up with daily publishing, it would happen at the expense of me being able to write more in-depth technical stories. I’m looking to write more technical stuff again in September. And December is right around the corner and that means Advent of Code will take all my extra time.

I’m really happy that the 31st of August lands on Thursday this year and not for example on Tuesday. I get almost a week off from writing which I will cherish and then return to blogging on the first Wednesday of September with new fresh ideas.

My goals for Blaugust

In the introduction post on the 1st, I wrote

My personal goals for Blaugust for this first year are:

  • Write more
  • Experiment with different type of content
  • Learn from others and get inspired by the community
  • Help someone get started or restarted with blogging

One thing I want to do more in the future is to have a discussion with other blogs. Right now, most of what I write is kinda in isolation on this blog. But I read a lot of other blogs and many bring up nice topics that I’d like to start “replying” to or further taking the discussion.

I’ve learned a lot from others and gained a ton of new inspiration to writing. And I’ve gotten at least two people to write more through participation to Blaugust which makes me so so happy.

Tally up the scores: