Monday, August 29, 2022

Those Who Do Not Learn From The Past...

I've just read and commented on Jen's "Lessons Learned" post over at the excellent Book of Jen It's prompted me to come up with this - hopefully brief - post of my own. A bit early for a wrap-up but here we go.

Every year, both during Blaugust and afterwards, quite a few people post about how challenging it's been, how exhausting they've found it, how burned out they're feeling and how posting every day for a month really isn't for them. There's also a widespread acknowledgement that even trying to keep up with reading all the extra posts the event generates is impossible. The general impression is that it can sometimes be all too much of a good thing.

I am not immune to any of this, much though I love to bang on about how I enjoy blogging and how easy I find it. During this year's Blaugust I think I must have commented on, or at least alluded to, my own issues with keeping the plates spinning at least four or five times.  

Even after taking part in this whole performance for several years, I always end up feeling surprised by just how much effort it takes. I was saying something to Mrs Bhagpuss the other day, talking on a supposedly unrelated topic about how time-poor I felt, and she said "Oh, you're like this every August, when you do that blogging thing."

It's true. "Doing Blaugust" can have an impact that goes well beyond the event itself.

I took these shots and I'm going to use them!
According to posts I've read this year, various Blaugustians have drawn up detailed schedules, stockpiled posts well in advance and stayed up way past their bedtimes, just trying to make sure they didn't miss a day. I'd give links but I've read so many posts I've forgotten who said what.

Personally, about the worst that's happened is I've skipped playing games to post. Often about playing games, ironically. I don't imagine anyone's lost their job or had the car repossessed as a result of becoming obsessed with hitting their self-imposed Blaugust targets but I imagine a lot of us have found we don't have quite as much time to do things as we did in July or will have in September.

And yet it's all so very unnecessary. Indeed, it's not only not needed, it's actively discouraged. Year on year, Belghast takes ever more trouble to structure and promote the event in such a way as to remove even the suggestion of obligation or failure.

 This year's announcement of the "rules" could scarcely have been more accomodating to all levels of interest and commitment. I mean, you get an award just for signing up! There is still mention of the "challenge" of making thirty-one posts in thirty-one days but there are many stopping-off points along the way and awards and titles to recognize that reaching any of them is an achievement in itself.

Who cares if they're relevant?
Speaking of which, there are actual Achievements this year. So many of them and so generous in their qualifying requirements that literally no-one who joins in with the event at all could possibly come away without a shiny Blaugchievement badge to stick on the side of their blog.

There is no judgment of any kind in this event and never has been since I've been doing it. No-one criticizes anyone for not making as many posts as they promised they would. No-one tells anyone they should have done more, tried harder, made more of an effort. It's a marvelously supportive, accepting environment in which to stretch your blogging muscles but if you get blogging cramp and have to sit the rest of the event out, everyone's just glad you were able to join in for as long as you could.

Bearing all that in mind, the lesson I'd like to learn from this year's event is this: Blaugust isn't about posting thirty-one days straight: it's all about learning what works for you

If you find daily posting gives you a buzz then that's fantastic. You don't have to stop when September comes. Last year I didn't. I just kept going until June. I believe Dan from Magi Was Taken has posted every day since his first Blaugust, three years ago.

If, on the other hand, posting every day stopped being fun two weeks ago, give youself a break and take one. Come back when you're feeling it again. You almost certainly will, eventually. Maybe next Blaugust.

As I said last year, they break up the text and that's what matters.
The bloggers I most admire this year aren't those of us who've been able to come up with something every day, even though that's impressive and admirable and very much welcome because it gives me a wealth of great writing to enjoy. No, the people to whom I take off my imaginary hat (It's one of those leather ones like Tom Waits wears...) are those who set themselves a specific goal to suit their own circumstances and desires, giving themselves targets they'd crafted for themselves rather than blithely going for the full thirty-one, no matter what.

That's the lesson I'd like to say I've learned from Blaugust 2022: be the blogger you want to be. In my case that would be the kind of blogger who can, when it feels like the right thing to do, post a single paragraph instead of writing an essay or use a single screenshot instead of a dozen.

Unfortunately, I say that to myself every year and then next year I come back and do the same damn thing. If I had a nickel for every time I've said "I wish I could write shorter posts" I'd have a jar full of coins I couldn't spend because no-one in this country knows what a nickel is.

The second lesson I'd like to learn is to hold off on giving advice until I've learned how to follow it. Why should anyone listen to me when I patently never listen to myself? What kind of mentorship is that?

That's one lesson I did remember!

I mean, read what I wrote in last year's "Lessons Learned" post, snazzily titled "Lessons Will Be Learned": 

"This is Lessons Learned Week and for once I can confidently say I did learn at least one thing this time around: writing ahead really pays off. Also, another thing, so does finding a hook on which you can hang a whole bunch of similar posts".

Were those lessons learned? Were they hell! 

This year, I thought of an idea for a series, posted about how I was going to do it, then decided it was going to be too much trouble and completely forgot about it until a few days ago. If I'd listened to my own advice and taken it it would have saved me a whole lot of last-minute scrabbling and I'd be able to smugly tell myself I'd told myself so.

So my final lesson learned for this year is going to have to be... remember you're a womble? No, not that... what was it? I had it a minute ago...

Oh yes! It's remember what told yourself last time you did this! I mean, it was only a year ago. There's probably even some kind of a written record. You could always go back and check...

Roll on next Blaugust when we'll do it again, make the same mistakes, give each other the same advice and then ignore it.

It's called tradition and it's a very good thing.


  1. Speaking as someone who did Blaugust last year and skipped it this year....

    I think the problem is that most participants are gamers, and gamers gotta to all the things in whatever game they play, even the game of Blaugust. So even though there is no judgement if you only post 5 times instead of 31, somewhere in our gamer hearts we didn't get the Good Ending so we feel slightly disappointed in ourselves.

    Maybe. What do I know? I don't understand people one bit... :)

    1. As Naithin comments below, I think you might have something there'. I'm no kind of completionist but Í do pride myself on being able to finish what I've started *if* I said I would and committing to Blaugust in my case always does mean 31 posts. It doesn't have to but it does anyway...

  2. Well, I pretty much called it before Blaugust started. If I didn't commit, I'd probably do quite well at posting. I didn't commit, like I said I wasn't going to, and here we are. 29/29. And I'm not stressed either. What the hell is wrong with me that I'm not stressed like I was in Blapril?

    1. I shadowed the event my first year and it certainly does take the pressure off. On the other hand, it's a bit like watching people at a party through a plate glass window...

    2. At one point it may have felt like watching a party through a plate glass window, but from my perspective if I'm there, I'm exposed. Here, nobody is watching me, which is incredibly freeing to an introvert.

  3. I guess when you think about it, a lot of traditions are exhausting to plan and execute. Christmas. Birthdays. I imagine Thanksgiving too, for those who do that whole thing.

    Why should Blaugust be any different? xD

    I haven't got to my lessons learned post yet, not sure yet what I'll say different from last year. 'Daily posting isn't for me.' Meanwhile, fully planning on doing it again next year. If there was ever a year to let it go, it would've been this one. Got enough else going on!

    Part of it comes back to the topic we've discussed a number of times over now on the joy in doing vs. the joy of having done.

    But I think Pete might also be onto something about gamer brain. Not that I'm normally much of a completionist, but that PLUS the streak effect (the streak in this case being consecutive 'successful' Blaugusts), it becomes a powerful force in its own right.

    1. Blaugust does have that old "Banging your head against a brick wall" feel to it, doesn't it? It's a pain while you're doing it but it feels so good when you stop. I really look forward to it every year, somehow forgetting how tough it can get.

      Then again, I did genuinely, completely forget how much easier it was last year, when I did the Pitchfork 25 posts as part of Blaugust. They almost wrote themselves and took on average less than half as long per post to finish. They were also such fun to write I sometimes did three in a day and had a week's worth backed up for the entire run of Blaugust. It made the whole thing completely stress-free.

      Why I didn't remember that and do somethig similar again a year later I have no idea. Other than that I'm an idiot! If I had to bet on whether I'll remember my own advice this time next year, I'd bet against it.

  4. Thanks for the chuckles. Loved the post!


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