Successfully Completing the UBC!
My Purpose & Lessons Learned
Is this the first time you have attempted the Ultimate (or Ultra) Blogging Challenge?
I tried last year and this past October and on and off since then. I couldn’t do it for thirty days straight. In October I came close … but no cigar, as they say! I didn’t stress if I didn’t make it because my goal was to increase my visibility and build my readership somewhat, and I’d achieved that.
But this time I was determined to make it. Here’s why:
Just before I started this blogging challenge, I received a strong confirmation that God would continue to work through me in my calling as a Christian author. I decided this challenge would provide discipline toward that goal.
The first step in accomplishing my goal
Before I started writing, I pictured my audience since I need to connect with them and I tried to draw them into my (mis) adventures right away so they, too, could feel what it’s like to be vision-impaired or at least relate in some way.
Setting myself up for success
Every time I posted, I checked it off my calendar. I jotted down my topic and posted. It was great to see how I was “on target” with my goals and becoming more disciplined. Plus, I felt I had a strong, optimistic message – how handling vision loss was just like handling any other challenge. By tromping through each day with a good sense of humor, gratitude and a good dose of faith, life can be full and wonderful.
I even planned a few posts in advance (though I never wrote them down).
I set up a schedule in writing them as well. Mostly I started writing them in early afternoon.
The challenges came early…
Shortly after the new year, we learned that my sister who had been suffering from cancer had less than a week to live. We knew it was coming and yet, at least for me, it threw me into a tailspin. How does one prepare him or herself for absence of a beloved family member? It’s impossible!
I divided my time up between blogging, my duties at home and my sister. Actually, I couldn’t spend much time with her since she tired so easily. I feared that I would not have enough time to share with her what she meant to me. That was the birth of “Where the Heat is, the Heart is.” The last week of her life, I posted nearly every day about my sister. Next came one of my most poignant posts, “Saying Goodbye Shakes Me Up.” My series ended with a tongue-in-cheek post on being at a funeral as told from my vision-impaired point-of-view. I nearly made it through “F is for Funeral” without crying. 🙂 This week I was able to shift my focus back to vision loss. The point is, I continued to post through that period because I kept the larger goal in mind.
I know I broke a rule about sticking to my topic but what I learned from this challenge was that people read the off-topic posts as much as they did my regular vision loss adventures, and they were moved. I think it was because I was real and honest and people could relate to loss in their own lives. I also focused on how my faith helped me get through the really, really hard moments. The tone of my message remained true to who I was.
Setting aside time for family
It’s not only because of my sister’s death that I now take frequent breaks to spend time with family members. God has been telling me to do this for a long time, and perhaps earlier I wasn’t so obedient. The breaks draw out the time it takes to finish a post. But I’ve learned we only have so many chances to enjoy each other and then the opportunities are gone. I’m so grateful for this lesson.
How many of you take a long time to write your posts? Are there very many hands up?
The truth is it takes me anywhere from 3-6 hours each day. After writing, I revise it a few times and polish it. I have never been a fast writer, and sift through my words, deleting whole paragraphs. So sometimes, I posted at 3 am. I still counted it as a post for that day because I hadn’t gone to sleep yet.
Not planning my posts in advance
Although I believe I’d do a lot better (in every area of my life) if I planned things out, I never do. I wing it. I wrote about whatever happened to me that day in light of my vision-impairment. I’m sure that’s not the way professional bloggers do it. And that’s not the way authors write. But I’m still working on that area of my life. I still get caught in a fix when I don’t plan out dinner in advance! And that’s something I’ve been working on a lot longer than blogging.
In spite of the obstacles, I feel good about what I accomplished in these challenges. I posted every night. From the responses I received, I learned my writing and my humor comes across as well as my message of hope and faith.
In blog challenges, our followers may not initially be drawn to what we write because it’s not something they would necessarily seek out; however, I’ve been so fortunate to make several new and loyal contacts who did become interested in my topic simply because they nearly always posted after me. Perhaps, they had never been exposed to someone with vision loss. And the same thing happened to me with many of the topics I encountered.
As I said, my goal was to improve my discipline. I also wanted to gain a readership for my books. My memoir, Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith demonstrates how God changed my focus on cane training and how He gave me back my self-worth and independence. My second book, A Sight for Sore Eyes: The Lighter Side to Facing Vision Loss is about resilience, and choosing faith over fear.
Whether you are writing to build a business or trying to establish a niche readership, the way to succeed is to not stop, find ways around challenges. Looking back on earlier attempts, I realize it also takes patience. If I didn’t make it one month, I tried again the next. Sometimes I did worse the next time. It wasn’t until I found a reason that motivated me to keep going that I could do it consistently. So find your purpose in all of this.
Friends, take heart! If I can complete this challenge while going through the death of a loved one, you can overcome your obstacles as well. Here’s to our success today, whatever level that might be, and our continued success!