NaBloPoMo: Completing the Challenge

A totally unrelated photograph from Lübeck, Germany.
A totally unrelated photograph from Lübeck, Germany.

November, you kicked my butt into gear and then quickly disappeared. When I set out to do the NaBloPoMo or National Blog Posting Month challenge, I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant. I don’t commit without serious thought, and worse than anything is committing and falling short. My worst nightmare was to set a challenge for myself and then fail, in the public eye. I also worried about bombarding my readers with too much content, losing subscribers and the negative effect NaBloPoMo could have on this blog. So I almost didn’t sign up, I almost signed up with an obscure personal blog that I don’t even use, I almost clicked out of the window to “sleep on the decision”, also known as forgetting about it.

But I didn’t. I said to myself: “Sally, don’t be a butthead.” (Yes, really.) I realized that if it would be over-blogging and bombardment of content for the smaller amount of readers I have now, it would be the same amount of over-blogging next year, just for more readers. And it was something I wanted to undertake, I wanted to complete the challenge, but I was just nervous. I didn’t think very much about all of the positive things it could do for my blog, though I knew, in theory, that it would make me better and stretch my limits.

So I simply took the plunge, bring what it may. Which turned out to be a whole lot of positives.

It made me think hard, and then force myself to produce.

Whereas earlier I was blogging more or less on inspiration and ideas, this month I blogged on demand. I learn a little about harnessing ideas, creating brainstorm lists and coming back to them later, when it was writing time. I learned about sparking inspiration by looking through old photos or just putting pen to paper and seeing what happened.

It forced me to revisit topics I’d left behind and undone.

I went back to Turkey and Cyprus, putting together photos and information about my trips. Without NaBloPoMo, I may have never gotten around to it. The “(Delicious) Things I Consumed In…” posts will now be a series for small trips I take, thanks to this.

This was also a downside of NaBloPoMo, as I remembered that I haven't eaten Baklava in about a year.
This was also a downside of NaBloPoMo, as I remembered that I haven’t eaten Baklava in about a year. Tears.

It forced me to branch out into new areas.

New topics this month include my hometown, Pittsburgh, my school lunches, getting into pop culture like K-Pop and writing the first post about Argentina since I’ve stopped writing on Tumblr. My topics were all over the place, but in a good way. Creativity upgrade complete.

It put my brain into blog-mode.

Wherever I was, I considered if there was something about this experience I wanted to put in blog form. If so, then I made sure to take the necessary pictures and write down any important information.

It put me on a schedule.

I had to find an everyday rhythm and with that, I was able to plan ahead. I made it my goal to write my post every weekday before lunchtime, and on Fridays I would think about my weekend plans and when I would sit down to write for the day.

Practice, practice, practice makes better.

I had to change that cliched phrase a bit, since writing is one of those things that will never be perfect. But the practice has helped me write not just better sentences, but work out the formatting and overall layout of my blog posts to be more readable and fun. I feel like I’ve improved a lot, even in a short amount of time.

It drove traffic like crazy.

I know that more content means more people looking at what you’ve written, but I expected that to be somewhat off-set by people overwhelmed with all of the new writing and falling away until it was over. In reality, people viewing the site increased by 150% this month! The bunches of content didn’t overwhelm my readers as much as I thought. That’s a relief.

If I could celebrate with this piece of cake from Argentina right now, I would.
If I could celebrate with this piece of cake from Argentina right now, I would. But I’ll settle for a nap.

There are other small things NaBloPoMo has done for me, like sparking some beneficial research and introducing me to the challenges of blogging from my iPhone, but the above are the big ones. I’m so glad I decided to take on this challenge, because despite all of my hesitations, it’s proven to be a really wonderful tool for making myself and my blog better.

I also now dub December my NaBloProMo, or National Blog Promoting Month, in which I do my best to market all the content I’ve already written to a bigger audience and try to get it seen. Yes, new blog posts will also be happening, but oh dear, I really need to take a rest. That was hard. But I did it.

See all of the NaBloPoMo posts here:

1// NaBloPoMo, Yo
2// Weird Noms: Salt & Seaweed Flavored Pringles
3// An Honest Review of 16 Months Studying Korean
4// Working in a Small, Private Middle School in Rural South Korea
5// The Characters of Sambong
6// You Know You’ve Been in Korea Too Long When…
7// iPhone Photoessay: (Delicious) Things I Consumed in Istanbul

8// How To Stay Warm In Winter Like a Korean
9// Foreign Movie Pick: “Friend” (2001)
10// Mini iPhone Photoessay: A Week of School Lunches
11// Pepero Day in Korea
12// Typhoon Haiyan, Human Suffering and Responsibility
13// iPhone Photoessay: St. Hilarian Castle in Cyprus
14// Featured Photograph: Red, Green, Yellow, Orange
15// Your Crash Course in K-Pop
16// The Slow Decline of Days
17// Random Snippets of Life in South Korea
18// Language Misadventures: How I Adopted and Unadopted a Dog Before 8am
19// iPhone Photoessay: (Delicious) Things I Consumed in Argentina
20// Photoessay: Bikes of Germany
21// Photoessay: Stunning Sunsets in Rural Korea
22// 13 Reasons Why Pittsburgh is the Best
23// The Superpower You Can Cultivate: Foreign Language
24// My Top 5 Wanderlist
25// 11 Christmas Gifts for Travelers, Vagabonds and Wanderers
26// iPhone Photoessay: Ruins of Salamis in Cyprus
27// Sacrifices of Travel: Thanksgiving Away From Home
28// Featured Photograph: White on Water
29// A Look Ahead: The Last Month in Korea
30// This wrap up post, you’ve just read it!

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Have you noticed an improvement in my writing since I started? Did NaBloPoMo overwhelm you with content? What did you think about the challenge?

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NaBloPoMo, Yo

Are you confused? Allow me to explain.

National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo, is organized by a site called BlogHer.com. The goal is pretty simple: post something new everyday. The serious writers among us may instead be participating in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, and kudos to them. I’ll be blogging.

Coming up with new ideas everyday will be a stretch, particularly coming up with ideas worth expanding on. That’s one of the main reasons that I’m choosing to participate in this: it’ll exercise my brain, get me thinking about different things to write about and hopefully, in the long run, make me that much better of a blogger. I have a feeling I’ll be digging into the archives of my experiences, my semester abroad in Argentina or even as far back as my high school adventures in Austria. I’ve completely neglected talking about my three days in Northern Cyprus, back in January, and I’m sure there’s more material to find and work with. Interesting things are a-comin’.

So, get ready for a lot of blog posts! And get excited! If there’s anything specific you’d like me to write about this month, then please contact me. I’m sure I’ll be hurting for ideas at some point. (Blog prompts are available, but they’re more directed towards personal blogs.) In the meantime, sit back and relax while I do all the work.

To writing!

NaBloPoMo Progress to Date

1// This introductory post, you’ve just read it 🙂
2// Weird Noms: Salt & Seaweed Flavored Pringles
3// An Honest Review of 16 Months Studying Korean
4// Working in a Small, Private Middle School in Rural South Korea
5// The Characters of Sambong
6// You Know You’ve Been in Korea Too Long When…
7// iPhone Photoessay: (Delicious) Things I Consumed in Istanbul

8// How To Stay Warm In Winter Like a Korean
9// Foreign Movie Pick: “Friend” (2001)
10// Mini iPhone Photoessay: A Week of School Lunches
11// Pepero Day in Korea
12// Typhoon Haiyan, Human Suffering and Responsibility
13// iPhone Photoessay: St. Hilarian Castle in Cyprus
14// Featured Photograph: Red, Green, Yellow, Orange
15// Your Crash Course in K-Pop
16// The Slow Decline of Days
17// Random Snippets of Life in South Korea
18// Language Misadventures: How I Adopted and Unadopted a Dog Before 8am
19// iPhone Photoessay: (Delicious) Things I Consumed in Argentina
20// Photoessay: Bikes of Germany
21// Photoessay: Stunning Sunsets in Rural Korea
22// 13 Reasons Why Pittsburgh is the Best
23// The Superpower You Can Cultivate: Foreign Language
24// My Top 5 Wanderlist
25// 11 Christmas Gifts for Travelers, Vagabonds and Wanderers
26// iPhone Photoessay: Ruins of Salamis in Cyprus
27// Sacrifices of Travel: Thanksgiving Away From Home
28// Featured Photograph: White on Water
29// A Look Ahead: The Last Month in Korea

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Find me on the ABOFA Facebook Page or sign up for the email list, if you’d like!

Reflections on One Year in Korea

pagodasunset
The country I knew nothing about before arriving on an airplane, one day in June: South Korea.

Before I left for Korea, I had little idea what I was getting myself into; actually, let’s be honest, I had none. I thought that by learning Hangeul ahead of time (the Korean writing system) and just being a flexible person would get me through whatever I needed to handle. I even read a book about Korean culture, which turned out to be barely helpful. While I’ve survived, clearly, a lot of those assumptions that I’d have an easy adjustment were oh so wrong. Korea is a roller coaster that’s been rocking my world for the past year… and will be for another six months, at least.

Continue reading Reflections on One Year in Korea

A Critique: Benny the Irish Polyglot’s Language Learning Method

[Note: this critique was spurred when I re-read this article from Benny about how studying doesn’t help when learning a language.]

I’ve dedicated a lot of time and effort to language learning and the pursuit of fluency. When I was twelve, I began taking German classes in middle school. At 17, I stepped into a life in Austria and soon learned the difference between “learning” and “speaking” German. At 21, I decided to learn Spanish via complete immersion, and left after a semester both conversational and a little wiser as to how I learn languages in general. Now, I’m working on my third foreign language, Korean, and testing out the learning theories that I’ve formulated. I don’t speak a hundred languages and I don’t have a PhD, but I’ve learned a thing or two through these experiences. Continue reading A Critique: Benny the Irish Polyglot’s Language Learning Method