Things I Learnt From Writing 40 Blogs in 40 Days

40 blogs in 40 days - Cover

Say it with me! One more blog! One more blog! ONE MORE BLOG! That’s right. This blog is number 39, which means that it’s the penultimate blog of my #40days40blogs challenge! It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride, but here is what I have learnt from writing 40 blogs in 40 days…

1. 40 is a really, really, really large number.

40 blogs in 40 days - #40Days40Blogs
Blog 1: #40Days40Blogs | This Lent, I’m Giving Up Being Unproductive

OK, duh. But, writing my first post about committing myself to this challenge and creating a cute little hashtag for myself made #40days40blogs seem like a great idea at the time. I’d given up chocolate for Lent before and it was fine. 40 days is long, but it’s doable, right?

Skip forward a couple of weeks and I’m realising that writing 40 blogs in 40 days means dedicating three or more hours every day to writing a decent post (and it’s mostly more). That’s a minimum of 120 hours. That’s at least five whole days I’ve spent on WordPress.

2. It’s always the ones you least expect…

40 blogs in 40 days - Backpacker Bingo
Blog 5: Backpacker Bingo: The Ultimate Travelling Drinking Game

I decided early on to split the types of posts into ‘long posts’ (in-depth discussions) and ‘fluffy posts’ (listicles and photo-heavy blog entries). This way, some days I would be writing more and others less, so I would save myself some time, right?

Oh, Amy, your naivety knows no bounds. First of all, all posts require thinking, planning, writing, drafting, re-drafting, publishing and sharing on social media. Sometimes, I would get inspired and free-write a whole long post in one go. Other times, sourcing pictures took a whole fucking day.

3. Everyone will offer help, but few will give it.

40 blogs in 40 days - Megan Roughley
Blog 26: What We Learnt From Living Abroad

I had no intention of going it alone. Before I even started, I reached out to blogging communities online asking for guest posts and contributions to collaboration posts. Many responded saying they were interested and I felt content in the knowledge that I would have plenty of content.

However, I wildly overestimated how many of these people would follow through. I spent a lot of time chasing up, but many people ignored my messages, gave excuses (some valid, others not) or in a few rare cases, strung me along for weeks on end before trailing off into silence.

That being said, I am immensely grateful for those who did indeed contribute. The two guest posts by Stephanie Fox and Sarah Tamsin were absolute lifesavers when I desperately needed a break. And a big thanks to those who contributed to collaboration-style posts too.

(Also, an even bigger thanks goes to my mom, who I think shared almost all of my posts on Facebook, even when I scared her for Mother’s Day. My mom is my biggest fan!)

4. I’m a poet and I didn’t know it.

40 blogs in 40 days - Hummingbird
Blog 9: The Girl Who Became A Hummingbird [Poem]
I don’t write a lot of poetry and that which I do write I rarely share. In fact, I haven’t shown anyone poetry I’ve written since creative writing workshops at university and even then it was because I had to (not counting my post on an Osaka day told through haiku, which was just for fun!).

Fueled by desperation, a lack of inspiration and a sprinkle of ‘it’s OK, no one’s reading it anyway’, I dug up some things and shared them with the Internet. Not only did I surprise myself in doing so, but I actually received a lot of positive feedback from those who read them!

5. A little bit of cheating is OK.

40 blogs in 40 days - Hong Kong Hikes
Blog 2: The Best Hikes In Hong Kong | Treks And Trails For Hikers Of All Abilities

My aim was to write 40 blogs in 40 days for Lent, starting from the 1st March and ending at Easter. Following Lent traditions, this meant I would post every day except Sunday (thank you, Lord, for the Sabbath).

But, you guys. Sometimes I didn’t have access to Wi-Fi or I was interrupted by life or I was just really, really, really tired. So, more than once, I switched my Saturday post to Sunday instead. Don’t judge me!

6. What’s the point if no one is reading?

40 blogs in 40 days - British Food
Blog 20: The Great British Cake-Scoff: A Guide To British Food

So, one of the reasons I wanted to challenge myself to write 40 blogs in 40 days is because I’m challenging myself to really work on my blog this year. Last year I wrote and posted and shared for fun, but this year I want to see if I can make something of it (why not?).

However, when I spend all of my time writing content for the sake of hitting Publish, but no time sharing it on social media, or optimising it for SEO, or actually working on the blog itself, the effort is a little futile.

One thing I have learnt is that equal effort needs to be put into writing as it does into being active on social media (cringe) and to working on the blog itself. Otherwise, how will anyone know that the content is there?

7. Quality always wins out over quantity.

40 blogs in 40 days - Bucket List
Blog 10: 27 Trips On My Travel Bucket List, 27th Birthday Wanderlust Edition

One of my golden rules of this blog is that I never publish without editing. It sounds obvious, but I have to get to the point where I read the whole post through without correcting one thing before I hit the Publish button. Yeah, sometimes typos slip through, but mostly I’m happy with it.

In the name of my 40 blogs in 40 days challenge, I’ve tried not to compromise on this. After all, why should I expect people to spend time reading a post if I can’t be bothered to spend time editing it and making it pleasurable to read?

That being said, there are definitely a few posts that I probably would have rewritten or worked on more if I’d had a little more time. After all, one beautifully curated post that comes from the heart is worth a thousand bland ‘listicle’-style posts that offer little value to readers.

8. Preparation is important!

40 blogs in 40 days - Bali
Blog 23: Guide To Bali: Budget Planning & Travel Tips

Oh my god, this was a major letdown and his friend colonel cock-up. I should have prepared a lot more in advance. Sure, I had a spreadsheet with scheduled blog post ideas, but what happened was I wrote on all the topics I wanted to write on first, then I didn’t want to write any of the others.

In hindsight, I should have spaced these out better and written a few rough drafts or notes to work on later. Oh, and I really should have had at least a few ‘back up’ posts for those days when I wasn’t feeling it.

9. You don’t have to publish everything you write.

40 blogs in 40 days - Southeast Asia
Blog 34: Two Months In Southeast Asia | Backpacking Trip Roundup

You might think that in my desperation to get something (anything!) published that day, that I just wrote any old thing that popped into my head and didn’t care what it was.

Not true. I have at least three fully-written, but unpublished, posts saved on my computer. Why? One was too personal, one was too controversial and one was on a topic that I realised too late I didn’t have the authority to write on.

It was so disheartening when I realised that I would have to start from scratch, but sometimes you don’t see that something is inappropriate to publish until you’ve written it and read it back. I’d rather not publish anything than publish something that I’ll later regret.

10. If you write every day, it comes easier to you.

40 blogs in 40 days - Buses
Blog 3: How To Survive Long-Haul Bus Journeys In Southeast Asia

I’m not saying I’m the most talented wordsmith in the world, but I feel like I have the basics OK. Before this challenge, I only ever wrote when I felt inspired. I would think on a topic for a few days or weeks, research a bit, write a skeleton of an outline and slowly piece something together.

This challenge has taught me that this isn’t the only way to write. Some of the posts I’ve been most proud of these last 40 days have come when I just sat in front of my computer and just started typing words to see what came out.

Surprisingly, even when I had no idea what to write, I still wrote something that I was eventually happy to publish. I realised that, although you can’t force creativity, you can just quickly get some words down on a page and then shape them into something good.

This new skill also translated into my work in copywriting and social media. Instead of pondering the perfect turn of phrase, I just wrote whatever came into my head, edited and was still just as happy with my work as when I was taking my time.

11. I should probably pat myself on the back more.

40 blogs in 40 days - Cinque Terre
Blog 8: A Cinque Terre Guide To Italy’s ‘Famous Five’

I’m a little surprised at myself. Not to sound arrogant, but I knew I had the determination and willpower to write 40 blogs in 40 days because I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo twice and won twice, even when I was backpacking around Asia.

Instead, I was more worried that I wouldn’t find enough hours in the day, that I would get writer’s block, or that I would end up writing and publishing utter crap that I would later regret. By some miracle, none of these things happened.

I knew I was determined, but I didn’t realise I was also disciplined enough to make sure I wrote something that wasn’t utter shit.

40 blogs in 40 days: If you can do this, you can do anything.

40 blogs in 40 days - WordPress

It’s a cliché, but it’s also true. One of the big reasons why I gave myself this challenge was because I needed to keep up momentum with my writing.

As documented in the very blog posts I’ve written, I’m struggling to find writing work in the UK relevant to what I want to do (or at all). Before I started this challenge, truth be told I was neglecting this blog and my writing in general in favour of fruitless job-hunting.

40 blogs in 40 days - Cover

So, as cheesy as it may be and as much as I’ve complained about having to write yet another blog piece when inspiration is running low, it’s sort-of saved me. It’s given me something to work towards and get excited about at a time when I’m feeling a little uninspired by life.

40 blogs in 40 days was a mountain to climb, but I did it. And now I’m at the top, I’m looking down at how far I’ve come and I’m impressed. I feel good about myself. And if I can write 40 blogs in 40 days, then I can find that job, I can pitch to publications and I can finish that novel.

If I can do #40days40blogs, then I can be a writer.

40 blogs in 40 days pin 40 blogs in 40 days pin

42 thoughts on “Things I Learnt From Writing 40 Blogs in 40 Days

  1. Congratulations on completing 40 blogs in that time frame. I can only imagine the dedication that takes. Being a writer is not a easy job but at the end of the day it is definitely fulfilling.

    1. Thank you, Rosalyn. Yeah, I’m really pretty fried! Haha! Yup, that’s what keeps me going – nothing compares to writing for me.

  2. this sounds like a great challenge – i did one a while back that was for 30 days and it was HARD! people think blogging is easy, but i seriously LOL’d at your comment about searching for images. the struggle is real.

    1. Omg 30 days flat out? At least I had one break day a week. Thanks incredible. And omg why is it that some images take forever to find?! The struggle is so real!

  3. This is excellent Amy, I only post once per week and that takes enough time. I couldn’t imagine writing everyday for that long – I hope you have a well earned break now 🙂 I was happy to be of help – sorry to hear that many others let you down re guest posting. People shouldn’t commit to things unless they can actually follow it through!

    1. Hey Sarah, no thank YOU for contributing! I desperately needed the help. Yeah, it was a shame about some people, but all the best peeps kept to their word! Thanks again!

  4. This is SUCH a cool challenge and I really want to try this out. I need to write more so it comes easier to me like you said. Cool post!

  5. Daily posting is the worst! Well, it’s the worst when you have to do everything else too, if you’re just writing it’s cake. Great roundup of tips and wisdom for bloggers, it was cathartic to read about your experiences too!

  6. I did something similar when I first started my blog and wriote a book review every day for 30 days; it definitely takes a lot of discipline and heard work! Good on you for sticking at it xx

    1. Oh my goodness, a book review every day for 30 days?! Does that mean you read a book every day for 30 days? That sounds pretty cool either way. Thank you for reading!

  7. This is such a AMAZING challenge ! I only post once per week and this takes already so much time… I could not imagine posting on a daily basis when you have to do everything else too..
    I fully agree with you : being a writer is not so easy and quality is a key point for a blog.

    1. Hey there, thank you so much! Yeah, before this I was aiming for one a week and only managing once a month! It certainly proved to me that the time is there, I just need to push myself. Thanks for reading!

  8. I used to post every day when I started my blog just to keep it active and I liked how the “picture of the day” looked like in other blogs, but soon realized I was leaving it for the evening and the just writing something, and content was not king anymore. Also before going to longer trips I would schedule 15+ entries to keep on posting while I was away, and it took me hours to prepare. At one point I just moved this “picture of the day” to Instagram (which I now have moved to one pic every two days), and write just something that actually feels like a decent blog post. I have been thinking to delete those old small posts, but I have realized that about 10 of them to bring be traffic. For example three lines post on Grand Canyon linking to my main entry on USA west coast roadtrip rank Nr 1 in my own language on google search and it’s never the exit page, so people actually click through! So some good came out of those 🙂

  9. So true! I sometimes really struggle with regularly updating my blog – but you are right, the more you just sit down and write, the easier it gets 🙂 <3

    1. Hey Eleonore, it’s tough though, isn’t it? I thought the discipline would be in making the time, but actually it was in making the most of my time and just writing whenever I had a spare moment. Thanks for reading!

    1. Hey Megan, thank you so much! 10 in 10 days is definitely hard! At least I was giving myself one day off a week. Well done!

    1. Hey Michelle, thank you so much! That’s the greatest compliment to me, to be told I’m being real and authentic. Besides, limits are meant to be broken!

  10. Whoa there superwoman! I have a tough time writing once per week sometimes! Haha. But I definitely agree that writing more makes you a better writer. And you are correct in saying you don’t have to publish it all! I have a ton of ‘maybes’ that I don’t think will make it but were fun to write anyway 🙂

    1. Hey, Hannah. Oooh, Superwoman, eh? Haha, not sure I deserve that. Yeah, I struggle to write one a week usually, so this was a great way to push myself – you should try it! And yes, I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this. Sometimes it seems like a wasted effort, but not everything had to be published. Thanks for reading!

  11. What a challenge – I don’t think I could do it, spend time on social media and keep up with my jobs and relationship. I like what you say though about not having to publish everything you write – sometimes I write up blogposts, which never see the light of day, because they’re more about therapy than publishing 😉

    1. Hey, Kathi. Yeah, it certainly was challenge! I felt like a didn’t really just sit down for those 40 days, so going to catch up on some chill time now! So glad you do that too! Yeah, sometimes just writing something out can be very cathartic.

    1. Hey Christina! Yeah, it was a bit! Haha. It’s kind of strange not having to write every day now, though! Getting used to my bit of freedom.

    1. Hey, Marlene. Yeah, in hindsight I think I should have started smaller too! Let me know how your challenge goes – would love to read your posts!

  12. Wow! 40 is a lot! I’m proud of you for achieving such a large goal. I totally agree with each of your points. Your journey has motivated me to challenge myself to a small blogging challenge. I’m trying to motivate myself to write more as well.

    1. Hey, Tina. Yeah, it is! Haha! It just sounded like a number at the start, but once I was working my way through them I really appreciate how many 40 truly is! And you should totally set yourself a challenge – I found it so motivating and so rewarding when I hit my target. Thanks for reading!

  13. Wow! What an amazing accomplishment! A big congrats! The thought of 40 blogs in 40 days makes me shutter! ha ha But! I must say that you have inspired me. I may not (definitely won’t) bite that much off, but I can do more than I’m currently doing! And, btw, you already are a writer! <3

    1. Hey Shileen, thank you! Though I should admit I’ve had at least 40 days of a break since that last post as well, so don’t congratulate me too hard! And thanks for your kind words – I’ve been feeling rather uninspired since finishing this challenge, so that means a lot.

  14. Great advice! It sounds like you really put yourself through the ringer with posting everyday. Quite honestly I made the same commitment when I started my blog three months ago. At first I was writing to the daily prompts and then two days in a row they had imposable words. Thats when I realized that setting three good days to write and three days to promote. That way I have one day off so I don’t burn out.
    I love your commitment, keep up the great posts.

    1. Oh, wow! You sound incredibly committed. Yeah, now I’ve finished the challenge I’ve hit a bit of a writer’s block/lack of inspiration wall, so I need to get back into a routine. I like your 3 on/3 off idea though – I may try it out. Thanks!

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