NaBloPoMo Wants to Know: What Have You Learned, Dorothy? or Reflections on Daily Blogging

The good people of NaBloPoMo provide daily prompts that bloggers are free to embrace – or ignore.  Here is today’s:

It’s only eight days into the challenge; how much can we have learned?  Established a new habit?  No.  Push through to new understandings?  Maybe.  Dorothy, in the Wizard of Oz, endures almost 103 minutes of trials and tribulations before the Tin Man asks her the now iconic sum-up-your-experience question: What have you learned, Dorothy?  Dorothy’s journey seems longer than the actual eight days that have transpired since the beginning of the BlogHer challenge to blog every day in November, although, arguably, her adventure lasted only one day.  Her takeaway, “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with,”  is open for interpretation.

Here’s my takeaway, so far:  

1. Daily blogging changes the brain, much like any activity practiced with intensity.

Have you seen Shawn Achor’s TED talk on The Happiness Advantage?  He talks about how we can take an active role in training – or retraining – our brains for happiness, based on various scientific research.  In his book, he describes an experiment in which college students were paid to play Tetris for many hours at a time.  That was all it took for the experimental subjects’ brains to change and begin to scan for certain patterns.  Some students reported that subsequently, when they went to the supermarket and saw empty spaces on cereal shelves, they had a strong desire to move other cereal boxes from higher shelves to fill the gaps, emulating an analogous goal of the game.  Achor says that the lens through which you view the world shapes your reality.

Hence, blogging – or even knowing that you are going to blog – everyday for a month acts as both a filter and a focus.  If nothing seems to have magically presented itself as blogging fodder appropriate to my art/life subject matter, I may ‘trol through my brain, my experiences, my ‘hood, filtering out what is unnecessary for the task, seeing only that which is blog-worthy (casting an admittedly wide net).  If I am in the midst of some experience and the daily pressure is “on” to blog, I may select an element, a focus, about which to write and photograph.

The lens through which you view the world shapes your reality.

As Shawn says (I can call him “Shawn,” can’t I?), “Suddenly, what wasn’t even thought of as a possibility became a reality.” (If you click on the link, this is said around minute 6:20.)

2. I give myself sub-rules about blogging where no such restrictions may be necessary.

For example, in BlogHer’s “14 Tips to Help You Survive (and Thrive!) During NaBloPoMo,” Tip #4 is to “take shortcuts.”  Shortcuts, in this case, means posting a picture or video and nothing more.

Somehow, I haven’t been able to do that – yet.  The blogs that I love, that I turn to almost daily, provide a cavalcade of words and pictures.  Even if a picture is worth a thousand words, words give pictures a context.  And pictures that incorporate words have a special place in my heart.

3. Despite the nascent brain-training of blogging every day, a mere eight days is not enough to establish a habit – yet.

4. There is much I have yet to discover about the technical side of blogging and sharing one’s blog.  The learning curve is steep…

5. I’ve learned that constructing a blog post takes longer for me than I expected it would.

6. Dorothy’s tale was a classic Journey Story.  In her journey, she set out to achieve Goal A, was thwarted, but learned something new and achieved Goal B, and then returned to her starting point.  (Same plot structure as that of Apollo 13.)  If my Goal A is both to see if I can complete a demanding challenge and to be part of the November blog challenge community, what will I learn along the way – before I return home?