looking back at my blogging in 2023
Seeing Spotify Wrappeds and playing around with last.fm data has awakened my hunger for data, so I decided to make this little graph depicting the number of posts I made each month in 2023. I also ran a helpful script to check my total wordcount for the year, which told me I wrote 173,042 words this year. This figure includes letters to friends and other unpublished miscellany, but that's all original writing anyway, so I counted it. (Besides, I don't have much of a choice: sifting the wheat from the chaff would take me moons.)
(I did not count posts where I only shared a poem and did not write or otherwise create something of my own.)
Making the graph was difficult, not least because I didn't know what tools to use. I'm most familiar with Excel, but I don't have Microsoft Office on my personal computers, so I tried LibreOffice as an alternative. I didn't like it. As promised, it was close to Excel, but came up frustratingly short when it mattered. I gave up after I couldn't find a feature I was used to having in Excel.
Tools aside, with projects like this I always struggle to decide what & how many data points to track. What do I want to find out with my data? And what data is worth my time to create/process? Getting more data means more interesting visualizations and insights, but those insights exact a handsome sum, especially for someone inexperienced like me. I settled on something simple this time, but in the future I'd love to pore over more specific stats. Am my posts getting longer the more I write? Do certain types of posts get more views? I am limited only by my spare time and technical ineptitude.
The first thing that stands out to from the graph is the clear jump in activity between March and April, when I turned to blogging as a coping mechanism in the aftermath of my breakup. The day it happened — March 30, I think — is the BC/AD moment for my blog. Not only did it spur me to post more, but it also changed the nature of my posts as I opened up and shared more intimate thoughts. Since then, I've shaken off much of the awkwardness of my earlier posts and reached a personal wordvomit style I like, one that lets friends catch up on my life while remaining interesting enough for strangers (one can hope!). Readers have written me to tell me they appreciate my candor and vulnerability, and this shift has been one of the few silver linings from my (otherwise very painful) breakup.
I was surprised to see a dip in my wordvomit numbers in August and September. Looking back, I must have struggled to write after moving back home from New York City; without things to do everyday, I had no idea what to write about. It took weeks for me to refocus my lens to quiet suburban life, and in the meantime I read poetry and shared many of my favorite poems on the blog. I can't decide if I should keep up my sporadic poetry posts. On one hand, I love sharing poems and being able to look back on them, but they complicate these analyses of my own writing productivity and don't seem to get much reader traction either.
I read cassie.land's year in lists today and was secondhand inspired to set a writing goal for this year, though I'm at a loss for what to make it. The #100DaysToOffload seems neat, but I made 173 original posts this year, so setting out to hit 100 this year does not seem a particularly ambitious goal. And writing every day? I thought about trying that for a month after reading Mei's warning that doing anything for thirty-one days is a BIG ask, but dropped the ball after not even a week. Is it realistic to post something every day for an entire year? What should my minimum wordcount be (and should I have one at all)? Will setting hard guidelines wilt my desire to post?
I'll be mulling the answers to these questions in the coming weeks, but if you have any beginner-friendly FOSS infoviz recommendations, goal advice, or comments, please don't hesitate to write me. Happy New Year! Here's to more great writing in 2024.