Archive for the ‘ Metablogging ’ Category

So Much for January

At the start of January, I decided to take a few days off from this blog to collect my thoughts and keep the rest of my life in balance. Instead, I went the entire month without writing anything. I shouldn’t be surprised, as this seems to happen every time I stop writing for a little bit. I either hold myself to a schedule or the blog goes entirely untouched. The worst part is that it doesn’t seem to give me any more time for anything else.

I think I’m ready to start again. Let’s just agree to pretend January never happened, ok? Pretty much everyone hated this month anyway. There are certain topics that I was going to write about monthly, and so if I end up doing those eleven times each, I’ll succeed. Someday, we’ll look back at 2014 as that strange year that only had eleven months, but no one will act very concerned about it. This way is better for everyone.

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2013 Stats

This blog’s third year was its most productive yet. My plan to post every other day wasn’t perfect: I threw in a few too many filler articles at times, and when I finally couldn’t keep up in August, I went a couple weeks without writing at all. But after that, I managed to keep the habit with just the occasional skipped article. That’s a pattern I hope to keep up this year. My current schedule is enough to keep me motivated, but it’s good to know I won’t force myself to post when it won’t be worthwhile.

I ended up with 165 posts for 2013, containing a total of 216 letter grades. That’s a record for me, and I doubt I’ll be able to surpass it this year. I’m learning that babies need more attention as they grow, not less, and I’m happy to make my blog a second priority to that.

Anyway, here is the grade breakdown for the past year:

2013Grades

My bell curve is a little messier than the other years. Maybe I need to be more willing to go above B+ and below C, but in general I like my approach.

For the few people who may be curious, I have further grade breakdowns and thoughts below the fold.

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Unexpected Hiatus

Oops. It looks like I vanished for two weeks. On the one hand, this shows that i was foolish to stubbornly try for an every-other-day update schedule even when I didn’t have time. I kept putting up placeholder articles, sure that I was about to have time to get back to them, but it just kept getting worse. On the other hand, this probably proved that I was right about needing a strict writing schedule. I was afraid all along that when I finally did slip, I’d go really off-schedule, and I did!

I’m back now. At least, I think I am. I forced myself to actually write those placeholder articles before I tried to post anything new. Now I’m caught up and (hopefully) ready to write regularly. If I start to slip again, though, I won’t be so stubborn about it next time.

If you want to go back and read those articles that I filled in retroactively, here they are:

Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band – Bless This Mess (Music Review)

Village (Game Review)

Targi (Game Review)

State of the Blog

Happy August to you! That means that I’m now entering into my eighth month of posts every other day. For most of that time, I’ve failed to make a buffer and just barely kept up, but last month I had my first real test: My first huge work deadline and a couple out of town trips kept me off the computer, and there’s still this new-dad thing to deal with. I wondered how my blog would handle all that when it came up, and the answer is: not too well.

I’ve maintained the every-other-day schedule, but with two placeholder posts just promising that I’d fill in content sometime soon. And I spent all last week writing essays about the theory of storytelling in games. Which, you know, I consider to be an interesting topic, but that is a sure sign that I haven’t had time to read/listen/play enough things and my review queue is getting low. And then there’s today, when this short update is all I have time for before another out of town wedding.

But after this, things should calm down again. The baby’s not going to take up any less time, of course, but work and other parts of life should allow me to read and write again. I intend to write one article a day for the next few days, which will keep up with my schedule and fill in those two missing posts. After that, I should be back to normal. For a little while, at least.

Aside from that, the blog has been doing great lately. I keep getting more visitors, and I constantly have to revise my standards for a “good” day. I’ve gotten a lot of new followers lately, and I hope that none of them are put off by the wall of rambling text that dominates the front page right now. I’ll fix that shortly.

Update: Well, that didn’t go very well. I guess the moral is that when I fall behind, I should just accept that and take a break. I’m taking that overdue break now, and I’ll fill in those placeholder articles before I let myself start posting new things.

State of the Blog

Now three and a half months into 2013, I’ve managed to stick to my goal of posting every other day. Admittedly, a few of my posts were cheats just to keep on schedule (like this one, for example), and some of my reviews seemed a little more rushed than they would have been otherwise. In general, though, I’m really happy with the results. I remember the months-long drought last year when I fell out of the habit of writing, and I know I could easily do the same thing now that I’m taking care of a new baby on top of everything else. I didn’t have much hope that my planned schedule would last this long, and even with those questionable posts, I think the overall quality is improving.

I have noticed that some of my reviews end up being a little longer than I expected. Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to be wordy than succinct, and that may be a side effect of the posting schedule. On the other hand, my music reviews are often shorter, and don’t always describe the sound very well. I need to work on that.

Also, though I haven’t started recording statistics yet, I think that my average grade is dropping. I’m a lot more comfortable giving Cs this year, and I’m happy to see that! The grade distribution is probably closer to what I always imagined it. However, it does seem like I’m giving fewer high grades. I did just double-check that, and it’s not quite as bad as I expected: 1 A and 3 A-s so far this year. I have wondered if that’s the fault of the things I’m reviewing, or if my more hectic schedule (and life) is keeping me from appreciating the best ones as much. I don’t think that’s the case, but I plan to watch it closely. If this blog makes me enjoy my hobbies less, that defeats the whole purpose.

Despite that caveat, though, I’m enjoying this a lot. I think Cult of the New is closer than ever to what I intended it to be. However, I’m curious about what you think. If anyone reading this blog regularly thinks that things have gotten noticeably better or worse, I’ll welcome the feedback.

Because April 1st is Such a Smart Day to Change Your Website…

This is just a quick note that I’ve finally updated the About Page that I threw together back when I started this blog. It’s still not great – I’d rather to put my time into the normal articles – but the page gets hits almost every day. Hopefully now I will stop cringing when I see that a new reader checked it out.

2012 Stats

2012 was a crazy year for me. I started out blogging regularly, but then my wife’s pregnancy and an insane work project (complete with all-nighters and eighty-hour weeks) hit at once. I hardly blogged at all through the summer months, and it was difficult to get back into the habit once I stopped. I made up for that all in December, though, with 31 posts containing 59 reviews! Those daily posts were the only things to give my days structure during the initial sleepless weeks with my new daughter.

Where will I go from here, though? I’m enjoying this writing a lot, but I know that my life will get busy once I have to juggle work and fatherhood. I’m going to try switching to an every-other-day schedule, and I plan to build up a little buffer during my last days at home in the hopes that I can keep it going. Honestly, though, I’ll be pretty amazed if I can stay on pace for even a couple months.

Anyway, I like to take the first day of the year to look back at my reviews in aggregate. Though 2012 was inconsistent from month to month, its total numbers were surprisingly close to 2011’s: 109 posts containing 185 letter grades:

Grades

You can see last year’s wrap-up for more details on what I counted. The only thing that I’ll add here is that I don’t even start gathering these stats until the last few days of the year, so it’s a relief to realize that my grading curve held steady. I do think I can be a little too generous sometimes: When I went back through all this year’s grades, about 90% of them still felt right to me, but the ones that surprised me consistently seemed too high. I still think of myself as someone who averages a B- review, and that is true, but only because I was so stingy with the As this past year. Will it continue? I’m not sure – I still definitely intend to give grades item-by-item instead of trying to massage my stats over the course of the year.

If you’re curious, I have more detailed breakdowns by category below the fold. (Don’t feel obligated to keep reading; I do this summary mostly for my own sake.)

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