Today I recorded and posted my final video for VEDA (Video Every Day in April) 2020. Sharp eyes will notice that April ended 7 days ago. Yes, I got a late start on the project and spilled over into May, but I at least fulfilled the spirit of the thing by releasing 30 videos in 30 days.
I enjoyed doing it; in fact, I plan to do it again in August. Why not? The acronym still works: Video Every Day in August. Between now and then I have a few months to review what I’ve learned and assess where to go from here. I know there are many areas that need improvement. At a bare minimum, I can become more familiar with the video functions of my smartphone. Then bring myself up to speed on some basic video editing software.
Of course all the software skills and tricks in the world can’t overcome dull content or a poor on-camera persona. For all of these VEDA clips, I just rambled into the camera with only the vaguest notion of what I was going to say. A little (a lot) more preparation would lead to a much more professional presentation. So would speaking more clearly, with less stammering and fewer “uhs” and “ums.”
Many years ago, I first toyed with YouTube by uploading some hastily made videos I made with iMovie and featuring some of my original music. Then I basically ignored the platform for a few years except as a frequent viewer, but not as a creator. It was John and Hank Green (VlogBrothers, SciShow, CrashCourse, OursPoetica, Journey to the Microcosmos, etc.) who inspired me to once again try my hand at making my own videos. Hank just posted an excellent interview with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
I had intended to participate in VEDA last year, which is the first year I knew of its existence. (Apparently I am quite late to the party; VEDA is already old news to avid YouTubers.) Though my YouTube channel has almost no subscribers and has garnered only a tiny handful of views, I still feel proud at having completed VEDA 2020. I have a bad habit of making big plans then not following through. Also of not finishing those projects that I do start. So this one is a victory!
One of the hardest things for me when it comes to writing is just getting myself to sit down and do it. No. Wrong. It’s not “one of the hardest things”; it is far and away the hardest thing. But here’s the funny part (funny strange or funny ha-ha?): I love sitting down to write in my journal. In that situation there is no pressure; it’s just me writing for myself and my own enjoyment. As soon as I put an audience into the equation, it becomes a chore. I feel the pressure of performing.
There is an additional demotivating aspect to writing these blog posts. Ironically, it is the fear that no one will read them. Wait…WHAT?? I just said I enjoy writing in my journal because that writing is for me and no one else, but it’s demotivating to write blog posts because I fear no one will read them? Yes.
It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Journals are supposed to be private. (As an aside: What’s the difference between a journal and a diary?) If no one reads my journal, then all is as expected. But a blog is for public consumption. If no one reads my blog posts, it feels like I have failed. The journal has met expectations; the blog has not.
YouTube boasts that over 400 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute. There are over 600 million blogs on the web. According to Forbes, “There are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day at our current pace, but that pace is only accelerating…” (Bernard Marr, May 21, 2018). It’s unreasonable for me to expect anyone to find and read my little blog posts, and yet a few people do. And some people are able to make a good living by vlogging and/or blogging.
So maybe that’s the problem—the ol’ comparing myself to other people mistake (and it’s almost always a mistake). I would love to reach a wider audience with my blog, but that won’t happen unless I write and post consistently, constantly improving my writing and posting skills. It’s okay to have a desire to be heard, and it’s okay to be aware of what others online are saying. It might also be healthy to bring some of the joy of journalling to the table, though.
I’ve been doing VEDA (Video Every Day in April) this year. I was going to do it last year, but didn’t get around to it. I almost didn’t do it again this year, and in fact got a late start, so I changed my personal challenge from VEDA to 30VI30D: “30 Videos In 30 Days.” I know very little about VEDA’s origins (and frankly, I haven’t spent too much time researching it) other than a wee bit of info here. A Reddit from 5 years ago implies that even back then, VEDA might already have been passé. C’est la vie. I’m doing it anyway.
I’m mainly using it as a chance to practice recording myself talking into a camera, the camera in my case being an Android. Pretty low-tech, I admit, but it’s still an interesting learning experience. One thing I’m learning is that I say “um” and “uh” and “yeah” too much. I think my speech habits have declined in recent years and I’m not happy about it. I can do better. Seeing myself in in the short video clips I’ve been making is a humbling experience. In my head, I look fabulous and speak smoothly and mellifluously. Every word is a pearl of wisdom. In reality, I look old and overweight, I puff when I record myself while walking, I tend to babble (although not as incoherently as our so-called president); and then there are all those “ums” and “uhs” and “yeahs.”
Similarly, these blog posts are largely a chance for me to practice churning out small pieces of writing on a semi-regular basis. Reading back over them is another humbling experience, but every writer gives the same advice to would-be writers: “Write!” so I’m writing. I’m also practicing my typing, which is another skill where I feel I fall short. I prefer to write with a pencil and paper, but then there’s the problem of transferring what’s on paper to the computer. I suppose I could simply scan my notebook pages, but my handwriting, while perfectly legible to me, might be difficult for other people to decipher.
So there you have it—a brief note on why I vlog and blog. If anyone wants some helpful hints from a highly successful vlogger, check out these videos from Hank Green: