If you are a sailboat racer and you write a blog about your racing, does the blogging impact your racing performance?
And, if so, is it in a positive or a negative way?
When I first started blogging about sailing, I naturally assumed that there would basically be a one-way flow of information from the sailing to the blog. But now I'm not so sure. I've become aware of all sorts of ways in which there might be feedback from blogging to sailing.
But does blogging make me a better sailor or a worse sailor? In what ways might my blogging affect my sailing?
1. Goals. If you set yourself goals for your racing and publish them on your blog, then you are pretty well committed to making a serious attempt to achieve them. It's one of those commitment devices I wrote about a few years back.
Personally I'm pretty good at NOT telling the world about my racing goals. At least not before the actual racing. But I did slip up back in 2008 and write about my goal to sail my Laser 100 days in that year. Going public on the goal certainly did serve as a motivator to get out there and sail more days. Holy Shit - it's the end of April and I've only done 23 days! But in the end I failed. Only made it to 94. So what does that prove?
On the other hand, in 2007 I did blog about my goal to finish in the top half of the fleet at a world championship. And I did it! So what does that prove?
2. Learning new skills. If you are trying to improve a certain skill and you write a few blog posts about that skill, like say "how to do a kick-ass Laser roll tack", does the mere act of writing it down help you to learn that new skill? Does it implant the technique in your memory? Does even just doing the research for those posts help you to learn how to do better roll tacks?
You would think so, but given my total failure to become a better Laser sailor in the eight years I've been writing this blog I somehow doubt how effective this method really is.
3. Mental attitude. If you read any book about sports psychology, you will learn that self talk is a big deal. What you tell yourself you are is what you become. Tell yourself that you are confident at doing killer starts and you will start doing killer starts. At least that's the theory.
My problem is that I like to write self-deprecating humor. Laugh at myself. Tell the world I am fat and old and unfit. Make fun of all my crazy mistakes on the race course. It makes for some amusing blog posts (I think) but am I sabotaging my racing performance? Can I portray myself as a clumsy, incompetent, accident-prone sailor on a Friday, and then go out and be a top-notch racer on the Saturday?
But let's turn that one around. Another thing that those sports psychology books always talk about is how to overcome an error in a performance. Apparently if some people make a major mistake in a race, say blow the start, or capsize, or hit a mark, they have enormous difficulty in putting it out of their minds. They become angry at themselves and start sailing even more atrociously.
But not me. If I do something really bad like getting strangled and pulled out of the boat by another sailor's sheet or breaking my gooseneck when I am winning a race my immediate reaction is to laugh and think, "This will make for a really funny story on the blog." I'm so happy to have such a disaster to write about. Much more interesting than winning the race. So then I can forget about the incident and get on with actually trying to win the next race.
There are probably all sorts of other examples of how blogging feeds back into sailing but Tillerwoman almost has the dinner ready and it's Toad-in-the Hole!
Got to go.
Please feel free to complete these thoughts in the comments.