Monday, May 5, 2014

Reflecting on the A-to-Z Challenge


I stumbled upon the A-to-Z Challenge blog in early 2014. I read about the challenge criteria and it looked like fun. I wanted to blog on a more consistent basis and felt this might be the catalyst for me.

Once before, a few years ago, I had joined a writing challenge that required daily posting of a blog. I made it about halfway through the month before giving it up due to competing time demands. I hoped as I registered my blog on the A-to-Z site that this time would be different.

Did you accomplish your goals? 
My main goal was to publish a blog post every day of the challenge. I also wanted to visit and comment on at least five participating blogs per day. These were some goals of the challenge itself.  I would say that I accomplished my goals. I published daily except for Sundays.  Some days I commented on more than five blogs and other days a little less. I wish I had more time to visit and comment on more blogs. I plan to visit some of the missed blogs now that the challenge is over.

Did you post every day? 
I posted every day, A through Z,  except for Sundays. {insert happy dance here}

Did you make new friends?
I visited and re-visited several blogs and left comments. A few people commented on my posts regularly.  I have some new followers and I have followed some new blogs. Yes, I have made some new friends.

Did you enjoy the challenge? 
I very much enjoyed the challenge.  Sometimes I suffer the "why should I write - there are more pressing things I need to do" mood. This challenge gave me the excuse I needed to write. I felt accountable.

I began right after signing up for the challenge to make a list of possible topics.  There was more than a month until the challenge began, so I thought I was being pro-active. What I didn't do, that I will do next time, is to go back and visit the A-Z Challenge blog. I didn't realize the blog was publishing tips and strategies for surviving the challenge.

A week or so before P-day (first publishing day-April 1) I got an email and also a comment that gave me great advice- which I wish I had heeded earlier in the game.  The gold-star advice was to pre-write and schedule blog posts.

At that point I went to the A-to-Z blog and discovered I should have been reading the pre-challenge posts!  I downloaded all the letter badges, fixed my comments so no one would have to verify, and learned how to put a link to my blog in my comments to others.  I also "liked" the A-to-Z  Facebook page.

I set up a draft post with the appropriate letter badge for each day of the challenge.  I tried to have three written posts scheduled at any given time.  I originally hoped to have a week written and scheduled, but that quickly proved to be too much to ask.  Having some posts written and scheduled before they are due was a great help and stress reliever. Who knows when something will happen in our offline life that will delay getting a post published on time?

I did not use a theme for my posts.  I didn't conceive of this possibility until I read about the Theme Reveal.  Using a theme for my posts would be too difficult was my thought.  In hindsight, I think using themes might make it a little easier.  I'll have to test that thought out next year.

I am glad the hosts asked us to comment on others' blog posts. When my posts are commented on it lets me know I have an audience and therefore I think it will help me become better at my writing craft.  I don't usually comment often on blogs that I read thinking I have nothing of much value to offer.  This challenge gave me the permission to step boldly into the comment box.

What are my plans from here? 
  • I plan to write regularly on my blog. Not sure yet what this will look like - posting at least two-to-three days a week on regular days.  I may theme the days as I have seen some bloggers do. 
  • I plan to re-visit the blogs I read during the challenge and follow some of them. 
  • I plan to visit new blogs from the challenge that I did not get a chance to read in April.
  • I plan to comment more frequently on blogs that I read. 
  • I plan to start thinking about the A-to-Z Challenge 2015.  
I am energized and excited about the blogging adventures that lay ahead.

Won't you join me?
 


18 comments:

Rob Z Tobor said...

A good reflections post, I may not get mine finished in time for all sorts of reasons. One of which is work. . . YUCK. Actually I dont mind work but its getting harder and my brain is getting softer so at some point it will all go wrong.

Many thanks for following my blog, it is sort of acquired taste.

Blogging can be very inspiring but can also bite back, the trick it to enjoy what you blog about. If it becomes a chore then it is no fun. The one person who has to really like your blog is you, and hopefully with time loads of other will. . . . . Good Luck.

Welcome to my world of verse. said...

A most detailed account of the Challenge, so pleased you decided to do it and complete it. Well done.
Yvonne.

Laura Clipson said...

I've always chosen a theme for the A to Z challenge. I think it makes the challenge easier just because it narrows down what you can use for each letter. Also, if people like your theme they'll remember your blog, and are more likely to come back :)

betty said...

You did a great re-cap of the challenge, directly answering questions posed. You are right, there is a lot of info on their blog on how to make it through the challenge and how to prepare for it in advance :)

betty

martine said...

Hi, congrats on finishing the challenge. See you next year.

Maria Dunn said...

Yes I will join you, MS. I am already thinking about 2015. Great reflections. I hadn't thought about the requirement to visit and comment on other A to Z blogs as a permission slip, but you are so right. It was freeing to know that there was that expectation. And it is a great way to enhance relationships and the whole experience. Glad I discovered your blog through the challenge. Maria, Delight Directed Living

Arlee Bird said...

This is an outstanding Reflections post--one of the best I've seen and I've seen a lot of good ones. Year round we try to have interesting and helpful posts at the A to Z Blog and we also accept guest posts from A to Z participants who are interesting in doing so.

Glad to hear your glowing report. I think you will be doing very well with your blogging.

Lee
An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Su-sieee! Mac said...

Hi, Mary,

I'm glad you dropped by my blog earlier, other wise it would've taken longer for me to stumble over your view of the world. Just from a few of the posts that I've read thus far, I can tell that we are seeing similar views. Love it. :-)

Congrats to completing the Blogging challenge!
The View from the Top of the Ladder

MS said...

Thanks to all of you for commenting on my reflection! I wish I could reply to each of your comments where they are -- maybe I just need to figure out how to do that. But for now, I am going to comment in one big reply.

Rob Z- What sage advice to never lose the enjoyment of writing blogs. I will take that to heart.

Yvonne - I appreciate you visiting! Please come back sometime.

Laura- I hadn't thought about how the theme helps people to remember your blog and return if they like it. Thanks for mentioning that!

Betty - I am so appreciative of all the comments you have made on my blog posts during this challenge. Thank you!

Martine - Thanks for stopping by! I am definitely looking forward to next year when I will come as a veteran A-to Z'er!

Maria - Thank you for being a part of my challenge experience this year. I am blessed to have made new friendships such as yours.

Lee (Arlee Bird) - I am humbled by your comment. Thank you for all you for the challenge.

Su-sieee - Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks again everyone. You have made me feel very welcomed in this A-to-Z Challenge.
Mary


wangiwriter said...

Hi Mary, I tried to leave a comment on this before, but it got lost somewhere.
I really loved your recap, and how you answered the questions so directly about how the A-Z went for you. Great post! :-)

Ronda said...

I'm so glad you visited me! I'm impressed you were able to visit 5 blogs everyday. That is my first goal for next year. Congratulations on finishing strong! So glad to have met you and I'll see you next year - and surely before then. : )

Tara Tyler R said...

by all means, comment! if you want feedback, you have to give some, i learned that early in this writing game!

great job - successful completion of the challenge! i'm very glad you read the suggestions and i wish more participants would!

glad you joined in on the fun!

Suzanne McClendon said...

I enjoyed reading your reflection post. I was able to get a post written for each day of the challenge, though I didn't always get them written in time for the right day. Several were back-dated. :/ It is my hope to pre-write the posts for next year over this next year as I have time. I am going to have to do something to get my son's leaving for the Marines off my mind! At this point, I don't know if that will work, but I am going to try.

I failed on visiting and commenting on 5 blogs a day. I was doing good most days just to make a post. There were so many to choose from to visit, many of them so good that it was easy to spend hours reading through their old posts and not making it to any other blogs that day.

Best wishes to you on the 2015 challenge. :)

Click said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Click said...

Congratulations on completing the challenge.

Like you, I used the challenge (last year) to get into the habit of blogging more regularly. Unbelievably I've managed to maintain the momentum right through to this year (with just a few brief hiccoughs).

I think it helps to have set days for certain posts, and if you're doing the challenge again next year a theme definitely helps.

Click said...

Congratulations on completing the challenge.

Like you, I used the challenge (last year) to get into the habit of blogging more regularly. Unbelievably I've managed to maintain the momentum right through to this year (with just a few brief hiccoughs).

I think it helps to have set days for certain posts, and if you're doing the challenge again next year a theme definitely helps.

Click said...

Congratulations on completing the challenge.

Like you, I used the challenge (last year) to get into the habit of blogging more regularly. Unbelievably I've managed to maintain the momentum right through to this year (with just a few brief hiccoughs).

I think it helps to have set days for certain posts, and if you're doing the challenge again next year a theme definitely helps.

Entrepreneurial Goddess said...

Hello there.
Thanks for sharing. Just stopping by briefly before the next A-Z Challenge. Visiting from the 2014 A-Z Road Trip!
You might be interested to know the signup linky for 2015 Challenge is already open!

Entrepreneurial Goddess