Tuesday, May 7, 2013
A-Z blogging challenge reflections
This many days past the challenge, it's a a blur. April? That's so last month!
But, I still thought it would be a good idea to write down a bit of a reflection, especially to look back on as I approach the challenge again next year (see, I'm already planning on it!), and want to remember thoughts about how it might go better... if it feels like a distant memory now, imagine how it will feel 11 months from now?
Going into the challenge, I didn't plan well. The night before, I was texting furiously with Lisa--help, I have no idea what I'm going to write about, I haven't thought about it, should I pick a theme?--and she was texting back: you'll be fine, just breathe. (Easy for her to say, this is her third year!)
But once I sat down and thought about it, I knew I didn't really want to be constrained to a theme, I wanted to write what I would normally write--some stuff about food and ingredients and what I like to cook; things that inspire me, move me, compel me; reminders of what's really important in life... so, I sat down with the alphabet and sketched it out. Most letters came pretty easily, in the first pass.
And then the challenge started and it all changed! Well, not all of it, but many times I approached the letter and changed my mind because something else had occurred to me in the meantime. I got into the rhythm fairly early on of needing to be at least one post ahead--that's what working full time will do to inspire you!--and so I made time in the evenings to sketch it out, edit it, and then make sure it was posted first thing the following morning. That's actually a habit I hope to maintain (famous last words) moving forward, as it allowed me more thinking/reflecting time between writing and posting.
What I did not do well was track which fellow bloggers I wanted to follow, once I'd found their blog the first time and commented (it took me a few minutes to think "oh, just hit the follow button and figure it out later," and not everyone HAD a follow button...) and make sure I returned to their blogs. I fell into a bad habit of making sure I replied to the comments on my blog, and visited those blogs, but in terms of venturing further, I often just ran out of time. I will figure out a better way of following blogs a bit more closely, next time.
Other than that, it went well. The blogging world has a funny reciprocity to it, with hopeful lasting connections. The best-case scenario is to find people you enjoy, who also enjoy you. (Kind of like real life, but different.) I feel like I found that, and will enjoy continuing to follow many of the bloggers who I've connected with in the past month. (I was trying to explain it to husband, while I was working on my Liebster post, and he just shook his head at me. Way too much work, he said. I chuckled and said, yes, work, but if it goes right, it's worthwhile work.)
My biggest surprise during the month was that there were times I thought I wrote a rockin' post, and it kinda went over "meh." There were other times I just sputtered it out, and I got comments about how awesome this post is, and this is the best thing, ever. So, that surprised me. Maybe I just don't know the/my blogging audience well, maybe I don't know when to be revealing and vulnerable and when not to, but it was an interesting observation. Sometimes it seemed it could be due to timing--weekends were less traffic-busy (odd for those of us with work, who have much more time for bloggy things ON the weekend), and there was a mid-alphabet lull while everyone geared up for the rest of the challenge. There were definite highs and lows in energy throughout the month, I noticed, but many bloggers remarked on that being the usual.
All in all, a good time. Many thanks to the organizers and assistants--you don't get a couple of thousand bloggers to participate without a bit of work, I'd say. Yowsah. Oh, interesting tidbit--when I signed up I was auspicious number 1,400. By the time they weeded out the non-participants and rule-breakers/spammers, I ended the challenge at number 1,175.
How about you, if you did the A-Z challenge? How did it go? And if you didn't participate this year, would you consider it in 2014?