Reflections from A to Z


The first place I learned about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge was at the WriteOnSisters blog, and initially I was confused. In retrospect, I’m not sure exactly why I was confused, but it didn’t take me too long to figure it out, and once I did, I couldn’t resist. Having just recently (re-)launched my blog, it seemed like an excellent way to jump start my writing. I’d done National Novel Writing Month recently enough that having a month-long task felt really doable, and (bonus!) unlike NaNoWriMo, the A to Z challenge didn’t require that all the work be done during the challenge month itself.

So what did I learn? A ton, both about the mechanics of blogging and about myself as a writer and blogger.

One of the first things that I figured out was that pre-scheduling posts is a lifesaver. If I had an idea for a day, I wrote it and scheduled it and was done with it. It felt great. I could (and did) go back and tweak, but having a bunch of posts done in advance made all the difference. Another thing that made a big difference was creating checklists for myself. This is hardly a surprise, since I am a listmaker by long time habit, but for a challenge like this, and a newbie like me, a comprehensive checklist is critical for remembering all the little daily details. (Did you include the challenge link? Check! Check the slug? Done! Do you have the attribution link for that image? Got it!)

The other thing I did was to set up a document that had the reference and attribution links that I re-used. Otherwise I would be hunting them down daily, and that’s just annoying. I also learned to be careful about keeping source information for things that I wanted to save for future use. There’s nothing worse than having a picture or snippet that you love but you can’t remember (or find) the source.

On a more personal level, I learned just as much. Perhaps most importantly, I was reminded about how important it is to be a realistic judge of how long things are going to take. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, in addition to the A to Z Challenge, I also signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo and had a fairly labor-intensive out of town work commitment for the last week of the month. Pre-scheduling posts eased this up a bit, but it was still probably too much. And however much I told myself that I didn’t have to finish both challenges, in my heart I knew I did have to. It was stressful, but in the end I was pleased with the work and the accomplishment.

All that did leave very little time to explore other people’s blogs, though, and that’s a real regret for me. On the more positive side, I unearthed a love of poetry that came as a real surprise. Although I definitely think of myself as a prose writer, the blogging format – for me, anyway – seems to lend itself more to shorter forms, including poetry. This was a very pleasant discovery. Another was how much I have enjoyed my forays into translation. I’ve been working for several years to improve my Spanish, and it turns out that translating Spanish poetry is a really challenging and enjoyable way to enhance that work.

In the last couple of weeks I have had a little time to start exploring other people’s blogs, and I look forward to doing more of that. There are definitely a few that I plan to stick with, and I look forward to finding even more. (Have any suggestions? Let me know in the comments.)

Will I attempt the A to Z challenge again next year? Probably. For one thing, I won’t have the weeklong work event at the end of the month, and hopefully I will be more efficient in both my blogging and my writing. Either way, though, I should probably give serious thought to choosing either the A to Z Challenge or Camp NaNo, rather than both.

(Reflection image via University of Washington Library on Flickr.)

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10 Responses to Reflections from A to Z

  1. Arlee Bird says:

    Excellent report. Yes, the A to Z is as easy as ABC–or I guess we can change that to “A to Z”. You took the right approach for you first Challenge and learned some good lessons. Thanks for sharing your experience with others.

    Well done!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kristin says:

    I enjoyed finding your blog and liked the poetry and the Spanish, as I am always trying to improve my español tambien. I hope to have more posts pre-written next year but doubt I will because it will be too tempting to post them right away. Always seems like a good idea though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had grand notions of doing Camp NaNo in April as well, but came to my senses.

    You mention keeping track of attributions and source materials. I used to just bookmark them and try to keep them somewhat organized using nesting folders. But you should see my bookmarks – they are totally out of control and almost useless. I switched over to Evernote and that is much better for me, mainly because it’s easily searchable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookmarks never worked for me, either. I tend to store everything in one place – text, links, etc. – in files on my computer, but maybe I should check out Evernote. Thanks for the visit and the comment – and the retweet!


  4. randommusings29 says:

    Fab reflections. I decided (for some stupid reason) to do a final edit of my novel alongside the challenge this year! Talk about making life difficult for myself lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely understand. It sounds like you wound up doing pretty well, though. I enjoyed reading your reflections post, too. Some very interesting insights, and I loved the list of blogs you visited and liked. Thanks for visiting and commenting!


  5. I think the one year I did nano, AtoZ and camp nano I did the June version not April. I don’t think I could cope with doing camp nano and AtoZ in the same month unless I prescheduled early and didn’t visit so much. Great to see a number of nanoers doing this one too.
    Well done and good reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much. I do love my challenges – outside deadlines always tend to carry more weight with me for some reason, but two in one month is definitely a bit much. One every other month, on the other hand, might be just what I need to keep me on task.Thanks for visiting and commenting – and I’ve enjoyed looking at your fruit and vegetable sketches!


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