Monday, May 7, 2012

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Final Thoughts

With the end of April's A-to-Z Blogging Challenge a week behind us, today is the day for some final thoughts.

This was my first endurance blogathon, and there were many things I liked about it:

  • I stayed committed and met the goal, finishing each post early so that all twenty-six letter posts could be scheduled for a consistent 5:00am post time. I am proud of the fact that in spite of several times of hectic scrambling, I proved that I could meet a consistent writing deadline.

  • I met many other writers and bloggers who I would have otherwise never met. I became a follower of many other awesome blogs of creative, talented, and inspiring people. I've met fellow writers in all stages of their journey, from early-stage wannabes like me to authors who have been published many times over. Without a doubt, this was one of the best things about the challenge.

  • My blog and my writing were given exposure to many new A-to-Z visitors, several of whom graciously became my followers. I am honored and pleased by this show of support, and I gladly welcome each and every one of my new followers.

  • I learned about my writing. Choosing the topic I did, I had to come up with repeated posts about what was important in my writing, what I strove for, and what kind of writing I actually wanted to create. Being forced to do this definitely helped organize and prioritize my thoughts about the work I want to create, and really served to clarify many things for me in regards to my writing.

But while there were many positive things, there was also one big drawback, too:

  • Being so focused on writing my daily blog posts and visiting and commenting on as many other A-to-Zer blogs as I could, I found essentially no time to actually write. I enjoy blogging, but this blog wasn't meant to be an end in itself – I created it to share my development as a writer and to highlight the stories I write. If I'm so busy blogging that I'm not actually doing any writing, then things have become skewed. What's the point of highlighting a writing blog of someone who isn't writing?

Overall, I enjoyed the A-to-Z Challenge, but I'm not sure I'll do it again next year. Or if I do, it will be in a much more streamlined manner. It took quite a bit of time to create each of the custom dictionary images for the posts, and the posts I wrote were maybe a little too long at times. I'm not sure I want every April to be a month of no writing output because I'm too busy blogging, so if I do it next year, there were certainly be a reduction in the amount of effort I put into the challenge. Either that or I will begin preparations much sooner...

But as a few final words: A deep “Thank you” to DL, Arlee, and all the other A-to-Z hosts who set the challenge up and oversaw it. There was a tremendous amount of work that went into this, and I appreciate all the effort you did. Also, and most importantly, I again want to offer a sincere and heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to every one who visited, commented, and became a follower of my blog during the A-to-Z. I greatly appreciate it!!!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It is a lot of work! I knew I'd be setting aside my next book for the month of April to keep up, but the first Challenge did so much for my blog - I'll always participate it.

Nancy Thompson said...

It was a lot of work, but I wasn't willing to sacrifice my free & writing time for it, so I wrote most of my posts over the weekends in March. I just scheduled way ahead of time. It was all that reading & commenting I found most challenging. I did enjoy the challenge but I had way more comaints than you did. Not to be difficult, mind you, but rather to make others aware of what I found bothersome. Now I'm reading I'm not the only one with these same comaints. Maybe it'll help for next year. Not sure if I'll do it again though. We'll see. I enjoyed our dueling perspectives on the same subjects during the challenge.

Nancy Thompson said...

Complaints! Stupid iPhone!!

LTM said...

BIG congrats to you for completing the challenge! That's a hard one, but you did it!

The main reason I took April off from blogging was to finish my last WIP. It worked. But we do need our writer-support-group. It's a tough balance, but you find it! :o) <3

Nicole said...

A good synopsis of the challenge. Glad you enjoyed it - I know I enjoyed reading your posts.

EvalinaMaria said...

Congratulations on finishing the challenge and sharing your reflections. I’m following you now and hopefully, next year, we will do it again!

Cherie Reich said...

That's the difficult thing about blogging in the A-Z Challenge...there's little time for writing!

I try to write and schedule my blog posts before the day they go live on the blog. It can be really helpful to find time for both blogging and writing. :)

Li said...

I completed the challenge, bailed on the reflections post and took a week off blogging to recuperate. Now I'm fresh and it's back to blogging - and trying to get around to the rest of the 800+ challengers I haven't gotten to yet! :-) Congrats on a great job!

KarenG said...

It is very time-consuming, that's for sure. Fun though! Congrats on making it to the end!

Gina said...

I'm right with you Chris, The Challenge surely got me wrapped up and worked out. It was fun but I want to focus more on my writing. Between my family and other duties, my spare time is so little, I don't know if I can really stop writing for a whole month. But, alas, it was fun and I found you, so I guess I might go back next year. =)

Thanks for all your kind words and support, I'm truly happy to have connected with you.

From Diary of a Writer in Progress

Simon Kewin said...

You sum up my feelings about it perfectly. It was a blast, not sure I'll do it next year! Well done for sticking to it and thanks for all your visits to mine. I appreciate it.

Chris Fries said...

@Alex: well, you Sir, are jaw-droppingly amazing when it comes to productivity and web presence, lol! Thank you so much for your hosting of the challenge, all your hard work, and for your support!!!!

@Nancy: I think pre-writing as much as possible is the way to go. I tried to do that but got a late start, so I was never more than a few days ahead. And after reading the post on your blog, I understand and agree with what you say. And a blog list by subject area would help immensely! It was fun having a similar theme -- I also really enjoyed how often we overlapped our posts, lol! I definitely enjoyed visiting your blog and really appreciate all your comments on mine as well!

@LTM: Thank you, Leigh! And congratulations on completing the WIP!!!! I wish you tremendous success with it!

@Nicole: Thank you very much, Nicole! I also really enjoyed all the great books you highlighted in your A-to-Z posts -- you definitely padded my TBR list!

@EvalinaMaria: Well thank you very much -- I greatly appreciate it!

@Cherie: Yeah, I tried that, but my buffer of posts that were scheduled ahead kept evaporating as real-life intruded. ;^) I need to really have most of it completely prewritten if I'm going to rejoin the insanity next year. Also -- looking forward to the Flash fiction Blogfest later this month -- luckily it's only ONE post, lol!!!

@Li: Thank you! But when it comes to visiting, I have to admit defeat -- there is no way I'm going to be able to visit every one of the blogs that took part in the challenge. I probably wouldn't get through them all before A-to-Z 2013 started, lol!!!

@Karen: Yeah, I do admit it was fun. Thanks!

@Gina: I probably will, too, even though I said I might not... I just gotta pre-wrtie, pre-write, and pre-write well before the challenge starts! I'm glad to have met you also! Thank you very much for your support and kind words -- it means a lot to me!

@Simon: You're more than welcome, Simon! You did a fabulous job getting all those awesome word posts up for A-to-Z while still staying on top of the W1S1 AND getting published! I'd have collapsed under all the excitement and pressure, lol!

Tara Tyler said...

now you can write! most of us know blogging has its place. its nice to do a meet & greet month, but only once a year is enough =)

back to work!

Tonja said...

I don't think you're the only one that did no fiction writing in April. Now we all need to get busy.

Chris Fries said...

@Tara: LOL! Yes, Ma'am!

@Tonja: Yeah, it seemed to be a common drawback of A-to-Z. And I agree -- like Tara says: Back to Work!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

You made a bunch of great observations. Even with doing the posts in advance, I still ended up spending all day on Blogger, and no part of the day on my "real writing." Rather ironic, isn't it? A lot of us took up blogging in order to "establish a platform." After all, that's what agents were telling us to do, right? But somewhere along the line, at least for me, the wagon started pulling the horse. Now, blogging is morphing from a means into an end. Guess I have to reconsider how much time I can spend online and still accomplish my main goal of writing, or if that even IS my main goal anymore. Anyway, blogging has introduced me to a bunch of terrific people and awesome writers, and the challenge added to their number in my blogroll. I'm glad you're one of 'em.

Milo James Fowler said...

You survived! AtoZ can be a major time-suck, but I "met" many cool bloggers last year when I participated. The sheer number of blogs/posts this year were borderline overwhelming.

M Pax said...

I cheated and doubled up my letters posting only every other day. I have to keep writing. I also loaded up all the posts in March, so I didn't have to be bothered with that in April. Since I was also gearing up for a book launch, all of those edits to the challenge were a necessity.

It is fun and I always meet some new and fab bloggers. A big plus. But, as you say, the time factor is a big drawback.

Chris Fries said...

@Susan: Thank you! I'm very happy to have met you, also! I do enjoy blogging and connecting with other bloggers (both writers and others), but for me, at least at this stage of my writing journey, I have to say that it's a lower priority than the writing itself.

@Milo: I totally agree. I am extremely happy to have met many of the people I have because of A-to-Z, but it pretty much put an end to anything beyond blogging for all of April. And there was no way I could have visited every blog on that HUGE list! I hope they categorize the blogs at least next year as Nancy and others have suggested.

@M Pax: Great ideas. And congratulations on the launch of "The Backworlds"!!!! I wish you tremendous success with it!

Thank you very much for the visit, comment, and follow!

.jessica. said...

Agreed - there were so many wonderful things about the challenge that I don't want to miss out on it next year, but I'm already brainstorming ways to balance blogging AND writing. (Probably a good mental exercise in general... ahh, balance, you are so very elusive.) :)

Chris Fries said...

@Jes: LOL! Too true!

But if you're 100% balanced in all directions, you're immobile. Each step we take is an unbalanced leap of faith that we can catch ourselves without falling flat on our face!