Great and Powerful #AtoZChallenge Reflection

Image from Louise Williams‘ awesome Photostream

You know you’re part of a significant project when it’s stretching you like on a rack and you feel your tendons are going to snap so that you swear you’ll never do it again, and when it’s over, an elated sense of accomplishment wars with sorrow at its ending.

Nothing ever becomes this significant if there isn’t some mutually beneficial and empowering force behind it, and Arlee Bird has been a facilitator of that force since coming up with the idea of Blogging from A to Z in 2010. Now teams of people with the same vision dedicate themselves to the A to Z Challenge and I’m thankful their hearts are in it, because I can’t wait to give it another go next year. And next year I intend to do it right.

To that end, I’ve made myself a checklist for 2015. But for the purpose of this reflection, in a nutshell, I failed to maximize the potential of this challenge, and “potential” for me meant connecting with as many like-minded writers as possible. I allowed myself to broaden the scope of my theme reveal format which cost me time, reduced the number of participants I could visit, nearly brought me to a standstill midway, and lost me some followers who’d signed on to the original plan.

Fortunately, participants of the great and powerful A to Z Challenge take part with impunity, so I still walked away with a goldmine of great writers of fiction and non-fiction that I clicked with. Just to name a few you might want to get a taste of, these writers here I’ll follow like a pack dog: Jules, Josna, Damyanti, Aditi, and Janice Heck. Bon appétit!


Before you go, if you’re so inclined, do tell (among any other things):

What are the coolest blog sites you found?
Any items you’d add to the 2015 Guide list below?


Blogging from A to Z 2015 Guide to Gracious Hosting

FEBRUARY  planning

__set your goal, what you hope to accomplish via the A to Z challenge
__take stock of what’s going on in your life and decide on a theme you can handle
__select a time of day that works best to publish posts and plan on holding to that
__decide on a realistic number of blogs you can visit daily

MARCH  preparing

__write all A to Z posts so there will be plenty of time in April to visit and comment on other participants’ sites and to answer comments on your own site
__be watching the signup list and find sites of interest as per your goal
__participate in the theme reveal and visit and comment on all your sites of interest

APRIL  the giving and getting of good hosting

__put the first post up on April 1 at the time you planned, same with subsequent posts
__pay daily visits to the number of blogs you’ve decided on and make comments
__respond quickly to comments you receive (shoot for NLT 8 hrs lag time at worst)
__do not deviate from your theme plan – if you get a better idea, save it for the next year!


17 responses to “Great and Powerful #AtoZChallenge Reflection

  1. I was sorry I had to exit half way through and have had time since my return to scan only briefly your later gems… the earlier half of the month was amazing. I like that you have a plan. I’m looking forward to 2015’s A-Z already :) but unless things change, in the audience, as commitment-wise it will be same same for April.

    • Welcome back, EllaDee! And no worries – I knew why – but truly you were missed – I love your fun, witty comments! As for me, I was sorry not to have been able to respond to some of your comments, being purposefully tied in A-to-Z knots as I was! Well, onward then…to your next post, yes? Likely you’ll beat me to it, unless I get over pouting about trying to stuff myself into a flash fiction straitjacket and failing miserably! I’ve got a serious beef with Mr Brevity >:-(

    • Well you know, it’s that aim high thing that Michelangelo said, something like better to aim high and fall short than aim low and hit the mark!
      Truth is, I’m great at planning, just not so hot at following through…
      Great big congrats to you too, Sonia! The Story Treasury’s on my WordPress radar screen – Matt Mullenweg sends me an email whenever something’s going on over there ;-)

  2. Congratulations on a glorious April and on completing the Challenge! As a reader, I didn’t see it as a flaw that you expanded your initial idea partway through; rather, I saw it as a flowering, a burst of creativity—boom! And you were off. Thank you kindly for the shout-out; I’m continuing to following you, too.
    Your A-to-Z 2015 Guide is super-ambitous, and you’ll be in great shape if you do half of what you’ve laid out there. I tend to think there can be such a thing as over-preparing, If you’ve written everything in advance, where’s the room for the spontaneity that frequently electrified your writing during the Challenge? No doubt advance planning and advance drafting can increase the quality of the pieces and reduce the unevenness of the offerings. Still, might it not also reduce the element of surprise, both in the reader and in you, the writer?
    Just being argumentative. I’m glad to have found The Essence of a Thing—thanks to you and to the A-to-Z Team.

    • Glorious indeed! Thank you, Josna, for making it all that much better and memorable for me, hence your well-deserved Oscar nomination ; ) And thank you especially for taking the glass-half-full view of my waywardness…
      I love that you’re following me, and I’d like to bother you with more than one post notice per week, but these days even that doesn’t necessarily happen unless the drill sergeant in my head gets on my case… He’s the one that authored the 2015 A to Z guidelines! But unfortunately for him, waywardness has been worming its way into the fifth house for years and is currently ruling it. So fear not, it’s all but guaranteed I’ll pass up a half-dead thing for the juice of an exciting idea! All the better then to do the Michelangelo thing and shoot for Lieutenant General; that way, if I attain Captain, I’ll have a reserve of posts to put up if I falter like I did midway this time… Et voilà? Right. We’ll see what happens!

  3. I also wish that I had planned it in advance like you. Participation is more important and making room for contingencies is cool. Great to read your reflections post :)

    • Exactly. Jump in there and hopefully with a backup plan! Thanks so much for coming by, Shine – just left you a comment at your site – wish I’d found you amongst the 2000+ participants during the challenge!

  4. Oh that picture of the dropped mic has such power! Love it. Miss A, your writing is inspirational. I adore your quirky mind, your obvious, delicious talent and your enigmatic essence. I’m here to stay. Thanks for the shout out there, I feel a tiny lot honoured.
    I always leave the A-Z with a sense of both achievement and loss. I need to be challenged or I fall into that swirling spaghetti pot, so it keeps me focussed on what I WANT to do. It’s gruelling, hard work and at times makes me want to cry and eat endless chocolate followed by tequila slammers but the man who counts is the one who bears the scars, right?

    Planning is not my forte and I tend to blow with the wind which makes the task harder and yes, difficult to keep up with the others involved. I’m going to copy and paste your planning schedule on to my computer so I can start thinking and making notes. I will look at you as my champion and mentor!

    Your A-Z was the greatest road I travelled. *Bow*

    • Oh, standing O, Miss Jules! You get a lot of those, well because you make me positively giddy with your golden words! How silly and similar can we get? I’m surprised I haven’t run into you in the spaghetti pot before… Only for me I’ve always put it this way: I’ll do things for others sooner than I’ll do things for myself. So in relation to writing, I’ll always use it to try and figure out myself and whatever this life thing is, but I’ll only write a story for a reason involving others, i.e. a prompt site like Sunday Scribblings, a challenge like A to Z, or if I’m invited to submit one somewhere. Hmm, beginning to smell of ego isn’t it?
      I like your answer to the gruel better than mine, which involves very dark things, but I think, to lower the barf factor by an iota, I’d substitute Jack Daniels for the tequila. And on barfing: my planning schedule, oh funny girl you, as if… Even I am beginning to recoil at the sight of it! Don’t be surprised if you visit here one day and see it in flames.
      Alright I’ll end my jabberwriting with a Wow! for your appreciation of the mic pic. Major power, yes.

    • Thank you, Miss Tara, you are too kind and that’s just fine :-D
      I loved your reflection post as well and have left a long note on your refrigerator ; )

  5. You hit the nail with the opening para Miss A! Yes that’s exactly how A-Z feels! ;) Love how you play with words n of course your photos! Thanks for the kind mention! Humbled truly! *LotsaLove*

    • Oh you’re most welcome, Aditi – you’re talented and lovely, to boot – a pleasure to read and know : )

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