No, my laptop isn’t really smoking, but it kind of feels that way. April has 30 days, and I posted 31 times. *whew* I took yesterday off, but today I’m back to reflect a little on the A to Z blogging challenge, and on the blog more generally.
I had a blast doing the challenge for the first time this year. I was surprised by both how easy it was, and also how time-consuming it was. I was smart enough to pick a theme that I could keep up with, one that allowed me to prepare well ahead of time and schedule posts the day before. I wrote a haiku poem about one word for each letter of the alphabet and challenged my readers to figure out what word the poem reflected. (If you want to look back at these puzzles, you can start with the A haiku here.) I enjoyed figuring out which word I would use and writing a puzzle that suggested the word without being too obvious about it. I had all 26 poems written well before April began, though before publishing them I tweaked them and occasionally threw them out and rewrote them entirely. Still, that part went smoothly.
The time-consuming part of the challenge, for me, was the interaction with my readers and with other bloggers. Don’t get me wrong – this was the most fun and important part of the whole thing, the main reason why I will definitely engage in the challenge again next year. I LOVED having people reading my posts and guessing at the words, and responded to every comment because, hey, readers! Yay! Thank you! And I cruised around the challenge, checking out other people’s blogs, making my own comments, finding new folks to follow. It was worth every minute.
What I didn’t anticipate was how many minutes it would take. I was visiting other blogs and posting comments between classes, during dinner, while “watching” TV. Checking for comments and responses was the last thing I did before bed and the first thing I did in the morning. Again, I don’t begrudge any of it, and look forward eagerly to next year, but right now I’m glad it’s over. I can let my laptop, my phone, my fingers cool down a little and take a day off every now and then. That will be nice, too.
My advice to anyone thinking about the A to Z challenge? Do it! But to keep your sanity, do two things.
- Pick a theme that allows you to work ahead of time, and take advantage of that by getting as much of the alphabet planned and even written as possible before April. (When considering your theme, think first about what you’ll do for Q, X, and Z – these letters are frequently the hardest, and sometimes you will rule out a theme just because of them.) You don’t have to have a theme, but for me that’s part of the fun of the challenge, and I recommend it.
- Clear the decks during April as much as you can, recognizing that you’ll be spending a lot of time on things besides your own posts. Figure out when you’ll respond to comments and when you’ll visit some of the other blogs in the challenge. Because you definitely want to do that, but it takes time. Plan on it.
Bottom line: I recommend the A to Z challenge, if you think it’s the kind of thing that could appeal to you. But don’t go into it blind. Plan ahead, and it will be fun!