Reflections on the A-to-Z Challenge

I’m not exactly sure when or where I stumbled upon the A to Z Challenge, but I had intended since early January to participate in the 3rd annual challenge during the month of April. It seemed like an easy way to get a little blogging mojo going as well as an opportunity to find other bloggers. Also, it seemed in keeping with my monthly “projects” that I’ve been doing this year (Jan – photo a day, Feb – Good’s Good Citizenship, March – Art Every Day).

Initially I thought that it would be pretty simple to do. I’ve been posting daily since last fall; it has become a habit to seat myself in front of my laptop and come up with something to post. Knowing that I would do something beginning with a certain letter seemed to be a built-in, easy starter. But that wasn’t the case. “A” was easy; I always post a quote on Sundays and since there was only one Sunday in the challenge, I wasn’t going to change that routine. Finding a quote that had something to do with the letter ‘A’, as well as accompanying photographs, was fun and it didn’t take much time. The next day ‘B’ was a bit more challenging but I quickly realized that I had several photographs that were of objects that began with the letter B: birds, beaches, bugs, blossoms. However, I knew that I didn’t want to continue with photos of items beginning with the same letter of the alphabet. Cars and coins? What do they have in common? Nothing except the same initial sound, the letter we use to represent that sound, and that some people — but not me — collect them. Besides, I wanted to write about cameras.

And so it went for the next few days. I easily thought of items that I could write about. But, as I progressed through the challenge, the difficulty I faced was an unexpected one: it wasn’t that I couldn’t think of something to write about; rather, it was that I had myriad choices. Focusing on one topic is a challenge all writers face at times. At times recently I had felt that I had become a bit of a lazy blogger, opting to post photographs rather than write at length because of time constraints. But the real constraint was finding a topic and composing a cogent post. The easy way out, at times, was to grab a photo from my archives and post it. Following the challenge forced me to get back into writing posts, to developing an idea and crafting sentences about it. And you know what? It was a lot of fun.

I consider myself a responsible person, but I am not a disciplined person. If I have an obligation to do something, I will do it. But, if I set up a goal for myself, I’m not as likely to follow through. Write every day? How many times have I made that pie-in-the-sky promise? Participating in a group challenge, though, helped me make a commitment to do it. It was only 26 days, after all. There were some days where I still only posted a photograph — sometimes truly because of time constraints — but mostly I thought at length about what I would develop for my letter of the day post. In the end, challenges like this are about writing prompts; with the sketchiest of prompts, this challenge gives you lots of options. I know that there were writers that had a theme that they followed. Some of those blogs were very interesting to follow during the month. I think that in many cases, such themes make the project more difficult, but at the same time allows the blogger to examine thoroughly her subject matter.

I follow lots of blogs, but I don’t read every one every time they post. Often, I will visit a blog and catchup on 4 or 5 posts. I make an effort to visit every blogger who comments or “likes” a post when they link back to their blogs. (Why don’t people have their gravitars linked to their websites? What lost opportunities!) If I click on a link and I like what I see, I add the blogger to my follow list. At this point, there are a few bloggers that I wasn’t following a month ago, but I no longer think of them as A-to-Z participants; they’re just bloggers who I like to visit. I would have liked to visited more of the participants, but there were just too many. It was fun, though, to randomly click on a blog in the participants list, and view the next five blogs. I intend to revisit the list, as well as the link list to the reflections, to meet other bloggers over the next several months. Some of them may not hold any interest to me. Some may only get a few seconds of eyeball time and I may end up missing out on a really great blogger. But, I know that I will continue to meet and follow interesting people out there in the blogosphere, especially if they are interested in photography, reading, writing, and wondering about life.

Thanks to all who found my blog through the A to Z Challenge. I’ve acquired several new followers recently and I’m flattered every time someone decides that they want to know what I’m up to here at Four Deer Oak. I hope that you find something of interest here and continue to drop by from time to time. You can find links to each of my A to Z posts here. You can find other participants reflections here.

This post is part of the Blogging A to Z Challenge.  Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. You can find other A to Z participants by clicking on the graphic. To find other A to Z Reflections posts, click here. You’ll find an index of all of my A to Z blog posts here.


12 responses to “Reflections on the A-to-Z Challenge

  1. Congratulation on finishing the challenge. During the challenge I didn’t visit as many blogs as I would like to but, cross my heart, I’m visiting every single one with the reflection post! I am so glad my journey brought me here.

    Evalina, This and that…

  2. What a great idea – this is the first time I’ve come across the A to Z challenge, am a bit disappointed I missed it. Sometimes such things are very helpful in getting us thinking about what we’re writing about, aren’t they?

  3. I was one of the co-hosts and there was no way I could visit everyone! It was overwhelming, but I think we did better organizing the chaos this year.
    Glad you had fun with it at least!

    • Thanks, Alex. I was impressed that the co-hosts tried to visit the participants’ blogs. What a great turnout. In some ways I wished that the participants had been organized thematically, but then again I read some really great blogs that I wouldn’t have likely clicked on if they had been labeled in a particular way. Would be awesome if there was some sort of random link generator that you could click on & it would take you to one of the participants’ blog. I think that would be fun!

  4. The challenge was great and I wish I had been able to stop in on more blogs during the challenge (even now, the reflections list is too long for me to read all of the links).

    • I was surprised at how many links were already on the reflections list when I checked it this morning. Thanks for stopping by & commenting. I’m off to read your reflection on the challenge now.

  5. I’ve enjoyed following your A to Z posts and I love that you wrapped it up with this post. Lovely!

  6. You’ve got more discipline than me. – or at least a different kind of discipline. I could never follow through on that challenge like you did. So congrats.