Friday, 2 May 2014

#atozchallenge: Reflections

I made it to the end of the challenge! I actually made it to the end of the challenge way back on the 13th of April when I finished my final blog post.

This year's theme was an A to Z of favourite music, a challenge I set myself way back last September and then stewed on over the following months. I kind of decided not to take part in the challenge but then my sadistic streak got the better of me right at the end of March and decided to just jump right in, putting me somewhere around the 1830th blog to register for the challenge (over the course of the month I moved up around 200 places where other blogs dropped out).

It was quite an easy challenge for me this year. I think this format worked well for me and I think it's one I'd recommend for others who maybe want to ease themselves into the A to Z Challenge gently. It was a lot less personal than last years challenge posts and in other ways it was very personal because I was talking about the music that I like, which is quite a mix so some of my choices might seem a wee bit strange.

I think that one of the things that worked for these posts was that they were short. This year I've noticed that being concise is the key. When I was reading blog posts there were a few which put me off because they were massive great essays. My online time is limited and so, sadly, I often skimmed over these or didn't read them at all. Hopefully other people were able to read and comment on them.

The length of the posts meant I was able to write them quite quickly as well. I basically got them done over the course of three weekends. Last year I started off well with lots of posts scheduled but by about Q I was scrabbling to get posts written and published which put the pressure on a bit. The most time consuming bit this year was finding the right songs on YouTube.

What about reading blog posts?

Well, it's been tricky this year. The Easter break has fallen over the middle of the month (and therefore the challenge) which has meant that the activities which usually bring me to my in-laws' house, where I get online, have been cancelled. I quickly realised that going online on my iPhone at home wasn't practical so I've made use of my Kindle and laptop whenever I'm around an internet connection.

I felt like I spent the whole month playing catch up with reading and commenting on other people's blogs. I got quite strict about the blogs I could read and comment on. There's a lot which look quite nice, kind of Tumblr-ish in design with boxes of text all over the place with 'Read More' buttons to see the whole post. Well they didn't load well on my Kindle, so they tended to be the ones I skipped over.

I also liked to comment more on blogs which didn't have many comments or followers. Whenever time was a bit short those were the ones I looked out for.

I've been grateful for all my comments and there are quite a few I need to go back and return the visit for. I've kind of been holding off for the end of the month when I've got a little bit more time to go through them.

As I noticed last year (and other people commented on the same thing happening in previous years before that) everything started with gusto at the beginning of the month and then gradually slowed down as the month went on. By the penultimate week I had plenty of time to look through all the other blogs but I found loads seemed to have been abandoned midway through the challenge. It was the same with comments. At the beginning you could go onto a post and see twenty comments on it, later blogs might have only two or three... or none!

I don't think there's much that can be done to counteract this. Real life is going to get in the way. People will be spending Easter with family, people will get sick, computers will stop working and the challenge winds up taking a back seat. But I think it means that the people who are still in the challenge and have nothing stopping them need to make the extra effort to read through the list and leave comments.

Speaking of the list. I kind of wish it was broken up a wee bit more. Perhaps alphabetically or by the subject categories, though I'm not sure that would actually be possible with the Linky List that's used. It would maybe help me to find blogs that are relevant enough for me to comment on as well as to help me find my place when I'm switching between the various devices I read blogs on.

Am I going to take part in the Challenge again next year?


Have I enjoyed this year?



  1. Well done on completing the A to Z it has been a bit odd for me this year as I planned and succeeded in visiting all the blogs on the linky list (over 2000). The drawback being it was not possible to comment on all or regularly in those I follow.

    I do agree it does suddenly get quieter towards the end, but a lot of blogs do fall by the wayside once you get to about half way so I guess there are fewer folk commenting anyway and those still involved are running out of steam and time.

    1. Well done for visiting every blog. I'm hoping that by next year if/when I take part I'll have internet access at home and it'll be easier to stay involved throughout the challenge, rather than just having a burst of activity once a week.

      Towards the end I paid less attention to the Linky List and concentrated on the Blogs With 100 Followers Or Less list, partly because it was shorter but also because it was easier to find where I got to when I lost my place. As with last year I think I'll carry on working through the main list, in my spare time (but on my computer rather than on my Kindle) and carry on visiting blogs because it's a great resource for finding new things to read.

  2. Congratulations on completing the challenge! I agree with you about short and concise posts. I could not visit as many blogs as I would have liked but since the list will be available I can still do so... Good Luck!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

      Having the list available after the challenge is handy because it's a great resource for finding new blogs to read.

  3. Hi Click, - almost neighbour :)
    Congratulations on completing a second A to Z - I"m looking forward to continuing to read around the blogs that I didn't get a chance to visit ....
    I agree with you about the long wordy ones ... they just lost me, very quickly, but there were so many gems there. And like yourself I tended to focus more on the less than 100 followers group - I got a bit fed up of clicking on random blogs that I could never find again - it took me a while to remember to follow lol
    I actually found that I got more comments as the thing went on, probably because I was learning more about writing the posts as I went and learning how to leave my links which I couldn't figure out at the beginning.
    Anyway, sorry for the essay as a comment :) and thanks for visiting me today so I could find you. I'm clicking the follow button and look forward to reading more of your posts in coming weeks - not least to get a good handle on charity shops etc in Scotland for next time I"m over.
    Fil’s Place - Old songs and Memories

    1. Thanks for the return visit. :-)

      I'll admit that there were some blogs that I didn't comment on because they already had hundred of followers and twenty or more comments on their posts and I liked to think that it was better to spend my time commenting on people who maybe weren't getting quite so much attention. ;-)

      I definitely have some good recommendations for charity shops, particularly on the west coast. :-D

  4. Thank you for visiting Barn & Beach's Norfolk tour, glad you enjoyed the challenge!

    1. And thank you for the return visit. :-)

  5. Stopping by to say Hi to you. Well done and I'm glad you decided to jump in at the last minute! I found the most challenging part was to keep the daily posts short, but not too short, because like you, I don't have time to read really long posts, and I know there are many who decide on the spot if they will continue reading when they see how long a post is. I am one of them. So glad you made it through and I love your last song for Z!

    1. Hi and thanks for the visit.

      I think I tended to waffle a bit in some of my challenge posts last year so this year's theme made me keep things short. Some of the songs it was hard to make it long because all I really wanted to say was 'I've loved this song forever!'

      I try not to decide on the spot whether or not a post is too long. But if the first two or three paragraphs don't grab me and there's another twenty or so to go, I'm likely to move on.

      Glad you liked my last song choice. I thought Zippity-Doo-Dah would be too obvious and didn't fit the overall challenge quite so well. ;-)


Let me know what you think. :-)