Monday, 1 May 2017

#atozchallenge Reflections 2017

We've made it to the end of another A to Z Challenge. Well done if you're made it to the end (either blogging, reading or a mixture of the two).

First of all, how I feel the challenge went?

I swithered a bit on which theme I wanted to use for the challenge. I knew I wanted to do it with a theme (because I've found that easier in the past) and I was fairly certain that I wanted to do it about infertility and IVF. The last week of April is Infertility Awareness week so it seems like the right time of year to write about our attempts to start a family.

But I was kind of in a different place this time around compared to the last two times I've blogged about the process. This time we'd just completed a fresh cycle of IVF and had to do a freeze all due to hyperstimulation. We had nine embryos in the freezer and I was feeling such a strong pull towards them, I couldn't get them off my mind.

I've always planned to write letters to my children, right from day one, and so that's what I did. I sat down and gradually crafted 26 letters I'd like my child to read some day, to learn about how they came to be. And along the way I hoped to educate others about the IVF process.

And that's what I did.

It was strangely cathartic to write. It's a strange feeling, finding yourself so connected to something that is essentially just a bundle of frozen cells in a freezer in a Glasgow hospital, and yet which has the potential to be so much more. Writing these letters gave me something to channel that energy into and yet still remain focused on the end goal.

I think that in terms of the theme, it's been my favourite one yet.

Of course, the big thing about this year's challenge was the change in format for sharing your blog and posts. The massive, unwieldy Linky List is no more. Instead each day there was a separate blog post for each letter. People responded in the comments with links to their posts for that day's letter.

I'll admit that I was slightly apprehensive about this approach, but I felt like it worked well.

In terms of posting my own links, I followed the A to Z Challenge page on Facebook, initially intending to comment or respond to posts but ultimately that became my reminder of when to post my link to the day's post. As I wrote my posts and scheduled them ahead of time, I just saved a draft email with the HTML link already formatted for each day. It was just a question of copying and pasting from that email, regardless of whether I was on my laptop or doing it from my phone.

I often ended up in one of the first twenty to post but I wouldn't say I saw more traffic on those days compared to the days when I was one hundred or more down the list. I think I probably got more traffic from commenting on other people's blogs and visiting the blogs of people who visited me.

Most people formatted their entries on the posts really well, so it was easy to click the link (or highlight the link and visit that way). I would probably have seen more visitors if I'd given more of an explanation of what my posts were about. Instead I simply marked it as 'Letters to my Embryos' and then the title of my post for that day. I wonder if people skimmed over it because I didn't give away much about what it was, but by the time I realised that I'd written (and so formatted the links) for most of my posts and I was too lazy to go back and change them.

I was a little more selective with the posts that I read this year. If the link didn't take me to the actual blog post, I tended to ignore them. If I was met with a great wall of text (I know, ironic considering this blog post), unless it was something that captured my attention, I tended to move on to the next one. Despite having internet access at home now, my time is still kind of limited, so I had to be economical with my time.

Google+ also kind of proved to be the bane of my life with people leaving comments on my blog posts. In some instances it took three or four goes to find their own blog to leave my own comment. It's made me more aware of the need to leave my link on every comment I make to make sure people can find their way back to me.

As I said, the lack of the list worked quite well. It was still a little easy for blog posts to get lost in the midst of all the other comments so I think it might be a good idea in the future to come up with some sort of coding system that people can tag their comments with so that you can CTRL+F to find blogs that meet your interests.

Alternatively they could perhaps do a spotlight at the end of each main letter post to highlight some of the posts from the day before. If there were maybe five posts highlighted some blogs might get a little more attention that they could otherwise miss.

At the moment I'm still getting caught up on the comments on my blog during the challenge. I fell behind early so I'm still visiting and commenting on everyone's blogs. I'm going to carry on reading and replying, and hopefully I'll be able to work through the Reflections list as well so may come across some challenge themes I missed on the first go round.

And maybe I'll even join in next year. Hopefully I'll have a real little person I can address these letters to by then!


  1. Your theme sounds very different from others. I will try to catch up with few of your posts. This time around the traffic wasn't much. I too was selective while reading. Although I did find few interesting new blogs. Congrats on completing the challenge

  2. My goodness you are quick off the mark with your reflections, Click! I'm going to have a little wait before I sort out what I want to say but I have filled in the survey. I am glad I took part though even if it was all so last minute :)
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

  3. I hope you do have a little one next year and share with us as they experience this new and exciting world.

    And I agree that Google Plus being the bane of our lives. Sometimes it felt I was on a treasure hunt trying to find the post.

  4. Congrats on finishing your challenge! I agree with a lot of your reflections. Because of time zones, my links were usually far down the page on the A to Z blog. I saw some traffic, but not a lot. I hate G+ and don’t know why it exists. It’s often impossible to find links to people’s blogs on there. I found a lot of new blogs from the A to Z challenge and want to participate next year. Now I just need to think of a theme.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  5. I think no linky list made me feel less guilty for failing the hop portion of the blog hop. I meant to visit others. Really, I did. But April can be so crazy...

  6. I agree about the Google+ profiles. While I like Google+ for being able to share my posts, that's all I do on it. If I click on a persons name who leaves a comment on my blog post, I would much rather it go straight to their blog instead of to their Google+ profile.

  7. I didn't use any of the lists to find people this year. I visited people I had saved from previous challenges who were doing it again, people who commented on someone elses post or on my post. I pretty much visited 30 people regularly. I tried to leave my signature on each comment to make it easy to find me. You can read how to make a signature here -
    I too hope that next year you have a baby to blog about. Or not blog about :)

    Finding Eliza

  8. I needed to give myself a few days breathing space after the hectic pace of the challenge, but now I'm ready to dive in again. Congrats on a successful challenge - both from the standpoint of completing it and also using it as an opportunity to write those letters. I can understand how they were cathartic, but also know they are precious.

  9. Wow, you've been working so hard, even your Reflection Post is up and running!
    I really enjoyed your series ob letters to Bubbles, and I want to thank you for your openness to blog about infertility and IVF! Keeping my fingers crossed for you and your little one(s)! 🍀

  10. I did the same as you, I just leave my link and not really say what's it about, I didn't have a theme and some posts are hard to explain but I occasionally added tidbits so people would know what I'm posting but I still need to work on that.

    I was also selective with what I want to read and I sort of not read too many long posts, unless there is an interest

    I thought with the theme reveal, it should allow people to know which blogs to visit. have you make a list of blogs to visit? that's what I did for those blogs I know I want to visit. I think that makes it easier and if you didn't get to read the comments at the a-z blog on time, you can go back.

    have a lovely day.

  11. I really enjoyed your posts each day, they were entertaining and moving at times. Hopefully you'll keep us up-to-date on future progress! I have to agree, I didn't see much difference in traffic based on where I ended up in the list. Spotlighting a few bloggers each day sounds like an excellent idea to me. Just checking out these reflections posts has shown me that there were several excellent themes that I completely missed.

  12. Like you, I think I'll be catching up on the A to Z blog posts for the next month as I respond to comments left on my blog.

    You had a unique topic and I can see how this would have been your favorite. It will be interesting for you to go back later to read what you've written this year.

    We're still looking for a way to incorporate some of the ideas you've suggested without making it overly labor intensive to the A to Z co-hosts. I know with proper coding there would be a way to automate things where we could actually have a practical list that is useful to everyone and to highlight blogs in need of comments, etc.

    There is so much more we can do with A to Z and we are learning more every year. Maybe eventually we'll get it down to being closer to perfect.

    Thanks for your Reflections and most of all for participating in the 2017 Challenge.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  13. Such a sweet topic for A-Z! I sincerely hope you have a "real" little one to address your letters to next year. <3.

    With Love,

  14. Somehow, I missed you entirely in April. I have to say, that I think the letter theme is beautiful and sweet! It is my prayer that you'll soon find yourself with more than an embryo to present them to. One year not long ago I made each post as a share with my children, family stories, my beliefs, etc. A similar idea I think. Will be sampling your letters.
    Barbara @ Caneyhead

  15. Agree with most of your reflections notes - no linky list was not an issue. Finding fresh blogs to visit was a mini- challenge, and that G+ doesn't help the process. I delinked my blogger profile from G+ for that reason long ago.

    Congrats for finishing the A-Z with a very unique theme.

    Best wishes,

  16. Hi Click - thanks for this ... and I'm glad you found me now - and I can get back to visit you. Interesting topic you decided to blog about - but a great take I imagine for later on ... I do wish you success in this direction. I'll read anon ...

    Mostly your thoughts are similar to mine - but it's good to see you've connected with other friends ... cheers Hilary

  17. Nice to read your reflections. I agree with some of them. The no-list worked well for me, too.

  18. Howdy Clicks! First up, congrats on surviving last month challenge! Your theme was a great idea and I love that you write your babies before they are because someday they will be. Like you, I noted the importance all the more of having one's signature line in comments when I stumbled on those who failed to do this or just forgot. It makes life so much easier not only for the A2Z challenge but commenting in general. This gives your blog a greater chance of being visited not only by the blog author but the viewers on that site. Best of luck to you as you continue catching up and may God bless you!

    ~Curious as a Cathy
    Art Sketching Through the Alphabet Reflections

  19. I love how you kept daily links in your email, Click! I read so many posts on my phone, then later tried to go back to them to comment so I could include my signature. Missed commenting on so many of them. Thank you for the tip!

    I hope you have a little human this time next year :)

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador


Let me know what you think. :-)