A to Z 2015 has come to an end. For some it was over before it even began, others (maaaaaaaybe like myself) it ended a week afterwards, when officially finishing their final post. I've found the challenge affects most people the same way, just at different times, with the exception of those planning well in advance. Then again, writing on a whim isn't as much of a struggle for some as others either.
I don't feel I have much to say that differs from my first experience with the A to Z Challenge in 2013 (and probably 2014, which may be why I just discovered I apparently skipped that year's Reflection post), although this year I did do things a little bit differently. Let's see what worked and what didn't...
Noooooope! Didn't do that. It's the one thing I continually tell myself I will do in order to prepare myself for the next year's challenge. Some of the more experienced (or smarter?) participants have their blog posts written up, or plotted out, long before April is upon us. I swore after my first attempt at this rodeo that I would do exactly that. Plan ahead. I could then use my time to explore the colorful worlds of fellow participants (new and old). I'm a slow reader, easily distracted, and have extremely poor time management skills.
Unfortunately, being I once again took the route of writing on a whim, I only visited other blogs during the first week, and barely then. When visiting other blogs I try really hard to avoid simple one or two sentence replies (depending on the length/subject matter of the post), unless that's what's been left with me over time. I've been known to leave comments that rival the length of the blog post I'm commenting on!
This makes me lament some, because I realize that sometimes an individual's motivation to continue with a blogging challenge like this is the interaction and encouragement from others. Otherwise it can feel as though you are blogging to no one but yourself, and depending on your reasoning behind joining the challenge, and/or blogging in general, that can be disappointing and depressing.
I can't lie and say I am not saddened that I may have missed many opportunities to meeting/making new connections and friends within the Blogosphere. Sometimes those connections can be everlasting.
I had to focus on my own work, however, and even then I barely pulled through!
The singular saving grace (aside from having a benefactor to my very own website, mind you...) to this year's challenge was that I decided on an actual theme. In years past, I've gone completely off the cuff, when deciding the topics of each individual post. This can be stressful for me, since I rarely had a semblance of where I wanted to go with the post, or how I wanted to structure them. They worked out, for the most part, thankfully, but they were long. Though, most of my posts tend to be. I'd like to think I offer more substance than fluff, but that call is left to the Eye of the Beholder.
Going with my Gaming theme (maybe Board Game would be more accurate) helped me focus. I had many games plotted out for each letter the night before the challenge started. However, I was lucky I even got the first few letters posted (and participated at all) being I had some technical difficulties with the new site (I set up that same night), which lead to multiple customer service calls and lasting a few hours during each session. It was maddening! I hadn't been so frustrated in some time. The Ladyfolk can attest to just how frustrated I got, and how close I was to throwing in the towel before even starting.
Things smoothed out and I think I made it halfway through the A to Z before I started falling behind (by only a day... most times) and was forced to implement my infamous "Coming Soon" placeholders. "Z" was the only letter that I was completely prepared for towards the end, but for some reason completely spaced it for a prolonged period of time. Had I not had a theme, there is a good chance I wouldn't have ever caught up. I've done it before in the past without a theme, as I said, but it gets incredibly frustrating, especially when more than a day behind.
Regardless of having a theme, and knowing that smaller posts are ideal for the A to Z Challenge (which is highly recommended by the hosts, as it's a blog hop), my posts could be pretty lengthy. Most (if not all) being over 500 words. My original plan was to merely give a brief synopsis about the games I was featuring, but I realized that would amount to nothing more than what you would read on the back cover of the box. In general, that information never solidifies my decision to buy a game. It may intrigue me, but what do I usually do next? Go online to read reviews and/or watch videos about the game (much akin to where I would like to advance my involvements within the gaming community)!
So I decided I wanted to talk about how the game was played, which lead to some longer posts as I tried to give most of the important details on a game's mechanics and gameplay. They ended up being more of a partial review. So I worried, especially with visitors not interested in gaming, that the length along would turn them away.
In the end, I'm glad I went the path that I did, because I feel it offered more to readers in order to make a better, informed decision as to whether or not they would be interested in the games. Plus, I plan to writing full reviews, and if people stopping by aren't able to retain interest through these posts, they surely aren't going to make it through a much longer, detailed review! So I'd rather not sweat it and instead focus on catering to those who are both interested in the subject matter and prefer in-depth engagements. Because who are we kidding? Brevity is not my strong suit...
This is the part where I — again — swear to myself that I will write up next year's challenge posts in advance and have them scheduled to be released on time. It's not likely, but you never know. This year I had an actual theme. Perhaps I'm evolving. More than likely, though, it will be the same 'ol song and dance. Me struggling at the last minute to sign up before the challenge begins, and berating my mind over which topics I want to write about. Let's not forget the annoyance of coming up with those "Q" "X" and "Z" posts. Every goddamn time!
Despite the hardships one can face at such an intense blogging challenge, I love the A to Z Challenge. Even if I've not been blogging for months on end, it will bring me back into the fold. Back into the Blogosphere. Even if I fade back out again soon after. It motivates me to engage in the one hobby I wish to actively continue to participate in.
To write. And for that I am forever grateful.
Congratulations to everyone who participated. Whether you finished or not, I hope you found many positive experiences throughout the process and perhaps even made a connection or five!
And finally, thanks to everyone who took the time to read my posts throughout the month of April! It's much appreciated! I hope to repay the visit, even though the challenge is now over, being I have more time to dedicate. Hope to talk soon!
No Full Review Forthcoming... (get it?!)
Did you participate in the A to Z 2015 Challenge? If so, were you able to complete it? Did you have a theme? What were some of the struggles you faced, if any? Did you come across new blogs you hope to continue to follow? Do you think you will participate next year? If you didn't participate, does it sound like a challenge you would enjoy trying? If so, would you prefer to have a theme or have random subject matter?