Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tips for the A-Z Challenge

Well, another A-Z Challenge has come and gone, and again, I've met some amazing people.  Let me start by saying that I've enjoyed both reading other's and writing my own entries, reading comments, and commenting on other's blogs.

And if you've survived the challenge, whether it's your first or not, give yourself a high five!

This is the second year I've done the challenge, and it was definitely easier the second time around.  I learned a lot of what to do and what not to do through my participation last year, and this year's went much more smoothly.

So, I'd like to share some tips to make your next A-Z Challenge easier.  Here they are in no particular order...

1)  Plan out your month's posts.  Settle on a theme, if you're going to do one, and write some ideas that interest you for each letter, maybe 3-5 each so you have something to work with.  If you can narrow it down to one for each letter, awesome, but it's good to have options.

2)  Write out your entries ahead of time, in order or out of order, whatever you want.  I did mine in one-week spurts.  I'd get the writing bug, crank out a few entries at a time, and schedule them to post on the appropriate day.  That's a BIG help...take advantage of the post scheduling feature.  That way you don't even have to be around to post them; they'll just automatically pop up.  Next time I'd even write them over a longer period, maybe getting the whole month done in advance.

3)  Clear your schedule.  I'm not joking...this thing is exhausting.  I had a super-busy April this year, what with preparing a contest entry, cranking out a synopsis, working on my other original work, traveling with some girlfriends out of the country, and, of course, doing this blogfest.  Next year I'll try to keep my extracurriculars to a minimum.

4)  Make time to read other entries and follow.  That's what this whole thing is about, after all...interaction with other bloggers and like-minded people!  For most people, that was what they did on the day off...Sundays.  There were close to 2,000 participants this year, and that's obviously hard to get through.  So, if you're looking for an efficient way to work your way through some interesting blogs, check out the blog titles on the A-Z Challenge sign-up sheet.  For example, I'm a writer, and I love to support other writers and their work, so I'd often search for ones related to writing.  Also, if I found an interesting-sounding title, I'd often just check that one out out of sheer curiosity.

5)  Don't be afraid to comment.  Even if it's just a quick something like, "Just saying hi from the A-Z Challenge!", it'll be appreciated.

Do you have any tips you've learned?  I know I've missed at least a few things...tell me!

xoxo Sarah

22 comments:

  1. Great tips! I'd concur with everything here. Maybe you'll want to consider doing a guest post on the A to Z Blog? Right now we have a lot of space to fill between now and next April. Thanks for this post.


    Congratulations on making it through the A to Z Challenge. Join us on May 7th with your Challenge Reflections post.

    Lee
    Places I Remember
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

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    1. Thank you! I'd love to do a guest post...can you tell me more about it, and what it would be on? :-)

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  2. This was my first year participating, and I really enjoyed it. My theme was writers (including authors, novelists, poets, essayists, and yes, songwriters), so I had a blast! Planning ahead made a big difference; I used the free day on Sunday to research and write at least up to the following Wednesday. Now, back to my rewrites!

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    1. Congrats! I'm glad you had a good time with it. That sounds like a fun theme. Yay for planning ahead!

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  3. I scheduled my posts which worked out fine until about Q . . . they would show scheduled, but wouldn't actually post until I went in to edit them, and they they would post. That was highly annoying.

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    1. That stinks. :-( Technology is great when it cooperates. I hope it works out better next year!

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  4. This was my second year of the A to Z challenge. My first year, I had posts planned out ahead and threw most of those out when it came time to write the posts so it ended up being a "winging it" theme after all. I tried to come up with idea ahead of time this year too but, again, no dice. I guess I'm just a fly by the seat of my pants girl through and through.

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    1. Haha, once a pantser, always a pantser. Planning definitely doesn't work for everyone, and that's fine! A few times I made last-minute changes, or suddenly decided I hated the topics I'd written down. It pays to be flexible.

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  5. This was my first year and thanks to some good tips pre-start date, I pretty much followed what you just laid out. More details in my May 7th post. ;-)

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    1. Awesome! I'm happy it worked for you!

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  6. All great tips; I took the advice of posts on the A to Z blog prior to the challenge and chose a theme and scheduled all my posts. I had most of it planned out, and it actually gave me more focus for my blog in general.

    LIke you said, with so many blogs in the challenge I found I had to filter a bit to get through the most possible. I also clicked based on the name of the blog - either something witty and writerly, or just plain clever, and usually anyone whose blog was just their full name. I found those tended toward the more professional blogs. I commented on just about every blog I visited even if I didn't follow. It was a lot of work but I found some great new blogs (like yours!) which was totally worth it.

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    1. Aw, that's sweet of you to say! Thank you! I'm glad planning worked out well for you. I found a lot of awesome blogs through the challenge, too!

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  7. This was my first year doing the challenge and I wish I had had your tips before I started. :D I will definately go with a theme of some sort next time (already have one in mind) and the posts I did manage to do ahead of time and schedule were the best.

    I likewise found some really great blogs to follow through the challenge that I probably would not have stumbled across otherwise.

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    1. LOL! I'm sorry I didn't post these earlier, but I wanted to see some results first. I'm glad next year's will be better for you!

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  8. Awesome advice!

    This was my first year participating and I had no idea how time consuming it would actually be. I know better now, for sure. :)

    -Amy
    Lady Reader's Bookstuff
    ladysbookstuff.blogspot.com
    @ladyreaderstuff

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    1. Thank you! That's how I felt last year...I had no idea that writing a blog post every day would be so exhausting. I'm glad I could help!

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  9. It was my first year too, and I've seen some great blogs and met some wonderful writers. I had 12 times the hits in April as I had previously had in three years of blogging. Though I have yet to complete the challenge...Y & Z to go.

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    1. Congrats! And finish those letters...you'll get through it.

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  10. Congrats on finishing! This was only my first year and I found out about it a few days before April 1st. So not a whole lot of time to prepare. No theme to mine. Mine was faith-based on my inspirational blog but that was as far as I took it. I am also a writer (working on my first to-publish novel) and saw some people that wrote a story throughout the month, using each letter as a basis for a chapter or a scene. That was an idea I liked and might try next year. I agree with you, comment! I was so excited just to get a "hello from the A-Z Challenge" from people! And I doubled my followers list...which means, more people to share with. It was a really great challenge. Thanks for sharing your tips :)

    Identity

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    1. You're very welcome! I'm glad you found them helpful. Congrats to you too! The first year is always the hardest...I know mine sure was.

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  11. Good tips! I didn't end up with anything pre-written because I lost my notebook of all my preparation, but it did keep it fresh, and a deadline staring you in the face is a great motivation. I'm glad you mentioned the visiting aspect. It's a crucial part of the experience - meeting and making new friends and just supporting other bloggers wherever they may be in their journey.
    I'm not done with my visiting yet. If you're interested, check out the Post A-Z Road trip!
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-Host of the A-Z Challenge

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    1. Oh no! I'm sorry you lost your notebook. I think I'd freak out if one of my notebooks went missing. Deadlines are VERY motivating. :-)

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