This has been my 4th year participating in the A to Z challenge. I can remember comparing my very first challenge in 2011, to a whirlwind romance… you know the one where you live in the moment; steal away to connect at every available spare moment; experience that heady anticipation; constantly think ahead to the next tryst; you know it cannot last forever but you can’t help yourself anyway… you are sucked in by this entire episode.
To continue the analogy, I must say that the initial heady, butterflies-in-the-stomach, all-consuming flame of new love, has been replaced by the steady glow and warm energy of the familiar…
I chose a fun and interactive theme for both 2013 and 2014 challenges. This is what I discovered.
Last year I seemed to have way more fun than this year. What did I do different from last year to this year? Last year, I responded to comments and what ensued was loads of comments back and forth, amongst a more-or-less concentrated group of visitors. There was lots of camarederie and laughter. However, I didn't really visit a whole lot of new blogs, and isn't that the aim of the challenge, to meet new bloggers?
This year, I didn't respond to comments, but I got around quite a bit and discovered lots of wonderful bloggers, and made lots of new friends as a result. I think about 20-odd new followers signed up via Networked blogs.
Last year I seemed to have more energy than this year. But that's also because this year, I juggled administrative duties: IWSG as well as A to Z minion duties, in between the "natural madness" of the A to Z challenge. So I was really stretched super-thin… but it was worth it! I must admit that I visited every post on certain blogs… just didn't want to miss a single post…
My general thoughts?
Pre-schedule your posts if you can. It eliminates a certain amount of stress, unless you're one of those bloggers who had no choice but to "wing it" or maybe you thrive on spontaneity…
The theme reveal bloghop is a great head start. You get to meet bloggers in advance and take a peek at some of the themes beforehand, so it gives you an idea of which blogs may interest you.
It's frustrating when you click on a commenter's link, hoping to be directed to his/her blog page, but instead you are taken to a Google page. Ideally, bloggers need to add the blog url in a signature, in every comment they post.
If I discovered a theme I really liked, then I gave that blog a miss for a few days. After a while, I backtracked and visited the 3 or 4 blogposts all in one go. I know that, to some extent, it defeats the purpose of a-visit-a-day, but that system worked for me. What do you think about it?
I noticed an interesting phenomenon during the challenge. There were a group of about 15 bloggers who hosted a "mini-hop" within the main hop, complete with a linky list, specifically for supernatural themed challenge posts. I think that was a great idea. There are just too many blogs to visit, and I acknowledge that there are categories, but there are loads of blogs I missed out on, and I'm thinking of flash fiction themes in particular. So, as a flash fiction lover, a "flash fiction mini-hop" idea would have been most welcome. Are there any others who feel the same way?
Thank you to everybody who visited my blog and left a comment. Thanks to all the new followers too. It's my intention to follow back, so if I've missed you, please drop me an email or leave a comment with a link and I'll swing by your place.
——–and the winner for the best comment on my theme for the 2014 challenge———-
*****extended drum roll*****
NONE OTHER THAN
Congratulations C.Lee! Your "speaking book" comments were highly entertaining! Not once… or even twice… but you did it over and over again! Just when I thought your comments couldn't get any better… you proved me wrong! (I'll e-mail you shortly.)
…and that's a wrap!
See you all next year – same place, same time, for the 2015 challenge!
(P.S. If you notice a lurker around your place, don't be alarmed… that will probably be me… catching up with certain bloggers/blogs that I've made a note of… at my leisure…)