Hey, have I mentioned I did the A to Z Challenge? This is where particularly masochistic bloggers selected a topic (or didn’t) and posted 26 times in April following the letters of the English alphabet.
This topic allowed me to talk about anthropology, revisit some of the things I learned in grad school and college, and also share how my field of study has impacted my writing. Born a tiny bit out of a desire to justify not staying with a Creative Writing degree, but mostly because anthropology is amazing and everyone should try it, this topic turned out to be fun and, occasionally challenging.
And I didn’t talk about the human skeleton as much as I expected. You’re welcome.
The amazing people who run the challenge have asked for a reflections post from participants, which I think is a fantastic way to process through all the feelings this challenge has produced! So, here I have 5 reasons to do the A to Z Challenge (and 1 reason not to do it).
- You enjoy a challenge
Hoo, boy, is this a challenge. There were a couple posts that didn’t go up until the sun had gone down on the day they were due. I’d forget what letter I was supposed to be on. I wanted to write at least 100 words per post and sometimes I found too much material for me to write as detailed a post as I wanted to in a day.
I did write the first ten posts well in advance in anticipation of being in Japan. These first ten seem to consistently be of higher quality, when I go back and read through some of them.
Lesson Learned: Plan ahead and write posts well ahead of time. I learned about this challenge in March, but since it takes place in April, I have almost a year to get my act together for the 2017 challenge!
- You want to meet awesome new people
I met so many cool people writing cool blogs that I would never have found without this challenge. I made some connections and am looking forward to strengthening and building new blogger friendships moving forward.
Lesson Learned: Make the time to interact with others who write about things that interest you.
- You want to learn something new
I learned about jazz, Pokemon, castles, food, organization, philosophy, books, music, mythology, and even landmarks around Arizona, my home state! I made it a point to follow other writers but I got sucked in to some of these other topics and, let me say, I am so glad that I was.
In addition, I’ve been out of school for two years so I had to read up on some of my topics before I wrote about them. I got to relearn a few things from a field I love. 🙂
Lesson Learned: Don’t be afraid to branch out beyond your comfort zone.
- You want to share your knowledge
My topic is one I talk about a lot. Anthropology permeates my work discussions and it saturates my conversations on writing, even if I don’t specifically mention it. The A to Z Challenge provided a structured way for me to talk and talk about my two favorite things: writing and the study of humans without bothering people! It was a win-win, I gotta say.
Lesson Learned: If you like to share, take advantage of those opportunities that want to help you share what you know.
- You want to impress yourself
Even though not all of my posts are up to my standards, I’m still impressed that I made it all the way to Z. I don’t finish a lot of writing projects–heck, I only just finished the first draft of my WIP last January. It’s a big deal to me to reach the end of something and the sense of accomplishment is all the reward I need (there may also have been a slice of celebratory cheesecake with friends).
The hardest letter for me was actually “Z.” First, I couldn’t think of a topic until the morning of April 30 and, second, I was so tired and busy that it almost seemed too much trouble. But, of course, I couldn’t give up on the last try. And, besides, I realized I could do the anthropology of zombies! That turned out being my favorite topic!
Lesson Learned: Find ways to enjoy the challenge, even when it is difficult or tedious or you can’t really think of anything to say. When you’re done, you’ll have hit your goal and had fun doing it.
And, the single reason not to do it:
- You are too busy reading everyone else’s blogs!
There were SO. MANY. FANTASTIC. BLOGS. I am *still* catching up on the April posts, not to mention all the new posts now that people are returning to their regular blogging. I didn’t hit like for all the posts I meant to, didn’t read everything I wanted to get to, and didn’t pay enough attention to everyone who absolutely deserved it.
Earlier in the year, I considered making Monday my “social media” day where I focused more on reading and interacting with blogs instead of my own writing. Given recent deadlines and word count goals, that focus-shift can’t really happen, but I definitely will be setting aside time more frequently to keep up on the blogs I truly came to enjoy.
Here are my top five choices (this certainly is not exhaustive) for blogs that you should follow!
I hope you enjoyed my A to Z posts! I am looking forward to taking on this challenge again next year with a different topic and better posts!