The A to Z challenge is done and dusted for the year, 2017.

30 days, 26 posts and my third attempt at this blogging marathon and the twin feelings I have today as I look back at April are peace and joy.

What was different about this year, as compared to the last two times that I attempted this challenge? Let’s have a look.

Change in my blogging schedule

I usually plan everything, down to the last detail. I’ve actually written posts about this exact thing and still champion the concept every year. It makes sense to plan and write the posts ahead of time. Why? It leaves you with more time to blog hop, visit other bloggers and do more reading during the challenge.

This time, though, I’d only scheduled and pre-written posts for the first six letters. Every other letter, I came up with the oxymoron, the story to go with it and the image from Shutterstock, the night before it was due to go live. That’s right. I surprised myself by doing this! The only exception was when I had to go out of town for 2 days, so I wrote two of those posts back to back and scheduled them on the respective days.

In other words, I dealt well with change. Who knew?


At peace with visits/stats/comments

I love blogging challenges because they are a great way to build community and for us to get to know other bloggers. I even tried and managed to visit 45 blogs on the very first day.

But I couldn’t keep that up. I let go and started focusing on writing well and visiting the ones I could manage. On some days, that number was under 10 blogs. On other days, it shot up to 30. I didn’t set too hard a goal, because I was enjoying myself too much.

Since there was no master link-up list, I created my own using an excel sheet on Google Drive. I then shared this on twitter, asking people to let me know so I could add them to it. This was a great way for me to keep track of blogs without having to check social media for updates.

The good news? The sheet has all the blogs I followed and I can continue to update it. *Let me know if you did the A to Z challenge and I will add your blog in there too!


Managing my full-time job plus blogging

This was the first year that I had to juggle a full-time paying job and a blogging challenge. Man, it was not easy! But you know what? I did it! Primarily, I think what helped were two crucial things: Good use of time everyday and not wasting time on social media.

I’ve been known to fritter away minutes and hours on social media but a job doesn’t give you that much luxury, thank God for it! I told myself that I would blog every night at 9.30 pm come what may and I did it!

Keeping the posts short really helped as did my resolution to only use social media for sharing blog posts and engaging with other bloggers during the A to Z. I stayed away from mindless scrolling and outraging on issues.


Also read: What Daily Blogging Taught me about building a habit!


No expectations

I went into this challenge for one reason: The idea of getting back to fiction writing. That’s exactly what I achieved. The thrill of writing flash fiction is quite unparalleled. Considering I began this blog only in May 2014 (YES! Blog anniversary coming up soon!), I was gratified at the response this has generated.

But I also know how much people need to do things offline/ online.  I was grateful for the ones who made it and of course, for the wonderful friendships I have made this year as well. I stayed away from ranting/raving on social media too because, frankly, it’s counterproductive.

People have lives  of their own and if they chose not to visit my blog, it’s completely understandable. I went through a terrible physical illness in February and March and it changed me in ways I couldn’t imagine.

Among other things, it’s made me more empathetic towards people, especially online. We have no way of knowing what’s going on with people and how they are managing blogging too.  The least we can do is be kind in any way we can.


Top 5 posts in April

Not surprisingly, the post for ‘A- Abundant’ was the highest-viewed during April.  Other posts that people loved were:

Organized, Beautiful, Detailed and Job.

A list of all 26 A to Z Posts where I wrote 100-word flash fiction pieces for each letter can be found here.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. Will I do it in 2018? It’s too soon to confirm but let’s just say I wouldn’t mind doing it all over again.

***

Did you write a Reflections post?

Did you complete the A to Z Challenge?

Drop me a link in the comments below 

I will hop back and say hello 🙂

*Featured image courtesy: Shutterstock

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47 thoughts on “Lessons & Learning: #AtoZChallenge Reflections

  1. You know already how much in awe I am of you. You set yourself a tough goal to begin with and you managed to complete it. That’s just super wow. You are sure back to fiction writing and with what a bang!!
    Obsessivemom recently penned this post Supermom!My Profile

    1. Thank you, Tulika 🙂 You’re way too good for my ego! I am hoping that some simple life changes I’ve begun are going to help me in the long run. Fingers crossed.

  2. I’m so impressed you blogged only the night before! You managed to write and comment while blogging the night before and working full time which is brilliant! Congrats on doing so well
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently penned this post BruisedMy Profile

  3. You, my friend, are an inspiration. I have done AtoZ only once, and sorely missed it the past two times that I did not join in. Though even when I did participate in 2015, I remember it being kinda stressful. Not saying I did not enjoy it. It was oodles of fun, but I was also overly stressed about all the blogs that I did not/could not visit. Next time I hope to approach it with your brand of Zen. 🙂
    Shantala recently penned this post On Breaking Away from Being ‘Too Busy’ #ChattyBlogs -May LinkyMy Profile

  4. Well done for making it through the challenge.

    I like that you put together a spreadsheet to keep track of blogs to follow. I might have to steal that idea in the future.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

  5. “Peace and Joy”–doesn’t get much better than that. Doing the Challenge while keeping up with a full time job is quite a feat. Seems like you managed well. I like the approaches you took this year.

    Congratulations on completing the Challenge and thank you for sharing your thoughts about it.

  6. I always enjoy participating in A-Z, but I felt sharing my link in the comments daily was a bit of a time-waster. I wish I had known about your linky list. That would have been super useful! I was having a hard time making sure to visit enough different blogs during the challenge since I would typically only click through to topics that already interested me.

    I’d love to know if you planned ahead at all for the A-Z challenge what with having a full-time job and all. Currently, I only work part-time so I had about half of my posts pre-written and only barely managed to stay caught up reading and responding to at least 10 other blog posts a day. I can’t imagine not prepping, working full-time, and responding to 45 posts in one day!!! Would that be like skipping a full night of sleep? 😉

    Anyway, congrats on completing the challenge! And YAY for your upcoming blogiversary! 🙂

    With Love,
    Mandy

    1. Hi Mandy and welcome to my blog 🙂

      I did a bit of planning, yes. I had chalked out a theme and managed to also create a template that I could clone for each day’s posts. I just had to change the title, the story and of course, the image. So those were huge time-saver tips.

      My sleep is everything so no, I didn’t sacrifice any of mine 😉 I just managed to squeeze in time after the family went to bed for an hour late night and again an hour early in the morning. I work from home so there was no travel time to factor in, thankfully.

      Thank you and congrats to you too for completing the challenge! yay!
      Shailaja recently penned this post Lessons & Learning: #AtoZChallenge ReflectionsMy Profile

  7. I’ve mostly enjoyed your posts, so I’m happy that your blog was on my Feedly list!
    My expectations were simple: just having fun. I achieved them, both writing my blog posts and reading other’s.

    I wrote a reflection post too.
    Eva recently penned this post Sometimes Cancellations Are Just AwfulMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Eva! That’s lovely to hear and I also hear you on the having fun bit 🙂 I’ll hop over to read your reflections post.

  8. I confess to not visiting your blog during the challenge, but you reflections post is cool. Great attitude. Well done on the challenge, and the writing. All the best.

  9. Congrats on your goal of writing flash fiction well – I would say, you aced it with flying colours!! I think yours is one well read blog in the challenge.
    I loved your blog to bits and agree to your advise on tackling this challenge.
    Cheers

  10. Congratulations on your A to Z Challenge success, Shailaja! 🙂 Extra kudos for writing so many posts the night before and having them turn out well. That’s what you call real talent. Your approach sounds more ‘Zen’ and less stressful.
    Debbie D. recently penned this post REFLECTIONS | #AtoZCHALLENGE 2017My Profile

  11. sad to say it but I didn’t visit your blog, somehow it escaped my radar. I think there are just so many people you can visit but like you, I visited a lot and the numbers did vary due to time and work.
    I have my own reading list for the A-Z challenge as well and like you add to list whenever I find a blog I like reading and there were a lot. Of course, I also read the comments to check out what else is interesting, I like to randomly visit blogs because you’ll never know who/what you might come across.
    have a lovely day.

    1. Very true, Lissa. It can be quite overwhelming to try and do it all and a blog hop as global as the A-Z can really wear you out, if you allow it to happen. I am pleased that you enjoyed blogging for its own sake 🙂 Thank you for visiting my blog. I appreciate it!

  12. Congratulations, Shy! You’re too good with your flash fiction. I am not surprised that you wrote most of them the night before they were scheduled. I went easy with the blog hop this year since I was also focusing on my son’s board exams, so was not able to catch up with all your blog posts. But the ones I read were amazing, as usual. 🙂

    1. You did the A to Z with the son’s board exams?!WOW I wouldn’t have dared. Kudos to you, Vinodini 🙂

      Thank you as always for your kind words 🙂

  13. Congratulations Shailaja! It was truly a delight to read your posts and find out the twist in the end.

    For a moment, I was thinking of not writing the Reflections post (call me lazy if you want :P), but after reading your post here, I am all geared up to write it down soon.

    I hope you continue writing this next year too!

    Cheers

  14. Congrats on the grand finish, Shailaja. And I did read quite a few of them – well done 🙂
    You reflection post shows the clarity in your thought process, and as always, in awe of your organisation skills.
    Well done!
    Sid recently penned this post Parenting: I confess!My Profile

  15. Well done, Shy. Though I haven’t read to many of your posts, I am sure you have done a wonderful job. The best part is that you are at peace for achieving what you did and what you missed. Kudos to all of you who manage A to Z which also coincides with summer holidays and travel.
    Rachna recently penned this post Gratitude This AprilMy Profile

    1. Thank you, Rachna 🙂 I agree it was very challenging given the vacation and the job too! I am at peace though and much happier this year when I look back at the last few editions. Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity.

  16. You came up with all those stories just a night before!! Like howwww… That’s some serious talent you got there.
    I absolutely enjoyed reading them. This time around I planned everything a week ahead and concentrated on reading.
    Rajlakshmi recently penned this post Pixelated MemoriesMy Profile

    1. He he he you please don’t talk about serious talent, you wonder woman made of India rubber! I can tell that you’d planned the posts this time. Have actually bookmarked the posts for trying out some stretches!

  17. Congrats on completing this three times in a row. I can’t help but remember that I met you and BAR just a few weeks before my first in 2015. Can’t believe 3 years have gone by blogging together.
    Shailaja – Your fiction is perfect and this year I was amazed at the fantastic oxymorons you came up with. Words that we use frequently yet don’t realize. I am glad you got fiction back and yes – immediately after this one, the Yeah Write editor’s pick. Super awesome and so proud of you.
    Coming to your learnings – I remember the note you shared on daily blogging and the joy of it. Glad you could try and move away from the plan. Sometimes, it’s a welcome change. 🙂
    Parul Thakur recently penned this post #WomenAtWork – A dog sitterMy Profile

    1. How absolutely thrilling to read this 🙂 It’s like a mini trip down memory lane and I am enjoying the nostalgia! The YW pick was a pleasant surprise, to be frank. Daily blogging is fabulous and I recommend it provided you have the time, energy and enthusiasm to make it work. Else it feels just like that: work. And we don’t want that 🙂

  18. Congratulations ! As always i am in awe of your blogging prowess and organised work.
    You did visit some of my posts so I am grateful.
    Thank you for the learning and keeping the blogging bar so high.

  19. Congratulations on completing the challenge again this year, Shailaja! 💜 Your theme this year was fantastic! In fact, on the Q and X days I actually wondered how you’d come up with suitable oxymorons. But you did it perfectly 😍 I enjoyed the fact that some of the oxymorons were sarcastic. And I feel your best post would be the Job Security one 😉

    I agree with you on the no expectations point. This year, even I couldn’t manage visiting blogs (even after scheduling 21/26 posts in March). I learnt first-hand why comments and stats on my blog were reducing, griped about it for a minute or two, then remembered that I too wasn’t doing a good job about it 🙈 Will catch up with your posts today itself!

    1. Your enthusiasm, commitment to blogging and your relevant and deeply insightful comments stun me. Every single time. I have to keep reminding myself that you are just 19! Uff!

      Hugs for doing a fab job of the challenge this year 🙂

  20. I’m yet to write my reflections post. I enjoyed being a part of your a to z and I thought the theme was fun…I am amazed at the sheer number of oxymorons you came up with! Kudos!!

    1. Thank you so much, Shubhangi! I thoroughly enjoyed this A to Z because I was in love with writing the fiction. Receiving visits from you all made it very special. Kudos to you too for completing the challenge 🙂

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