Reflections From My First A to Z Challenge

 I did it! I survived my first A to Z Challenge for April 2016. I’ll admit I had second thoughts.

April is, traditionally, a very busy time of year for me. My youngest daughter’s birthday is the third week of April. Each year I travel to Washington DC to celebrate with her. Other life issues came up this April, as well, but I bit the bullet and said, “You can do it.”

I learned a lot of things and met some great people, but a few things stood out for me. Here are my reflections.

My Top 10 Reflections on the Challenge:

  1. Preparation is the key to success. The minute I committed to the challenge, I began planning my topics.
  2. Themes varied widely among participants, but everyone I was able to visit taught me something.
  3. Reciprocity leads to new friends, resources, and opportunities.
  4. Reading the blogs of some many people helps you hone in on the types of blogs that support your interest (whatever that may be).
  5. There are as many styles of writing as they are voices and new ideas abound – if you’re willing to explore.
  6. Expectations and deadlines are the perfect incentives to write.
  7. Writing on a daily basis improves your organization, planning, and skill.
  8. You can’t form a habit overnight but writing for 26 days straight will take you to the half way mark of establishing a solid writing habit. Read more about creating new habits here.

According to Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes, on average, 2 months for a new behavior to become a habit – 66 days to be exact. Tweet This.

 9. Blogging, reading, visiting, responding, and sharing is time-consuming and may limit the time you have available for other works in progress (WIP).
10. Balance is the key. Setting priorities, making a schedule and sticking to it, is a must.

The 2016 A to Z Challenge has been an extraordinary experience for me. Thank you to Arlee Bird for creating this adventure, the hosts, co-hosts and teams who made this journey so enjoyable and successful. Thank you.

Iā€™d love to hear about your experiences. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, and Contently

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26 thoughts on “Reflections From My First A to Z Challenge

  1. Hi Sheila, it was a great adventure we went on together. I am glad it is over. I enjoyed reading all your posts (and learned so many new things, thank-you) and you, unlike myself managed to stay on time. Here’s to finishing the challenge relatively unscathed and to the blogging friendships we have formed. And a belated Happy Birthday to your daughter!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, indeed, planning plays a great role in completing the challenge. If you don’t like to write your articles before the challenge, then you have to make sure your WIP or whatever else you are writing is up to date and doesn’t need your attention.

    I learned so much during this challenge than in all the challenges before. Some blogs I kept visiting because they had what I needed. Their voice spoke to me and yours was one of them. Even though I had been receiving your blog posting before the challenge, I had never taken the time to actually be quiet within and listen to what you had to say. During the challenge, I did that.

    That is another thing about the challenge, you’re visiting other people’s blogs. You hear many voices coming at you but the voices that speak to you stand out. I believe they stand out because you have put everything else aside and you’re now ready to listen to someone else.

    Anyway, I can say this. I won’t take what you say loosely anymore. Your postings have been a blessing to me.
    Thanks.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia, I don’t know what to say about such kind words. I’m so glad I was one of the voices that stood out. There were so many wonderful people. I enjoyed your posts and story very much and wish you all the best on finding an agent. I look forward to staying in touch.

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  3. Hi Sheila, thank you for your company this April. I loved the Challenge and I’ll certainly do it again next year. I agree with number 9 – the other projects I was working on had to go on hold for April. But maybe that’s no bad thing – I’m looking at the novel with a fresh pair of eyes and a bit of distance, giving me a clearer idea of what’s missing. All the best for the rest of 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Sheila! Yes, I’m stalking you, no, just kidding., I saw your comment on Pat’s review and couldn’t resist. I did the A to Z Challenge focusing on my latest release Murder & Obsession and Pat picked it up, then she picked up the first two books too. I’m thrilled. Especially as I decided to post my tour as part of the A to Z. Not sure how I missed your blogs, I was even one of the Ninja Minions, but I’ll remedy that. Very nice to meet you by the way!
    Your reflections are spot on, reciprocation and planning is key!
    Congratulations on finishing, it’s a huge accomplishment!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Yolanda, that’s very kind of you. It’s nice to meet you too. I am looking forward to reading your book. This was my first time doing the challenge and it was great. I’m so glad you stopped by and look forward to conversing with you in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Sheila. I’m collecting recap posts for a Listly here http://list.ly/list/17Wd-2016-a-to-z-challenge-wrap-ups
    so I’ve seen dozens, and yours is def a winner. Who doesn’t love a good list? To your points:

    1 – This is my first year participating in this particular challenge. I think I had about a week of advance notice. I love that, unlike NaNo, it allows us to not only prepare but to actually write the posts ahead of time. I’ll def be doing that next time.
    2 – I also saw some very creative ideas for themes. I didn’t do much with a theme. That will be remedied next year.
    4 – I’ve been struggling to tighten the focus of my blog. Reading hundreds of other blogs this month has really helped me decide what I want it to be, as well as what I don’t want it to be.
    8 – I had heard the magic number is 19 repetitions to build a new habit??? IDK. But these types of challenges are great for showing us what we are capable of.

    Lastly, props for the embedded tweet to click. I’ve been meaning to experiment with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lissa for your kind comments. You make some great points! I thought about doing a theme, but didn’t think I could stretch my brain quite that much the first time around. LOL. Glad you stopped by the Cow Pasture.

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  6. Congrats on completing the challenge. I hit a speedbump at L, this time, which was the final post to date on the page that I set up when I started it, titled Places of My Life. I still intend to complete 26 (challenge) posts with a tentative deadline of 12/31/16. I think I discovered the challenge through your blog and would like to thank you for presenting it. Since I’m just getting back into the swing of things myself, after spending the last several weeks preparing for and entertaining out of town guests, I’m spending some time today to take a look at some of the posts you wrote for the challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. This was my first attempt and was glad I was able to complete the challenge. Having said that, it took a lot of pre-prep to get it done. I know all to well about the unexpected. At my age, I’m working on going with the flow. Doing that is harder for me than the challenge. Lol

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  7. Hello Sheila – Congratulations on finishing the A to Z challenge! Like you, I’m also relieved that the April A to Z Challenge was over only because I felt a little blogging fatigue during the last week of the challenge. Some letters were easier to write posts for while there were letters (Q and X especially) that made me want to throw in the towel. Now that it’s been a few weeks after the end of the challenge, I’m happy to report that I’m looking forward to next year’s challenge and already have a theme ready (I think). Have a wonderful week ahead! šŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

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