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A to Z Reflections 2015 – 6 Plus 1 Thoughts

A-to-Z Reflection [2015] - Lg

For this year’s A to Z, I decided to curate, research, and retell world ghost stories. I thought my theme would allow me to whip out short, informative posts quickly, leaving plenty of time to visit lots of blogs.

Nope.

I got caught in a research and analysis web. Don’t get me wrong, I love going down the rabbit hole of research threads, learning more, analyzing. But it took more time than I expected, meaning less time for visiting other blogs. The extra thought and research was stimulating to me and commenters, so it was great for content, great for my storytelling work, and served to help me develop relationships with some bloggers (YAY). The downside was that it stole precious time for even more community building during the A to Z frenzy.

THE GOOD
1. The organization of the A to Z is really lovely, as are A to Z-inspired opportunities for connecting with others. The Twitter chat is a great place to share and connect. Thanks to all minions and coordinators for doing SO MUCH work to make this online community work so well.

2. Pre-writing posts really helps me. My hope, if life allows, is to pre-write the entire month next year so I can devote more time to reading, commenting, and exploring during April. Part of my time crunch came because only six or seven were pre-written.

3. The After Party is great, as I have been using it to check out blogs I missed. Lovely idea to have people choose which of their posts to post there. Maybe I should have posted there as well, but at the time I was more interested in seeing other folks’ blogs.

4. Other bloggers who ‘get’ the community aspect of this make all the difference. Visiting back cross-pollinates the comments, builds blogger relationships, and opens doors to new blogs. It even fertilizes the content. Blogger comments influenced some of my later writing choices since they were a definite part of my audience – I wanted to meet them when I could. There were blogs I visited often or daily, and I always visited commenters when they left their sites as calling cards. Even when things got rough at the end of the challenge, I did my best to visit commenters at the very least.

5. The Linky list is great for finding blogs, but it is overwhelming for me. I am an indecisive person, so choosing was hard. And even if I quickly chose a random set of consecutive blogs to visit, it didn’t always work out. If I couldn’t authentically comment or ‘like’ a blog, then I felt like I didn’t really do a blog visit. And the random approach often yielded that. Since I have internet speed that is more tortoise than hare, getting to blogs is a commitment! So here’s my workaround… I found new blogs by reading the comments on blogs I liked and was already visiting. Interesting comments by bloggers were the nectar that drew me to their blogs. I found great gems that way, even with themes I would have overlooked, like mathematics….

6. The Best Thing! I enticed a three-dimensional local friend into A to Z, one who I regularly see at the theater where we both work. One night we passed each other near the rehearsal rooms. He took one look at me and said, “Oh, no…. Q.” Then he ran off to draft his post. It was so much fun chatting about the A to Z process with him in person, and then going online and having chats with other bloggers and him. Made it ‘thicker’ somehow. I highly recommend this to others if you can possible make it happen in your life.

WHAT WOULD BE NICE
7. A page or two on the A to Z website that has step-by-step instructions for how to set up cross platform communication. I walked someone through the process for commenting on a WordPress blog from her Blogspot. If I didn’t do that, I don’t know if she would have ever commented on other blogs because she didn’t know that she could or how she could.

I know there are several “following” options that reach across platforms (Networked Blogs, for instance), but they all have different ways of signing up – and procedures for getting them to work on your site. I suspect there are differences if you are on WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org vs. Blogger, etc. – even if there can’t be a step by step set of instructions, it would be a treat to have a list of all possible ways people can interconnect. And if there are suggestions for which ones work easier on Blogspot vs WordPress.com, etc., that would be a lovely bonus. (If this info is there on the A to Z website somewhere already, then someone please share the link in the comments!).

Thanks to everyone for making April such a rich month. If only such community and deadlines existed for all my writing projects…. whimsical sigh… :).

– Jeri

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