Reflections 2016 #AtoZChallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

Reflections 2016

30 Days | 26 Posts | Women | Change

This was my second attempt at the A to Z Challenge and I loved the experience, like last year. Something that I really enjoy about this challenge is how so many bloggers come together to participate. The energy, the motivation, and the spirit to encourage one and all is commendable. 

Plan to succeed: I believe in the power of planning. Not that I’m great at it but this year, I was more organized than my first attempt and I saw how that helped. In the month of January, I had thought of my theme and started reading to research and pick up topics. By the time, I was ready to write and schedule, other than those ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ ones I knew what I was going to write. Then a 10 post lead when the challenge kick started was good enough to get me the time and write whenever I wanted to. I was done with all the posts a week before the challenge ended giving me ample time to stay calm and focus on connecting with others. 

Write crisp: When bloggers take up this challenge, they want to write but at the same time, they want to be read. If a blogger wants to visit 30 blogs a day, (s)he has to read that many and you need to engage her/him to come back to you the next day. The bigger the post, the harder it gets to grab attention. You can always write more on the topic later but for the purpose of this challenge, 300 words do the magic. 

Meaningful comments: If you like a post that you read, leave a meaningful comment. If you say, ‘Great post’, ‘Well done’, ‘Beautiful’- it just adds to the comment count but no value to the post. Give the blogger a fair share of your time. It’s important to build that connection with the topic that you just read. That is what will help you connect better and find friends in the space. 

Follow and share: I made new friends and followed those blogs I would love to read throughout the year. As you get in the middle of the challenge, you will feel stretched and pressed for time. Get to the ones you follow and seek inspiration. It’s a great win-win way to encourage the one who wrote and then turn to your blog to write. I kept on reading and sharing the posts I enjoyed. Even now when the challenge is done and dusted, new friends are there to stay. 

Twitter chats: Last year, I was not able to participate in the twitter chats and that left me feeling upset about the timings and how this challenge doesn’t work for people across the world. This year, I made peace with the fact that 1900 bloggers from the east to the west are writing and the timings will not work for all. It’s simply not possible. But then sometimes, a little push or even reading through the tweets later can connect you with others. So, the days it was possible for me, I tweeted at 6 in the morning and swayed along. 

Being a minion: As I played a minion this year along with Claire, Shalini and Rajlakshmi, I had a wonderful opportunity to know co-host Pam from Unconventional Alliance. As a team, we looked out for each other, watched over blogs and had a good time on Slack. It’s important to push our limits else we can never know what we are capable of. Writing in advance, helped me find time to read in order to finish the tasks of being a minion. 

Inspiration: This challenge has so much variety that you cannot even imagine unless you are in it. I had many favorites around. Blogs on life’s lessons, unusual occupations, quirky acronyms, being Mum to a deaf child, mental health, flash fiction on emotions, a Bollywood kind of story, travel tales, life as wife of an army officer, parenting, recipes, mermaid, books, reviews, self-reflection and everything under the Sun. The variety and passion are not something so easy to find on a normal day. 

A wrap : As I wrap up A to Z Challenge for 2016, I want to share that I will be around in 2017 again with a better plan. I will read more, share more and connect more. I will also try to reply more to comments on this blog. 

This challenge made me come closer to a lot of bloggers and I am glad that most felt that the theme and my posts helped them learn something new. It’s a feeling of achievement and I am glad I could do that. The host team did a great job organizing all this and keeping the bloggers engaged throughout. The daily Facebook threads were a great way to read others. I also had other Facebook groups where participating bloggers supported each other and encouraged. To me, this has become an annual ritual and I am proud to be associated with it. 

Until next year, keep reading!


34 Responses

  1. Roopa says:

    Exactly what I was looking for..well summarized on all aspects on how to blog to how to completed the cycle…

  2. I would totally fail your ‘crisp’ posts… 😀
    But then I totally agree with the points you made. And it was an awesome challenge 🙂

  3. Really enjoyed your posts showcasing the true heroes making a difference to lives. Will support you next year as a spectator:) It’s my third attempt and feel I reached the elixir. May be a break in 2017 from the challenge:)

  4. Kala Ravi says:

    Your reflection post was pretty informative Parul! I enjoyed your brilliant series and hats off for taking up such a lovely theme and doing full justice to it! You are so right about the do’s/dont’s of the challenge! I actually had to take a fortnight’s break post the challenge to recharge the ol’ batteries! Cheers Parul for an amazing series plus minioning!

  5. Debbie D says:

    Congratulations on your success with the A to Z Challenge. The commenting issue will likely always be with us. Some people just don’t seem to understand the concept, but hopefully, they are in the minority. Same thing with sharing. I’ve never done a twitter chat, but might try it next year.

  6. I also have Twitter chats as very high on my list of things to improve upon. I have no time zone challenges. I just kept forgetting about them.

    Regarding people who leave bare minimum comments, or ‘dropping by from A to Z’ – I guess I feel it’s better than nothing? What percentage of participants do you estimate never comment at all? IDK but it just seems like I see the same commenters over and over, so it leaves me with the impression that the majority of the 1300+ participants don’t engage much.

    • Parul Thakur says:

      I kind of agree. While I had some new folks commenting on my blogs, most of them stuck around. You are so right on that observation Lissa. Thank you for stopping by!

  7. I love the community feel to the challenge too! I missed all the Twitter chats as I work Thursday nights it’s a shame because I did want to join them but never mind, I still met a lot of lovely bloggers by reading my way through the list 🙂
    Random Musings recently posted…The Girl Next Door By Jack Ketchum: Book ReviewMy Profile

  8. Hi Parul, I loved being on Pam’s team with you. I feel bad that I couldn’t participate more on twitter – I was either sleeping or driving. Thank goodness for Slack!
    Glad we met and I’ll be following you.

  9. Soumya says:

    You were so ahead when you started off! I was so jealous.

    I had planned the theme earlier too, but work got so hectic during April that I crawled through the challenge! But I’m happy I finished it 🙂

    I loved your A to Z theme and I’m so proud of you for the amount of time and research you put in to all your posts. I had to write about me and I found that only so tough 😛

    You rock my dear! Let me treat you to some coffee just for that 😀
    Soumya recently posted…Book Review: Sharp ObjectsMy Profile

  10. You had planned your theme in January itself? Wow! In January, I wasn’t even sure about participating in the challenge! 😀

    Among all the blog posts I’ve read for this challenge, I can surely say that you had a lot of preparation to do for the posts! And the way you presented the content made it an enjoyable read, with a lot of knowledge to take back home! Congratulations once again on completing the challenge, and looking forward to reading your amazing posts next year too! 🙂

  11. Traci York says:

    Great post! Well done! Beautiful!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. *grin*

    In all seriousness, you have some wonderful reflections here that echo some of my own feelings when participating in similar writing challenges. I’ve now bookmarked the official site, and may just jump in and join you next April. Congrats again on such an amazing accomplishment!

  12. Vinitha says:

    I read only a few of your posts this time, Parul. I didn’t leave a comment though but as always your posts were inspiring and insightful. You do a lot of research to bring meaningful posts for your readers. It’s admirable. Next year I hope to join in but who knows! I think I will have to start writing and scheduling now itself. 😉
    Vinitha recently posted…Of breaks and break-ups! #MondayMusings #MicroblogMondaysMy Profile

  13. Jayanthi says:

    Your Theme was something that did indeed need a bit of research but more importantly a keen interest in the topic. You fared pretty well. I am happy i found your blog.

    All the best planning for 2017

  14. Planning beforehand and crisp posts are good advices. Sometime, some year when I make up my mind to participate in this challenge, I think I will get the posts ready and scheduled 3 months in advance 😀
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…One gadget free afternoon… #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  15. Ankita says:

    Oh, it resonates with my experience of the A to Z Challenge. I found “write crisp,” the best advice in your post.

  16. First of all…kudos for the successful completion of the challenge (doing it second time is surely a commendable feat!!!). The nuggets you shared would surely be helpful for aspirants. I too decided to try my hand last year then my work commitments etc. etc. played spoilsport 🙁 (or these are just the blame shots, don’t know). Will surely take concurrence of your inputs and start afresh 🙂
    Manish Purohit recently posted…Chronicles of a Solitary Soul – Ubuntu . . . I am because You are !!!My Profile

  17. I agree with you..I enjoyed every bit of the A2Z challenge when I took part in it in 2014…there’s an infectious energy and we should do it atleast once…

  18. Sunila Vig says:

    Great wrap up Parul and I agree on all counts, next time round I have resolved to ONLY do the a to z if I have all or most posts written down. Was good to be part of your journey 🙂

  19. I agree with what you said Parul. I had a tough time since I had not scheduled my posts. This was my third year and yet I still goof up!
    Hope to do better next time.
    Thanks for your support.
    Inderpreet Kaur Uppal recently posted…#ATUW Bookreview A Thousand Unspoken Words by Paulami DuttaguptaMy Profile

  20. Mandy says:

    Great reflections post! I think you are correct that planning posts ahead of time can really help you get through the challenge and find ways to connect with other bloggers so that you aren’t so stressed about blogging each day. I blogged each day last year and compared to this year when I had blog posts scheduled, I feel like I was able to connect with more bloggers and remained, overall, less stressed. (I was still exhausted from all the blog hopping by week 4 though!)

    I didn’t participate in the twitter parties this year, but maybe I will next year. It seems a lot of people gained a lot of helpful insight and new friends from those parties. I wish I had received an email reminder or something about them. :-/

    Look forward to seeing how you handle A-Z 2017! It’s a fun challenge and I’m already looking forward to it! 🙂

    • Parul Thakur says:

      Thank you for stopping by!
      You are right – even I was exhausted hopping over other blogs but that’s the part of the deal. Isn’t it? Email reminders for twitter chats would be great 🙂

  21. Dashy says:

    I feel so incomplete not having participated in the challenge sob far, there is just so much I need to learn! But I’m glad that I was atleast able to read through some of the participating blogs during the month despite my busy schedule with daily classes. Hang on there, I’ll definitely be joining in the next year, no matter how busy I might be!
    Dashy recently posted…When I found my Best FriendMy Profile

  22. Bellybytes says:

    Yes not only do people leave meaningless comments but I also find that many bloggers have detailed posts yet they still get traffic so essentially content is key. There were some blogs I thought would be interesting but after a few posts I found that they were informative but tedious .
    But this was a very detailed and succinct wrap up of the experience. Thanks .

  23. There seemed to be a such a variety of creative themes on display this year, Parul. I’m glad you had a great experience.
    It’s easy to get caught up with trying to visit everyone and make meaningless comments. What I find is that most of the visitors don’t continue after the challenge too.
    Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Joy In Ordinary Moments #FridayReflections #FTSFMy Profile

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