Wow! What a wild ride the A to Z Challenge was this year? I tried to be super organized and get all my posts done before challenge began, and it still threw me for a loop. That’s all part of the challenge though. You prepare the best you can, then hang on for the ride.

Here are a few of my thoughts about how the A to Z Challenge went for me this year:

  • Have a theme. I’ve learned that it is easier for me to plan out my posts around a  theme. This year I shared my pictures of our trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2008, as well as some of the research I did for an upcoming book set on the islands. Having a theme helps me organize 26 posts and gives people a reason to come back to my blog throughout the month. I know that a good theme that teaches me something made me return to several blogs every day. Some of my favorites were: WriteOnSisters‘ 3,2,1 Blastoff To Stellar Writing theme, Samantha Bryant‘s discussion of Going Through The Change, Doreen McGettigan‘s discussion of the issues facing the homeless, my buddy Noelle Granger‘s tour through Maine, Byrdword‘s discussion of all things boating, Stepheny Houghtlin’s tour of Chicago, The Wordy Rose‘s discussion of a writing life, and Confessions of a Broccoli Addict‘s daily dose of poetry.
  • Start out strong. There are were over 1500 blogs participating in the challenge this year. That is far too many to visit all in one month, yet the purpose is to visit as many as you can. It’s exhausting. My advice is to use the excitement of the first week to fuel your visits. Make yourself visit 25 – 30 blogs a day for the first few days and try to maintain that momentum going forward. By the end of the month, you may only be visiting a few new blogs per day, but you will have visited a good chunk of the list.
  • People peter out. Lots of people start the A to Z Challenge and find they can’t keep up. That’s okay. It’s difficult to post 26 times in one month, and visit so many blogs at the same time. If that was you, give yourself a break.
  • Plan ahead and expect surprises. Write your posts at least a few days ahead because things will come up that will keep you away from your computer. Life happens. For instance, I started a new job in the middle of April. I did not see that coming, and consequently, was unprepared. My commenting fell way off and I was slow to respond to comments. I had to rejigger my expectations to include blogging in 10 minutes breaks throughout the day.
  • Keep it short and sweet. People want to be able to fly through a good number of posts every day of the challenge. They don’t want to read a 2,000 word post, no matter how well written. Figure out what you want to say, and say it in 300 words or so. You have 26 days; use them wisely. Spread out the things you want to say over the whole month.
  • Temper your expectations. If you sign up for the challenge thinking you are going to sell books, or gain tons of new blog followers, or keep most of the new followers that you do gain; I have some bad news. Probably not going to happen. Deal with it. Have fun, make some new blogger friends, and simply enjoy the ride.