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Friday, March 9, 2012

Not ready? No theme? Just signed up? This post is for you!

Hi and Welcome to the DE-STRESSING ZONE!
I’m Jenny Pearson, a co-host for the A to Z Challenge, and I’m here to share my de-stressing strategies with you.

I have lit some candles to set the tone for our de-stressing session.

* * *
Last year I signed up for the A to Z Challenge on April 1st - needless to say I had NO posts prepared.
The outcome: I learned I CAN write a post a day - for twenty-six days - and live to post about it.
HOW?

By following these simple and easy suggestions...
ENJOY THE PROCESS! This Challenge should not be a chore; it should be fun. 
DON’T STRESS ABOUT NOT BEING PREPARED.  So long as you make the effort, in April, to post daily (see schedule) that's all you need to be prepared for. Yes, having some structure to your thinking is good...but it has to work for YOU so it remains fun!
IF YOU HAVE A THEME - GREAT. Many do, but lots don’t - it’s also not a requirement.
SPONTANEITY CAN BE A THEME. It was mine last year and I loved it. Don’t be afraid of it - you might actually enjoy it! (and have fun with it too)
FOR SANITY’S SAKE - K.I.S.S. (keep it short & simple)  Attention spans vary; if you want readers to stick around keep an eye on your word count. Just remember, visitors to your blog are hopping around to many other blogs, during this Challenge, and will appreciate your effort to K.I.S.S.

MAKE TIME TO EAT, SLEEP AND VISIT OTHER BLOGS. Start with the blog right after yours - aim for five blogs a day. As to nutrition and sleep...without enough of both, you will fizzle out. (and that won't be fun, will it?)
FOR THE DURATION OF THE CHALLENGE DISABLE WORD VERIFICATION. It slows the commenting process down thereby discouraging comments from visiting bloggers. (I will have a detailed post about this topic over at Pearson Report shortly - stay tuned)
LAST, BUT SO IMPORTANT...HAVE FUN! (have you noticed "fun" is the theme of this post)
I hope you are feeling the wonderful effects of our de-stressing session.
Now...take a deep breath in and slowly exhale - we are done! 
Happy Blogging!
 Jenny
If you have any questions, about any of these suggestions, please don’t hesitate to ask for more information! Visit the FAQ section as well.

Take the time to check out these related posts:

47 comments:

  1. Great post and reassuring to those who are not prepared. Loved the K.I.S.S. process very oringinal.

    Yvonne.

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  2. This is terrific advice, not only for the challenge but everyday blogging beyond the challenge.
    Readability is something that attracts me to new blogs, long and over inflated will often have me skipping to the next one.
    And definitely agree about the disabling of captchas

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  3. Thanks Yvonne -it's so sweet of you to keep up with all the goings on over here...you are so inspiring and very encouraging.

    I remember last year, being a late arrival to the party - but I just loved the energy and fun...so my focus here was to highlight the importance of just enjoying this Challenge and having fun!

    Thank you for stopping by!
    Jenny

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  4. Hi Mynx - how very cool of you to drop by! I loved having you as a guest over at Pearson Report dealing with these very issues, not so long ago.

    Since my early blogging days I remember the helping hand you gave me and the sound advice...I still follow it too! And I K.I.S.S. everything - it works.

    Thanks for stopping by, Mynx - it means a lot!
    Jenny

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  5. Just signed up. I'm terrified.

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  6. Some great tips :D I think a lot of people forget the fun part once they reach their first awkward letter, and it all goes downhill from there. I'm going to be doing my best to KISS this year too; I have a habit to rambling on...

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  7. Hi Jenny and Lee .. so true - and I did enjoy last year so much more than I thought .. I didn't stress, just did what I could, visited blogs I related to .. and didn't fuss.

    Cheers Hilary

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  8. Fun, short, and no word verification!

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  9. That whole short bit is my downfall. I use a lot of words. Always.

    I'm determined this year though : )

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  10. kiss kiss kiss, and now word verifications is the way to go! (now I need to go sniff some candles)

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  11. Yes, I'm feeling the wonderful effects of this de-stressing session, so thanks for posting it and mentioning that bit on the word verification systems. I thought about including it in one of my video challenge submissions, but haven't got around to doing that.

    My posts tend to be long but I've set a maximum word count that I'm going to try to stick to during the A to Z Challenge...with the key word here being TRY. I'm making no guarantees.

    You sure know how to help everyone keep the FUN of it all in the forefront, which is great, because that is what it's all about.

    The Madlab Post

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  12. Great advice! I may have troble with kiss though.

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  13. Great de-stressing tips! I love the emphasis on "fun"... and the KISS concept...

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  14. J.W. Alden - Congrats on signing up! That’s the first big hurdle.
    Now what you need to do is untangle yourself from the grip of “terrified” and spray yourself with a protective coating of “fun” and just enjoy this Challenge!

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    Jamie Gibbs - How true, the first difficult moment causes many a blogger to run for the hills; even the difficult letters are less daunting when stripped of their ominous power by using the KISS approach.
    I had great fun with X, Y, Z…

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    Anna Smith - Hi Anna, thanks for dropping by and leaving a smile behind...next to KISS a smile goes a long way in my book! :)

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    Hilary Melton-Butcher - Hey there, Hilary, so glad you stopped by. Not stressing is key!
    You’re right on the money when you say, “just did what I could…”; that is all we should ask of ourselves. Just do what we can!! Great added advice!!

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    Alex J. Cavanaugh - Word count...6...Value...priceless!
    Even comments fall under the KISS umbrella! :)

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  15. Joyce - I’m smiling because your comment was definitely a KISS success!! :)
    What I try to do with my blog is think hot, sweaty, summer; minimal layers of clothing; lots of sunscreen.
    Layers = Words.
    Sunscreen = Content, Structure and Layout.

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    baygirl32 - One can’t emphasis the importance of KISS enough! Word Verification should definitely fall under the same umbrella; making it easy for a blogger to comment is so important!
    (did you use a candlesnuffer too?) :)

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    Nicole - sweet Nicole! You are just the best; always leaving such kind words! Thank you!
    By the way...you rock with the video making!!

    As to word count...it’s a tricky one to add into a post as it really is a personal thing. For me...I top my blog posts at 750 wc, most are in around 500; on rare occasion, where necessary I will go over...but rarely. (this post is 395)
    I left my formula in Joyce’s comment, above, take a peek!

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    Jeremy - I’m smiling...everyone has trouble with KISS!
    It takes practice, but it’s an amazing source of power once its mastered.

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    MISH - Thank you! I had “fun” employing the KISS concept for this post; it was challenging, but very rewarding when I read all these wonderful comments.

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  16. I am new to A to Z blogging as well and while I was excited when I signed up, I quickly realized how daunting 26 days seems. I have my starting point and I have decided to just go with it and hope the posts aren't too painful.

    Officially destressed. Great post.

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  17. Sabrina A. Fish - First off...welcome to the A to Z Challenge. Even though you think 26 days is “daunting” you will quickly realize you find your groove after the first couple of letters.

    Having a starting point is great; have fun with your posts and don’t worry about them! Remember...fun, fun, fun and you’re set to go. Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Keep it short and simple is great advice.

    And I hope folks listen about the word verification problem. That thing drives me nuts (and drives me away from leaving comments).

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  19. Not only was your post filled with great advice, it was a good example of how a good post should be.

    Lee

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  20. Thanks for this very informative post I really learned something new. So do we actually go to the blog list, start at #1 do about five then proceed the next day with the next 5 blogs?

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  21. Patricia Stoltey - Thanks for dropping by!
    Often it’s new bloggers with Word Verification activated, as it is must be the default setting. (or so it appears - I am just doing a bit on WV and with all the changes at Blogger I want to make sure my info is correct)
    Newbies don’t change WV right away because of the “unknown” elements lurking in cyberspace! (aka spammers) I can relate, because I did it too when I first started blogging, but you learn really quickly how much of a hinderance it is for bloggers wishing to comment.

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    Arlee Bird - aka Leader of the A to Z Team. Hi Lee! Thanks for the kudos. I’m glad you liked this piece - given how close we are to April I wanted bloggers (not quite ready) to know the importance of having FUN and not stressing about themes or prewritten posts...this should be a fun time for everyone!

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  22. Debra Harris-Johnson - The way we (the team) would encourage bloggers to visit other blogs, during this challenge, is to go to their own sign-in number and start with the blog immediately following their own.
    Try to visit five blogs per posting day and continue with the next five in sequence on each subsequent day.
    This way you will have visited 130 blogs during the Challenge. Then after it’s over, as time permits, you can continue visiting blogs on the list!

    Of course, one could visit more than five, but we feel this is a number that most bloggers could handle without adding pressure or stress to their Challenge days and still have fun!

    It also means all blogs will be visited by someone, rather than all bloggers starting at number one!

    I hope that help explain thing a bit better, Debra!
    Cheers, Jenny.

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  23. I love that K.I.S.S is such a universal truth. I cannot wait to start this challenge. Thanks for the tips!!

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  24. I am sort of running a trial run though March to get into the mind set. So far I have scared most of my follows away. I'm sure that was not meant to happen.

    I have never done this A to Z before and don't have a clue how it is meant to work so am making up my own rules as I go along. I have got all the way to H so far and it has been worth it as I now have a method that suits me......

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  25. Thanks for this post. I'm feeling much less stressed now. This is my first A to Z, and I'm looking forward to it.

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  26. Lots of good advice. I hope I find time to visit everyone but it's not going to be easy this year.

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  27. Thanks for this great post. I can't wait for the A to Z Challenge to start! :D

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  28. Alicia A - Thanks for stopping by. As hard as it sometimes is I really try to K.I.S.S. and post quick...before I change my mind!
    I think everyone struggles with this concept.

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    Rob Z Tobor - I just popped over to your site...wow, double duty!
    Will you have enough energy left for the Challenge? :)
    While there are no “rules” we do have guidelines...if you haven’t done so already check out the FAQ section (at the top) it outlines some of them, and has some very useful information.

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    Tia Bach - I’m glad this post lessened your stress! That makes me happy! Congratulation on joining the A to Z Challenge - you will have fun if you follow these simple suggestions...it really is all about having fun!

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    Susan Gourley/Kelley - Take small bites...make it easy on yourself, Susan; start with the blog right after yours on the sign-up list and pace yourself...I know you’ll do it if that’s your mission!!

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  29. Hi dear. This photo is very beautiful : ).

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  30. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, Jenny! I'm looking forward with anticipation to the challenge...

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  31. Seems I am not alone in agreeing wholeheartedly with KISS, and no captchas!

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  32. I don't have a theme for my challenge, but it matches my blogs. I thought about doing a theme this year, but I looked back over the posts I did last year and I am still pleased with how I just came up with what I did on short notice.

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  33. abercrombie and fitch - Thank you!

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    Jarm Del Boccio - You are very welcome! I’m glad my words were encouraging. A is for Anticipation!! You are already set to go with such a great attitude!

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    Botanist - You and I have been on the same page all along!! Nothing beats the power of like minded thinking! Glad you could stop by and share your thoughts.

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    Ruth - I’m so with you, Ruth on this one...I’m a wee bit jealous! I loved the way the ideas just came to me, in the moment, last year. Sometimes it was a hard, but that was part of the fun...I never knew what to expect! So...you’ll be doing the “spontaneity” bit for the two of us, okay? I’m counting on you, pal! :)

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  34. Great advice! I appreciate K.I.S.S. I can be wordy, so this is something I have to remind myself of.

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  35. Hi Shannon - so good of you to drop by - thank you!
    K.I.S.S. is my blogging challenge - I make a game of it by seeing how much I can pare down before it turns into indecipherable drivel; there is a fine line I've discovered! :)

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  36. Jackie...I seemed to have missed replying back to your comment - gets hard to keep track of who I've replied to. Sorry about that!
    Thanks for dropping by and looking over my suggestions for having "fun" with this great Challenge.
    I'm looking forward to it too, and to reading all the incredible posts that will out there, yours included.

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  37. As a newbie to the A to Z game I've found this advice very helpful - thank you!

    I have a bad habit of going on a bit too much in my posts, so I will definitely take on board the suggestion of keeping it short.

    Also, looking forward to finding out how to turn off the annoying verification system.

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  38. Great post. Lots of helpful information. Thanks for taking the time to share this with all the newbies to the challenge (myself included).

    Susanne
    PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER

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  39. Thanks, Jenny, for the tips. This will be my first year for the challenge but since I already blog every day, I just have to get ready for those tougher letters out there...lol

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  40. I'm into my second straight month of NaBloPoMO. I'm so excited to try A-Z, I like having that discipline and love love love having Sundays off!

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  41. RidetoFight - Welcome aboard “newbie” - you will totally love being part of the A to Z Challenge.
    Many of us “go on too much” so you are in good company :) don’t stress about it. Being aware of word count is always a good thing - but the main focus is on this being FUN!
    My word verification post is almost done - I’ll let you know when it’s posted.

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    Susanne Drazic - Thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the information helpful! We aim to please! :)

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    Donna Martin - Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. Sounds like you are a step ahead with your daily blogging. Don’t let the so-called tougher letters worry you...you’ll be surprised by what you come up with - I know, I sure was with mine last year! :)

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    Leslie - Thanks for dropping by. Looks like you are busy! You will really enjoy the A to Z, not only because it’s fun, but you get to visit some amazing blogs. Yes, Sundays off are right up my alley too!! Enjoy April!

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  42. Nicely done, Jen. Really good advice. I'm hoping most of the participants take your advice about the word verification. The other one I want is for them to reveal their email when they leave comments. I respond to comments by email, and when I have to go detective and look all over the place...I sometimes give up...
    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

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  43. I thought about getting all frazzled and stressy, and then I decided there'd be plenty of time for that in April. If I worry too much now, by the time the 1st rolls around I'm going to be a wretched puddle of angst, so I'm pulling a Scarlett O'Hara -- "after all, tomorrow is another day."

    Come April 1st, though, I'll be dashing back to read your post again!

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  44. Yes it is all a fantasy

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  45. Officially relaxed and panic-free albeit still unprepared. :) Now I think I will finally take the plunge and sign up!

    Shirletta @ShirleyIsNotMyName

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  46. Great advice! This is my second year and Im quite organised but I'll probably get stressed right in the middle of the month.

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