Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Three Golden Rules for Surviving Blog Challenges

By Terri Rochenski

This year I decided to join in the A-Z blog challenge. It’s a big undertaking, not a quickie way to gain faithful followers. I learned a few things along the way – things that had I not done, I never would have succeeded.

Being prepared. 

As a stay-at-home mom, finding time to read and write is tough. Life itself often gets in the way, distracting me from deadlines that must be met. I realized the only way I would make it through this challenge would be to do things in advance. I’m ridiculously organized, so I made up a to-do list – preparing my mind I WAS going to succeed being #1.

Chose a theme.

I read this countless times, and decided since I’m such a neat / order freak this idea was perfect for me. I chose quotes & excerpts, then went on to create my own little widget to place at the beginning of each post letting visitors know what my challenge was all about. After this, I scoured my publisher & the world of fantasy books for titles that began with each letter of the alphabet.


Starting a month before the challenge began I dove into pre-blogging. Getting posts completed in advance took the stress of the challenge off my shoulders. Luckily, I was able to complete all 26 posts before the challenge even began, thus freeing up the entire month of April for … well, life!

And the month of April brought a LOT of life.

Yes, I visited blogs during the challenge – I even signed up to help ‘police’ the linky list of participants. On top of that, there was 20 feet of the front of my house being completely ripped open for a new entryway and front windows, spring break for daughter #1, 10 day vacation at my parent’s internet-less Pennsylvania homestead where I grew up, an ARC to read for my publisher, and awful, all-day-long morning sickness.  o_O

Will I do this or a similar challenge again? Depends. If I have a major deadline looming like I do right now for the completion of the 2nd book in my 2-book series contracted with J. Taylor Publishing, then I’d have to say NO. Or if child #3 turns out to be a ripping terror who doesn’t let me sit and breathe until 8 at night it’ll be NO.

But if the next challenge comes along when only “normal” life is looming, I’ll give it a go. I just won’t attempt it without following these golden rules!

How about you? Planner? Panster? What got you through your last challenge?

Terri Rochenski

About the Author: Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.


Timothy S. Brannan said...

Sage advice indeed!

If I were to do one thing different next year it would be to improve my scheduling.

I think I will have more posts ready to go prior to the challenge so I can work on responding to more people.

Even though I schedule some posts and I keep to a theme I do like to post something "organic" on the day of. Sometimes (and many times in this past A to Z) I changed my mind on what I was going to post.

Thanks for your post here!

The Other Side blog

Stephsco said...

The planning, theme, and scheduling is what got me through the A to Z the last two years! I don't think I would have been able to visit as many of the other blogs if I had to write a post each day in real time.

Laura S. said...

I chose a theme this year and it made planning my posts go much quicker and easier than the previous two years. I always write my posts ahead of time and pre-schedule them! Then all I have to do in April is visit, read, and comment on other blogs and respond to comments on mine. It's still a lot of work, but it's much more doable when my posts are already written and scheduled.

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

orneryswife said...

Good advice, indeed. I didn't choose a theme this year, as it was my first, but next year I am going to do a theme AND label my blog with the "genre" or whatever they called it on the link list. I did schedule posts a week in advance, which gave me time to fine tune them if I chose to add or take away. I changed my mind several times about what word I wanted to use for the theme of the day before I finally settled in on what to write. There are so many options!!

Anonymous said...

I prewrote and scheduled all my A to Z posts as well....worked a charm. You are a busy girl.

Anonymous said...

Good advice if you can pull it all off :)

Amy Jarecki said...

I did the A-Z challenge for the first time this year. I did all my posts ahead of time. It was a great lesson, as I never would have made it without being prepared!

Buttercup said...

I had a theme for this year and a theme picked out for next year. I was taking some pictures yesterday and I realized that I had just snapped "F" for next year. Planning ahead is going to make next year a lot easier.

Chuck said...

Great advice...sad part is I know to do that...I just have executed it for the last three challenges!!

Congrats on #3!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Terri .. I've had a theme each year .. but this year did preschedule most of the posts .. helped too ..

However getting out and meeting others while visiting regulars .. is something I need to work out ..

How the hosts cope - I've no idea - but it's such a great challenge ..

Cheers Hilary

Jemima Pett said...

I'm with you all the way on these. Despite starting my scheduling in January, I wasn't quite there as April 1st dawned, but I was waiting on my guests for N, S and Y, so all would be fine, wouldnt it??

Yes, of course it was, but it was my second AtoZ and I had a target to do loads of the blog list. Without that prep I wouldn't have got round as many blogs as I did, and I still think 700 in 30 days isnt as good as I should do. Yet my twitter time has disappeared and my Twitter followers must be thinking of unfollowing me!

And yes, you have to allow for Life. Fortunately I postponed the launch of my fifth book. Memo to self: don't even think of a new book after February or before June next year!

Next year it's haikus. But I still need to prepare the theme for those!

Jemima at Jemima's blog

Tina said...

Excellent post! That's not a generic shared your story, what worked for you, and you admitted some of the pitfalls. I love that sort of honesty! I wish you well with baby #3. I can't imagine writing when my kids were little...I barely have the time now and they're pretty independent teenagers...

Tina @ Life is Good

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Well I'm planning my next A to Z at the moment and will be sorting out the photo's next.

JoJo said...

I drafted and scheduled my posts in February, which helped free up a lot of time for me in April.

On a side note....hard to believe that not only is A-Z over, but the month of May has flown by as well.