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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Share and Advise

It's nearly here. Sign up time. I know a lot of veteran A to Z participants will be putting their names on that list next Monday. I hope you'll announce it and link from your own blog to this blog on that happy day. But there will be people new to this great event and they could benefit from some advice.

The first year I participated in A to Z, I had only been actively blogging for a few months and trying to grow my audience. I had lots of doubts going into that first year. I was busy in my personal life. I was teaching full time and my daughter was still in high school playing softball which meant attending games two or three times per week. Our firewall at work didn't allow access to blogs so I couldn't do A to Z work even during my lunch break.

I also didn't realize how important it was for my sanity to schedule my posts ahead of time. Or how much easier it would be to create my posts if I had chosen a theme. By the time April ended that first year, I felt frazzled and like I'd failed the challenge even though I managed to post every day. For a short while there, I hated blogging. Only my stubborn determination to never quit something I started kept me going until the end. I ended up getting no writing done on my work in progress and visiting only a very few bloggers every day.

My second and third years went much better as I followed the advice of other bloggers. Things like settling on a theme, scheduling posts ahead of time, and keeping posts short. Though still a challenge, A to Z was fun instead of agonizing. Last year I took on the responsibility of being a minion for Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and this year I joined the A to Z team to help everyone else have fun. I couldn't have arrived at this point if not for the advise shared by others.

So when you shout out to the world that you've taken on the Challenge, share some advice for the newbies to this April tradition. Tell them what helps you make it through the Challenge. Even something very simple, like 12 cups of coffee per day, may be the thing that helps someone else enjoy April as much as you do.

Are you ready with some advise? Keeping that theme a deep secret until the reveal post? How many years does this make for you in the A to Z?

59 comments:

  1. Thanks Susan, before we know it next Monday will be here and we commit ... for me I think this year will be the 3rd. Having a theme helps. How short is short?

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    1. Short to me is less than 200 but I think between 100 and 300 hundred works for most people.

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  2. Wow! This is coming around quickly. I have been planning my blog posts for this April, but haven't written any yet.
    Last year was my first go. I didn't even know about the A-Z until the night before it began, but decided to jump in and have a go. And I got through it successfully, doing a post each day! This year I plan to get ahead and have them ready. :-)

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    1. Wow, I'm impressed with your success last year. Let us know how this year goes when you plan ahead.

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  3. This will be my second year also (fictionzeal.com). I learned a lot last year that I want to rectify this time. I have a theme in mind this year. My posts were rather scattered for 2014. Also I want to sign up a little sooner; I think I was in the 2000~ range last year. :)

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    1. Having a theme will make a difference. It really helped me after that first crazy year.

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  4. This will be my fourth year! Looking forward to it!

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  5. My first year, which was the very first year of the Challenge, I didn't have a theme, and it was tough. Now I plan months in advance and I'm ready.
    You were an awesome Minion and now an awesome Co-Host!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Alex. I learned after my first year to plan ahead.

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  6. Thanks, Susan, must join in, and the Reading day too!

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  7. Glad to hear the sign ups are coming soon! Best advise, like you had gotten and given, is to get the posts done ahead of April 1st and to keep them simple and short. Nothing worse for me than getting on some blogs to check them out and seeing a long blog post. Made me want to move on to another blog.

    betty

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    1. LOL, I feel the same way when I see a really long post but I resist skipping it.

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  8. I think it is my 3rd doing it this year. Get them done ahead of time and then just enjoy the ride. The cat is always ahead so no big deal for him

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  9. It will be Year Three for me and I am going to start composing my posts now. Theme reveal will be on Day 1.

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    1. Sounds like a plan though there will be a theme reveal blog hop if you want to participate in that.

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  10. I failed last year due to lack of planning and lack of theme. This year I am ready to go well in advance with a theme and posts mostly ready to go. I am keeping it short and simple as well. I have learned my lessons well.

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    1. Good plan, Melissa. I'm sure it will work out for you this year.

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  11. I joined last year to push me back to writing. Didn't have a theme, just posted randomly and survived. I want to do it again. I have themes in mind, but still can't decide.

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    1. I decided on my theme early this year. Last year I outlined two different themes and then went with one of them.

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  12. Don't think I could do 12 cups of coffee in a day, but preparing A to Z posts prior to April is the best way to go. I've got my theme but will wait until reveal day to let it be publicly known.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    Replies
    1. You do lead the way, mighty Challenge creator.

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  13. This will be my second year, and I'm glad I have a little experience now because I've got two blogs to enter this year instead of just one. I have a theme for only one of them though.

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    1. Congrats on accepting a double challenge. Good on you.

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  14. This is my third year! I have my theme and have started some writing. My advice to everyone is to go visit other blogs. That is the best part of the challenge!!

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    Replies
    1. Perfect advice, Paula. I meet so many wonderful bloggers every April.

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  15. At first I read the first sentenced as "It's here." And I got all excited. I even clicked the link above. Then my happiness deflated. Shucks! You mean I still have to wait to sign up? ;)

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    1. Only a few more days, Chrys. I know you'll have your posts all planned out.

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  16. Pre-posting is where it's at! I usually do a 50/50 split between preposted and written the night before. Helps keep the Challenge interesting that way :)
    Totally don't have a theme yet.. Gotta figure that out..

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    Replies
    1. That's kind of what I did my second year but I had trouble keeping up.

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  17. This is my 5th A to Z challenge (only missed one.... yay!) and I LOVE it!!
    Pre-posting is the way to go!
    I have a theme... will wait until the official reveal day...

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  18. I am totally going to miss doing A to Z this year. If I could manage it around a newborn...and the rest of life, I totally would. Regardless, I'll be cheering on everyone who's playing along.

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    1. You are going to have your hands full for real. I know you'll be back.

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  19. I jumped right in my first year with 3 blogs and it was mildly insane for me! This will be my 4th year and I haven't decided yet if I'm doing 2 of my blogs or just one like I did last year. Either way, I have a theme and topics already, altho so far it looks like I don't know my alphabet! So I need to figure out how to work my post titles so I don't totally get judged.

    Planning ahead is #1 piece of advice from me.

    Lisa @...Slow & Steady
    Lisa @ Tales from the Love Shaque

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    1. Two blogs is very brave. I double check my alphabet so I don't mess it up.

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  20. *dancing* I'm so excited! But I cant emphasise enough how much help it is to schedule your posts in advance. Last year I was a minion to the amazing Damyanti, and it was really sad to see so many people say "I can't complete, because x has happened" and have to add them to the 'delete' list. I know a few people struggled on, posting when they could, but it couldnt have been so much fun for them.
    The other thing - if anything technical happens to your blog (like hacker attacks) there's a good chance that your blogs will post even if you are locked out of your own blog. Been there, done that!
    Get scheduling (I've got five done and three drafted, in need of pics and detail etc) - at ten a month it's easy!

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    Replies
    1. Kudos to you for being really ahead. It is sad when someone drops out. Hopefully they try again.

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  21. Hello there. Last year was a first for me so this will be my second year. I did have a kind of theme but I scheduled my posts in advance, which was a real helper in my already stressful life. I even signed up to do the road trip. Started out well, but got deflated along the way as so many of the blogs that signed up for the challenge either no longer existed or they didn't actually have any posts at all for the challenge - they just added their blogs for promotional purposes. I also got a few shockers with adult content blogs that were not noted as such. Overall, I enjoyed the experience and will probably take part again if I can settle on a theme. Thanks to the A-Z Team for all the hard work they put in for this challenge!
    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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    1. Hopefully, there won't be any shockers in this years hop. And hope you figure out that theme.

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  22. This will be my first time doing the challenge. I am looking forward to it. I have been working on all my posts for about a month now. I have my theme too. I tend to write all my posts down first in a notebook, that way I can take the notebook with me to write while waiting at dr. appointments, when an idea comes up, etc.

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    1. Clever idea for making sure you get all those ideas down. I jot them in my planner to keep them straight.

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  23. This is my year #4! I'm very excited. I started mulling things over in May of last year. I played with several ideas. I think I'm going to go with a post aimed more at my fellow writers who face the conundrum of making a "character sketch sheet" for... their settings! (Since so many agents now say they are looking for a setting that feels like a character.)

    I have an outline for each letter so far. My theme reveal introduction post is almost done. I'll be filling in the blanks next month, and editing it in early March. That leaves time to post in advance, which means I'll have all of April to go visiting, commenting, and new-friend-making!

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    1. That's exactly how I like to do it. Have the posts ready so all I have to do is visit.

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  24. I've announcedmy theme and posted a list of possible topics if anyone needs an idea. I was overwhelmed my first year, so the following year I tried to reduce commenting/visiting/replying to bite-size pieces. First I replied to comments (and kept it as brief as possible). Then I visited those people (again keeping comments brief). Then I visited 3 new blogs per day.

    If I had more time, I visited as many new blogs as possible, but with a full-time job that can be daunting. The main thing is to not go crazy! This is supposed to be fun, and if you don't get to reply or visit for a day or two, the world won't end. Once in a while, I got stuck for a post and simply used a quote or picture for the day. That's OK too!

    I've met so many great people and discovered so many cool blogs through the A to Z. I'm really looking forward to it again this year.

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    1. Very important point. Don't go crazy. Have fun and only do what you can.

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  25. This will be my 4th year to participate in the Challenge. Can't wait! My most fun time. And I've already been telling everyone that my theme this year is "Musical Memories". I'll be sharing where a song or singer/group transports me back to in detail.

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  26. This is my first year participating, and the comments here make it seem like such a nice community. I really appreciate those of you talking about how you failed—this makes me less afraid to try. Also, I could totally do 12 cups of coffee in a day! Looking forward to this!

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  27. Heading into year 4! I can't believe it, either. Bring on that coffee. We're all going to need it.

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  28. I am sorry what were we talking about? lol. It's going to be a great experience...

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  29. I can't wait! This will be my second year. Last year I had a blast and met so many awesome bloggers. I did not do a theme last year and was actually quite happy with the way it turned out; however this year I will be doing a theme. My best advice: prepare ahead of time and schedule your posts. Truth be told, I've already scheduled A through R. I want to spend all my time visiting other blogs, not working on my posts. Getting excited. April 1 will be here before we know it. Now if I can just get my taxes done ahead of time...

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  31. I've participated in three A to Z's, and hope this will be my fourth (providing my computer cooperates). I just told Lee how left out I felt last year. Thanks for the great tips, and congrats on being a co-host, Susan!

    Julie

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  32. I'm, ready to go and am sending out a lot of Tweets this week and sending a FB post to all my writers groups.

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  33. Hi Arlee, Alex, Susan and the team,
    Indeed this is an advance opening. As Alex said, the list is fast growing. Almost nearing two hundred on half of the first day. As Arlee expressed I am sure it will cross 1000 above in the first week itself.
    Indeed the new badge is a fitting tribute to Tina the departed soul. Hey, yet another active member is missing in the team list! Yes, I mean Damayanti! Wish you all a great participation :-) -Phil

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    1. Yes, we miss Damyanti. Hopefully she'll be able to come back in the next year or so.

      Arlee Bird
      A to Z Challenge Co-host
      Tossing It Out

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  34. This is my second yesr, I'm excited. I made it to the end Last year. Couldn't stop patting myself on the back:)

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