Monday, July 18, 2016

April In July (#atozchallenge)

It’s July. Time for beaches, bar-b-ques and planning your A to Z posts!
Why so early you ask?

Blogging in the A to Z challenge takes time. If you are not used to blogging every day there is that, but even those of us that do blog everyday there is more time needed for this challenge. Especially to make it successful and more importantly fun.

So for me, July is the time I start planning my posts for next April.
I start off with a simple spreadsheet with letters A to Z going down the rows along with the date and days.  Sometimes having a particular letter on a particular day might influence me.  Like one year Z appeared on Saturday. Since I did a regular posting every Saturday about the comic book character Zatanna, I knew I was set.

Now for me I love to work with themes. I have been doing the A to Z Challenge since 2011 and been doing it with themes since 2012.  Themes give me focus and make me reach as a writer and blogger. Over the years I have done Games, Witches, Demons, Vampires and most recently Adventure.  For me a theme helps bring people back. I know there were several blogs I followed because of their interesting themes.  I want to choose a theme that first of all my regular readers will enjoy and then one that new readers will also find compelling and want to come back for more.  Since I am typing everything into a spreadsheet (a in truth I am using Google Sheets for this) I can actually develop a few themes at a time. Presently I have three I am working on.

I know there is the big theme reveal closer to April so I am kinda stealing my own thunder here, but the themes I am considering are “Undead” (like vampires, ghosts and the like), “OSR Games” (games of the old-school renaissance) and finally “Free Games” (games that you get for free).

Ok. I have my spreadsheet in place. I have an idea of my theme or two (or three).  What do I need to do now? Well I have nine months, give or take, to start writing my posts and gathering up what I need to make this all work.  Some of the posts of my themes almost write themselves.  Most don’t.  So I start to fill in the blanks to see what I have for each theme.  Some letters, Q, X, Y and Z I know will give me some issues, so I try to figure out what will go there first.
Well for Games and OSR I can use the game “X-plorers” and “Zfers” for X and Z respectively.  So that is a good start. For Undead I have “Zombie”, so not quite as good.

And...the search goes on. But you know what? That is OK since I still have some months yet.
A week or so later in July I am much closer to figuring out what I am going to do.

I know there is a big reveal in March, but I am going to give you a spoiler now.
I put down my first post for April 2017.  It’s for B and I picked “Basic Fantasy”.  I am going to focus on free games that you can download and play right away.
It is set now. I am committed. I just need 25 more posts! But now I know what I am going to do and a pretty good idea what the content of each post will be.   Come April I can concentrate on visiting all of your blogs now!

I say this summer spend a couple of extra minutes each day doing your April posts and make your April more enjoyable.  Sooner than you think 2017 will be here!

Tim Brannan is a blogger over at The Other Side a gaming and horror blog. He have been blogging since 2008 and been a participant in the A to Z Challenge since 2011.

He is also up for an ENnie Award (something like the Oscars of Gaming) for Best Blog and he would really like it if you voted for him. 
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".


  1. I think that's a good idea about start thinking about next year's A to Z.

    I may take a leaf out of your book and do the same.

  2. Never too soon to start preparing for the next challenge. Organization is key to the success of this challenge. Plus, if you pre-write your posts, you'll have more time to visit other pages.

    Jingle Jangle Jungle

  3. Good advice!

    I've voted for your blog.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  4. Wow! Talk about planning! Well done! I voted :)

  5. I thought I was a pre-preparer drafting my posts in January - you are running paces around me!

  6. I got caught short every year, including this one, so I am following your advice. Started last month with a theme and have about 1/3 of the letters' topics chosen already. I open up a new post, assign a title and save it in drafts.

  7. I wrote all my A to Z posts for this year right after last year's Challenge, from May through July. That gave me ample time to go back multiple times and edit them. Once July's Camp NaNo is over, I should probably get to work on writing the A to Z posts for my main blog.

  8. Very interesting that you mention this. I just decided on my theme last week.

  9. Thanks all. If I don't start getting ready now I will be hopeless come April! ;)

  10. You are so right! Last April I was scrambling for time and the challenge was more challenging than ever. I had no time to visit other bloggers... If I start planning now, the next challenge will be easy peasy lemon squeezy and I will have plenty of time to dive in into blogland.

  11. First year (2015) I totally winged it. Was a nightmare most days. This year I was more prepared but only ahead by 15 posts at the start so by the end I was chasing my tail, again. Have already started thinking about themes for next year but was planning on waiting till the autumn when there's less going on and more time. Might have to rethink that plan!

  12. I'm glad I'm not the only one who already has a spreadsheet going. :) Once I've drafted the posts they get highlighted in yellow; then when I've scheduled them in the blog, they go green. Because I try to fit my usually weekly features in, there are always a few that don't go green till the last moment, though. But I start drafting in October or so, when the dark nights come early.

  13. OMG...I just started on my idea list today! ��

  14. I start thinking of my April in May. I too create an A-Z list of whatever theme I want to potentially work on. Then I start filling in the gaps. By December, I decided on the final theme I want to go with and then start fleshing it out more. Usually around February I start to write the posts. At least that is what I did this year.

  15. Good idea. But why not make A to Z challenge into a weekly event. 26 Weeks 26 posts. That will give more time to write and visit.

  16. I am eagerly waiting for the 2017 competition !

  17. So, what's the schedule for 2017? If we're skipping Sundays, there are only enough days for A2Y.


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