Today I'm very pleased to have Shannon Lawrence of The Warrior Muse as my guest. Some of you may have run across Shannon's blog during the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge of 2011. Many more of you have been visited by Shannon in the aftermath of the Challenge as she and Tina from Life is Good embark upon there Post Challenge Challenge. Shannon is here to tell us about her experience with the A to Z Challenge.
When I first heard about the A to Z Challenge I was talking to myself, blog-ally speaking, because I hadn’t yet told anyone I even had a blog. I wanted to feel my way through to see what I would post about first. I knew I wanted to write about writing, but what, specifically, would I write about it? The A to Z helped me work through this issue by having a prompt each day, so all I had to do was think of something relating to writing that fell under that day’s letter.
I hovered over the mouse button for quite awhile before I finally made the decision to go for it and sign up. My heart was pounding, palms sweaty. I wasn’t sure I was ready to stick my name up on a list where hundreds of people could see it and possibly venture to my blog. Ultimately, I decided to suck it up and do it, thus creating a kind of trial by fire. I’d overcome my nerves the year before by attending my first writer’s conference, and it had opened so many doors, so why not try this? No one I knew in real life had to know if things went awry, right?
Before the challenge, I only read a couple of blogs, and only very occasionally. Once I took that plunge into the challenge, though, I discovered that it wasn’t just about reading and writing blogs, but about this wonderful, accepting community that has formed in the blogosphere. I hadn’t come close to imagining the scope of this community and what the challenge would bring to it.
On the writing end of the challenge, I gained discipline relating to sitting down each day to make a post. I brainstormed ideas so I would have a partial list on those harried days where sitting down and concentrating on writing was tricky. I was so delighted when people began expressing interest in what I had to say, commenting, following the blog, etc. I hadn’t realized how much of a dialog I could have going with other bloggers. This grew even more when I began trying to visit all of the other blogs. I wanted to explore, discover blogs I liked and pay it forward a bit by commenting on their blogs when I had something to say.
However, when the challenge ended, I hadn’t made much of a dent in the list of bloggers. I knew there were still plenty of blogs I’d like to see, so I kept going if I had a bit of free time. I wasn’t the only one who felt that the challenge couldn’t really be done until the list was complete. Tina, of Life is Good, and I discovered that we were both attempting the same thing, so she suggested we make it a new challenge. At first it was just the two of us, but when we recognized that other people felt the same we decided to open it up and see if anyone else would be interested in making it a challenge. Thus, the A to Z Visitors Challenge was born. It isn’t a post challenge, but a visiting one where you make your own rules as to your pace and whether you choose to leave comments or not.
Over 40 fellow bloggers have signed up at this time, and we’ve gained a co-host in Julie Flanders of What Else is Possible. It takes time, but I find it’s worth it. I’m definitely glad that I’ve continued, as I’m finding so many valuable and entertaining blogs that I would have missed out on otherwise.
I’m still tweaking my blog, but I learned a lot during the challenge. Not having been active before, I hadn’t been exposed to many different types of blogs. The challenge taught me about blog etiquette, exposed me to different ideas and helped me to make connections. It also helped me find my blogging voice. For that, and more, I’m grateful. You can bet I’ll be there when signup opens next year! Where else is it so easy to connect with others and learn a few things along the way?
Thanks, Shannon, for visiting today. Don't forget readers that you can still go to Shannon's blog to add your link to the list for the Post Challenge Challenge.