The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Warrior Speaks: A Guest Post from Shannon Lawrence

My Photo           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.



  1. I thought I was nuts after I signed up, but I learned tons about blogging AND met a lot of fun blogging friends.

  2. How brave, joining the A to Z challenge so soon after starting to blog. It was my first blog challenge too. You're so right about the commenting aspect of the challenge. I'd anticipated the trials of having to post every day but I had totally not appreciated the about of time I would need to set aside just for commenting. And the blogging community ARE lovely, aren't they!

  3. She and Tina have done an amazing job visiting everyone!

  4. I have done 2 A to Z challenges and enjoyed both equally. have made many friends along the way, also I enjoyed the music blogfest Arlee arranged that was great also.
    I have much to be grateful for these blogfest.

    Enjoyed your write very much.
    Have a good day.

  5. Shannon you echo so many of my own feelings about the challenge. A big thanks goes back to Arlee, Alex, and all for hosting it.
    Pam at 2 Encourage

  6. Ok, help me here. I don't really know what the A to Z challenge is. But I am very curious. Thanks.

  7. Ah maybe someday. But I'm gonna be a little busy for awhile!
    Love Di ♥

  8. The A-Z Challenge was fun - and more difficult than I'd imagined, in many ways. I'm glad Lee hosted it (thank you!), and super glad Shannon is hosting the re-visit because there were so many great blogs *I* wanted to get to, and didn't, during that time.

    Taking chances always pays off, IMO, sometimes in wonderful and unexpected ways. Kudos to you both.

  9. Hi Lee and Shannon .. love your phrase "accepting community" - there's certainly lots of that .. and so many wonderful new directions and places to visit and learn about.

    I admire you for getting together and visit the others .. I have the list! - and perhaps as time goes on .. I'll visit the others ..

    Just Lee's and the other hosts' organisation is what's great .. then everyone is so generous .. and we learn so much about blogging and about ourselves.

    Cheers Shannon and Tina .. enjoy the A - Z follow-on fest ...

    Happy rest of the week .. Hilary

  10. I felt the same after the challenge and wanted to visit all 1200+ blogs by the end of the year.

    I also jumped into blogging around the beginning of the a-z challenge. It certainly had me hit the ground running.

  11. Thank you Shannon for your guest post today and thank you to all who are leaving comments.

    Rebecca and anyone else who wants to know more about what the A to Z Challenge is, if you click on the A to Z Badge at the top right in my sidebar you should be taken to a post that explains the whole thing. Let me know if I can answer any questions.


  12. I also barely made a dent in visiting all the blogs, but I enjoyed every minute of the A to Z Challenge, and look forward to next year's. (I hope there's one planned...? *batting eyelashes*)

    Now off to visit your blog.

  13. How cool that you are doing this Shannon! I tried my best to visit as many blogs during the challenge as I could ...hmmm might have to join you in you quest!
    Blessings, Joanne

  14. That's really awesome! I don't blog daily so I've never joined the challenge - instead I cheer heartily from the sidelines! - but I've met a ton of great people through Lee's Challenge :)

  15. Lee, thank you so much for the opportunity to guest post on Tossing it Out!

    Donna, I thought I was crazy, too.

    Rosalind, the blogging community is definitely wonderful.

    Alex, I've seen you out and about in comments all over the place!

    Yvonne, two! It really is a great challenge.

    Pam, definite thanks are due to all of the bloggers who hosted the challenge!

    Rebecca, it's a challenge Arlee (and others) host in April of each year where you try to post every week day in order of the alphabet (Apr. 1 = A, Apr. 2 = B, etc.). It's a great way to get yourself posting.

  16. Diana, totally understandable, but if you ever have the time it's fun!

    Beverly, such an apt statement about taking chances. Everyone should challenge themselves in some way regularly.

    Hilary, I agree about the generosity and organization.

    Wordituk, no doubt! Nothing will get you started like the challenge.

    Julia, I certainly do hope there'll be another, but I'm pretty sure there will.

    Joanne, I'd love to see you join!

    Jemi, cheering everyone is much appreciated, too.

  17. Shannon, you really jumped into the blogging world- both feet in the fire. Congrats! Loved hearing about your journey. Heading over to your blog now! And, Arlee Bird, thanks for hosting the guest blog. And you're right! Building a foundation is a better term!

  18. Kudos to her and everyone participating in the continuing challenge. If I had more time, I'd jump on board.

  19. What a cool idea to visit all the A to Z Challenge participants. I also learn so much from visiting other blogs. Good luck with this challenge!


  20. Great post, Shannon! I totally agree with you on the A-Z Challenge, and laughed about your sweaty palms as I was the same way when I signed up. I hovered over the mouse for the longest time! But, it turned out to be the smartest decision I've made blogging, such a wonderful experience. Thanks for the shout-out and for having me as a co-host with you and Tina!

    Thanks for sharing Shannon's post with us, Lee!

  21. I wasn't able to participate, but I think everyone had a great time with the A-Z challenge.

  22. i loved the A to Z chakkenge though i did it the easy way

  23. Samantha, I figure now there's no better way to do it!

    Donna, thanks!

    Ana, thank you!

    Julie, thanks for co-hosting with us! Glad I wasn't the only one to be so nervous about signing up, haha!

    Carol, it was definitely fun. Maybe this coming year?

    Becca, I'm not positive there is an easy way!

  24. Shannon, you did a great job with this post and I thank you for joining us to tell your story.

    As always, the comments were great. A big thank you to all who have visited so far.


  25. The A to Z Challenge was a great experience for me, and I also joined shortly after I started blogging. Lee, thanks for the gift that keeps on giving, and Shannon thanks for hosting the re-visit! Julie

  26. I like your Pay It Forward comment. It's something I try to do with my blogging though I never realised how much of my time it would consume. LOL! I love my blog and like you I enjoy the challenge of composing the posts and presenting them in interesting and lively ways and I enjoyed the A-Z challenge and I'm pleased that others have got so much out of it as well. :O)

  27. Hey Shannon, nicely done! I admire your honesty in sharing your hesitation to join. I'm really enjoying taking this crazy ride with you!
    Tina @ Life is Good

  28. Lee, thank you!

    Julie, I didn't realize you'd just started, too!

    Madeleine, I enjoy being able to pay it forward, for sure. It's great that you enjoy the process, as do I.

    Tina, thanks for bringing me along on the crazy ride!

  29. I've been sitting on the sidelines for these challenges. I'm so over the top full with this next book that I don't feel I can take on another commitment. Still it does look tempting. Hmmm. Maybe I'll talk myself into it.

  30. the a-z challenge was my first, too (and only one, so far. lol). i had a lot of fun doing it (challenging, too since it falls during summer time on my part of the world!) and hope i can join again next year. :)

    love what you and Julie are doing! will check it out. :)

  31. Clee, if you can't participate this time, there's always next!

    Mymy, now that I've seen what summer is like, I can definitely see how this challenge would have been hard during summer!

  32. I love the A to Z Visitors Challenge. I like that you can take it at your own pace too.

  33. 'The challenge taught me about blog etiquette, exposed me to different ideas and helped me to make connections.'

    I love this. Especially the part about 'blog etiquette.' Would that there were an Emily Post of blogging. (Get it, Emily ... never mind.)

  34. Great comments, great guest post, and a whole bunch of great bloggers--what more could I ask for!

    Thanks to everyone for making Shannon's post a big success and thank you Shannon for being here.


  35. I didn't visit anywhere near as many blogs as I would liked to have. I think someone suggested breaking it down into smaller numbers. For example, visiting the next hundred blogs after you.

  36. Lynda, I'm glad to hear it!

    Suze, haha! Too bad, though. It would be easier to know what was a no-no.

    Ellie, I believe I remember seeing that suggestion. It's a good one.

    Lee, it was a pleasure being here!

  37. Well done Shannon! Not sure I could sign up to visit all over 1000 of the blogs that were on the initial list but I am sure I could do all the ones who finished it! I think that linky is on Lee's page - I remember adding myself to it.
    I too found the A-Z Challenge a real opener as a writer and blogger. When it was finished I went on to do an A-Z Food.
    I don't think I've yet to find a single blogging topic - perhaps because I use my blog more as a website than a blog - perhaps if I built a website and used the blog as an extension I'd be more topic focussed, but I doubt it! Though I do seem drawn to write about food!

  38. Alison -- Food is a logical topic since most of us have some level of interest in food. When I get together with family, at some point the conversation always turns to food.


  39. Oops! Sorry I didn't mean to delete this comment so here it is:

    Elizabeth West has left a new comment on your post "The Warrior Speaks: A Guest Post from Shannon La...":

    Heh, awesome. One thing the A-Z Challenge helped me with was looking at other blogs and seeing what grabbed me and what didn't. I found that I lost my focus a bit during the last one, but thinking about how to incorporate the alphabetical structure into a theme has helped.

    Thanks, Elizabeth! Each year that we do the A to Z Challenge returning participants should be better equipped to take it on.



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