The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...

Monday, May 11, 2015

Compassion in A to Z? (Part 1 of 2)



The Complaints

     While we still have A to Z on our minds, with an apology to those who have been trying to get away from thinking about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I wanted to address one of the more common complaints that has come up now and then regarding how some people see the Challenge and how it is handled by the A to Z Team.

         The issue I have in mind involves those who drop out of the April Challenge or those who cannot keep up.  This happens to a number of bloggers who enter the Challenge and when this has to be done they should not feel any shame, feelings of inadequacy or incompetence as a blogger, or anything else negative about themselves.   The intent of A to Z is not to humiliate or embarrass anyone, but merely to offer up a Challenge to bloggers who would like to test themselves in accepting this Challenge.

         My analogy is typically the running of a marathon.   Some people choose not to run in a marathon for reasons that should not fall under anyone's judgement.  You won't find me entering a marathon because for one thing I don't want to have a heart attack and for another I couldn't keep up even if my heart withstood the exertion.   Marathon running is not on my list of things I feel compelled to do and that's my business about which I feel no shame nor do I feel left out when marathon day comes to the Los Angeles area and it seems like most of the city is wrapped up in marathon activities.

         Same with A to Z--if you want to do it then go ahead and if you don't then don't and just don't make a big deal about any negatives of others doing it.  Compassion goes both ways.  No one should try to make you feel bad for not participating nor should you belittle the event and its participants if you choose not to be a part of it.

        However if you do say you're going to do the A to Z, you should make every effort to keep up as the Challenge calls for and to finish the event.   If you honestly can't then so be it, but to drop out and then try to disparage the Challenge is not right.  That's the same as trying to run a marathon and finding you can't keep going and then blaming the marathon for what you weren't able to do and then expressing your opinion that the marathon should go away because it makes some people feel bad.  If you can't do something then fine, but that doesn't mean others shouldn't do it and have to listen to negativity from others who don't like it.  Really now, the A to Z Challenge is not politics, but it's supposed to be fun.

       In fact, more than once I have heard some bloggers suggest that others have been quitting blogging because of the Challenge.  Some have suggested that bloggers have quit out of shame of not having been able to finish the Challenge, anger because the Challenge takes up all of April, or that A to Z has taken the fun out of blogging.   Are you kidding me?   I doubt that this is true, but if it is true for any bloggers then I think it is a statement on the bloggers who quit.  Their actions say nothing about A to Z.

       The concept of someone quitting blogging because some other bloggers like to participate in the A to Z Challenge is akin to me saying at Super Bowl time that because I don't like football and everyone seems to be wrapped up in the Super Bowl that it's taken away all enjoyment of life for me so now I'm going to crawl away into some darkened place because of my shame and humiliation and curl up and die.   No, it's not like that at all--I just do something else that I like to do while others watch the Super Bowl and talk about it endlessly before and afterwards.  Then later on life goes back to normal whatever normal life might mean.

Different Strokes or Do You Like Artichokes?

       What it all boils down to is that some people like some things and other people like other things and we should respect that.   You might blog about your dog, your job, your hobby, your ailments, or even your latest book and that's all well and fine.  If others are up to reading about your chosen topic that's okay while if others want to move on and read something else then that shouldn't be the end of anyone's world.  We should all be free to pursue our interests just so those interests don't actually interfere with anyone else's happiness.   And if you feel that someone else's interests are interfering with your own happiness then you might want to examine more closely to see how it is interfering, why you think it is interfering, and rationally assess if there is any actual interference or if you are perceiving things in an irrational manner.

        If a crowd is smiling and having fun because of some positive event then you too should be happy for them.  If you aren't feeling this and feeling somewhat alone then it's not because they have left you out, but you have rejected them and decided to alienate yourself from their positive atmosphere.   If this is what is happening then don't try to find what is bad about what others enjoy, but try to understand who you are and how your needs can be fulfilled without expecting others to make you happy.

         We are each in charge of our own happiness.

        In part two I will address the issue of compassion as it applies to the A to Z Team and participants.   And before anyone thinks that these posts are only A to Z Challenge related, let me reiterate what I've said on other occasions:  I see A to Z as a microcosmic activity that exemplifies life in general--how we approach A to Z and how we respond to it is reflected in our everyday behavior in work and personal life.   My hopes are that what I am saying in these posts will be seen as having a broader application than just in the A to Z Challenge.

       In general do you see the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge as being more of a positive or a negative thing?    Did you finish the 2015 Challenge or any past Challenge?    Did you ever start a Challenge (not necessarily A to Z) and have to drop out before it ended?   Either in finishing or quitting, how did you feel about about your performance in a Challenge and the outcome of what you did?



113 comments:

  1. Lee, I'm answering your questions in the order you've presented them.
    I experienced the A-Z challenge as very positive, both individually as well as interactively, with others. I received two-three negative responses aimed at the challenge, and not at my particular day's post. I responded with kindness, redirecting to the post, and moved on.

    It was such a thrill participating and crossing the finish line.

    Oct. - Dec. 2014, I reduced blogging during that period, which included a bloghop I truly love. An outside issue commanded priority. I returned to that bloghop in Jan. 2015, when my schedule was cleared.

    Thank you, (smile).

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    1. Thank you for your support of A to Z, Dixie. I think you handled the negativity the right way.

      Sometimes we have to make our own decisions about the priorities in our lives and that is our own business.

      Lee

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  2. There may be personal issues why a person cannot complete the Challenge. This is a great subject today Lee, it was through personal isuues that kept me going, but then every one is different. I look forward to part two of your post.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, you seemed to do a good job at channeling your life issues into using the Challenge as a constructive means of facing them.

      Lee

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  3. I entered the Challenge as a learning experience for me about blogging in general. I enjoyed it very much, from selecting topics to write about and the interaction that came as a result of blogging. I did manage to complete the challenge, but did plan about two-thirds of the articles prior to or at the very start of the challenge. I did feel the pressure towards the end because I had not planned those articles. So what that taught me is to be more prepared for the next challenge. I found the whole experience as positive for me and am hoping to keep in touch with those who made time to comment at my blog. Because it was a positive experience which I enjoyed very much, I have no doubt that I will participate in the challenge next year. Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn, your report is so good to hear. My intent for the Challenge from the outset was partly to educate and encourage. Networking has always been a big part of A to Z, but since a lot of bloggers don't understand networking the Challenge provides insight on how to do that as well as aspects of blogging better. There is nothing about A to Z that should be perceived has the intention to create any negativity.

      Lee

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  4. Hi, Lee! The blogosphere often reminds me of high school. Cliques tend to form and some people can wind up being (or at least feeling) neglected or shunned. Over the years I have felt like an outsider many times. I have experienced age and gender discrimination. I have also felt insecure and inadequate at times, like I'm the dumbest person in the room. Quitting isn't the answer because, in doing so, you remove yourself from the game, shut yourself off, forfeit countless opportunities to grow as a writer and communicator and miss out on many new, exciting and rewarding friendships. My answer is to stay in the game, remain positive and upbeat and keep coming from unconditional love. When you give encouragement and support, caring and compassion to others, you usually get it in return. It might take a while for people to trust you and understand where you're coming from, but when they finally do and get that you are for real, they get real, too. It's called breakthrough territory, my favorite place to dwell.

    You and the fine group of people associated with you have given me the warmest welcome I have ever experienced in nearly seven years of blogging. I am very grateful.

    Thanks for this thought provoking post, Lee. It's an important topic and needs to be discussed. Have a wonderful day and week!

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    1. Shady, actually life is like high school. If we feel rejected then it's mostly up to us to do something about it. The A to Z community from what I've seen has always been supportive and inclusive, but like the community of the real life world we can only coddle so much before it gets tiresome. We all compete for some degree of attention and if we aren't getting what we feel we need then it's up to us to reach out to a greater degree.

      And as your commenting habits illustrate it's not just a "me" thing. If a blogger wants attention then they should show interest in other bloggers. It's relationship building just as we do in making friends. Or in the business or blogging world it's networking. No matter what you call it, most of us can't always expect to be the center of attention--we need to share the spotlight and let others know we care about them too.

      Some of the best insight comes from the non-participants of A to Z who are observing rather than caught up in the fray. Thanks for your observations.

      Lee

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  5. I hate to be the goody goody but in this instance I am.

    The challenge was great and I had a lot of fun and it started after I signed up in February. I was impressed the bigwigs all took time to talk to me.

    I was on the fence about my blog. I can't publish my stories as freely because they have been published at that point, and I cannot sell them potentially in the future. I don't write incredibly personal information because I am a private person. I did not have a clear theme for the blog or purpose.

    A to Z helped get a grip on the direction of my blog and what I would write. I had a lot of fun and made friends too.

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    1. Ann, nothing wrong with goody goody especially if you're an advocate for the Challenge. One advantage of doing A to Z is that the "forced" writing schedule with prompts helps us better find our writing voice and developing the ability to write freely and improvisationally. It's a writing/blogging exercise and I see that as a good thing. Making the friends is an added benefit.

      Lee

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  6. I have found the challenge to be a positive one for me. It was a personal challenge for me to stay on point and develop a new level of discipline in writing. I am grateful for anyone who stops by to read, but am not offended if I don't get as many hits as others do. I am disappointed when I go to a link and they didn't keep up, but I don't think badly of them, I just move on. There was one year I did not participate because I knew my life that April just wasn't going to let me do it. I didn't feel badly that the challenge went on without me - it was my choice.

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    1. Exactly, Sheila, we each make our choices and when it comes to a challenge such as A to Z we alone should be the judge of what we do. I've always thought of A to Z as a personal challenge. If it ever becomes a contest then we might look at things differently. Even then it will be personal choice.

      Lee

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  7. That's a shame anyone would bash the event, especially someone who tried and quit. I've found it to be a positive event every year. It can be tiring, but it's a good thing. It's a time when the blogging world can come together and celebrate.

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    1. Alex, the Challenge stretches us all a bit--that's why I first called it a Challenge.

      Lee

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    2. What I find amusing is when a certain someone who spent years bashing the event and saying how stupid it is suddenly has a change of heart and tries to take advantage of it.

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    3. Not sure who or what you are referring to, Andrew, but yes that situation sounds absurdly amusing in a way. I guess the manner in which they take advantage of it might be too. Or wait--maybe I do know who you're talking about though if it is that person I didn't know he ever bashed the event. Curious.

      Lee

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    4. You are probably thinking of the correct person, and, yes, he spent at least a couple of years talking about how stupid it was... right up until he decided to use it as a way to talk about his books (this is his second year in a row where he has spent the month of April saying "buy my books").

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    5. Well, Andrew, I guess as long as he's not actively campaigning against the Challenge or spam bombing our sites we can consider ourselves fortunate. I don't mind authors legitimately using the Challenge to promote their books, but from my experience they often don't get much response unless they're are creative and interactive about doing it and are bloggers who regularly receive a lot of visitors.

      Lee

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    6. I think if you searched back through his posts you would find more than one going on about how stupid the whole thing is. But, then, he's never had a large viewing audience and no one joined in with him, so he gave up protesting it.

      And, then, joined it...
      And I'll leave it at that.

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  8. I have managed to complete the AtoZ all four years that I participated. At times it was tough, not due to the AtoZ itself, but due to life happenings. But I have enjoyed the AtoZ each and every year. And this year I enjoyed it most of all. I think in large part because I had the time or made the time to visit more than ever. Visiting, replying to comments, etc. makes it social.

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    1. Barbara, you raise a good point in my mind. Life is a challenge no matter what. Family obligations, job, outside activities and everything else we do presents us with the challenge of balancing it all and deciding on priorities What we do is our business, but we need to be honest about it all and not continually make excuses about what we can't manage to do or blame others for us not being able to fulfill what is expected of us.

      Time has so much to do with how we can approach A to Z and everyone has their own circumstances to explain their actions. How we feel about ourselves comes first.

      Lee

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  9. I do notice that every year people come out of the gate really strong, but by about the letter M, things start dropping off. I've become good friends w/ a blogger and we are on FB and she took a picture of her planner a few weeks ago where she wrote, 'Finish A-Z' and then in big letters under it she wrote 'YOU SUCK' I asked her why she wrote that and she said she sucks b/c she bailed on A-Z halfway through again. :(

    Really my only complaint on A-Z is how time consuming it is. Reading 10 extra blogs doesn't sound like much till you try to find 10 blogs that are participating, still participating, in English, aren't set to private or have a topic you can get through. Then responding to all the comments you get on your own posts, plus visiting all the blogs you follow every day.

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    1. JoJo, your description of A to Z is similar to any other similar situation that is of a challenging nature. Your FaceBook friend was obviously disappointed in her performance and at least she seems to be accepting the responsibility. Failure to finish is a personal issue and not a Challenge issue. After all over 1500 bloggers did manage to finish.

      As far as the issue of A to Z being time consuming, it can be and that's why we need to find our comfort zone and to pace ourselves. I find this to be true even when it's not April. There's never enough time for me to do everything related to social networking that I'd like and there's always hassles with blogs to be found. It gets magnified during April, but that's when I need to just pace myself and do what I can. Blogging is not a paying job and I'm not required to meet any quotas of how many sites I visit. However I've learned that the numbers I visit reflect on the numbers who visit me and I am alone to blame when I don't do as much as I'd like. But I'm not going to get all put out about it because it's just what it is and hopefully later I'll make up for it all.

      Lee

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  10. I find it helpful to me when I have been slacking on posting. Gets me back in the groove, so to speak. I do know some blogs that don't do the challenge and have said they just don't post in April because most of their readers are busy doing the A-Z. But, that isn't too many.

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    1. The existence of A to Z should not be an excuse for non-participants to stop blogging during that month. During April I still visit many of my regular blog contacts who don't participate in the Challenge. And I try to reciprocate to as many comments as I can whether they are from participant or not. The A to Z participants are still blogging and it's not like they're only addressing an exclusive audience but the same audience they always do.

      Lee

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  11. finished A-Z Challenge with a smile on my face, found it really helpful and fun.
    Do not understand why it has to be taken so seriously, as to feel like a failure if one drops out though? I took it as a challenge, sure, but not life-or-death kind of it, did not feel pressured in any way, on the contrary - encouraged almost with every single post I did!
    Suggestion as to the reading part - maybe the "reading 3 above and 3 under" could become a rule? (while posting on FB site - we read the 3 posts that were before us, and 3 that come after?)

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    1. Good for you, Emilia. I like your attitude. We like to avoid any rules on how to do the Challenge other than the posting from A to Z each day during April and we are pretty lax on that aspect even. Participants need to find what works best for them and approach it in that manner, but at the same time be willing to try other ideas if they seem like good ideas.

      Lee

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  12. I didn't know this challenge made so many people so angry. Or disparaged. I think the marathon comparison is a good one. We know that we'd be the fat kids struggling to make it past mile two, and we'd either not pass the finish line, or we'd pass it while having a massive heart attack (poor quality posts). So we simply watch from the sidelines and cheer on our friends.

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    1. BFTS--Just trying counts for something even if we can't finish. And having the cheerleaders on the sidelines makes a huge difference as well. Not everyone has to play in the game to be important and they don't even have to play the entire game--just being there and supporting the action makes the difference. Those who complete the April Challenge deserve recognition for what they done and those who don't finish still deserve a pat on the back with an encouragement to do better next time.

      Lee

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  13. I'm not a quitter but I didn't garner too much interest this time and maybe it was my theme- not sure--I can't be Miss personality 30 days in a row. :)

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    1. Eve, part of the retrospective look at the outcome of the Challenge is trying to figure out what worked well and why we might not have done as well as we hoped. There are always many factors to consider and if we figure it out and it makes some difference in future blog performance then we've accomplished something. It might be difficult to figure out why performance wasn't that good, but then again sometimes it becomes obvious when we look closely.

      Lee

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  14. People are quitting blogger because of the Challenge? That's just ridiculous! It's actually the other way around. The Challenge is getting people back into blogging and bringing more into blogging.

    And quit blogging out of shame for not completing the Challenge? That says more about the person and how insecure they are than the Challenge.

    The Challenge is only during April. If other bloggers don't like it, they can ignore the A to Z posts in their feed for that month, But it's just for a month and that's it.

    A to Z has been nothing but a positive experience for me. And it isn't taking away the fun, but bringing tons of fun to the blogosphere. I have finished both Challenges I've participated in and both times I was proud of myself and my blog for doing it.

    A to Z rocks, Arlee! Don't listen to the naysayers!

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    1. Chrys. like you say I've heard more people say that A to Z has gotten them back into blogging. I've heard the rumors that people have quit blogging because of their failure to complete the Challenge, but I've received no actual confirmation of that.

      Then there are the people that take off during April because of A to Z. I find that a bit odd, but if bloggers need a break then that's well and fine. It would be a loss to a blogger who blocked A to Z posts from their feeds because they could be missing out on some excellent posts.

      I'm glad to hear your positive report and you represent the majority of those I hear from.

      Lee

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  15. The A to Z challenge is fun, but it is a challenge. No shame on not finishing. I like your analogy of the marathon.Sometimes things happen and you can't finish but there is always next time.

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    1. Mike, that's true--we do what we can in life and if we can't then so be it. No big deal.

      Lee

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  16. I find the A to Z Blogging Challenge VERY positive. There are a ton of blogs I get to find and enjoy that I might not otherwise visit or know about.


    I have participated since 2011 and sometimes with 2 (or more!) blogs per year. I complete it each time since I am too obsessive/compulsive not to.
    Same with other challenges I have participating in.

    This year I did 0 prep work. Got sick in April and missed a lot of work but I still got it all done and had a BLAST this year.

    I think I am going to turn all my posts into a book and sell it this Halloween.

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    1. And your comment, Tim, is why I like the fact that you are so willing to help out each year. Positive attitudes like yours make anything worth doing.

      Those who have turned their Challenge work into books have found a way to turned the positive experience of A to Z into an even bigger positive benefit for themselves. Good luck to your book which I certainly hope you do. Halloween would be a great time for that too.

      Lee

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  17. The challenge has ALWAYS been positive for me. I love it and look forward to it. I haven't seen any negative comments about it either.

    But it is a massive thing, so naturally, not everyone is going to achieve it. For those who don't and complain, why? It's okay to fail. You can try again next year, or say it's not for you. Move on and focus on something you excel at. Don't try to take this away from the people who enjoy it.

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    1. Patricia, those negative comments probably stand out more to me and fortunately the are far outnumbered by the positive comments. Everybody should be happy to pursue whatever it is that enriches them in someway and fortunately we are all different in that respect.

      Lee

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  18. I did drop out of the 2013 challenge before it started, but let people know to remove my name from the list; I had a family crisis I had to deal with that depended my time more than blogging (ending up not blogging for 6 months). I do agree with your thoughts, one should enter the challenge with the thought to finish it. One should not take it lightly too upon entering such a challenge, but then things do come up that necessitate people to drop out.

    I haven't heard of people dropping out of blogging because of the challenge; it seemed to me if they used that excuse that they are just looking for a way to get out of blogging, but that is just my opinion.

    betty

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    1. Betty, you bowed out of 2013 the right way. We have some people who don't post or stop posting and don't even respond to our communications. If they died or something drastic I could understand, but often they are blogging away as though nothing happened and A to Z never existed.

      That they are looking for an excuse to stop blogging could be very possible.

      Lee

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  19. I participated in (and completed) the Challenge in 2013 and 2014. I don't recall any negative comments during either one. I do remember feeling really burned out in 2013, so resolved to have all my posts pre-written for 2014 (I did) and that made it easier. However, griping about the Challenge being hard... well, it's not supposed to be easy. It's a CHALLENGE.

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    1. Robin, you've stated it plain and clear: Blogging from A to Z is a Challenge. That was the original intent and what it will continue to be. If it were as easy as pie than why even bother with it?

      Lee

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  20. Hi Lee - you already know how I feel about the whiners and whingers but here goes:
    I feel it is a totally positive experience.
    I have started and finished four A to Zeds. I didn't find it difficult and I got a lot out of it. Perhaps the word 'challenge' causes some people to feel sat upon. Too bad for them I say. I have entered a marathon - raised a lot of dough and finished it in a time I was happy with. Why ever enter something you don't like? Maybe it's my age - but hey - if you ain't having fun then don't do it. It's not brain surgery for pete's sake!

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    1. So true, Jan. Some folks want everything handed to them without putting the work into it. Authors and writers especially should understand the Challenge part about A to Z.

      Lee

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  21. We all have competing demands, even in April. I try to remove as many as possible: I alert my family and friends (not available for a lot of stuff in April), I don't do any writing on WIPs unless absolutely necessary, meals become simple, committee work is last on the list. So far that's worked for 4 years, but if a family catastrophe came, I might not be able to pull off all 26 day.

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    1. C.Lee, to me ones family and job has to be a priority. The Challenge is just an extra if one can manage it in their schedule.

      Arlee

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  22. I've seen a few people complaining about the Challenge after they dropped out, or bashing it without ever taking part. If it's just not your bag, or you couldn't finish, that's on you, not the people taking part. It's much more productive to do what you like, instead of spending so much time and energy attacking what you don't like. It reminds me of people who run detailed hate sites against singers or groups they don't like. Why not take that time and energy to make a fan site for your favorite musicians instead?

    It's really just a common courtesy to write a blog post explaining why you quit participating, no matter how many letters you did. There were a lot of themes I was looking forward to following throughout, and the bloggers just stopped. Life can get in the way, but if you knew in advance you might not have enough time to devote to the Challenge, like because you have a big family vacation coming up in April, or that's the busiest time of the year at your job, you might re-evaluate if it's the best idea to sign up. Either do it next year, or do, as at least one blogger friend of mine does, a more relaxed A to Z over a longer period, not every single day, over a couple of months.

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    1. Carrie-Anne, your suggestions are excellent and so practical. Time is a valuable commodity that should be used wisely and that includes those dropping out of A to Z or wisely deciding whether or not they should even try to attempt it.

      Lee

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  23. not only I survived the challenge and built my blogging muscle, but I now keep up the good work and exercising that muscle daily. Thank you for this amazing experience. It changed my blogging practice. What's more, it changed me. I feel more present and reflective in my daily life.

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    1. Gulara, you are like becoming the positive spokesperson for A to Z. I love this comment!

      Lee

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  24. Abraham Lincoln wrote that we are as happy as we set out to be -- and for a man who fought depression all his life, well, that says something.

    If A TO Z demands too much time out of your schedule, adapt to a shorter post each day. We now have 11 months to write an A TO Z post ONCE A WEEK for the next challenge and keep it in reserve.

    I tried to make mine fun. A year ago, I detailed what happened all through history each day of April. The year prior, I started with Z and ended with A to mix things up a little.

    Our blogs are our own to write what we wish, right? Be kind to those who think differently from us. Sad about those who shoot arrows at A TO Z. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting. It means a lot, :-)

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    1. You are so right, Roland. A to Z is not so much about blogging harder as it is about blogging smarter. Short is smart in an event such as the Challenge. Many will argue that for the most part short posts are smarter period as you are more apt to get more visitors and keep them coming back if you have something worth reading.

      Reading a blog is not the same as reading a book, but readers of your blog might be more interested in reading any books that you are offering if they like what they've read on your blog.

      Lee

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  25. I definitely see the A o Z as a positive thing. For me...it pushes me and helps me to see that I can do anything I put my mind to. And if something happened and I couldn't finish it...well, I'd probably feel bad, but I wouldn't quit blogging! That seems ridiculous. It's also taught me things...like how to link back to my blog and how to schedule a post. Thanks for your thoughts Arlee!
    Katie @TheCyborgMom

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    1. Katie, I think a lot of us have learned from other bloggers through the Challenge. There is a wealth of information and a lot of brainpower that we can tap into within the A to Z community.

      Lee

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  26. I think you know how I feel about the challenge. I do feel bad that some people become intimidated by it. Preparation is the key. I struggled the first year but I've never been one to quit. It's a sad commentary on society that some people want everything to be their way or easy enough for everyone to succeed at.

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    1. Susan GK--and one of the saddest issues that many of us are passing this attitude to our kids with sports with no scores and classes where no one excels for fear of hurting the self image of other students. Competition can be very good for us as a society.

      Lee

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  27. An absolutely positive experience! Engaging, enlightening and truly enjoyable. If I hadn't been able to finish I would just keep coming back until I do. Never did care for artichokes - or sour grapes ;-)

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    1. Diedre, thank you for that. Sour grapes make for lousy whine.

      Lee

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  28. I always feel glad I have finished the A to Z challenge. But I do sincerely sympathise with anyone who needs to drop out. For those who end up stressing badly because they are trying to do too many things, the A to Z is the straw on the camel's back. It's supposed to be fun, if it is no longer fun for one reason or another, then don't feel bad if you have to quit.

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    1. Jo, I'll be going into this topic of sympathy for those who have to quit in part 2 of this series coming on Wednesday.

      Lee

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  29. I think the A-Z is a wonderfully positive thing. I was over the moon that I managed to complete it this year and I found it to be a great tool for polishing my writing skills. It *was* difficult but it's called a challenge for a reason! There's no shame in not completing it, IMHO, and learning from one's mistakes can often lead to success in the future :)

    Fee | Wee White Hoose

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    1. Fee, you nailed it! If it were easy A to Z wouldn't be much of a Challenge at all and we wouldn't feel much sense of accomplishment. The road to success always has a few bumps along the way.

      Lee

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  30. It makes me sad to think of bloggers dropping out of the blog-o-sphere because of the challenge. I was contemplating stopping blogging when I stumbled across A to Z four years ago and it kept me going.

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    1. SL, I don't know if the story about bloggers dropping out is actually true or not. It's something that was mentioned that I find difficult to believe. Your story is more like most that I've heard.

      Lee

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  31. Even though I've only joined the challenge once (not this year), I love it! I think it's great to get bloggers to understand their blogging rhythms, and to build communities! One of these years, I'll join again - just waiting for a year where I'm not overwhelmed by the chaos :)

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    1. Jemi, as you say it's a blogging learning experience and an opportunity to interact and connect with others. A to Z is a darn sight easier than the way I went about connecting when I first started blogging.

      Lee

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  32. I was taken back by your post. Why would someone choose to turn something that is purely voluntary into a platform for negativity? I definitely see the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge as positive. If I didn't, I wouldn't participate. I finished the 2015 (my 2nd year) and had a blast. I did try to handle the National Poetry Month at the same time in the same posts and it worked for a while but I eventually stop. I wasn't negative about it though. Why would I want to rain on someone else enjoyment just because I couldn't finish. In this year's A to Z, I loved the theme that I chose. I learned so much that I had never heard before. I blog history out of interest but I am by no means an expert so I learn something every day through my blog. Thanks to the A to Z, I had a platform to others to see my writing and a platform that allowed me to focus.

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    1. Maryann, A to Z is about getting exposure, connecting with like minded individuals, learning about new things, and so many other reasons that people do the Challenge. A to Z is about many things besides just 26 letters of the alphabet. Blogs like yours provide readers learning opportunities and entertainment. Many might never know about your blog or others if not for the A to Z Challenge. The event just makes finding new bloggers a bit easier.

      Lee

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  33. Hi Lee,

    I know that you and I'm confident that most of the bloggers who get involved with the A to Z, get involved for all the very best of reasons. A sharing experience, positive interaction, a challenge to of friendly ideals.

    As you will know, I have, in the past, put up good natured, tongue-in cheek, alternative A to Z postings. The irony has always been that despite my satirical angle, it actually brought further awareness of the darned thing.

    The positive part of me says kudos to you and all those who have the stamina to commit to such a long challenge. The slightly cynical part of me does note that there are a few involved who only do it to gather more followers. I find that aspect very sad. Thankfully, I do believe such mentality is in the minority. I'm also relieved to not received nearly as many emails from folks struggling with the challenge. When somebody tells me they feel stressed and guilty because they couldn't interact as much as they'd hoped for, does worry me. Balance, without guilt, has to be a primary key.

    Well done and thank's for a thoughtful post, good sir.

    Your friend and of course, "The official anti-A to Z Challenge, spokesman!"

    Gary :)

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    1. Gary, I will admit (as you may well know) that my initial primary reason in starting the A to Z Challenge was to gain more followers which in turn means more readers. There is nothing inherently wrong with that as long as participants understand the meaning of being a part of a community. I understood that from the outset--that's how I got the first A to Z'ers on board with me.

      Sure there will always be the opportunists which is in part cured by our staff of volunteers culling the list of those that we find. Trying to find easier ways to gain new followers is not a bad thing. You've obviously done something to get the comments you do and that involves visiting other blogs and commenting on them, right? A to Z makes that process easier. I don't think you just started your blog and people started visiting because you were there and if that did happen then you are amazingly fortunate. I--and I think most bloggers--have had to work hard at getting followers and readers and keeping them. A to Z makes that process a bit easier.

      We who participate have encountered so many other cool bloggers whom we might not have met had it not been for A to Z and we have this common bond. And if people can't interact as much as they'd hoped or post like they had planned why should they feel bad or stressed. That's not an A to Z issue, that's a bigger life issue.

      This A to Z community is darn compassionate and supportive, but as with anything in life there will be the folks who have a tough time fitting in with the Challenge, a job, school, their neighbors, and so on. We can help to make the blogosphere a bit better, but we obviously can't change the world or please everybody.

      We're all essentially on our own in life to a certain extent, but fortunately there are some out there like us who are willing to listen and provide some element of support to one another. Balance mostly has to be an individual thing from the standpoint of what I understand you to be saying.

      Thanks for taking this in and offering your thoughts. There are a lot of people having fun with this A to Z thing and they are actually learning from it as well. That encourages me.

      Lee

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  34. I've got another (not quite perfect) analogy. I take a self-defense class that's pretty demanding physically, especially when you're new to it. Sometimes, I just want to get things over with, but those days are outnumbered by the ones where I'm enjoying myself and ready to move.

    And unfortunately, there are always going to be negative people who find arbitrary reasons to rain on your parade. If you quit blogging altogether because you didn't finished A to Z, that's your own fault.

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    1. MRR, to become good at anything you have to work at it and maybe even sometimes wish you never started. The greatest reward comes when we persist and show ourselves that we accepted a challenge and met it. Success stories abound in the A to Z community and it's exciting.

      Lee

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  35. I found the A to Z to be a very positive experience. I don't completely understand why some people would find it negative, nobody is forcing them to take part and like you said, they could just cheer along the sidelines. Each blogger can decide what direction to take his/her blog and sometimes we're up for a challenge, so I'm glad that there was one available. It definitely was challenging, but I needed the motivation to push myself back into writing again. Just like when I ran a 5k, I had to push myself to finish, and it was all worth it when I reached the finish line :)

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    1. Elizabeth, you said it well. A to Z is like a big writer's prompt. You receive it and do what you will with it. Then you can be content with what you've done or strive to do better next time around. It up to each individual blogger.

      Lee

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  36. I did the A to Z in 2012. It was certainly challenging, keeping up with a personal commitment, but it was a lot of fun. I haven't done it since because I know how much of a time commitment it is and simply don't have the time.

    To bring negativity to the challenge is certainly odd. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. If you underestimated what it would take to pull it off, or if it causes you more stress than the payoff is worth, walk away. It is very simple.

    http://mainstreetarts.blogspot.com/

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    1. Exactly, Arthur, no one forces anyone to do the A to Z. It's just a blogging diversion that can be used to an advantage if one does it right or it can just be a bit of fun. The Challenge is nothing to get all hung up over.

      Lee

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  37. "Different Strokes or Do You Like Artichokes?" --- Lol! Love that! The Challenge is definitely a positive event and I'm surprised that you are seeing many naysayers. Looking forward to reading Part 2
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, I don't really think there are many naysayers of A to Z, but they do stand out when I run across them. I hear so many positives about A to Z that I'm taken aback when I find a vehement negative.

      Lee

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  38. Thanks Lee, great post. I loved the experience (3rd time) and of course it's challenging! It's called a challenge so there's no misunderstanding. It's a challenge on all levels, time, energy, writing, commenting back to those who comment, commenting on others blogs, checking to see what they said in response to mine, blog hopping, - whew! I said before that the interaction, participation, warmth, encouragement from bloggers and the A-Z team kept me going and it was so worth it! There's no room for moaning or knocking the challenge. It's success deserves high praise.

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    1. Susan, nothing I can add to what you've said. Thank you!

      Lee

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  39. That's a great post, Lee.

    I've suffered burn out in both of my last A2Zs - I finished, but I had real trouble visiting other blogs, as well as responding to my visitors, and wanting to follow the visitors back and keep up with old pals and.... other life stuff! The other life stuff really got put on the back seat and I'm missing deadlines all over the place now.

    But I've made a decision: I'm not doing it next year. Well, I am, but I'm not going to do the challenge, just do my normal posts (4 a week anyway, possibly in keeping with the letter of the day) and not sign up on the list. But I AM going visiting. I'm going to do the challenge of visiting ten new blogs a day, plus visiting those ones I've wanted to keep up with. I hope I'll enjoy it just as much, and I hope I'll meet and re-meet lots of lovely new friends along the way. Of course, I could be starting that in the Road Trip!

    Each to one's own, as they say.

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    1. Yes, Jemima, there's always the Road Trip option that allows for a more relaxed pace in visiting the A to Z bloggers. Bad stress shouldn't be a part of the Challenge. We understand that people have a variety of responsibilities and not everyone can be expected to keep up with the April schedule. Maybe we should consider options--A to Z Lite?

      Lee

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  40. It is a new way to see this matter. It is interesting as well. http://www.bellofpeace.org

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    1. Issues have been raised here that have been noted since the first Challenge. Always good to reexamine things from different perspectives.

      Lee

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  41. I loved taking on the A-Z Challenge a few years back, and some of the posts I did, the comments I received, and the visitors who stopped by are now among my favorites since I started blogging seven years ago. You and the other hosts are sweethearts for making it all happen. If it helps take the edge off the thought that there are people out there sour enough to complain about your efforts, then imagine them all with a lemon-sucking pucker that just won't go away as they slink off muttering "sour grapes!" to their lonely selves.

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    1. Walk2write, your comment warms my heart. Thank you for that.

      Lee

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  42. Hi Arlee,
    I read through your post and was a bit surprised that some see A to Z as being negative, and I admit here that the surprise comes from my having such a positive experience from this event.
    Susan Scott, from South Africa, first told me about it in 2013. She was participating and asked me if I was also. I hadn't heard about it and after checking out the link she told me about I said yes, I was going to do it.
    To make a very long story short, from day one, I felt good about it. Of course, there was pressure. With anything that is progressive in building a writer's discipline, (and I consider A to Z to be a good tool for building a writer's discipline) the stress is automatically programmed. You are trying to meet a deadline and that deadline is that by the end of the day your article for that particular alphabet on that particular day is on your blog. Being able to meet this goal builds consistency in meeting your own writing deadlines and that is a good thing. You don't want to get a chance to write for a national newspaper or write a story for a major magazine and not be able to meet their deadline.
    So, I have no complaints about the A to Z. For the past three years, I have been able to reprioritise my life so that April is A to Z and November is NaNoWriMo. These are two of the writing tools that strengthen writing.
    Each one of us who enters A to Z should count the cost before we enter. Of course some things may pop up that you don't expect and may force you to leave the Challenge, but that is no reason to say the Challenge is bad or to ridicule those who participate.
    Sometime I think we have all forgotten what it means to respect each other as an individual, and that could be because we have forgotten to examine ourselves closely so that we may know ourselves and why we commit to things.
    I enjoyed the Challenge. We had great hosts and co-hosts and I read some dynamic blogs.
    Looking forward to next year.
    Shalom,
    Pat Garcia

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    1. Pat, yours is a very good comment that expresses so much of what I feel. I'm one of those who wouldn't mind being given an opportunity to be a deadline writer and the A to Z as well as the way I approach blogging gives me practice in doing that just in case an offer ever comes my way.

      Any pressure exerted by the Challenge should primarily come from within each individual blogger as is the case with any challenge. Participants may have certain levels of expectations regarding everyone else but ultimately the judgement rests on each of us upon ourselves--did we do our best, did we meet the goals that we set for ourselves, and did we finish honorably. Some may end up in a spotlight for their efforts but the most impacting light is that which illuminates us from within.

      Thanks for an excellent comment and endorsement of the A to Z Challenge.

      Lee

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  43. I did not participate in the A-Z this year, but have done so previously and enjoyed my experience. I am sad to see this post, meaning, that it is sad to me that people will always find something to complain about even in regards to an optional and harmless event (if you don't like it, don't do it).

    Keep doing what you're doing Lee!

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    1. Thank you, Lynn. I hope I haven't exaggerated the negative voices because really they are in a minority as far as I know. And this post brings this aspect up as an introduction to part 2.

      You're right there will always people who want to complain or criticize for whatever reason they have to do it. My posts regarding this are my attempt to convince them to reevaluate their opinions and feelings about A to Z (or for that matter anything else they may feel negative about that others like). Just seeing the responses here makes me feel like it's good to open a discussion on this and it does help reinforce my belief that we--the A to Z Team and participants--are engaged in a positive activity that benefits many and in reality harms no one at least not from the standpoint of the intent of A to Z.

      Thanks for the encouragement.

      Lee

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  44. So, let me understand this correctly: A good sized number of people have commented that they are not going to blog anymore because they didn't complete the AtoZ Challenge? I can understand if one or two, or even a hand full, decide that, but more than that. Wow!

    I don't think it's fair for them to lash out at the Challenge, blaming it as the cause for their decision. But, I can understand them doing so if the Challenge was the final thing that broke their camel's back about blogging in general. Your advice for people to look at themselves for feeling out of step with the Challenge is quite reasonable.

    I successfully completed the Challenge three years in a row, twice with two blogs. Every now and then, I felt like quitting because I was overwhelmed by the commitment to the Challenge as well as other commitments in my life. If, at anytime, I could not manage it all, I would've withdrawn from the Challenge to complete it on my own when all went well again. But, that's me.

    I wonder how many bloggers (whether new or repeaters) put too much expectation on the Challenge, thinking that the Challenge will make them be the type of bloggers that they want to be. That's the thing. And, when they see that it doesn't, they blame it for their inability to continue writing posts. Perhaps, it's a good thing that they did the Challenge because it makes them realize they don't really need or want to blog in the first place. Hopefully, one day they can learn to walk away from things or people with peace.

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  45. Susie, actually I don't know if anyone has actually quit or said that they were going to quit blogging because of A to Z, but this is something that I've heard a handful of bloggers state that they had heard or observed. This might be totally an anecdotal statement that some bloggers somehow believed or inferred from something that they had read.

    This is what I am questioning: Is this a truth or a rumor perpetuated by a few who don't particularly like the Challenge. I'm not overly concerned, but I think it's a shame that this sort of thing would be said and if it has actually happened then I would like to hear directly from those bloggers who felt they were so hurt or shattered by A to Z that they felt like they needed to quit blogging.

    Life isn't always easy, but I don't think it's never a good idea to give up and unjustly cast the blame elsewhere. If a claim has legitimacy then I like to know what it is so it can be addressed, but I don't think there is anything to address regarding this negativity.

    Your final paragraph is important. The Challenge can help but it is not the solution to making anybody's blog better or making anybody better at blogging without most of the effort coming from them. The A to Z Challenge is merely an opportunity, but like anything of a similar nature the person accepting that opportunity must do most of the work on their own if they want to succeed in attaining the goals and possibilities set before them.

    Lee

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  46. I really enjoyed the challenge! Was it easy? No. Going in, I was concerned about completing it because I was traveling for two weeks in April. I wrote my blogs ahead of time, but gave myself full permission to quit if I needed to...I didn't.

    People do the same thing with NaNoWriMo. They sign up, then feel the pressure, then get angry and start criticizing the event. Truth is, even if we don't get 50,000 words done, we're probably going to write more in November than we would have without NaNo.

    Any "challenge" is just that. It stretches us and gives us the chance to overcome resistance, fear, or whatever else blocks us. If someone is feeling angry, I bet there's something else beneath that feeling...if we can get to that "something" rather than running from it by quitting, we can experience some real growth.

    I applaud anyone who gave their best, whether or not they finished the challenge.

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    1. I think you're correct, Nadine. It's not the A to Z or NaNo or whatever that incites anger, disillusionment, or whatever--it's something else totally personal for the one getting emotional about it.

      Lee

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  47. I gave my views about the challenge in my reflections post.
    I did want to point out that I found the reflections sign up list to be a good way to find new bloggers. I like reading their thoughts about the challenge and you can be sure that if a blogger posted a reflection he/she has completed the challenge.

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    1. Lynda, I think you make a good point and are correct. Those on the Reflections post list are more likely to be legit and we know what has happened with them. I too have found some excellent blogs from that list.

      Lee

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  48. Once I partake in something, I have to finish. It's a very rare occasion if I decide to stop. Usually that happens in my weight loss goals. Swearing off sweets, only to find myself eating a doughnut the next morning. It's something that happens and shouldn't be looked down on if for some reason you are unable to start what you begin, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

    As for losing interest in blogging as a result of someone else being successful in it? Or enjoying it? That would be like me telling you I hate onions, then you telling me you love pizza with onions on it, then me replying that I will never eat pizza again because of what you just said. Because if I can swear off pizza, I obviously don't enjoy it very much to begin with.

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    1. Jeffrey, that's much like I am. Especially if others know that I'm doing something I want to see it through. That's why I avoid saying that I'm going to lose weight since that one is easily broken for me too.

      But, yeah, why should I quit something I like doing just because others are doing it differently or I'm not doing it as well as they are. If I enjoy something I'll do it and if I stop enjoying it then I'll stop. We've got to be true to ourselves.

      Lee

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  49. I read part 2 first which is typical of me. If people feel "shame" for being dropped then shame on them. Honestly if they do use that term they are trying to guilt you and the others who helped you for doing something that you warned about right from the beginning. They need to take responsibility and own what they do or did not do. Also this is a fun challenge, it is not going to change the U.S. Constitution or have China become a democracy. This is a fun challenge. It is a challenge not only for writing the pieces but actually finding the time to visit the other blogs and commenting and responding to the comments. I think, you and all the minions did a fantastic job.

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    1. Thanks, Birgit. The Challenge is meant to be fun and sometimes fun things can be intimidating and difficult. No one has to do it and I doubt whether anyone thinks anything bad about the people who don't feel like doing it. No reason to feel left out when one doesn't feel like participating. Everybody's life just carries on and the world doesn't really stop if one person decides to stop doing something they set out to do but decided not to keep going.

      Lee

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  50. Hello there.
    This was my second year taking part and I finished. I did have my own personal challenges throughout the challenge, but I firmly believe that if one has made a commitment to something be it the AtoZ Challenge or just life in general, one should always honour it or do it to the best of one's ability. In other words, let your yes mean yes and your no, no. True, one never knows what someone else is undergoing in life, but that said, there are a lot of people who are negative 24/7 and try to infuse some of their negativity into the joy of others. We all have free will and we can choose to do the challenge or not...it's that simple.
    I for one appreciated all the hard work and effort done behind the scenes of both yourself and the other hosts/helpers and made mention of it quite a few times while commenting on reflections posts. Now I'm off to read Pt. 2.

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    1. EG, I'm like you in that I like to finish what I've committed myself to. I understand there can be circumstances where it's not possible but it's good to let people know. Negativity is a sad fact of life. Thanks for your positive support.

      Lee

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  51. This was my first time participating in the A to Z Challenge. I didn't sign up until after I pretty much had my posts all written. I kept my posts very short--my theme was an alphabet book for my grandchildren--and so I was able to complete the challenge.

    I actually found that the challenge freed up some of my time, as my blogging was organized ahead of time. I visited other blogs, and have joined the Road Trip.

    Looking forward to next year!

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    1. Kristi, you took an interesting approach. Whatever works is fine and you found your method. Your theme is a wonderful one and I hope your grandchildren enjoyed what you did for them.

      Lee

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  52. Hi Lee - it's a positive event and I'm sure many know that. It's individual - we can do it ... we can decide not to do it ...

    ... the only thing is - if everyone who entered thought of the others participating ... and then were polite enough to adjust accordingly ... and not grump, or let one of the organisers know that they weren't going to be able to do the Challenge ...

    In other words if we all behaved with politeness ... presumably as we do in normal life?! I hope so ... and the administrators and organisers do a wonderful job for us and are always open to help ..

    I know I owe many a visit - and will be going back through my posts - to correct that omission ... with an apology ... and a comment ...

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary, the Golden Rule applies to all aspects of life including A to Z.

      Lee

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  53. Thank you Arlee and the whole A-to-Z team for an excellent month of writing. I committed to the challenge and finished it under Promptly Written. I wrote a whole story for the month using the alphabet as a section each day of the story. You can view it here: https://promptlywritten.wordpress.com/category/a-to-z-challenge/

    I honestly believe that doing that challenge has helped me. However, I have tried other challenges in the past and had to drop out for health reasons. I don't think there is any shame in dropping out and people shouldn't feel that way. You try and sometimes life gets in the way. Try the next year! I look forward to next April. Right now, I am just blitzing through on the Road Show!

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    1. No one should ever feel badly about doing what they honestly and justifiably have to do in life. Glad your A to Z experience was a fruitful one.

      Lee

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  54. I read new blogs during the A to Z... and ones I already follow.
    Oddly, I don't comment during April. I'm not sure if I'm too busy with poetry, or the influx of people or what.
    I don't feel I can safely give my blog daily attention, especially with everything else going on, but it is fun to read, and seems hard to write. I don't understand complaining about something that doesn't have ANYTHING to do with you unless you made the CHOICE.

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    1. Jennifer, good to see you back. Maybe you need to set up a schedule that fits blogging in without letting it consume you like it often does me. I've gotten into such a habit of checking my blogs everyday throughout the day that it has taken over much of my life. It's a bad plan that I definitely need to remedy.

      Lee

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