writers / writing

#IWSG–Should I do AtoZ Next Year?

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out. The first Wednesday of every month, we all post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity – Is the time required to complete the AtoZ Challenge worth the effort?

I’ve been following several efriends as they post every day on a themed topic. I have to say, it’s been quite fun, reading these intertwined posts. For those who don’t know, AtoZ requires a post every day, for 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet, usually all revolving around one topic (but not necessarily). If I were to start, I’d have to start immediately–well, in June–to get done by April, 2017.

My question: Is it worth this effort? For those of you who have done it: What do you get out of it that makes you return year after year? Or why one-and-done? I’d love to know before I take the plunge.

More IWSG articles:

Is NaNoWriMo Important if I Don’t Care About the Word Count?

Should I Continue My Newsletter?

Why do I get so few sales through Google Play?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.


74 thoughts on “#IWSG–Should I do AtoZ Next Year?

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  5. I’ve thought about it for a couple of years, but I’ve never done it. Even though I already know what the topic would be, I just couldn’t justify the time. I’m considering trying it next year, but only if I finish my story before then.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jacqui, this post has generated a wonderful discussion on your blog and I’ve read them all with great interest. There seems to be so many pros and cons – and I feel it all depends on your own personal circumstances, time and blog. For myself I doubt I’d do it as there is a huge commitment involved. I have respect for all those who can complete the challenge and understand it can be inspiring and offer ample opportunity to meet new bloggers. You could make a post summarising all the comments!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • My standard-bearer for this Challenge, Damyanti Biswas at Damyanti Writes, did such a wonderful themed introduction to a topic close to her heart. I would never have read an article as long as those 26 entries, but in the bite-size pieces, I couldn’t wait for the next.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve never done the a – z challenge. I think I’d run out of topics even if I did them randomly because I’d feel so pushed to write that post every single day, creating a feeling of frustration that would overwhelm me. I’m sure some of the bloggers who take the challenge are getting more followers to their blogs. Some bloggers need that outside push every 6 months (there’s the challenge in the fall too). There are those who like the busy feeling of it.

    Even though I want more followers, I want the ones who truly like reading my posts the 2 days each week I publish. I want those ones who comment, not just scan and move on. I’m a self-pusher so I seriously doubt that I need the bi-yearly shove. I like staying busy, but there’s a lot of other things I can do to get that feeling.

    I guess what it boils down to is this: Do you think this will make your daily life a little richer? For some, it does this. For others, it doesn’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hi, Jacqui! You asked a question that I’ve often wondered about. I’ve never done the A to Z challenge or any other like it. The only way I could manage it would be to have it completed in advance. I’ve certainly seen some wonderful A to Z posts that people have done. But my little voice inside says it’s not for me. I have enough on my plate already! I always think “Maybe next year.” But that hasn’t happened yet. Sounds like you’re off to a good start with the themes and categories; perhaps you should tackle the writing and answer your question by participating! Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The topic I’d like to pick is one I’d enjoy writing posts about, so I may start the posts and see if I get through them all by next April. Then, it would be a painless decision (my favorite type).


  9. I first started blogging in March of 2014. I jumped into A to Z in April with about two-thirds of my posts written ahead of time. It was great for me because I was able to meet so many bloggers that I probably wouldn’t have met, being a newbie, and it brought a lot of people to my blog. I participated again in 2015, but I was just coming off a blog tour for my first book that I’d published at the end of February. I only had a few posts done ahead of time and had to spend too much time writing the posts on the days they were due. I didn’t have much time for visiting other blogs, so I didn’t get as much out of it, other than stress. I opted out this year because of my impending book release. If you have posts done ahead and scheduled and can spend lots of time visiting, it’s definitely worth doing just because of all the new connections you’ll make. I’m hoping to get back into it next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You got many great replies here, Jacqui. I especially like what Crystal Collier and Pat Garcia wrote. You know I’ve been doing my own A to Z challenge for more than a year. My initial goal was to write once a week about writing. That got derailed for reasons I won’t explain here, but I’ve almost completed the alphabet.
    The only way I could compete in a one-month challenge, requiring a post every single weekday, would be to write in advance and be ready to pop in posts as needed.
    I think it depends on what you expect to get out of such a challenge before you commit but I know if you took it up, you’d do very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve done A to Z every year except the first one. It is very hectic and busy. My blog following really grew the first few years but not so much the last two. I’ve met some wonderful bloggers and learned so much though as I visit around. For me it’s worth it but it is a lot of work.
    Susan Says

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the feedback. I’m surprised it only grew the first year–the blog reach. I like finding new blogs to visit and tend to be a good efriend if others reciprocate. I think it’s Crystal who spends hours a day on blogging. I’m not there yet, but don’t mind spending an hour. Or so.


  12. I did a post-a-day twice. One time with the A-Z challenge and one time with a Haiku-a-Day challenge. It built in a lot of discipline (in which I’m in short supply) but I will admit it was pressure and by the end of each challenge I was glad it was over.

    As far as picking up readers – it was more work to comment on other participants blogs than write the posts and I frankly felt that to be a chore and obligation.

    You are so disciplined to begin with, Jacqui, I’m not sure it’s the best use of your time. BUT you can start and stop at any time – no one is grading you!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You know what I get out of it? Book sales. Seriously. It doesn’t matter what I blog about, I get more exposure to new people during April than any other month of the year. Regardless, I didn’t do the full thing this year–only 3 isolated posts on a group blog. Even that got me a few sales. Secondly, I love the interaction we get with new people. Every time I play, I end up with at least 15 to 30 new bloggies I absolutely adore. (Which, admittedly, can be dangerous to my time since I want to keep up with all of them.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good grief, Crystal, I never considered that. I didn’t see it translating to book sales. With a new book hopefully launching in a few months, that could be reason enough. Thanks.


  14. I successfully did alone it once. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of bloggers. Then I failed once on my own. I had a book launching and wasn’t prepared for all the work that needs to be done. So, if you’re prepared ahead of time, I think it’s well worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I think it’s worth it if you have some plan or it encourages you to do something you might have been putting off. Like researching a certain topic. Or growing your blog readers. Taking the time to comment more. If you don’t have a goal in mind, then no, it’s not worth it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I only contribute as one of the IWSG administrators, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing even a few letters for A-Z Challenge. Not that it wasn’t fun, but my days are generally too full now. When wondering whether I should do something more, I ask myself, do I want to? Does it sound like fun? Am I already doing enough? Okay, I don’t ask myself all those questions per se. I think about how the thought of doing something makes me feel, and if it doesn’t make me feel good, I don’t do it. Except for toilets. Someone has to, right? Thanks for visiting my blog. You wouldn’t happen to know a link that would help me get my blog updating on everyone’s blogroll? No. That’s okay. Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m #43.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do think it’d be fun, but I’d be disappointed if I put all that effort out and no one visited. I guess that’s what I’m wondering. The one’s I visited did great or not. Very mixed.

      As for a blog update pushed out to everyone’s blogroll? I don’t think that works anymore. It’s all about opting in. Or did I misread that?

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I did it two years… 2013 and 2014 I think?
    The first time, I got ambitious and ran it on two blogs. One was a fitness related blog. The other might have been more spiritual themes. It was whatever I felt like talking about… but two was too much.

    I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I want to write,” but then they never do. And when the few do, they’ll say, “I’d love to give and receive feedback,” but sometimes that takes the form of “uh… I liked it.” Not very helpful.
    So for the second year, I chose “Elements of Critique” as a theme because i wanted to capture the benefits of a good critique group and the methods I’ve found helpful in identifying what’s good or bad within a submission.
    It was a challenging but fun experience.
    That said, due to other commitments, I haven’t come back to the A to Z challenge. Maybe one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Personally I don’t do these kinds of challenges. Honestly, I’ve got enough to do and don’t feel that I need this push my creativity. Sometimes I feel I have the opposite problem – too many topics in my brain and not enough time to write about them.

    But such are the burdens of a creative genius…

    Liked by 3 people

  19. One thing to keep in mind is that the time and effort required vary wildly. Since you don’t have to have a theme, going “free-form” (as it were) would cut down on the required time considerably. (Though it probably wouldn’t be as much fun for the writer or the readers…) Also, some people make very short posts, just a photo or a brief, random snippet. On my main blog, it took me much more effort this year than last year, because I was doing something that required massive amounts of research into mythologies I don’t know very well. (The spiraling drop in post quality was the natural result of thus overextending myself, of course.) But last year I was just talking about the Greek myths I know so well, so it was really easy, and went by quickly and smoothly (with a few bumps caused by the fact that the Greek alphabet has fewer letters than the English one).

    Whether or not it’s worth it is definitely a personal thing, but I think it’s a certainty that for anyone who comes back year after year, it’s obviously worth it to them. 😀 Personally, I enjoy knowing what I’m going to write about (this was obviously more important last year, when I was on a mission to blog every single day for a full year) and I like getting to let my passion for mythology take over, so I really enjoy it. (The fact that new people come and see my blog who usually might not doesn’t hurt, either.)

    When the A-to-Z Reflections posts go up (officially, they’re supposed to go up on Monday), you’ll probably get a better idea of how people look at the challenge from within. (Though in my case you’ll see a lot of complaining, because it was one of those “everything is going worng” things, you know?)

    Even when it’s a lot of work, it’s still a lot of fun, though, and you get to be part of something that spans the whole Internet — or at least the blogging portion of it, anyway.

    Or maybe I should say that it’s a lot of fun for some people. It’s hard to judge who’s going to be the type to enjoy it and who isn’t.

    If you’re thinking of trying it — and if you’re curious, you should definitely give it strong consideration, even if you ultimately decide not to do it — then you might want to think about themes that will be quick and easy, so you don’t get bogged down. Like you could pick a book or a character for each letter, and just give a brief quote from them…er, no, actually that sounds like a lot of work. Yeah, I’ll try not to make theme suggestions. Bad idea. But my basic point is sound: if you’re thinking of trying it, definitely figure out a theme that’ll be easy for you, personally, to work with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would enjoy the research required to create 26 posts on one topic. I wouldn’t see that as time-consuming, more like fun. Or a hobby. That sounds like your reaction–learning more about your passion.

      I didn’t know about the reflections. I’ll check those out Monday.

      Liked by 1 person

      • There should be a linky dedicated to the reflection posts on Monday on the A-to-Z site, so you can check out all the ones that get posted. (Presumably not everyone who participates in the challenge also does a reflection post.) I’m probably going to use that linky to make a note of which blogs had interesting A-to-Z sessions that I should go back and visit after classes let out. (I literally had *no* time to check them out during April, even though that was the whole point! *sigh*)

        Liked by 1 person

  20. The answer to your title question is in how you feel about it. If you didn’t enjoy doing it, repeating it will show in your posts.
    They say flipping a coin will answer all questions. Yes is heads, No is tails – now flip.. were you happy or disappointed?

    Liked by 2 people

  21. First, no doubt about it, the A to Z Blog Challenge is hard work. Some people prepare all their blog posts ahead of time, then schedule them to release for publishing everyday at their chosen time. People like me, (I’m a pantser) prepare either once a week or everyday. I prepared this year, for the first time, once a week, which meant writing six posts at a time starting with Tuesday until Monday. And even though I did it differently, I say that it is work because you enter a stage of creativity that you don’t even realize you’re in. I found myself totally in the world of the story I was writing, for example. You also visit other blogs. I made it a policy when I first started the challenge to start from the bottom and visit people’s blogs I didn’t know exist. I got caught up in some of those blogs and visited them several times and some everyday.
    Was it worth it for me? Yes, because I like being in touch with myself on the level I experience participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge. It’s like writing a book. My creativity begins to flow and it knows that I am going to be there for quite a while, (30 days) so it pours out and floods me with ideas.
    Will I do it in 2017? Yes, I will. I have it noted in my calendar. I don’t know what my theme will be yet because my story that I started in 2013, I’m going to start preparing so that I can seek representation.
    So, I say yes it is worth it. You get to know yourself, you get to know others and you meet some new interesting people who may or may not become friends and supporter of your writing.
    Patricia @ http://www.patgarciaandeverythingmustchange.com/2016/05/the-second-milestone-iwsg-article-may-4.html

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Jacqui, it’s fun to use your creativity for a theme, then A to Z, your way through. (smile) It does require some kind of preparation to stay ahead. Some letters are challenging but fun to think outside your comfort zone to write about. I encourage you to try it once (smile) it’ll be fun! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

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