I did things differently this year — I chose a theme, I wrote some of the posts ahead of time, and I tried to comment on a lot more blogs.
Next year . . . well, yes, I’ll be doing this again. I’ll probably do a theme again, although I probably won’t pick it until early next year. I think having a theme helps to narrow the possible topics and also create a stronger sense of cohesion, setting off the challenge as a unit. The problem is choosing which theme.
There are so many topics to choose from. This year, I did epic fantasy. I briefly touched on Lord of the Rings, fabulous creatures, magic in general — and I ran across other blogs that took each of those things and explored it in depth. I found blogs talking about music, teaching, RPGs, art, life, recovery, and more. (I didn’t run across any of the gardening or cooking ones, though, so if you did, please recommend them in the comments!) I’m adding the A to Z blogs I followed over on my links page, so if you’re interested, you can go see what others blogged about.
Following was interesting. I have a Blogger account, but I tend not to follow people through Blogger because that’s not actually where I blog, and as far as I can tell, the blogs I follow only show up on my dashboard there — not very useful. So if someone was on Blogger and I wanted to come back to them, the best way for me to do this was often to add a bookmark to my browser and try to remember to go back to it.
Some people on Blogger, as well as some on WordPress.org or WordPress.com had e-mail subscriptions available in their sidebar. That was my preferred method of following a blog: The blogger still gets feedback showing that you’re interested (subscriber numbers go up), and there’s no chance of missing a post because I forgot to visit. (Not having time to read them all is a different problem.)
WordPress.com also has a “Follow” option that e-mails posts to the address I used to set up my WordPress.com account. I used that if there was no other option available. I noticed a few people followed my account back — however, that account is used solely for the purpose of commenting on blogs. I need to find a way to make that clear, perhaps by going to the page and pointing everyone to this site.
So, yes, I followed lots of new blogs, and I’m now overwhelmed trying to keep up. Any day that gets busy with paying work and family and writing (or any two of the three) often leaves me with neither time nor energy to read and comment on blogs. By the end of April, I wasn’t doing a good job of visiting new blogs because I’d already followed so many interesting ones that I was spending a couple hours each day reading and commenting. Which does make me wonder how I’m going to manage next year, even if I do schedule everything ahead of time. We’ll have to see.
I tried to visit everyone who left a comment on my blog (if I missed you, I’m sorry), just as I try to keep up with my regular readers. I think I’m glad I didn’t get the 100 new followers (or even half that!) that the A to Z hosts kept talking about. I’d never have time to do anything but blog and comment (assuming that a significant portion of followers commented on my blog).
I used the linky list for visiting new blogs. The buttons that were made for visiting random blogs — I just couldn’t get them to work. I could put them in my sidebar, but even when I followed the instructions for WordPress sites, they weren’t functional. I never did try using them on somebody else’s site, probably because I already felt overloaded with people I was trying to follow.
When there are over 1,500 sites, I think it’s fair to say most people aren’t going to visit them all, let alone follow all the ones they might find interesting. Some days, I’d check out five new sites on the list; some days, ten; other days, none at all. I didn’t manage to visit 150 sites, which would have been five new ones each day. Part of me feels bad that I let so many people down by not doing such a simple thing — but five each day is only simple if you haven’t already followed several others (see “Time commitment,” above).
I’m grateful for all the A to Z hosts for putting this together, for my friends who joined in and the new friends I made. I’m grateful for all those posts that gave me something to think about, as well as for those people who left thought-provoking comments on my posts. I’m grateful for those who commented on my non-A to Z posts — and for my regular readers who took the multitude of posts for the month in stride. I’m also grateful there’s almost a full year before I have to do this again.
Did you have a favorite post I wrote during the month? Do you have a suggestion for next year’s theme? Did you find anything about my blog or posts inconvenient or annoying? Tips for time management? Would you like to see me do a guest post on the A to Z Challenge blog? Let me know in the comments!