IWSG: Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

Today’s post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a blog hop where insecure writers like myself can share our worries and offer advice and encouragement. Click here to find out more about IWSG and to see a list of participating blogs.

Today’s post is also my reflections post following my first A to Z Challenge.

Back in March, I mentioned to a friend that I was having a hard time with writing. I believe I said something like, “I’ve fallen out of love with writing.” Under the circumstances, I didn’t feel up for something like the A to Z Challenge; and yet I did it anyway, and I’m glad I did.

My theme was scientific terminology (a.k.a. Sciency Words), because of course that would be my theme. My Sciency Words series is an obvious fit for A to Z. How could I not do that?

The real challenge for me in the A to Z Challenge wasn’t writing 26 blog posts, nor was it reading everybody else’s blogs over the course of 26 days. No, the real challenge, at least for me, was doing both at the same time.

Whenever I was in the heat of writing the next batch of posts, I fell behind on all the blogs I wanted to read. I couldn’t even keep up with the comments people were leaving on my own posts (if you commented on something, and I never responded or came to check out your site, I’m really sorry).

And then when I was keeping up with all the cool/inspiring/thought-provoking blogs I was reading, I started falling behind—way behind—on my own writing schedule. I have to admit that Sciency Words: A to Z almost ended in disaster toward the end of week three.

Oh well. Lessons learned, and I’ll try to do better next year. And honestly, despite the problems I had I met a lot of cool new people, and also I’m pretty happy with how my 26 posts turned out. The thing I’m most proud of was this cartoon from Sciency Words: Planet.

Going into May, I’m now feeling a lot better and a lot more confident about my writing. I guess the A to Z Challenge was just what I needed to fall in love with writing again.

21 Responses to IWSG: Reflections on the A to Z Challenge

  1. Steve Morris says:

    Hey James, you are a good writer, and I’m glad to hear that your confidence is returning. I look forward to seeing all your stories finished and in print.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Glad you found your intangible tangible again. 🙂 I think we all ran into that problem keeping up with the posting. I finished catching up to that part… Hmmmm 30 minutes ago 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I think part of the reason I got through my near catastrophe in the third week was that other people were saying they were having the same problems. Somehow it’s easier to get through these things when you know you’re not the only one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I second Steve’s observation that you’re a good writer, so don’t let impostor syndrome or anything else undermine your confidence.

    Blogging is a mixed bag. Doing it keeps our writing muscles flexed and helps us find our personal writing voice, but it can be a serious drain on resources. I used to blog daily, but after a couple of years of that, I was getting seriously burnt out. It got to the point that I wasn’t reading anything for my own gratification. Everything was about whether it might or might not good for the blog. If not for a physical ailment forcing me to cut back, I might have gone on that way until blogging was hopelessly broken for me.

    It seems like all of us having a writing capacity. It takes some trial and error to find it. I remember reading one author’s blog post stating that he measured everything he wrote (story, notes, blog posts, comments, etc) and discovered that his daily capacity was something like 2000 words. He was later able to increase it when he started writing full time, but not until then.

    Burnout seems like it’s a problem with both writing and exercise (and probably work of any kind). We have to manage our capacities to avoid crashing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I really like the analogy between writing and exercise. I use that a lot when I’m trying to explain my writing process.

      With both exercise and writing, if you push yourself too hard, you run the risk of burning out. However, if you create and maintain good habits, writing/exercising every day or almost everyday, you get far better results.

      I’ve also found that if you stick to those good habits over long periods of time, your writing capacity goes up. Or at least mine has. In a way, it’s not too different from weight training.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. chemistken says:

    During the month of April, not only was I remiss as far as posting, but I fell behind keeping up with reading other blogs. And I didn’t even have the A-Z challenge as an excuse. Hopefully, that all goes away in May. Glad to hear your excitement in writing has returned.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Scott Levine says:

    I’m glad to hear the push from April helped you get your mojo back. That’s great to hear. It’s terrific to come back from the edge of burn-out. April was a busy month for me, too, we’ll see how May goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I think I missed some of your stuff in April, but it seemed like you had a productive month as well. I particularly enjoyed your post on Alpha Centauri… I mean, Rigil Kentarus. I also liked your post on capitalization rules for the Sun, Moon, and Earth.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Juneta says:

    I did not do A to Z but I feel behind in keeping up with my commenting in cheering. I enjoyed your posts.
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Olga Godim says:

    A charming cartoon. Love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Donna L Hole says:

    Ah, the malevolent info-overload. When I start reading blogs I fall into that trap too. Next thing you know I’m finding my own interesting links and forget that I’m commenting on someone’s post.

    I don’t participate in A-Z. I know I can write the posts; but the amount of commenting, and extensive reading, is just overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      There was a lot of reading and commenting involved. At some point, though, I realized I wasn’t the only one who was struggling. It was overwhelming for everybody, but I still think it was a good experience for me, and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year.

      Like

  9. I have yet to attempt the A to Z challenge. I’ve tried to come up with theme ideas but with no luck. Who knows? Maybe next year. I’m glad you were successful and that you found it worthwhile!

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      I’d wanted to do A to Z for quite a few years now, and I chickened out every time until this year. If you’re on the fence about doing it, I’d say do it. It was a little stressful at times, but overall it was way more fun than I expected.

      Like

  10. jmh says:

    They don’t call it a challenge for nothing. 😉 I’ve definitely struggled to do anything else writing related when I’ve undertaken it.

    Liked by 1 person

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