Finally, April is over. So is the "April A to Z Challenge"! Here are my reflections on the month that flashed by in a blur.
I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to complete it, but, I guess, I under-estimated myself. I had plenty of reasons to do so though:
- I came back to blogging in January this year, half-heartedly, after a 6-month long break, and managed to publish only 13 posts in 3 months, before I jumped into this challenge, at the very last minute (28th March, to be precise), and after almost a fortnight of indecisiveness!
- Even though I resumed blogging in Jan., I was so scared to post anything too personal that I chose “blogging” as my theme, which was impersonal alright, but, which also required a lot of hard work (i.e. research, planning, formatting etc.)
- April is also the beginning of the new financial year. Plus, April is one of the busiest months at my store, as most school kids here start their new sessions in April. (For those of you who don’t know – I own a stationery and school supplies store in Jaipur, India.)
- Lastly, bad internet connection made it look like I wasn’t even going to last a week in the challenge! I got a new Airtel connection just for this challenge (Can you believe it?), and even that wasn’t much good in my area!
So what helped me complete the challenge despite all these odds?
The support from the community!
- Before the challenge started, Sanch posted a series of tweets tagging all the A to Z participants she was following. Without those tweets from her, I would have never managed to connect with the participants on Twitter. In fact, I wouldn’t have been active at all on Twitter during the challenge!
- Then Vinay added me to this Facebook group they had created especially for this challenge. That’s where I found everybody’s daily posts, all neatly organized in one thread. Saved so much time in hunting for everyone’s posts!
- As I started the series, I had a vague plan that I might compile the posts into an ebook. (Basically, I wanted to learn how kindle e-publishing worked.) I hadn’t mentioned this to anyone back then, but, one day, Shilpa Garg advised me on phone about making an ebook of my A to Z posts. She said these posts were not only useful, but also well-written. And that was such a strong morale booster for me! :D
- Finally, all those encouraging comments that everyone left on my posts! I’ll be honest. There were many days during the month that I thought of quitting on the challenge, primarily because of hectic work schedule. But, everybody’s comments kept me going. I felt that if I quit in between, I’d be letting them all down.
And now, the highlights of the challenge! What were my most important takeaways? What did I learn?
- While I couldn’t follow too many blogs daily because of time constraints, I did manage to reconnect with some of my old blog buddies from “days gone by” (READ: before I was forced to kill my blog last year!) and also discovered some new blogs that I’ll enjoy reading in future.
- I must give a special mention to Titli’s narrations of tales from the Mahabharat (http://titli15081977.blogspot.in/2015_04_01_archive.html). I especially liked her stories about Krishna. They transported me to a completely different state of mind—one filled with faith and peace. I don’t think I’m that much in love with any God, so I’m assuming it must be HER love for Krishna that reflects through her stories.
- I got to learn some new Yoga poses through Rajlakshmi’s series on Yoga Every Day (http://destinychildosheen.blogspot.com.au/2015_04_01_archive.html). Many of them are for advanced Yoga practitioners, and I definitely don’t qualify in that group, but, I did get to bookmark a few that I’m planning to start from this month onwards. The biggest “WOW factor” of her series was the awe-inspiring images she posted of herself doing those poses. You have to actually see them to understand what I mean.
- And then there was this new find – Shantala. Shantala's series on “positive and inspired living” (http://www.shanayatales.com/2015/04/) reminded me of the kind of stuff I used to write here “once upon a time”. Ever since my comeback in January, I’ve been trying to reconnect with the part of myself that used to write all that stuff, but in vain. It looked like it belonged to a different lifetime… until I landed on Shantala’s blog last month. As I read her posts in the series, bits and pieces of the “old me” kept returning slowly.
- And lastly, I learnt that the best way to participate in this series is to pre-schedule all your posts even before the month starts, so that, in April, all you have to do is read other participant’s posts and exchange comments. Hopefully, I will implement this lesson next year.
I'm trying to finalize my eBook on the series now: "A to Z of Blogging Tips for Bloggers". Hopefully, it should be ready in a couple of weeks. I’m just wondering:
- Whether I should add a few “bonus chapters” in the eBook… maybe make it a round figure of 30 instead of 26.
- What cover image should I give to the eBook? Should I keep the same image that I used in my posts, or should I make a new one?
- What to put in the “introduction”? Should I write the introduction myself or should I get it written from someone else? How does this usually work?
Any advice and suggestions on the above points will be highly appreciated. And I would also love to give free copies of the eBook to bloggers who can review it on their blog. So please let me know if you’re interested in it. If you have missed the series on my blog last month, here's where you can get a quick idea of what's going to be in the ebook - "A to Z of Blogging".
Once again, thank you, everybody, for making this a great experience! From now on, normal blogging resumes on miss_teerious! :D
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