Monday, May 7, 2012

After A to Z: Reflections and Lessons Learned

Last month, I ran through the alphabet guided by the loose theme of mythic moments. Now the organizers of this challenge have organized a series of reflection posts. So I'll discuss both the specifics of this challenge and some larger points that can apply to anyone's creative process.

1. Structure: I didn't meticulously plan ahead, and I liked how each letter nudged me into unexpected places. Only with X did I feel a bit trapped. Writing under some restraints encourages creative solutions. I liked the narrowing of possibilities (which paradoxically expanded the number of interesting ideas.) I also used a lot of alliteration. That was pretty fun.


2. Theme: Finding a theme that will fit for 26 posts is difficult. A lot of people went on the 'lighter' end, knowing that people would be reading a lot of posts and would appreciate brevity. So I'll explain my decision to go the other way.

- First, I couldn't think of a series of light posts that would capture the spirit of the blog (though something like 'influences' might have worked).

- Second, the communal energy pushed me into some posts I might otherwise not have attempted.

-Third, that's what interested me that month.

-Fourth, I try to write/explore things that aren't already floating out there. It might be why I've been called 'odd' more than once. (I usually take this as praise.)

3. Difficulties:

- All words are not created equal. I found the types of posts I did more draining than, say, writing 500 words about e-books or commenting on another's article. It was more like creating fiction than just tossing out my opinion. (At the same time, my other writing didn't really suffer, so I think the posts were generative to some degree, like core training and squats to the athlete.)

- Balance. I tried to strive for (emotional) balance and dynamics with my topics, but there were times in which I felt like two posts of this type rather than six in the week might have been more effective (for both the reader and the writer). I also noticed this when reading other blogs.

- Visiting scores of new blogs is very exhausting. I found some great new people, but it felt almost like a month-long party does for an introvert.

4. Double-Edge Swords

- Just as communal energy is tremendously invigorating, when the overall motivation level starts to dip, that can also be contagious.

- By pushing ourselves and trying new things, we can better understand what works for us. At the same time, I'm skeptical of non-sustainable approaches. The dangers of backlash, burnout and regression are real.

5. End on a High Note

- It was fun to see what everyone came up with.

- I now have a tab with a clearly organized series of 26 mythic moments, if anyone wants to revisit.

- I did a lot of valuable re-reading. It was interesting to see where my memory differed from the actual text.

- Hope to see you all around in the coming months.

They propose an A-Z series on treats. Starting now.

44 comments:

  1. 'I didn't meticulously plan ahead, and I liked how each letter nudged me into unexpected places.'

    Hektor, I like this a lot.

    And, as a result, you posted some really engaging stuff -- though that isn't too different from your usual fare. As always, I enjoyed your thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Suze. Now I just have to figure out what to write next. :)

      Delete
  2. I absolutely agree with the fact that "the communal energy pushed me into some posts I might otherwise not have attempted." I like pressure, not while it happens, but it somehow always make me give more.

    I've enjoyed your blog posts, and will definitely be coming back here. Congrats to pulling it off the way you did, and staying true to yourself throughout. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. "I like pressure, not while it happens, but it somehow always make me give more."

    I like having the motivation and the sense of being surrounded by active minds. (Though I also like the deeper immersion that comes from unplugging and focusing on a book.)

    "will definitely be coming back here."

    Very glad to have you around.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "By pushing ourselves and trying new things, we can better understand what works for us."

    This is what I got out of the challenge as well. Blogging every day has helped me learn that, well, I like it, and I'm going to keep up with my blog and post more often... and better...

    "It felt almost like a month-long party does for an introvert."

    And I totally agree with this. You'd think that an introvert would feel more comfortable getting to know people on the internet, but I have found that it is not quite so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I like it, and I'm going to keep up with my blog and post more often... and better..."

      Good to hear!

      "feel more comfortable getting to know people on the internet, but I have found that it is not quite so."

      The internet seems geared toward immediate reactions, which is probably just as hard for some introverts as extended face-to-face time.

      Delete
    2. Oh you're so right! I find it hard to comment immediately on someone's post, or respond immediately when someone speaks to me. I feel the need to compose an answer. It's rather unfortunate, but then again, with time to think it through, my answer usually gets my point across much more effectively. This is a writerly trait, I suppose. :)

      Delete
    3. "This is a writerly trait, I suppose."

      I wonder if the trait comes before the writerliness? (I'm pretty sure it did for me.)

      "It's rather unfortunate, but then again, with time to think it through, my answer usually gets my point across much more effectively."

      Yeah, why do people not appreciate this as much as they should? :)

      Delete
  5. This was a great recap. Thanks for all the posts over the last month - a month-long party for sure!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

      Delete
  6. I think you chose well, plenty of scope for interesting posts. My only regret I couldn't visit more. The number of blogs made it really hard to pay regular visits. Very exhausting for sitting at a desk tapping keys.

    mood
    Moody Writing
    @mooderino
    The Funnily Enough

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "The number of blogs made it really hard to pay regular visits. Very exhausting for sitting at a desk tapping keys."

      Agreed. I use Google Reader to make it easier in general, but that doesn't work when seeking out new blogs.

      Delete
  7. Your posts were deeper than most, really interesting stuff, most of which I had no knowledge of.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ha, your dogs are so cute! :)

    Being odd definitely is a compliment. It means you think off the straight and narrow path, forge your own way.

    Congratulations on completing a huge challenge in a way that deepened your writing - that's an accomplishment.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "Being odd definitely is a compliment."

    Phew!

    Ha, your dogs are so cute! :)"

    Yes, indeed. So I won't mention the mischief they've gotten into today...

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm a little bit scatter brained, so you're exactly right about the challenge forcing me to focus, yet made me be extra creative and maybe think of things I wouldn't otherwise think about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think most of us can benefit from a little of the right kind of 'pushing.' Of course, finding that is often easier said than done.

      Delete
  11. You have some truly valid thoughts and reflections for the A - Z Challenge. I'm glad you shared them with us. I didn't mind brevity in some of the post, but I was put off by laziness and complaints for having to write posts. Why join the challenge if it's going to be that much trouble. Either do it or don't, but if you do, don't complain to your readers about it all the time.

    I do appreciate that this challenge helped me focus on being more active in the blogging community. I've met some wonderful people, and continue to meet more every day. This is a nice experience, one we can all be happy we shared together:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "This is a nice experience, one we can all be happy we shared together:"

      Well said, M.J. And it's nice to meet you.

      "Why join the challenge if it's going to be that much trouble."

      My guess is that it's easier to commit with a click than to come up with 26 good posts. :)

      Delete
  12. Burnout was something I was worried about near the end. But taking a small break right after the challenge I think helped recharge the batteries. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and following, I'm a new follower too. Also, been poking around your blog and I'm enjoying some of your old posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I noticed a lot of people took small breaks. They were much deserved!

      "been poking around your blog and I'm enjoying some of your old posts!"

      Thanks. I love it when people look through the archives.

      Delete
  13. I agree with all of you points (especially the introvert at a month long party part). I would also like to say one great thing about this challenge is that you get to run into blogs you normally wouldn't visit. Moment of truth: your's is one of those that I would probably not read on my own, but seeing your posts every day for a month gave it a chance to grow on me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "seeing your posts every day for a month gave it a chance to grow on me."

      Glad to hear!

      "you get to run into blogs you normally wouldn't visit."

      There are a lot of interesting minds out there. :)

      Delete
  14. I found you late in the challenge but I look forward to seeing what your future posts bring to the table!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad we connected. Thanks for reading.

      Delete
  15. I think I may try a theme next time around, even if it is a loosely linked theme. It did kind of feel like a strange party trying to see all the links on the site.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "even if it is a loosely linked theme."

      This was the strategy I went with. It did help some. I didn't venture too far from my normal types of posts, though I probably emphasized things like The Iliad more and current news/research less.

      Delete
  16. "I found some great new people, but it felt almost like a month-long party does for an introvert."

    ^ Yes. This. I found the challenge to be just that: a challenge. At times difficult, but still rewarding on a personal and a "social" level. I needed the jumpstart to get back into blogging since I had started to "burn out" before April.

    My biggest struggle wasn't making it to all the Challenge blogs (I was okay w/3-5 blogs a day) but instead, was keeping up with the non-challenge blogging relationships I had already established. I didn't want to lose those relationships just to focus on new ones with people who would likely burn out after the challenge ended.

    I'm not sure if that made any sense. I enjoyed your posts, though. They're so insightful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I didn't want to lose those relationships just to focus on new ones with people who would likely burn out after the challenge ended."

      Yeah, it's easy to let the 'party of the moment' dominate all other aspects of our lives. I think this fits in with my point about being skeptical of non-sustainable approaches.

      "I'm not sure if that made any sense"

      Lots of sense. :)

      "I enjoyed your posts, though. They're so insightful!"

      Thank you!

      Delete
  17. Your idea about the blog posts becoming generative, like core exercises, inspired the idea in me of using blog posts as a sort of warm-up for my "real" writing. That is to say, I dig this idea but find I'm too neurotic to post for the World something I've just tossed off and haven't slaved over for a few hours...Oh, dear - the tortures we writers put ourselves through! :-)

    Some Dark Romantic

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "using blog posts as a sort of warm-up for my "real" writing."

      I think blog posts can work this way. They can also allow for explorations that might relate to current projects.

      Delete
  18. My blog is my daily writing exercise; the new habit of visiting other people's was the bit I ran out of steam for! But a little at a time is a sustainable habit and one I intend to build up. I like the odd and thoughtful stuff, that's what I'll be coming back for :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "new habit of visiting other people's was the bit I ran out of steam for!"

      Yeah, that can be difficult. Especially if you feel like you've 'fallen behind.'

      "But a little at a time "

      Often the best approach!

      "I like the odd and thoughtful stuff, that's what I'll be coming back for :-)"

      Great! Glad to have you around. :)

      Delete
  19. Thanks for the follow. Nice to meet you. I'm happy to follow you back.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Congratulation on finishing the challenge. During the challenge I didn't visit as many blogs as I would like to but, cross my heart, I'm visiting every single one with the reflection post! I am so glad my journey brought me here.

    Evalina, This and that...

    ReplyDelete
  21. "cross my heart, I'm visiting every single one with the reflection post!"

    That's quite the feat!

    "I am so glad my journey brought me here."

    As am I. :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hektor, once again, you're in my brain, stealing my thoughts. You're a spy. SPY. I'm on to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So, in a way, my lack of recent posts is sorta your fault, no? YOU KEEP BLOCKING THE SCREEN WITH YOUR SHOULDER!

      Delete
    2. I wish you'd just come inside and share my popcorn with me. It would save us both a lot of time and effort.

      Delete
    3. That's because you're reading my mind. Rats! Foiled again!

      Delete
    4. This is turning into a Christopher Nolan movie!

      Delete

Web Analytics Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...