Friday 16 May 2014

A to Z 2014 Reflections Post

My original intention was to write my reflections post in time to publish for Monday 5th and to join the linky list.  However, the reality of completing the A to Z Challenge whilst starting to research and blog Hull Fashion Week, meant that two major projects overlapped, multiple candles were burnt at both ends until they met in the middle, and quite frankly after the Finale Catwalk Fashion Show last Saturday I pretty much flaked out for a couple of days.  At this point life outside the blogosphere, boilers and the day job took over.

Now that the house is (almost) a little less upside down and I've finally found myself with some time, I can have that space to reflect upon the challenge, and more importantly write it all down before the details fade and I forget.

Taking the questions posed by the team as my starting point, here goes!

Did you accomplish your goals?
Yes, at least I hope so!

I wanted to write my A to Z series from the normal point of view of Curling Stones for Lego People, but to try to make it more accessible for any reader popping in from the A to Z Blog Hop and without repeating or making it too light for my regular readers who like more "straight in there" bead/modular jewellery posts.

Sometimes it got a little lost in translation but hopefully most of this got discussed within the comments section, so yes those are worth reading!

Did you post every day?
Yes, I had an aim that I wanted to publish by 8.30am every day of the A to Z Challenge.  I managed that most days, W and Z were a little late but were still up before 10am.  I'm really proud that I managed to keep to this schedule 24 times out of 26!

Did you make new friends?
Yes, this was another of my goals, to step outside my comfort zone and interact more with other bloggers and their blogs.

As a fairly niche blogger, there aren't as many of us around in my genre, so it was a great opportunity to hook up with bloggers that I wouldn't normally know/find out about.

The Twitter chats were a great way to meet people chatting under the #azchat hashtag, although the times were a little challenging here in the UK, especially when we changed our clocks and I ended up in the chat an hour early confused as to why there were only 2 other people in there!!  I made a couple of the late night/early hours of the morning ones but only because I didn't have to work the next day on those weeks...

Did you enjoy the Challenge?
I did, it was hard work, especially towards the end, but then again it isn't called a challenge for nothing!  I actually managed to blog about a few things I had been meaning to cover for ages and I really enjoyed thinking up fun ways to cover some of the letters.

I've also bought 3 books because of the challenge, either because someone else was talking about the author or because I had visited their blog or spoke to them on Twitter during the #azchat each week.  I did keep a note of (I hope) all the blogs I've visited and will certainly be returning to several of them as a regular visitor.

Overall Experience
Getting ready for the A to Z Challenge really helped me to concentrate on some long overdue blog housekeeping.

I wrote my "About" section for starters which is something I've been meaning to do for ages; I also worked out how to "publish" it eventually, no good if only I can read it.

I tidied up my sidebar to put up the badges, turned off my CAPTCHA which is staying off as my spam filter seems to catch the majority of it, and attended to a few other minor matters.

I also added other ways to follow the blog and hopefully now the bits visitors need to find quickly are more obvious?!

I really enjoyed chatting with people on my own blog and doing likewise on other blogs and although I prewrote a lot of my posts, if I was joining in again I'd definitely try to prewrite all 26 before April.  As it was I managed to write just under half my posts before the challenge had begun and with the exception of about 5/6 stray posts, I'd mostly got each week finished in advance.

With experience, I now know that I'd like to concentrate more on the blog hop part and visiting/commenting and replying to comments.  Despite not prewriting all the posts I still managed to visit and comment on over 150 blogs - wow until I counted them up I had no idea it was actually that many!

With hindsight I would have taken the day off from my day job on the first day of the challenge as I found I really wanted to spend longer blog hopping and making the most of my time reading those first entries and discovering blogs that I'd like to follow for the whole challenge.

Suggestions for improvements - the only improvement I could think of would be having one easy place to report broken links or non-participating blogs to, when you find them.  A handy place to be able to copy the url to bring it to the attention of the team, so you can then leave them to do their thing, rather than save it and try to remember to report it to one of the team, which I was rubbish at doing retrospectively!

Speaking of the A to Z team - I think they all did a cracking job, they were full of encouragement and support.  Indeed the support of all the participants created a very welcoming and inclusive atmosphere to the Challenge, especially to a newbie such as myself.

Hopefully I was able to support and encourage others that I came across too.  I was really pleased when 3 of the Bloggers I met up with at a Blogger Meet decided to join in too; it was great having people I'd just met in real life along for the ride and I loved reading their A to Z Challenge Posts.

Would I do it all over again?  Well if I told you I hope to pick up another Survivors Badge in 2015, then I think that might just answer the question.

If you want to revisit any of the posts or take a random blog hop through the letters, here you go!

A is for Anticipation (and Anxiety for iPad readers)

B is for Budgeting, Beads & Blogging

C is for Collecting

D is for Dragons

E is for Elephants

F is for Florimania vs Floricide

G is for Guest Bloggers

H is for #HullBloggerMeet - Part 1*

I is for Iceblink

J is for Jewels

K is for Knobbly

L is for Lampwork

M is for Mars

N is for New Year's Bead Resolutions Update

O is for Organisation

P is for Pac Man, Pandora & Prisms

Q is for Quid Pro Quo

R is for Rebeligion

S is for Stacking

T is for Trollbeads on my Travels

U is for Unexpected

V is for Vernier Scale

W is for Writing a Blog

X is for X by Trollbeads

Y is for Yardarm

Z is for Z for Zachariah

What Next?
Now that the A to Z Challenge and Fashion Week are over I intend to return to my normal blogging schedule of 1 to 2 posts a week and approach blogging life at a slightly less breakneck pace!

I have *so* much to tell and show you at the moment, that there is a huge temptation to continue blogging at speed, but I do need to remember to conserve candles!

Mars xx


  1. Sounds like you really made out in the A to Z Challenge this year. Congratulations on all of your successes!

    1. Thanks Randi, it was good to reflect back and look at it from a bit of a distance, it was a really good challenge for me as it encouraged me to do a lot of things I'd been meaning to do for ages... and it's the first time I've ever blogged daily for a month which I wasn't entirely sure I'd manage when I started.

      I'm certainly rather pleased I plucked up the courage to start!

      Mars xx

  2. Great idea, listing all your posts in alpha order on the bottom. I too enjoyed chatting w/ you on twitter. Aloha!

    1. Thanks Courtney, I really enjoyed the social aspect of it and I love to read so it was going to be a winner, the only thing I wasn't sure about was whether I'd manage all the writing but I did so yay \o/

      I think the Twitter chats really made it for me, was so nice to "talk" live to other people who were taking part in the challenge, great hooking up with you xx


I love saying hi to people who've read my blog, or are just passing through via the A to Z, or anyone not a spam bot!

P.s. If you use an iPad/iPhone and are having trouble leaving a comment on Blogger, you might have better luck using a browser that's not the default iPad one... Then from the "Comment as" drop down menu choose Name/Url (you can leave URL field blank or add your web address) or Anonymous and (hopefully) away you go! Mars xx