Woohoo, I survived the A to Z challenge! I hope everyone had fun following along as I went through some of the details of how I make silver beads. I realized afterward that the only tool that I didn’t write about during the challenge were my carving tools, so I figured that I would cover them off here ;) The flatter blades on the left are good for cutting out the clay. I also use them and the rounded point of the top tool to blend clay that I join together. I don’t think I’ve ever used the jagged edge of the bottom tool! And I swear that I had three tools at one point …
I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about how I felt about the challenge now that it’s done. It’s not how I thought I would feel going in.
I had a rough idea of what I was going to write about for each letter before I committed to participating, so I felt fairly confident signing up. But, I still wanted to be prepared. So, in mid-January, I started writing. I revised a few as I went (for example, T was supposed to be Torch, but I combined the information with K for Kiln since they overlapped too much). And I had to do a bit of a push the last week of March. But, by the start of the challenge, I had written all of the posts and only needed five or six of the pictures for some of the later letters. During the challenge, I reviewed the next day’s post every day to add any cross-links and make sure that there wasn’t anything that I missed, which was interesting since it allowed me to reacquaint myself with the content I had written weeks before.
I know what you’re thinking: you pre-wrote all of your posts?!? Cheater! CHEATER!! I know because at first I thought the same. But, I actually got the idea from the official A to Z Challenge website which suggests pre-writing and scheduling posts. Still, looking back, I also know that this is where my feelings about the challenge got a bit muddy.
Because I wrote the 26 posts during the ten weeks before the challenge started, it didn’t feel as much like a blogging challenge; it felt like more like a posting challenge. And it’s not much of a challenge to hit “Publish” once a day. To be honest, I didn’t even do that. When I finished a post, I scheduled it for the correct day so that my drafts list was more manageable (on top of the 26 A to Z posts, I had another 15 or so posts in various states and I was losing track of which posts were done and which needed more content).
On the other hand, having all of my posts done before the challenge started meant that I had time to respond to comments on my posts and to read and comment on other sites in the challenge. And, I’m not really sure how I would have done that if I also had to write posts as I went! By the time we hit D or E, I was already behind reading and commenting on the blogs that I planned on following. By the time we hit G, I had given up commenting regularly on a few of the blogs, although I was still reading the posts because they were interesting. I felt bad not commenting, but I also felt like my comments should have some substance to them and even the comments that I was leaving felt shorter than I wanted them to be.
So, would I do it again? You know, I probably would.
I didn’t get the sense of accomplishment that I thought I would from the challenge. But, I’ve realized that I didn’t really go into it to force myself to blog every day. I went into it to stretch my creativity. To try something new. And to really think about what I like about metal clay and what challenges me about it. I also didn’t feel like I had many resources when I started, so I wanted to write down some of what I’ve learned in case there are others who are looking for information. I feel like I accomplished all of that. And, maybe I even inspired a few people to try out metal clay!
I’m sorry if my posts scared you off instead! Really, it’s lots of fun!
One resolution done, two more to go!
Edited to add: It sounds like I was more disappointed in the challenge than not, and I absolutely wasn’t! It just wasn’t what I expected it to be. But, that has everything to do with my expectations and nothing to do with the challenge or the way that it was run. Truthfully, I did feel a little disappointed just before the challenge started because I had all of my posts finished and so it was a bit anti-climactic. But writing 26 posts over ten weeks, which is still 2.5ish posts a week, on top of what I was publishing over those ten weeks was still an accomplishment for me. I think my largest disappointment is that I wasn’t able to keep up with as many sites as I wanted to. I started with a list of ten sites to follow and that list grew to 14 over the course of the challenge. To me, that doesn’t seem like that much. But, I often wasn’t able to start reading until 8:30 or later at night, so that really only gave me an hour and a half to respond to comments on my posts and read and comment on others’ posts. Maybe I’m just a slow reader? :D But finding new sites to follow and meeting new people through them was really fun! So, my disappointment over the anti-climactic start to the challenge was far outweighed by my enjoyment of seeing what people came up with for every letter. Such a diverse crowd!
I love that the challenge is flexible so that you can make it whatever you want to make it. But, I think the true benefit of the challenge is that – no matter how you manage the challenge on your site – it introduces you to so many other great sites. I’ve following along with Mars the last two years that she did the challenge, but just knowing about the challenge wasn’t enough to push me to seek out new sites. Participating in the challenge is what really encouraged me to find the new sites and I’m really happy that I did.
Tip for the future: as soon as you find a site that you think you’ll want to follow, take down the URL! There were several sites that I found early on that I wanted to go back to, but I forgot to grab the URL and couldn’t find it in my browser history.