So, we’ve survived the A-to-Z Challenge! This was my first year, and I managed to pull off the whole thing more or less on time, with only one slight cheat to the schedule (taking a break day on a Friday instead of the Sunday). I found some interesting new blogs, picked up some Twitter followers, saw a huge jump in site traffic, and have a couple dozen essays I didn’t have before.
So it was a pretty good first year. It’s also going to be my last year.
This is not an indictment on the challenge itself. It’s a great idea and a great community, and definitely something worth trying. This is a solid case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
For one thing, my posts are long. I deal in analysis, which means cited examples and explanations. I almost choked when I saw that posts for the challenge should be 100-300 words. I mean, that’s barely an introduction! My posts averaged about 700 words or so, and I clocked in just over 18,000 words of posts for the month. That is a lot of words. The process of writing a post–figuring out what my point actually is, sourcing all the links, putting together images, etc.–takes an hour or two, and that’s not counting revisiting the source material if I hadn’t watched it recently.
There’s also the fact that April is kinda busy for me. Of 30 days in the month, I was traveling for 10 of them. So getting ready for the trips and actually being on the trips demanded a lot of my time and attention. I had fully intended to spend my downtime on vacation reading, because I have a ridiculous Goodreads goal for the year and I’m 7 books behind schedule, but I barely got any in because I was spending so much time on blog stuff.
And that’s just on my own blog. Visiting other blogs? Forget it. I was pretty good about it for the first week, but once vacation prep kicked in there was just no time. I mean, I can barely keep up with my own stuff as it is. My Feedly backlog is so huge that the unread counter has stopped talking to me. That’s not a joke. I did add a few new blogs to my Feedly for the challenge, but they’re a small percentage of the (presumed) total.
As for leaving comments, it’s just not my thing. For one, I only comment if I feel like I have something substantive and original to add to the conversation. Part of why I consume this stuff through RSS is that that need is a very rare occurrence. For another, I’ve never gotten the hang of following an actual conversation on a blog post. You can subscribe to comments, but that ends up with a whole lot of spam on popular posts to see if someone has responded to me (which they usually don’t). I much prefer something like G+ or a forum where I can see all the relevant updates in one place and it can feel like an actual conversation. And I’ve been around the internet long enough that the lesson of “Don’t read the comments. Ever. Seriously, just don’t read the comments. Why did you read the comments? What did I just say?” is pretty deeply rooted in my brain.
I think what I’ve learned from this experience is that I’m not actually a blogger. This thing exists so that there’s something resembling content on this site, and so I can do something with the observations and theses my media studies brain can’t help producing. Perhaps I do need to keep to a stricter schedule, but daily is right the hell out. Balancing my time between myriad projects is a continual struggle for me, and this challenge created a massive time sink that I couldn’t afford.
I don’t regret participating, necessarily. I’m proud of what I accomplished this month. But if anyone ever suggests that I sign up for another blogging challenge, my response is going to be, “Hahaha, no.”