#second thoughts: A-Z Challenge – the third time round

kafka-on-writers

I signed up to my first A-Z Challenge almost on a whim. I’d started a new blog with the aim of getting a regular writing routine going, but I had absolutely no idea how or where to start. And this Challenge seemed a good way to get me going. I met a fair few interesting (and encouraging) people during that April and I’ve not looked back since. Signing up on the day before the Challenge started, I had no thought of making things harder for myself by having a theme – ye gods – I just wrote about stuff, stuff I knew, liked, or cared about and it ended up being a mish-mash of serious and frivolous.

The second year I decided to go with a theme and because I was still quite new to this whole writing malarkey, I decided to go for book genres. I was used to writing book reviews, either on Goodreads or on my personal site, so this seemed achievable. I enjoyed the second year. I did a lot of advance preparation, although I left myself with a couple of difficult letters to write (and read up on) which was foolish. Leaving some writing outstanding is one thing, as you can always nail yourself to that chair and type, but the lack of preparation was A Really Bad Idea. In truth, I set myself the challenge of reading an absurd number of new books in order to do the writing. Lesson learned. I also engaged with Twitter for the first time. That decision proved to be a good one and I’m especially looking forward to meeting more new and interesting Twitterati during this April.

Last year, I’d persuaded my writing partner (and co-host here) to do the Challenge as well – and rather late in the day at that. Nevertheless, he tackled it with his usual verve and professionalism and put together a series of beautifully written articles capturing the advice he gives to his doctoral students on the subject of writing up. Did my choice ever feel lightweight and fluffy alongside? Oh yes. But, something else you learn when you review the process – doing this Challenge isn’t about competing with others, rather it’s about competing with yourself. The only aim should be to become a better writer today than you were yesterday. And I believe it does that – so long as you view it as a challenge, as something to push your boundaries.

Speaking of challenges, I gave a lot of thought on whether to include my professional life coaching website in the challenge, but ended up deciding against it. 2016 was quite a year – personally, not just politically – and there’s still a whole lot of spill-over for me to handle. But, I’m beginning to feel my mojo returning and I aim to get both websites participating in the 2018 Challenge.

So, why do we put ourselves through it you may ask? Well, because …

  • it does build a regular writing practice
  • it provides a deadline which isn’t flexible
  • it enables us to join the community of bloggers
  • it allows us to build connections with our fellow writers
  • we’re mad as hatters
  • we just have to write

And what I’ve realised since year two is that last point – there is a need, a drive to write. Life can limit your ability and the time to do so, but that desire, that need is always there. Even after a fallow period, it will find it’s way out to your fingertips.

See you all at 2018’s Challenge!

© Debra Carey, 2017

Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My personal blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics. I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun, where my #IWSG reflections can be found; and my Life Coaching business can be found on DebsCarey.com.

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