Sunday, May 6, 2012

Challenge Reflections From An Athlete's Perspective

Last year I compared my challenge experience to sex. (Why yes, actually, that was a popular of the top ten here at Life is Good ;-). This year though, I'm going for a sports analogy. I tend to think in analogies, and sex and sports being two of my favorite pastimes, these analogies make sense. To this tired host at least.

When I was an athlete, I learned the benefit of not only discipline, dedication, but also teamwork. A team that works well together, supports each other, and each contributes in his or her area of expertise, can make the whole effort run like a well-oiled, smoothly running machine. I also learned that varying your work-outs leads to a better performance. All of these ideas translate easily to writing.

This year was my first time co-hosting, and boy was that fun. I felt honored to be asked, and we had a great time all getting to know each other as we worked together on this common goal. We discovered that our skill sets, though each different, really meshed in an amazing way. If we needed digital art? Jeremy. If we needed inspiration and encouragement, Jenny. Many of us aren't twitterers (not even sure that's the right term...) we had Konstanz and Damyanti. Lost your muse? Shannon. Of course with Lee being the buck-stops here guy, and Alex, Captain of the sign-in list, we sure needed our all-around awesome members who could do a bit of everything to fill in, and cheerfully. Thanks Matthew, DL, Elizabeth, Karen, and Stephen for sharing your many talents and contacts with us. (For the record, I was schedule manager and monitor of the info@ email.)

Dedication and discipline. These were obviously needed to complete this challenge. To me dedication means that since I've promised to do so something, I need to dedicate a part of the day for that task. Surprisingly, it turned out that late at night was my most productive time. The kids were all in bed, hubby occupied with one of his many engineering projects, so I could write in peace. Not to mention the fact that the deadline was staring me right in the face. At 1 am, posting at 5 am is a bit closer than comfortable for me, but it worked. I discovered the long since buried night owl in me. And consumed a LOT of popsicles.

Discipline means that it's not something to skip. If I've dedicated the time, I'd better have the discipline to follow through with what I promised. There were some times when this was harder than others. I loved mentoring new bloggers, and those bloggers who were new to the challenge. I loved getting emails and helping them through whatever difficulty they were having. It was also great to be able to forward those thorny ones to other team members with more skill in that area, as alluded to previously. I did have to learn how to balance my mentoring time with my posting time, because I knew that no matter what, skipping a post wasn't an option. So managing my time became much more crucial than when I was “only” a participant.

As to the varied work-outs, that's my take-away from this year. I came off last year's challenge super excited and rejuvenated in my blogging, but that slowly died as I went back to random posting about random topics that interested me. No cohesiveness. No order. NO SCHEDULE.

For the rest of 2012, I'll be dedicating and committing and disciplining myself to a 3-4 times a week posting schedule. Each of the days will be different, but I hope that they will all interest you:

Mondays: I plan on continuing to teach Swedish. It will be on a by-request basis. Send me the words you'd like to know. I'll add them to the list, and get to them in order received. If I run out of requested words, I'll choose my own.

Poetry. I love writing poems, and want to experiment with different forms of poetry. I mostly write free-form, but would love to get good at some of the structured styles. I'll be linking up with a group of poets at dVerse, an online poets' pub.

Friday: Fiction. Maybe a practice scene from something I'm working on, or maybe a short, short story. Brevity is something I continually am working on (and it improved immensely during April, a good friend assured me of that, which means a lot to me.)

Saturday: This will be my bonus day where I can do anything. This day will resemble the randomness of what Life is Good has been so far.

I've decided on these varied workouts because I've been more and more contemplating my own tag line:

wanna be writer seeks place to vent, practice, and share

I think I can still do all of that, but I need some days of sprints, some days of distance running, and some days in the weight room, just building muscle. It's my wish that you join me on all my training days.

How was the challenge for you? If you weren't a participant, but ran into some of the rest of us in your journeys, what were your impressions? I'm looking forward to reading all of your thoughts.

P.S Don't forget IKEA gift card drawing on 5/12 (go back a few posts to find the details, basically: comment on the Swedish lessons). Another not-to-be-missed date is 5/14 when we introduce the 2nd Annual Post-Challenge Challenge. Stay tuned.

Here's the linky if you still need to link yours.  Enter THE exact URL for the reflections post, NOT the front page of your blog (so opposite of what we did during the challenge)


jen@ living a full life said...

A-Z was an awesome- thanks so much for helping get this thing off the ground and keeping it running. I am in awe of your organized approach to the challenge. No wonder they asked you to help organize it this year :)

Brian Miller said...

woot...i look forward to reading your poetry...smiles...

Jeremy Bates said...

So as a disciplined person, have you ever taught conversational Swedish? I ask because there are a lot of Swedes in my area.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like you got even more out of the Challenge than expected. (And yes, doesn't being a co-host rock?) Like you, I felt I needed to remain dedicated. I tried to do more than was expected of any participant.
I think highlighting another blogger will continue in my posts!

Susan Roebuck said...

I really enjoyed your posts, Tina. I know I stopped at "S" but after that I was in Madeira visiting my Swedish friends (yes, a lot live there) and telling them about my namsdaag (11th August - they won't forget). That was a great topic. And thank you for the organisation.

Matthew MacNish said...

I wish I had a cooler talent, like Jeremy, or a more useful one, like Alex, but instead I just did what I could, and made dumb suggestions here and there. I especially liked some of the email discussions we had about things that were a bit controversial. :)

Konstanz Silverbow said...

It was a true pleasure getting to Co-host with you, Tina! I'm so glad that I said yes when Elizabeth asked if I would Co-host.

Konstanz Silverbow

Arlee Bird said...

You've expressed everything very well in this post. You are certainly dedicated--I found that I could count on you to take care of things that needed to get done and you were always observant. Thanks for all the hard work you did. Now you've got a lot of bloggers wondering about the Post Challenge excitement to come.

Good idea to have the schedule. This is something that has really helped me.


An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

[Retro-Zombie] said...

Wonderful, but you know that!

Reflection is a good thing, You have done a great job on the A to Z Challenge...

Jeremy [Retro-Zombie]
A to Z Co-Host
My New Book:
Retro-Zombie: Art and Words

Sheila Siler said...

Thanks for co-hosting the challenge. I appreciate all the work!

Annalisa Crawford said...

After I finished, I decided I was deinitely going to set a schedule - but I have no idea what I'd put on it, whether I'd have enough ideas to keep the muse fed.

Thanks for co-hosting - it was a great first-time experience!

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

Tina, Thanks for your really kind feedback. Yes by all means use the 'Water Cooler ' name, and please do give me a shout out. A link back to my blog would be great. Thank you. The A to Z Challenge is always a great experience. I can say that with confidence now, as I have a new angle for next year. Watch the space (as they say).

Fiona Faith Maddock said...

Perhaps I should just put the link here, too, to make it easier.

Suze said...

Wow -- I never expected flamingos in your banner!

Thank you so much for all of your hard work in co-hosting the Challenge, Jeremy.

EvalinaMaria said...

Thank you for the challenge, hopefully we will do it again next April!

mare ball said...

Thanks for co-hosting, Tina! I can't imagine the time invested. I wrote my reflection post that you can look at on my blog, a few posts down now, from the current one, I think. It was a positive growth experience, for sure. I'm still working my way through the Reflections linky list, and still finding blogs I want to stay in touch with.

Martha said...

Hey Tina, thanks for being a dedicated co-host. I look forward to visiting through the year. Thanks for taking the time to stop by during the challenge too! Have a great weekend :)

Nicole said...

I like your Sports themed reflection. It reminds me of your locker room chat post on the A to Z blog, in April. The challenge was helpful for me in terms of sticking to a schedule and keeping momentum for different blogging activities but more importantly, just having the motivation and dedication to finish a project.

Blog: The Madlab Post
Reflections post: Passion, Pain and Pleasure - My A to Z Challenge Reflections.
@MadlabPost on Twitter

a.eye said...

Thanks for co-hosting the Challenge! This was my first time and it was really great!

Love the idea of your daily post ideas. Perhaps I will try that to add more focus/consistency to my blog.