09 May 2016

A to Z Reflections 2016

Now that the A to Z Challenge is finally sadly over, it's time to reflect!

Pheeeeeew. Ok. This year was a rough one. I'd like to get through the reflections without getting ridiculously negative. I kind of felt like I was pulling teeth from everyone, including myself, through the whole thing. And I think all of the problems started before the Challenge even began.

I chose my theme, The Revision Project, because at the time I was really excited about revising my novel. I thought that by focusing 26 posts on different topics that all focused on revision, it would help me figure some things out, maybe get some good feedback and new ideas from other people. Well, it didn't exactly turn out as I had hoped, on any of those fronts (for the most part).

Here's where I went horribly wrong. I never fully figured out what the hell I was doing with my posts. I wanted to focus on my book, but the problem is that it's not published and no one has read it yet. So while the topics would all be inspired by it, I still wanted to make the posts more universal so that people could relate. But that made things more muddled. Was I asking for advice or was I offering my own writing tips? Or was I just rambling? For most posts, it ended up being a mixture of the three.

I made it even worse, though, with what I'll call the "bookends" of my posts, both of which left me disappointed. At the end of all the posts, I added on one or two questions to hopefully get people talking in the comments. I think that part worked too well. If I had made these posts completely about offering writing tips, this would have been more successful. People responded with their own ideas and experiences related to the topic, which was great. But on those posts where I was really searching for feedback on my own work, those questions seem to lead people away. It was hard to get actual feedback, and on this point, I think my whole theme was flawed. How can you get real feedback on something that is completely out of context? Which just leads me back to the fact that I never really figured out what I wanted from these posts.

The other bookend turned out to be mostly useless. I started each post with a quote from my novel that related to the topic. I did this because I wanted to include something fun in each post, and I knew that finding pictures would be next to impossible. But the quotes turned out to be pretty much pointless. I don't know if this was because they were out of context (again!), or if people just skipped over them to get to the actual post. The only post where the quote really got a response was for "Opening Scene," probably because I pointed out that the quote was my new first line. So I'm thinking unless I made reference to the quotes, they were most likely skipped over.

I guess the most disappointing thing is that my theme actually had the opposite effect of what I wanted. I got zero revising done during the month of April. I didn't really figure anything out, either, that I didn't already know. There were a couple of comments that got me thinking here and there (I think most of them were from the same person! No I won't tell you who *laughs evilly*), but mostly it was just a lot of rehashing ideas I'd already thought of and not even trying to do any actual revising.

But anyway, I've rambled enough! I wish I had chosen a different theme, but none of my other ideas were developed enough, so I would have been struggling for topics. I'm hoping for next year to come up with a more fun theme, and to do so waaaaaaaaaaaay in advance this time. I still have that guilty pleasures idea (but I still don't think I have 26, so maybe I'll combine it with something like obsessions? I don't know...). Or maybe just songs from Broadway musicals. Something fun. We'll see. I'd like to not think about it for a couple of months...


  1. I'm sorry you have such a hard month. I think that sometimes, because of the whole challenge, people don't have time to give complex answers since they're trying to visit so many blogs. Good luck for next year.
    Tasha's Thinkings

  2. I'm sorry your theme didn't work as you thought it would. With a complex idea like this, it's important to plan it all through to make sure you get out of it what you want.

    Obsessions and guilty pleasures would go together very well, and make a fun theme.

  3. I'm sorry you didn't get any help with your manuscript through those posts.

  4. That's a bummer your theme didn't work for you. I enjoyed the posts and read each snippet you posted at the beginning. I guess with those, you didn't really give any indication you wanted them discussed. They were like a subheadline that gave an example of what the post was about.

  5. You're right. This was a hefty topic for something like A to Z, but you stuck with it and I enjoyed reading about the process because, duh, I'm a writer too and I've faced some of these issues myself. I think asking for any kind of writing critique during the challenge is tricky. People are on fast forward, trying to read quickly, think of something worthy to write as a comment, and move on. (Or maybe that's just me.)

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  7. That was a very ambitious and unique idea for a theme, a sort of interactive critique of your project. Without context on knowing exactly what kind of revising/editing help you are looking for, may I suggest Fiction University's 30 day editing course by Janice Hardy. I used it last year before publishing my first self-pubbed book and found it freaking amazing. Grueling, but very useful both for revising as well as planning ahead so the next project won't be such a grind. Good luck! http://blog.janicehardy.com/2015/02/at-home-workshop-revise-your-novel-in.html

  8. Doh! I remember the lemon bars one and my response being about my own eating habits and what I do with my characters in writing. I'm guessing that wasn't very helpful.

    If you're looking for feedback, I'd be more than happy to read what you've gotten written, and then help brainstorm areas that you want to address. We can chat it up via Hangouts or something.

  9. I'm sorry, I probably didn't give you the feedback you wanted...

  10. I'm gonna add a comment here real quick since I'm at work and it's gonna bug me.

    I certainly don't want anyone to feel bad about how they may have responded to any of my posts. I think the fact that I didn't get what I wanted out of them is more reflective of how flawed the whole theme was. I also thought just writing the posts would help me figure some things out but I didn't really write anything new that I hadn't already known.

    Also, at some point I'll actually ask for some beta readers, but I'm just not there yet. Once this third draft is done.

    Thanks everyone!

  11. I have a hard time with public feedback. To me I come off sounding like I know what I'm talking about when, in fact, what I'd give is just another opinion. I'm good when I critique work privately, but I only do that when it's a shared experience. If someone trusts me enough to let me read what they've written, I should be able to do the same.

  12. You live and you learn. At least you got through the challenge! :D I'm going around and trying to read the blogs I started, so you'll have some late comments from me. lol

  13. You made it through A to Z and you posted. That's a win.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  14. We see the theme and hope in the end it works out... sometimes. We are glad you shared and sharing is a benefit too. We made it...Hope you had a great time, thank you for your Reflection!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]


    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

  15. Hey Sarah, I feel like I want to give you a virtual hug, sorry your theme didn't work out for you, but thanks for being so honest about the process, that resonated with me in the few weeks before the start when I was trying to decide whether to take part this year or not.

    I almost didn't, and I ended up tweaking my theme at the very last minute as it wasn't working (it wasn't a complicated theme, it's just the first angle I tried to write it from I wasn't comfortable with and the posts just seemed really stilted).

    Hope you settle into your revision once you've caught up with yourself.

    Mars xx
    @TrollbeadBlog from
    Curling Stones for Lego People

  16. Sorry to hear you didn't really enjoy the challenge. Although there's potential for a lot of feedback in April, I think with so many blogs to visit, people tend to skim read so there probably won't be a lot of great observations. I hope you get your book sorted :)

  17. I think you can still learn something from this. I know I've fumbled in the past and it doesn't seem worthwhile at first, but there's something to get from these situations.

  18. I'm sorry your theme didn't work out as you wanted it too. The Challenge can be so exhausting and then to have it be a disappointment in the end is tough to take. I hope you are able to work on your revisions now that the challenge is over and you can get things sorted out.

  19. I've known what my theme would be for years, I just haven't convinced myself that I could justify the time dong the A to Z challenge. Perhaps next year, if I can finish one of my stories.

  20. i think what you need are a couple of good critique partners or beta readers. they read the whole manuscript, and tell you what's missing or what works - you get feedback and they get the whole story. Sorry the challenge felt like a waste, but i bet you got some nuggets and made some friends at least, right? you were out there visiting, i know that! this business is the most frustrating, slowest, and downright discouraging one in the world! and yet we keep doing it! keep your chin up, sweetie!

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