What I Learned From the April A to Z Blogging Challenge

#DailyWings: “Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.” -George Eliot

…and with that, April is over.

If you’ve been following my “Blogging From A to Z” adventures, you probably noticed that I totally bombed the challenge after the letter “L” (“H” if you don’t count the “IJKL” catch-up post).

Once my mid-April trip to a wedding in the mountains rolled around, time for blogging just went *poof* Really, I come back after being on vacation for two days and it takes a week to catch up with everything in life! By then, I had no idea how to get back onto the “A to Z” train (what can you abbreviate using MNOPQRST?).

Even though I didn’t reach the end of the “A to Z Challenge,” I have a lot to be thankful for and want to share my gratitude with the following groups of people:

Thank you to everyone who followed my “A to Z” anecdotal posts. I had SO much fun writing about my childhood, and loved reading the comments you all left me each day.

Thank you to ALL the “A to Z” participants who taught me a lot about community, collaboration and dedication; major props to those of you who got all the way through “A to Z,” one post at a time!

Finally, thank you to everyone who joined in for my spring giveaway! The winners of the two chapter critiques are… *drum roll* Arlee and Karen Janowsky! Your emails have already been sent :)

I may not have reached the final “Z” post, but I still learned a lot from my first year as an “A to Z” blogger – not just about blogging itself, but also about my own childhood and capacity to remember the most minute details. Here are just a few of the lessons I’ve taken away from the challenge:

  • There are so many memories that would’ve remained buried had I not written about them. Just a few examples include the Play-Doh Spaghetti Factory, the fact that my fourth grade crush wore a green Adidas jacket as his signature look and that one time I thought I had a shot as an actress for Cho Chang. (ROFL, I know.)
  • When writing about childhood memories, it’s important to be honest not just with your audience, but with yourself. That means acknowledging your own faults, like my tendency as a child to categorize people and use labels in a hurtful way. It’s when you’re able to confront your own mistakes and flaws that you can finally be able to start accepting them.
  • Memories can be inaccurate. No matter how much you want to believe in something from the past, there is a chance that you might be wrong – at least to some degree. It might something be as inconsequential as whether Hakeem’s shirt was faded blue or tie-dyed blue, or it might be a mixed-up birthday party. (I distinctly remember celebrating my eighth birthday after my family moved to Greenville, N.C., but my folks insist that the party I’m thinking of was my ninth birthday.)
  • As much as I’ve enjoyed digging into my past, I’ve realized that I miss having the flexibility to write my usual posts, like “SELF Diet Recipes,” “Monthly Favorites,” hauls and book reviews. The “A to Z” Challenge has really made me appreciate the schedule I’d created for my blog up until that point. Luckily, that’s exactly what we’re going back to :)
  • I can see my incomplete “A to Z” memories collection as a failure, or I can see it as a valuable experience. Like my good friend Robin Rivera said, what matters are the friendships you make and the new blogs you fell in love with and the great discussions you have through the “A to Z” Challenge. That’s what it’s all about in the end.

Did you complete the “April A to Z Blogging Challenge,” and if so, how was it? Did you ever get tired of your theme, or was it fun more than anything?

15 responses to “What I Learned From the April A to Z Blogging Challenge”

  1. Heather says:

    I completed the A-Z Challenge but only because Robin wrote half the posts! I can’t imagine doing it all on my own, unless I wrote posts months in advance. Getting halfway through the month all on your own equals the amount of posts you’d write if you split the job up with another blogger, or had some guest bloggers fill in for a few letters. So yes, don’t beat yourself up about not making it through. Glad you made some good connections during the challenge and learned a lot!

    Enjoy going back to your regular schedule this month. I know I will!

    • Wendy Lu says:

      Yeah, I definitely think I will make a point to write at least a few posts in advance next year. This
      year, I literally wrote one blog post for each day – it was quite exhausting, admittedly, but it was also
      exhilarating to commit myself to doing this one thing each day no matter what! (At least up until mid-April lol.)

      Thanks for stopping by, Heather :)

  2. D.A. Cairns says:

    Clearly, you are seeing the incomplete A to Z as a valuable experience, and that is exactly the right way to view, not just it, but all of life. I hope you have another crack in 2016, and thanks for sharing your reflections.

    • Wendy Lu says:

      Thank you; I try :) I certainly would like to participate in the A to Z Challenge again next year. Now I have all of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 to figure out my next theme and how to prepare for it! *mwuahahaha*

  3. Arlee Bird says:

    I so thrilled to have won! I still need to get back to you on that. Right now I’ve just been trying to catch up to all the Reflections posts that I can.

    I know what you’re saying about misremembered memories. I’ve been using to sources on the internet to back up my recollections and finding that I’m often off on my time line and when things actually happened in history.

    At least you made it part of the way and you did manage a Reflections post so that all counts for something.

    There’s always next year!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host

    Tossing It Out

    • Wendy Lu says:

      Hey Arlee! I just sent you a friendly email reminder , but I totally understand – I can only imagine how busy you’ve been these past few weeks. I had no idea you founded the challenge until later on into the challenge. Thank you for essentially creating this event and developing a wonderful community for us bloggers!
      Yeah, it can be hard to keep track of events that happen in history (whether the world’s or our own) – at least we do our best :)

  4. marie says:

    I had fun reading your articles and look forward to next years challenge, when we can give the abc another try :)
    And i loved the idea of your give away and now think about something like this for next years challenge on my blog …

    • Wendy Lu says:

      Absolutely, Marie! I’m glad you like the idea for my giveaway…sadly, I didn’t get to share the event with as many A to Z folks and bloggers as I would’ve liked, mainly because I got so busy mid-April, but I still had a ton of fun hosting the giveaway!

      Glad you had fun this year :)

  5. Sara L. says:

    Good for you, Wendy! I agree, looking at the A To Z Challenge from a positive perspective is the best way to handle it. Every success and failure is a learning experience; we just have to remember it, and see what we can do differently next time if things didn’t work out so well. And as someone who’s still too skittish to give the challenge a try, I give you a ton of credit for doing what I couldn’t do. Are you thinking of trying again next year?

    • Wendy Lu says:

      Hey Sara! Thanks so much for your insight on success and failure, and I absolutely agree! What you said reminds me of a Winston Churchill quote: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
      Trust me, it took me ages to finally try the A to Z Challenge; I’ve known about it for years, and only just this year decided to take a whack at it.
      I sure would love to join again next year! We should do it together :)

  6. ann bennett says:

    I got way behind too. I had planned to read so many and toward the end, I just did not want to. I had other irons in the fire. The wedding sounds like a good thing to do. I set a timer when I am on the computer. I could dally all day long. Actually I have done that. Life is too precious to not be lived. So the timer is great for me.

    I’m doing some retro reading today. I like what you said about memory.

    • Wendy Lu says:

      Yeah, I agree that it can be kind of overwhelming to have sooo many blogs to visit, read, comment on, etc. I’m going to have to create a better strategy for visiting more blogs next year. That is definitely something I wish I’d been better about…of course, I visited several blogs throughout the month; I just wish I’d visited more, y’know?

      Setting a timer is a great idea! Lol I can get carried away with one single blog post, instead of divvying up my time more efficiently each day.

  7. Mary Burris says:

    You gave it the ol’ college try and that’s what counts! Hope to see you finish next year! (here’s a tip- get started now ;) )

  8. Lisa says:

    You had a great topic going! But yes, sometimes life happens and things get pushed to the back burner. Look at me! I’m just getting here after promising in the last A-Z Twitter chat and my Reflections post that I’d visit everyone I’d chatted with! Better late than never.

    Lisa at Tales from the Love Shaque
    also at …Slow & Steady

  9. Hello there.
    It was thoughtful of you to put up a reflections post even though the challenge got the better of you (lol). Thanks for sharing your experience. I didn’t get to visit your blog during the crazy month of April so I’m popping over today from the Road Trip/Reflections linky.

    http://entrepreneurialgoddess.blogspot.com

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