The A – Z Challenge takes place in April because that month has 26 bloggable days. That’s right, one day for each of the letters of the alphabet. The challenge is to blog six days a week, Sundays off for good behaviour, giving participants time to catch up on visits to other bloggers’ contributions. The organisers set up some categories that suited many participants, some chose to post randomly through the twenty-six days while others focussed on one topic for the month. QueasyPeasy (QP) chose to focus on something close to my heart and work – Social Justice. Twenty-six aspects of social justice and related topics from the perspective of a drug and alcohol counsellor in the community sector.
If I told you it was a cinch I’d be telling porkies. It was hard work and at times it was a mind-bender. Hard work because I had committed to a theme which meant on those tired worn out days I couldn’t write three or four sentences about the benefits of bananas, the cuteness of cats, or the developmental delay of donkeys. Mind-bending because at the end of a long day tomorrow’s contribution still had to be researched and written.
Social Justice isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for April it was my challenge to post something meaningful daily and because I’m a Type A personality, do it to the very best of my ability which means as near to perfect as possible – no pressure. I like to think sometimes I got there were times I fell short on. However, I can live with that because I had a go and bit off a large chunk and saw it to the end, which, as it happened wasn’t bitter at all. In fact now that it is May Day I can say it was a blast – like childbirth, we swear we’ll never do it again, but look out here we are again!.
So what did I learn along the way.
- That forward planning with the help of an editorial calendar is the key to maintaining focus, momentum and inspiration. It lends the flexibility of working on another topic if today’s holds no interest or you’re lacking inspiration. If my Muse was not with me today I went looking for him in different parts of April’s Editorial Calendar and together we did the happy word dance.
- Scheduling posts ahead of time for when I wasn’t going to be around (or too knackered) was a blessing. When posts were completed ahead of time they were scheduled and forgotten about allowing the Muse and I to move on to other days. It is a particularly good for the days I was too tired, didn’t have any more to give out or simply time-poor.
- Discovering the best time of day to write and the place of writing most conducive to flow, was an important part of th journey. I found I like to write in peace and quiet when I can hear my thoughts and can discipline the cranial conversations. The right paraphernalia is important to me. I am a bling-loving pen-lover. I wrote April’s posts with a Parker pen that my daughter gave me last year for my birthday. Holding something sentimental made it more than a simple writing exercise. It became an experience in which I felt nurtured and supported by her. And everything is neatly lined up – did I tell you I’m a Type A?
- QP’s posts have tended to be random affairs requiring little research. I could have filled April’s posts solely with my take on all things social justice but I like to ensure my perspective is in synch with best practice, current discourse as well as researching new ideologies that have links with social justice. It was important therefore to keep all the research links, quotes, etc in one handy place (the Editorial Calendar for that day) for easy access. This saved me on a number of occasions when I needed to lay my hands on something quickly. Finding clipart and appropriate quotes and uploading those to the media library was a good strategy.
- I learned that I enjoy a challenge. It takes me away from the comfort zone and gets the brain manufacturing brand new neural connections (very good for us well worn peeps). So while the neural pathways to housekeeping, laundry duties, ironing and dusting had a holiday (and I’m sure they’ve weakened over the month) others have blossomed. The birth of an idea, the research, drafting, more research, reading, re-drafting, thesaurus searches, dictionary definitions, finally being happy with the piece and setting it free are wonderfully exhilirating. Every aspect of creating is a link in the process and goodness me how satisfying to reach the end and see those endeavours come together in one long string of achievement.
- I learned that any challenge stresses me out. Good stress, unless I’m tired and then it’s bad, grumpy stress which no one likes, not even the MOTH (Man of the House) and he’s one of the most tolerant (of me) people I know.
There is a satisfaction at the finish line of such challenge. The afterglow of achievement. The knowledge that despite some not so good days you got it together enough to maintain the beat one day at a time through an entire month … and this folks is where I burst into song and do the happy dance.