Reflections – #AtoZChallenge 2017

#AtoZChallenge – Reflections 2017

I feel compelled to beg forgiveness for the lateness of this post, as I have been feeling a bit under the weather for quite a few days, and as such was unable to complete writing this and would much rather post late than share an incomplete post.

I first heard about the AtoZChallenge just days before last year’s challenge. However, I was very leery of trying it as I had just begun trying to write more regularly, and did not have the time to commit to it last year. Fast forward to this year, and I felt much more prepared to participate. Admittedly, I was extremely nervous as I had never participated in anything like it. Despite the controversy over the discontinuation of the link list, I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision to participate.

Like many people, I was previously very reluctant to share much of my writing lest it would be less than well received. What if it came across wrong? Would I alienate some of the people I was trying to reach? There comes a time in any writers’ life when we must essentially decide that we are willing to take the risk and put ourselves out there. That doesn’t mean we aren’t nervous about the potential outcome. It simply means like many things in life there comes a time where we face a decision. We must either share our writing and put ourselves out there or give up on the dream of sharing it.

So as March came to an end I began preparing a list of topics, following the A to Z Challenge naming conventions, that I felt would be well-received. I decided that I would focus my efforts on chronic illness, patient self-advocacy, and empowerment. There are many, many topics I could write about, ranging from a seemingly never-ending list of specific chronic health issues to patient engagement and how to create a partnership with practitioners to improve your quality of life.

While I changed my mind frequently in order to present topics I felt would best serve those goals, I remained optimistic that I could keep things positive, and focused on the general topic areas and keep it both relevant and general enough to apply to most anyone who may read my posts. There were days I felt I struggled to keep from going into too much detail. My first post was relatively long, and I found out quickly by reading many other blogs that if I wanted to keep participants interest I needed to keep the posts relatively short.

Those that read multiple blogs per day did not have the time to read a lengthy and drawn out post, despite the importance of the information contained therein. So after the first day, and myself trying to read many blogs per day, I decided to try to trim my posts to approximately between three and five hundred words per post. This proved challenging at times because I felt some topics were difficult, at best, to explain adequately within those limits. I was concerned I would actually lose readers.

To my amazement, I received a great deal of feedback throughout the month. I can honestly say that I don’t think I had any overtly negative comments. I encountered many interesting blogs. I tried to visit as many other AtoZ participant blogs as I could and thoroughly enjoyed each one I was able to visit. As much as I hate to admit it, there were nearly three hundred posts a day that I saw commenting on the daily AtoZ post of the day, and it was absolutely impossible to visit as many as I would like to, let alone all of them. I plan to continue revisiting the daily posts to scour out more blogs to visit as the days, weeks, and months continue.

I am quite pleased to have participated in the challenge. I am extremely grateful to the people in the writing group to which I belong, for without their encouragement and support I likely wouldn’t have had the courage to participate in my first challenge. I also look forward to continuing to visit blogs and continue networking and enjoying the works of others. I hope that this is the first of many such blogging challenges I can participate in.

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