I’m a Survivor! Reflections Post #AtoZChallenge2019 #BlogchatterA2Z

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One afternoon in March 2019, I came across an interesting term in a blogging Whatsapp group. A few bloggers were bowing out of participating in a promising blog train as they were going to be busy with the “AtoZ”. This expression intrigued me no end, and I immediately began investigating its meaning. It was a month-long international blogging challenge, where participants had to post a blog corresponding to a letter of the alphabet, every day in the month of April, barring Sundays. I was amazed to learn that the challenge was now in its 10th year, and a very popular activity in the blogverse.

Foolishly confident, I signed up with both the international team as well as the Indian Blogchatter team that conducted the challenge. I don’t use the word foolish lightly here, I really had no idea what this challenge would entail.

The first task was to find a theme, so that readers would know what to expect from me. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you would know that my writing has never been restricted to any particular genre. I use the term ‘Lifestyle’ to describe my niche, because I enjoy writing about many different topics. This unfortunately resulted in a “Jack of all trades, master of none” situation. I found it incredibly difficult to pick a theme.

I decided to narrow down the choices to my favourite topics- movies, books and travel. Of the three, travel seemed the most popular choice from a reader’s perspective. However, this put me in a real dilemma because my usual travel posts required intensive and in-depth research, supplemented by fresh memories and pictures of having visited the place in question, quite recently.

I was aware that a challenge of this scale is best approached when you’re an expert in any field. Your extensive knowledge can be exploited to ensure that you stand apart from others who write on similar themes. Knowing I couldn’t do justice to my posts as a travel expert, in the meagre two weeks I had before the challenge began, I delved deeper to identify an area that I felt an expert in. The answer was staring me in the face- I could recount memories from my own life. I decided to pen stories from my travels since childhood, as those were uniquely my own.

Identifying experiences that were funny, sad, scary, and interesting from my travel treasury, was my next task. To challenge my creative juices further, I took the “AtoZ” moniker very seriously. Every place I wrote about had to begin with a letter of the alphabet, had to be a place I had visited, and had to have an interesting story attached to it. To make matters even tougher, I decided to use alliterative titles for each story using the alphabets in question. This proved quite difficult, and I spent hours scouring the thesaurus for synonyms, the dictionary for words beginning with a particular letter, and repeatedly asking my family members for suggestions. Some letters required extra creativity and I resorted to using Urdu for the letters Q and Z; and though I had a place with the letter X, the title was slightly modified!

Another mammoth task that I hadn’t anticipated beforehand was collecting photographs. Travel memories are enhanced with pictorial representations, at least when reading online. I undertook a massive search operation in my parent’s home, going through tons of old albums, figuring out methods of rescuing pictures that age had destroyed, and also requesting family and friends to pass along some that I simply couldn’t find.

When April 1 finally arrived, I had pre-written 14 posts, and collected most of my photographs for all 26. I was better prepared than some participants in that regard, but I still hadn’t anticipated how difficult and time-consuming this month-long task would prove to be.

Apart from writing the remaining posts, a large chunk of my time was dedicated to reading other blogs. This was not a necessary requirement but I was thoroughly enjoying the variety of posts I discovered, and happy to come across many talented writers through this platform. On the personal front as well, I had a lot going on. My son was having trouble adjusting to his new class and new teacher; half-way through the month, the domestic staff went on leave; my fitness regime went for a toss resulting in weight gain; and I had to make time for living my regular life too!

But I survived, and I’m so happy that I did. There are a lot of tangible results for me to be thankful for, such as the surge in traffic to my blog, rise in website rankings, as well as an increase in subscription count. However, the intangible results are far more important. Through the challenge, I’ve gained new readers who genuinely enjoyed my content, spurring me on to publish an e-book. I’ve also gained new friends in the blogging community that I am very thankful for. Learning about new concepts of blogging and technical aspects of running a website, were an added bonus. All these will hopefully help to take my blog, as well as my writing, to the next level.

The #AtoZChallenge of 2019 was the first I’ve participated in, and it was a defining period for my blogging career. I can proudly say I’m a survivor, and I will certainly be back next year!

If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my ebook “TALES FROM MY TRAVEL TREASURY: AN ALLITERATIVE ANTHOLOGY” which is a collection of my travel tales. It can be downloaded for FREE for a limited time only from this link.

You can read all my AtoZChallenge posts here.

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60 Thoughts

  1. Congratulations Noor!
    I am glad I found you here. I throughly enjoyed reading your travel memoirs, every travel had some interesting story.
    Collecting photographs and recalling all the places and incidents attached with it must have been a titing task but you maintained the quality of the content throughout the challenge, I will keep coming back to you. All the best for your ebook.

  2. I enjoyed reading your all the posts Noor. This challenge is more than a challenge for me because I found friends here which I couldn’t imagine ever, this is the power of writing which connected the souls. I am very glad that I participated and got a chance to connect with you through your posts.

  3. No wonder you had all the time to stalk all of us and leave those in depth and lovely comments 😛. 14 pre written posts 👏👏👏… hats off! Yet your struggle was exceptional for I have never come across such interesting and unique travelogues which were concise yet top notch in quality. The aspects I loved the most are your flair, engagement level and the weather you carry along. Glad to cross paths with you through this challenge and cheers 🍻 to a long lasting friendship 😊.

    1. Thanks Vibhu! Haha you’re absolutely right- if I had not had the pre-written posts, my engagement would have certainly been lesser.
      I’m so glad to have come across you as well 😊

  4. After going through your travelogues for a month I can gladly say that you are an expert in this genre. Plus writing 14 posts even before the start speaks for your passion and commitment. I am so happy you participated otherwise we all would have been deprived of some quality travel content. I know you are going to rock in the Ebook Carnival as well. All the best for that too. I will want the bond to grow forever and become stronger.
    Enjoy Maadi!!

    1. Thank you Manas, for your encouragement and also for your unconditional support with all my silly questions 😋
      I’m so glad to have met you virtually through the challenge, and really hope to meet you in person soon!

  5. This post of yours caught my attention and I loved reading about your experience. I’m motivated to take it up next year! Thanks Noor

  6. As an avid reader of your blog, I am happy too that you survived the challenge 😁 I enjoyed reading each and every post of yours in this challenge. They were terse and highly interesting 🙂

  7. I really thankful that I met you Noor as I thoroughly enjoy reading your blogs! Wondering what the next challenge will be all about! 😀

  8. AtoZ seems to be the ultimate test of blogging skill. I am going to give it a try too next time … I have read most of your AtoZ posts and they are so intriguing.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experience..I really want to know about Taking this challenge next year and be prepared for it. Your post is really good for all who want to do this one . congratulations for your hard work

  10. Glad u made it. The thought of it gives me jitters , thats y never participated. Hope this changes.

  11. Congrats Noor you nailed all the A to Z of your travel experiences and I loved reading each one.

  12. I loved your level of preparation and am inspired to take on a challenge myself! Do does it happen in April only?

  13. You did a great job, I absolutely loved reading all the posts of A-Z on your blog. Thanks for sharing this.

  14. I enjoyed this journey with you Noor, what a lovely series this was. I am glad to find you on this journey, and hope to take this partnership in future too.

  15. Congratulations dear! That’s commendable to complete a month-long challenge. I couldn’t complete the challenge as son was not keeping well .. and couldn’t do more crafts which was my theme.

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