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IWSG: The Month My Blog Ate My Novel

May 7, 2014

Image courtesy of 'Maja ...' @ stock.xchngOtherwise known as the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

People sometimes asked me why I would undertake something this crazy. What benefit could I get from posting something, anything, about every letter of the alphabet on successive days in the month of April? What could that possibly have to do with writing novels? Which, I should remind you, is the stated purpose of this blog: Postcards from my Journey to Noveldom.

Novels, not blog posts …

The reason I decided to take this on has everything to do with my insecurity, which is why I’m reflecting about the experience for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group this month.InsecureWritersSupportGroup

The IWSG, by the way, is founded by the fabulous Alex J. Cavanaugh, and is a place where writers can freely air and discuss their writing insecurities without fear of appearing foolish or weak. If you want to join us, click this here linky and add your name to the list of some of the nicest writers on the web.

Though I realize that it may sound as if I regret participating in the challenge, I’m incredibly proud to say that I managed to write and post for all the letters, getting my words out there–as Kristen Lamb writes:

… we must learn to keep pressing forward and ship.

from Writing–So Easy A Caveman Can Do It by Kristen Lamb

Image courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski @ Stock.xchngFor an insecure writer like me, putting up a blog post every day except Sunday is huge.

So, how has all the commotion around here impacted my attitude towards my writing—even though I haven’t even done that much of it?

I’ve gained confidence! And I finally understand why I keep piling on all these different projects: Gotta finish that next revision. Gotta write another draft. Gotta finally get that other book out the door, after fixing all the holes my sharp-eyed beta readers pointed out. Gotta learn to write short stories.

Gotta read craft books. Gotta read regular books. Gotta read my writing friends’ books. And leave a review, a good one if possible.

I could go on, but the point is, I do all these things because I’ve been told that’s what good writers do. And that’s true, they do. Just not all at once.

Knowing myself and that I’m a person who tries to play by the rules, I can see that doing everything for everybody all the time is my way of trying to follow all the rules and thus become successful.

Image courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski @ Stock.xchngWhat I’ve forgotten is that I didn’t find the stories I wanted to tell until I concluded I’m hopeless as a writer anyway so I’m going to write whatever the hell makes me happy. Damn the torpedoes. Forget the markets.

So I wrote that and, lo and behold, people who’ve read it like it. It needs work, but I can do the work. I’m not afraid of work.

I think I needed to surmount the A to Z Challenge to prove that I can do something really big and scary. As a result, I built up some confidence, the kind of confidence that will allow me to look at my array of projects and say, “This is what I’m going to focus on, to hell with what everybody says I have to do.”Image courtesy of Roberts Ratuts @ StockFresh

Maybe my blog didn’t eat my novel after all. Maybe focusing on one thing–writing a post for every letter of the alphabet– forced me to set everything else aside, and now that that the challenge is over I have a fresh start. I can choose one thing I really need to work on.

Yes, I’m revising my first novel, post beta readers, again.

How about you? If you did the A to Z challenge, what did you learn about your writing? What are your goals for your blog?


Mug image courtesy of ‘Maja …’  @ stock.xchng, Cheese and meat plate images courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski @ Stock.xchng, strawberry image courtesy of Roberts Ratuts @ StockFresh

  1. May 7, 2014 5:55 am

    Goodness, rather you than me… it sounds like quite a challenge! Well done for doing it, but I hear your challenges loud and clear.

    • May 7, 2014 9:23 am

      Hi Marina!
      It sure was quite a challenge, and not just writing the posts, but keeping up with all the mingling and socializing that goes along with them!
      I learned a lot though. 🙂

  2. May 7, 2014 6:52 am

    I wanted to say that I enjoyed your posts very much. It’s my first year to see the A-Z challenge and I don’t think I’d ever want to do it- I can’t keep a schedule as it is! But the subject matter of some was quite surprising and impressive. You know a lot more about web and blog design, for example, than I and it taught me a lot. Anything that gives you confidence is a good thing- so huzzah!

    • May 7, 2014 9:25 am

      It’s so great to know that people read and learned stuff from my various posts. 🙂 I had a lot of fun trying to fit some of the topics to the letters, but I also learned to appreciate the freedom to choose topics depending on whatever I feel like posting!

  3. terrirochenski permalink
    May 7, 2014 7:06 am

    I didn’t do the A-Z this year. Too busy. BUT – I did it for the first time last year, and like you it gave me a level of confidence I didn’t have before. It kicked my blog into gear, and gave me a way of meeting other folks & fans I never would have found.

    Congrats on striving & finishing!!

    Terri @ Scribbler’s Sojourn

    • May 7, 2014 9:27 am

      Thanks, Terri!
      I don’t think I’ll be doing the challenge again either, but I loved doing it this year. I think my blog has really benefited from it.
      Welcome to A Scenic Route!

  4. May 7, 2014 7:43 am

    anyone who doesn’t understand the positives we get out of the A-Z challenge – well what can I say? if nothing else it’s the networking and nothing helps a writer more than other writers for support encouragement

    (this is authorsusankoenig by the way)

    off to Chicago this morning – will get in touch later in month

    • May 7, 2014 9:29 am

      Hi Sue 🙂
      I got so much more than I expected out of the A to Z challenge! My main objective was to learn to post more often, and streamline the process, but I’m so happy to have met some really cool writers along the way.

  5. May 7, 2014 9:24 am

    That is so awesome that you gained confidence over April. I know you will be super-motivated to get to those revisions now, too, which is great. Sometimes being busy and wishing you had time to write can really make it better when you finally get that time instead of having all this time and not feeling like writing.

    • May 8, 2014 12:48 am

      I didn’t expect to find so much clarity about what I longed to be doing and what makes the most sense to work on.
      Just another reason I am so glad I did the A to Z challenge!

  6. May 7, 2014 9:45 am

    I hide under my desk every April, but I’m happy you enjoyed AtoZ.

    Good luck with you’re writing. Sounds like you’re headed in the right direction. 🙂
    *flattens hands and nose against glass* ‘Publish, publish, publish…’

    IWSG #224 until Alex culls the list again.

    • May 8, 2014 12:49 am

      Aw, thanks for such wonderful encouragement, Melissa! I’m getting closer; I really am. 🙂

  7. May 7, 2014 9:57 am

    Are you sure your blog didn’t have a case of munchies? LOL. I need to get out the spurs and goad my writerly self back into the mode since A to Z. Things just aint ta gellin’

    • May 8, 2014 12:53 am

      Heh, 🙂 You’re right, I think my blog might always have the munchies!
      It killed me to realize how far I might be along on my novel revision if I’d taken all the time and self-discipline I’d used for A to Z to work on it instead.
      Now that I have time again, I’m determined to make things right … and put my blog on a diet! 😉

  8. May 7, 2014 10:01 am

    Great attitude! And you were writing. Yes it was blog posts, but it was consistent and something every day. It got you in a habit. Now you are ready.
    And yeah, do those things but not all at the same time…

    • May 8, 2014 12:57 am

      What a great point, Alex, and it makes me ask myself why I don’t count my blog as ‘proper writing’ when I should. After all, people are reading it!
      A to Z has been a huge milestone for me. Thank you for inspiring me to sign up. 🙂

  9. May 7, 2014 11:08 am

    April may have eaten your novel, but it ate my JOB! I did finish the whole Challenge (which I’d never even heard of until the day before it began, so I was winging it every single day)–and I had fun and loved it and met a bunch of new awesome people and I would do it all again in a heartbeat–but oh, man, I have SO much catching up to do!

    • May 8, 2014 1:07 am

      You did an amazing job on this challenge, Melinda! A to Z did feel like a bit of a party though didn’t it? Now it’s time to mop up and assess the damage …
      I hope you catch up soon! 🙂

      • May 9, 2014 8:11 pm

        Oh, I’m all caught up, thanks–but now the blog has taken a back seat. Still learning balance. Also I just learned that my posts were all way too long. I didn’t know. Sorry!

        • May 10, 2014 12:38 am

          I loved your posts just the way they are!

  10. May 7, 2014 12:10 pm

    Kirsten – your A to Z posts, and today’s are so concise, well-written and organized, i hope you benefitted as much as your readers did. If your dream is novels, I’ve no doubt you’ll approach that with all the expertise you’ve already mastered. And I want that strawberry. Chocolate-dipped of course!

    • May 8, 2014 1:08 am

      Doesn’t that strawberry look scrumptious? That strawberry is how I feel when I think about getting back to my novel. 🙂

      • May 8, 2014 7:36 am

        Sounds Ike you’re really looking forward to it. That is so refreshing to know it’s a labor of love!

  11. Loni Townsend permalink
    May 7, 2014 12:22 pm

    Your posts for the A to Z challenge were quite impressive, helpful, and informative. I’d never be able to pull something like that off.

    With all those pictures of food, I want to go eat now.

    • May 8, 2014 1:10 am

      When I saw that cheese platter I knew it had to go up on the blog! 🙂
      Your posts were seriously great, Loni. Always action packed!

  12. May 7, 2014 4:38 pm

    Last year A to Z gave me the confidence to start my new novel. This year I was too busy writing to do A to Z, and I missed it. It is a wonderful experience. For now, I just want to keep blogging once a week while I finish my first draft:) BTW, after reading your post I am officially starving!

    • May 8, 2014 1:12 am

      Hmmm … maybe I’ll have a picnic over here more often. But for now, I think I’m also going back to my three posts a month rate. 🙂

  13. May 7, 2014 4:57 pm

    Great post. It is amazing what you learn about yourself as a writer, when you push to do that one thing. I am so glad you learned so much. Happy Writng!

    • May 8, 2014 1:13 am

      Thanks, Juneta 🙂
      I thought it would be nice to have a positive IWSG post for a change, since I’m usually mired in self-doubt!

  14. May 7, 2014 7:08 pm

    Happy you pushed through . . . did you see Kristen’s last post about testing? LOVE ❤

    • May 8, 2014 1:16 am

      Thanks, Jamie!
      I’m a bit behind on my reading, but I never miss a single Kristen Lamb post so I’m sure I’ll catch it soon. You’ve sure made me curious though. 🙂

  15. Liz Blocker permalink
    May 9, 2014 2:17 pm

    Lol, yes,, totally!!! My novel got munched up by my blog, too. I’m glad you came away with such good lessons learned, though. I’m mostly grateful for all of the great new bloggers I met – like you! 🙂

    • May 10, 2014 12:40 am

      Me too! It’s been like an all night diner for sharing great words and stories. 🙂

  16. May 11, 2014 7:44 pm

    April has left a lot of us exhausted. I’m back at my WIP now, too.

    • May 12, 2014 12:07 am

      I’m amazed at how quiet my Inbox has been now that April is behind us!


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