Monday, May 2, 2011

April A-Z Challenge in Review

The April A-Z Blogging Challenge is finally over, and I want to get a few thoughts down before I forget them:

1. It was fun. I did not mind being held to a stricter-than-usual "plan" for a month, and the continual post deadlines were a good influence on my writing discipline. No, not every post was spontaneously "inspired." I confess that near the end of the month I got a bit tired, and some of my posts in the final week and a half were a bit brief. But I brought the goods to the table every time, and furthermore, some of the shorter, less elaborate posts that were perhaps more mechanical than spontaneous were nevertheless the most content-rich, like the Eyepecker, the Undead Stirge, and the Undead Yeti. In sum, I liked participating in the challenge and felt that I was able to retain a high level of post quality across a wide array of gaming-related topics.

2. In terms of my method, I had already written a few of the posts (my Sea of O'SR Islet key, the two LotFP module reviews) when I accepted the Challenge, and I wrote almost all of the others in advance of their post dates. Only two -- "Sloth of Death," which was awaiting its artwork, and the last one, "Zappo the Wondrous" -- were completed the same day they posted.

3. I should note that illustrator Kelvin Green, who drew the Dimetrodons and the Tree Wilden, was a dream to work with -- a real pro. When I mentioned (in #2 above) that one of the posts was "awaiting artwork," I did not add that I asked Kelvin for that particular piece at the extreme last minute, and he delivered a stellar piece of work in record time! Look for more works by the esteemed Mr. Green in future Lands of Ara posts and releases.

4. My personal favorite Lands of Ara A-Z posts are the Wraithstone Island key, the d30 Encounter Tables, the Dimetrodons, the Eyepecker and Sloth, and the musings on the "x-factor." And while the first three of those posts would have been completed regardless of the existence of the Challenge, the last three might never have been written had it not been for the peculiar demands of the A-Z thing.  So kudos to the A-Z Challenge for motivating me to get those terrific CBoA monsters out there!

5. The Lands of Ara's most visited A-Z posts according to Blogger stats include G for The Grinding Gear, S for Sloth of Death, I for Islet, H for Hammers of the God, and F for Fight On!

6. I feel compelled to mention some of the anti-A-Z Challenge sentiment I have seen in the OSR Blogosphere (see examples here and here). I am interested in hearing from people who were actively annoyed by the Challenge -- what bothered you about it?  Why was it so unappealing / off-putting for you?

7. Fortunately, some folks have already responded to my #6 query: see the insights in these comments.

8. My participation in April A-Z came from wanting the literal challenge to write 26 posts in one month on pre-chosen themes -- that's it. I didn't really browse other participants' blogs except when those participants were OSR bloggers I normally read anyway. But I DID read other OSR people's A to Z posts, albeit selectively in most cases. [Along this line, I particularly recommend The Jovial Priest's A-Z series on the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide -- pretty damn great!] I didn't really change what I usually do except to predetermine what the month's posts would be -- note, however, that I did sneak a few other ones in there, like a couple of installments of the DMG Level Stocking Project and my OSRCon DM'ing Announcement.

9. In the end, I'm really glad I participated. It was my first really "sustained" writing project in the blogosphere. I am not completely sure if I would do it again -- I'd have to strike upon some really cool theme to make it spark for me -- but I had a good time challenging myself this year.


  1. Congrats on reaching the finishing line.

  2. You put out some quality stuff during the month! Alas, some bloggers didn't fare as well.

    It did inspire James M. to post a bunch of Dwimmermount stuff, which I liked! Ditto for ChicagoWiz and his Dark Ages campaign.

  3. It's interesting that a bunch of people that rarely comment on the blogs that did the A-Z thing were bitching about "suddenly everyone's doing the A-Z thing". Maybe they are always assiduously reading all the OSR blogs, and just don't leave comments. Whatever.

  4. Carter, is that you in the photo at the top of the blog!? :)

  5. I had fun at start with the alphabet blogging, but when none of my readers seemed to care, read or comment and I heard the negativity I just felt sorry for myself.

    I'm happy so many kept at it, and posted so many good posts!

    Just posting thoughts from my heart I see rising visitor stats and comments, so apparently folks likes me better when rambling. Hey, who am I to argue? :)

  6. Thanks for the nod Carter. I think we can both take a bow. My favourite Ara A to Z was the Eyepecker and the silliness it inspired. I am still chuckling in memory.

  7. @Gavin: No, but he reminds me of myself circa 10th grade (except I didn't have long hair then). The picture is of Harris, a character from the AWESOME TV series "Freaks and Geeks."

    @Whisk, James, and Jovial: Thanks for the support!

  8. @Andreas: I think you conducted yourself with great grace and integrity bowing out when you did. Best to follow the good feeling, and not pressure yourself to do anything you find odious. Well done.

    @Spawn: Whether they comment or no, I am genuinely curious about what turned them off about the Challenge. Luckily some have responded over on LotFP.

  9. Congrats on getting it done! I haven’t commented much (it’s been crazy busy) but I’ve really enjoyed your A to Z posts! I’m planning on getting back to the sample dungeon later this week, and hopefully wrapping it up next week.

  10. I feel bad about washing-out. I guess "rigid schedule" just isn't my thing.

    Congratulations to everyone who persevered.

  11. Thank you once again Carter for the very kind words. There's no better inspiration than to know one's work is appreciated.

  12. Hey, thanks for those kind words, Carter. Much appreciated.

  13. Re: the photo... Ah right. I asked because it looks remarkably like me at that age! :) But unfortunately I think there are no photos in existence of me reading AD&D books...

  14. Awesome work! Glad you made across the line! I enjoyed doing the A-Z challenge and I didn't notice a drop in views.
    I also asked a version of your Question #6 of my regular readers on my blog.