“For the Love of Challenges” Explained

Great teachers tell you what you are going to learn, then they teach you, then they tell you what you learned. Me? Maybe not in that order.

-Cee Neuner

Always Write Series: #Bloggers Hosting Writing and Photo Challenges

I’ve been asking some of you to participate in an interview about hosting a writing or photo challenge. Seven of you have already responded, and we have learned the back stories behind your great challenges. Through guest posts we understand how and why bloggers choose to participate in challenges.

Kevin Cooper asked me to send him a link to the post explaining my new series of interviews. I slapped my palm against my forehead. I hadn’t posted any reasoning for my interview series of the bloggers behind the writing and photo challenges. How dumb was that? (Rhetorical question)

So this post is to rectify that wrong.

My Thesis Questions

The most important question when I started on this quest was, who is hosting writing challenges? Are there as many independent writing challenges hosted by volunteer hobby bloggers as there are photo challenges?

The bigger question is why do hobby bloggers, not professional paid staff, take the time to create challenges? All the challenge hosts have great answers for this question in their interviews. I hope that you will read them all.

My Challenge Backstory

When I first started blogging in 2012, I quickly discovered photo challenges and awards. Both tools helped new bloggers like I was to make friends and create a presence on the blogosphere. It only takes a few posts written to empty air to realize you need friends.

I made some lasting friends through award giving on WordPress. However, the process of giving and receiving awards tired me out, took hours to complete, and didn’t add much to the overall purpose of my blog. Photo challenges molded my blogging style.

To up my game and my WordPress stats, I created several photo challenge pages. No sweat – post a picture and a theme, give participants choices, and thousands of talented bloggers would flock to my blog and share their stories. Right?

I should have stuck to it. Doesn’t this guy just make you want to say something?

Of course, no!

I got zero responses and gave up. Must be more to it than to leave it up on a page and hope someone saw it and wanted to join in. I didn’t know what to do, and I was so busy experimenting with just writing that I couldn’t focus on one thing. (That hasn’t changed over the years, which is why I still don’t host a challenge – yet.)

I participated in challenges that fit the stories I wanted to tell. I wanted to meet people. Then something happened and the photo challenges started to determine what I wrote, what pictures I took and published on my blog.

I got hooked. The challenges gave me a topic to fill up my blank screen, and new friends to read what I wrote. Impressed by people like Sylvia and Carol, I used challenges to tell the stories of my life.

Writing challenges are a new adventure for me.

Motivation Behind the Interview Series

This project got me excited about blogging after a long dry spell of not wanting to write. Let me tell you a few reasons I got so excited about interviewing other bloggers.

So what’s happened along the trail? That’s what I wanted to find out.
  • No one else writes the back stories, the history behind hobby blogger’s challenges. Aha, a new niche. Doesn’t T C History Gal have the responsibility to record some of these stories for posterity?
  • These bloggers develop communities. I want to be part of their communities. I like these people! I would love to see these communities intersect and reach out beyond themselves as a result of these interviews?
  • People have had such positive responses to doing the interviews and guest posts. Charli Mills said, “It’s nice to have someone take an interest in what I do and ask me these questions.” Awww
  • I wanted to collaborate more with other bloggers. Charli from Carrot Ranch invited me to host a challenge for her Rodeo Contest coming up in October. Norah Colvin and Irene Waters both agreed to judge for my week. I’m super excited about this.
  • I had a chance – an excuse really, to slow down and study my interviewee’s blogs. Slower is better if you want to have strong relationships.
  • I wanted to have more fun blogging. For example, here’s my limerick for Esther Chilton’s blog this week’s prompt – Zoom.

Does Zoom work better than Skype?
If not, then what’s the big hype?
It’s free, mercy me,
But all we can see –
Your scalp and the chat you type.

What Is Success for the Interview Series?  

It would thrill me if the blogger who writes a guest post or has an interview on Always Write had a sudden surge of visitors and people liking their work. My stats have definitely grown during this series of interviews, but I suspect that it will take time to realize tangible results.

If the challenge hosts tell me that the interview questions gave them a chance to reflect on their work and examine their own motives and practices, then I have done my job.

Primarily, this project is to honor the hard work bloggers do as challenge hosts and give them a little recognition and hand clapping for their many hours they pour into their blog and their challenge. If they feel encouraged, I am fulfilled.

If the interview itself is something the challenge bloggers can use on their own blog to promote their challenge or use as part of recording their own history, I feel useful.

If I make some new friends and reconnect with bloggers with whom I lost touch, I’ll be over the top happy.

Challenge hosts invest hours of time and tons of passion. They don’t offer participants cash prizes. They aren’t from huge photography studios or literary magazines. But their success is worldwide. Let’s celebrate their hard work.

Do You Know a Challenge Host?

This has to be a community project. Maybe you already participate in a writing or photo challenge. Write a guest post about why you chose the challenges. Refer one of your favorite challenge hosts to me for an interview.

Help me update my list and create a new one. Photo challenges are already listed on my menu. I did not have the same resource for writing challenges, and so this series was born. After I started, I found that Cee Neuner had developed an excellent Writing challenge resource on her blog.

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