“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.

Related Posts

What to Do When Your Muse Disappears 60,000 Words Into Your Book

You don’t give up when your muse leaves town. You start a new challenge. Join me in giving author Suzanne Burke a warm Always Write welcome!

Always Write Series: #Bloggers Hosting Writing Challenges

Writing Challenge hostess #1 Suzanne Burke AKA Soooz

Have you wanted to write fiction and struggled to get started? Or maybe you wrote a book, and your muse disappeared or you got snagged somewhere in the process of publication.

If this sounds like you, read on.

Author, Suzanne Burke hosts a flash fiction challenge and supports her participants with multiple social media shares. 

As I read her posts, it occurred to me how much goes into hosting a writing challenge of any kind. She responds graciously to every comment in her inbox. 

After exchanging a few comments and emails, I feel like I have known her forever. 

Suzanne agreed to write the first guest post/interview for Always Write to tell authors everywhere how she started and what it is like to host a writing challenge. 

Take it away Soooz.

Firstly, my grateful thanks to Marsha for inviting me here today. I hope I have given you a glimpse into my experience hosting a visual writing prompt. 

Q: What prompted you to begin to host a writing challenge? 

A: It all came down to the timing. I was already 60k into my latest WIP (work in progress) when my muse decided to grab a stagecoach and get out of Dodge. It’s happened before and the frustration and procrastination genies were warring with each other for dominance. I needed to commit to something creative, something I would also need to contribute to. That’s when the idea was born. 

Soooz

I can feel your pain. I have never made it to the end of a fiction publication. Grrrrrr.

Q: How long have you been doing this? 

A: It’s only been six weeks since the first prompt went up. It’s been a huge learning curve. But I’m having a marvelous time with it.

Soooz

Q: How much time does it take? Is it all-consuming so that you don’t blog about anything else?

 

A: I must admit that I underestimated just how time-consuming the process would be. I spend many hours scouring the internet for free to use images. Images engage the creative juices. We writers tend to be intensely visual creatures, taking mental snapshots of everything that catches our muse’s attention. 

Soooz

The marionette image evokes some strong emotions. Your 750-word example kept me on the edge of my seat. 

I heard recently in a class that a blog needs some type of image every 100 words. I use Canva.com and have tried Unsplash.com as well. They both have thousands of images you can sort through in the click of a search word.

Q: How did you determine the genre?

A: I chose not to impose a genre restriction. That tends to isolate some folks from participating. I’ve been lucky to have had some wonderfully diverse entries, yours included, Marsha.

Soooz

Thank you, Soooz, with three o’s.

Q: What steps do you take to get your challenge ready? 

A: Because it can take almost a week and sometimes just before the deadline before the entries start coming in. I write my own contribution during that time. 

Then I share all the entries over the course of the week. 

Soooz

That’s a benefit for your participants to build the traffic to their blogs. 

I check daily for comments on the Author’s blogs who have shared the challenge, respond to those. 

Another great benefit to those who submit, Soooz. I found my entry that you shared on Twitter. How fun! I also found a typo in my customized excerpt. I need a better proofreader.

I’ve had a great response doing that. Finally, I put up the next week’s prompt. I’m determined to still make time to write and post Book Reviews and support other authors on my blog. 

Soooz

Q: How did you attract people to participate? / How do people usually find out about your challenge? 

A: I have been so fortunate to have met some wonderfully talented and supportive writers since my first foray into writing. Many belong to an online book club I’m a member of, and still others I’ve met via Twitter, all have been amongst the most generous and supportive folks I’ve ever met. These folks share my posts via tweets and the word begins to spread. I find Twitter to be a very effective platform.

Soooz

Q: Do you have help reading all the entries?

A: No, I enjoy reading all of them.

Soooz

Q: What do you do with the entries – like do you ever publish anthologies, award widget certificates?

A: I’m keeping it as simple as possible at the moment. I may use some of my own entries in an anthology in the future.

Soooz

In Conclusion

Thank you, so much for this wonderful post, Suzanne, Soooz, S., Stacey. It’s been a super pleasure to have you as the first interview/guest post in the Always Write #Bloggers Hosting Writing Challenges Series.

I hope you will come back to write another guest post again.

Links

Contact Suzanne at …

Her author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

Biography

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Life interrupted her routine and allowed her to begin her journey into the world of writing in her early fifties, a journey she’d wanted to start for many years.

You can find Suzanne’s memoirs under the pen name of Stacey Danson.  Search for her powerful thrillers Acts Beyond Redemption and Acts of Betrayal and her paranormal anthology Mind-Shaft under the name S. Burke. 

Both of Suzanne’s non-fiction books, Empty Chairs and Faint Echoes of Laughter, have ranked in the top one hundred paid in Kindle on Amazon and continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Welcome Suzanne with your comments and check out her #6 Challenge.

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