So Many Challenges, So Little Time!

Faded advert on a garage wall

Faded advert on a garage wall

…and that’s excluding real world challenges, as this post is about blogging ones. These pictures were inspired by Nancy Merrill’s challenge: Textures.

Nancy is one of several community-spirited WordPress bloggers who fill the breach left by the late (still lamented) Daily Post Photo Challenge. I met many blogging buddies through the Daily Post and loved seeing their sometimes wildly individual takes on each subject. The official WordPress format made it a cinch to navigate. When the challenge ended I felt dispirited, not foreseeing that the mantle would pass to so many other hosts.

Cee Neuner maintains a useful list of WordPress challenges in the For The Love Of Challenges section of her blog. My hat’s off to Cee – her list is more inclusive and up to date than the Daily Post’s list ever was. She lists photography and writing challenges and I’ve just noticed a couple of musical ones are listed too, although I know from experience not to inflict my musical taste on anyone not similarly afflicted. 🙂

With so many challenges to choose from, nobody can enter them all. We have to pick our favourites and trust that the hosts will understand if we dip in and out rather than faithfully taking part every time.

Daily challenges are tricky for me as I tend not to want to write a response to a prompt as soon as I read it. I have four blogging modes – writing, responding to comments, reading and photo collecting. I do a fair amount of all these, but switch between modes rather than doing them all at once.  A day or two’s mulling can be helpful and even where it does not help, mulling is one of my favourite hobbies. We’re not supposed to admit this but I can imagine a few other people out there nodding their heads.

Right now I’m wondering if I ought to list a few photo challenges I enjoy taking part in, even though I can’t list them all… mmm… oh, go on then! (with apologies to the many I am not linking to here and a recommendation to check out Cee’s list)

Looking upwards at King's College Cambridge Entrance

Smooth, ridged, and raised decorative textures

My Favourite WordPress Challenges

Cee’s Flower of the Day is a broad challenge which can include leaves, seeds etc. As the challenge is always the same one, I can mull all I like and link in whenever I’m ready, which is perfect.

A changing collective hosts the Ragtag Daily Prompt. Responses can be words or pictures. An added bonus is that these prompts can be quite challenging – caprice or dinkum, anyone?

Weekly challenges include A Photo A Day by Nancy Merrill (the one I’m taking part in); Jo’s Monday Walk; Norm’s Thursday Doors; The Propagator’s Six on Saturday (a gardening  community for those who want to connect with other gardeners); and Debbie’s One Word Sunday.

Another collective – Patti, Leya, Amy and Tina – run a Weekly Photo Challenge. There isn’t a single host blog – you’ll need to follow each one to get their week’s prompt. Their photography often astounds me. Tina is hosting this week’s challenge – Precious Pets.

Finally, a one of a kind challenge: Becky’s Are You Square. This runs daily during designated months of the year, the next being October 2019, which will use the tag lines&squares. The main picture has to be square and by sod’s law, you’ll discover that most of the pictures that pop into mind for the month’s subject are very tricky to crop square (only teasing Becky!). Becky writes ingenious round up posts that help link participants together.

CD bird scarer with wool, rags and feathered trim

CD bird scarer in a school garden

Looking down Cee’s list, I can see several tempting challenges on subjects including trees, sculpture, the changing seasons, neon and Six Word Saturday where we are encouraged to be succinct. I’ve never taken part in that one, (for obvious reasons) but it did inspire me to write two or three six line stories.

Those who enjoy black & white or macro photography or have a thing for windows are catered for. CitySonnet publishes a monthly list of daily topics which allows plenty of mulling time.

I don’t submit posts as often as I would like to, but I support many of the challenges by reading other blogger’s entries. You might agree with me that readers are as big a part of the challenges as their hosts and participants – without some encouragement, all but the most self-sufficient blogger’s activities dwindle.

Paradoxically, most people who haven’t flirted with the idea of giving up blogging probably aren’t putting enough thought and energy into it. Those of us who do care understand how much work it can be. Challenges are helping hands, stepping stones – ways to inspire us, nudge us and help us find a community we can enjoy.

For those readers who made it this far: I salute you and thank you with all my heart for your part in my blog reaching 250,000 views yesterday. I’m very lucky to have such a great community. I consider many of you to be my friends and am grateful to everyone who passes by with good intent. Which reminds me to be thankful for Akismet, which has so far captured 13,830 spam comments – who would have thought it?

If anyone reading this is tempted take part but unsure how to link to a challenge, let me know and I’ll help out. Feel free to mention other challenges you think others may enjoy in the comments below. If you have a challenge not listed by Cee, please send her details.

Rusty metal pink flamingo

Seen better days? Unless you prefer pink flamingos with experience…

48 thoughts on “So Many Challenges, So Little Time!

  1. Laurie Graves says:

    I’m a muller, too, so I know just what you mean. Blogging—all aspects of it—is time consuming but for me very worthwhile. My life has been enriched by the friends I have made through blogging. Good luck with those challenges.

    • susurrus says:

      My life too. One of the good things about the photo challenges is that they are not competitive and you don’t have to be an expert with the camera to take part. They’re the photographic equivalent of a writing prompt.

  2. David M says:

    I take part in a few of the photo challenges but there’s a few on your list I wasn’t aware of. I’m often a few days behind on some of the weekly challenges.

  3. restlessjo says:

    It’s a funny business, blogging, isn’t it? Many thanks for the mention. I’ve thought of quitting many a time, but I don’t think I could bear to be an outsider again. There really is something for everyone, isn’t there? 🤗💕

  4. Old Herbaceous says:

    What is the best way to start a photo challenge? I’d love to involve photographers in a challenge on my blog, Scents and Sensibilities. I mostly write about fragrance, and I’m interested in the ways other senses, like sight, relate to that. Some perfumers have synesthesia, for instance, and “see” scents in colors.

    • susurrus says:

      Sorry it took a while, but here goes!

      Research how others host, by watching a few of the challenges. Let your readers know you’re planning something and ask for their help or ideas.

      With fragrance, you could encourage any type of response, photographic or written. I suggest you stick to the very broad general topic of ‘Fragrance’, then interpret it yourself in a different way each time you write a prompt post. The broader the topic, the easier it is for others to join in and to plan.

      Outline your idea in a main, introductory challenge page or a post – if it’s a post, make it sticky or add it to your site menu. Tell people to link their responses to the prompt post rather than the main one. Explain the tags you want people to use (don’t make them overly long or embarrassing). Let Cee Neuner have details.

      Be predictable. Schedule your own post to be published at a particular time eg every Friday at 12:00 GMT, or the first day of each month – whatever suits you. Make it as welcoming and inspirational as you can. Add summary instructions at the end of each post and/or a link to the main challenge page.

      Be flexible. Encourage people in the right direction rather than set too many rules. Reassure everyone that they are welcome and valued whether they read, take pictures or write; and whether or not they can take part every time (most can’t).

      Be patient and plan to be in this for the long haul. It will take time for people to join in.

      Respond thoughtfully to as many posts as you can. A weekly summary will encourage people to visit other participant’s posts.

      Don’t worry about getting it all right: you’re human and you won’t! You can always refine the guidelines as you learn.

      Remember these are just my own thoughts as a participant – there’s no right and wrong in any of this. Perhaps you might ask a few hosts if they have any tips. Hope this helps and good luck!

  5. Eunice says:

    Trying this as an experiment after seeing your comment re on the flower show post re my previous comment on this post. I don’t normally have any problems posting comments on any of your posts so when my yesterday’s one didn’t appear I thought maybe it was because I’d included a link to someone else’s blog so you had to approve the comment first. I have Akismet on my own blog so I would have thought it would recognise me as being genuine. If this appears as normal without me needing to contact Akismet then I’ll follow up with my original comment but without the link.

    • Eunice says:

      Yep, that’s worked, so it must have been the link I included which caused the problem.

      I aim to post on my blog twice a week, though depending on what I’m writing about and how much research I need to do it can sometimes feel like a full time job! Although I’ve seen many interesting challenges on various blogs and would like to take part in some of them I don’t really have time so I only do one which I’ve been doing for quite a while. I used to do Jo’s Monday Walk as I’m regularly out on walks and exploring new places with my two dogs, but as I don’t now have the time to read through all the other walks she links to I don’t feel it’s fair to include mine if I can’t read anyone else’s. I still read Jo’s walks though, and I post a Monday walk myself but just keep it as a feature of my own blog.

      The one challenge I do (which is the one I originally included the link to) is a monthly Scavenger Photo Hunt, 6 photos inspired by the prompts and words inspired by the photos – some of them can certainly be challenging enough to get the creative thinking cap on. If you have a look at my Scavenger photo hunt post for August there’s a link highlighted in blue towards the bottom of the page if you’re interested 🙂

      • susurrus says:

        I’m adding a link to your post incase anyone is following the thread:
        I see it’s a link up party. I’ve only rarely tried that style of challenge – not for any good reason, just because I tend to stay within the WordPress community out of a strange mix of love, convenience and familiarity.

        You’re right – especially with some of the more popular and meaty challenges like Jo’s, it must take quite a lot of time to read through every entry. I feel confident that Jo would not expect anyone linking their post in to read all the other contributor’s posts, but I understand your feeling if you don’t have time to read any, it seems fair not to link.

        One thing I learned from the old official WordPress BloggingU courses was to read at least one post from someone else for every post of my own I shared. In practice I read much more than that.

        • restlessjo says:

          I think people use the challenges to suit themselves, ladies. Some people who link to my walks just post two or three photos, and some are only walks in the loosest sense of the word. It’s partly for this reason that I include walk posts that appeal to me, but that haven’t been linked. It kind of redresses the balance a little, and I will always do this if I spot a good walk, but I can’t be everywhere or read everything so inevitably some get missed.
          The Lens Artists challenge has an incredible number of participants and with the best will in the world it’s not possible to visit them all. I understand Eunice’s feelings and am just grateful that she follows along. I know she has a busy life. Many thanks for your comments and appreciation. 🙂 🙂

          • susurrus says:

            It takes all sorts! 🙂

            Your comment about people’s different interpretation of a walk somehow made me think of Etcetera Stroll by The Monochrome Set, though it’s more than a gallop than a stroll.

            The main point is that most hosts, like you, are very flexible – they’re not doing it for their own benefit, but to make other people happy.

  6. margaret21 says:

    That was a great post which highlighted some of my own thoughts too about all the Challenges available. I think it probably is a case of dipping into quite a lot and settling with a few that seem to met your own style. This provides just a little stability and also a supportive community of fellow-users. Like you, I prefer the challenges that like and expect you to take maybe a few days to develop an idea. This was one of the reasons I left the lovely Ragtag team. A daily challenge just didn’t fit my own style. And as one of the team, I felt obliged to read every single contribution made to my own prompts, and it became too time consuming. I’ve started following the Weekly Photo Challenge too, and I’ve been a fan of Jo’s Monday Walk for a while. Debbie runs several challenges apart from Six Word Saturday, and is a cracking photographer. But much as I like the variety of challenges available (and thanks Cee, for cataloguing them!) they can become an obligation(self-imposed) as well as an inspiration. Getting the balance right can be a challenge in itself. But then again … if it hadn’t been for the original WP Challenge …. I wouldn’t have ‘met’ you – and many other encouraging, perceptive bloggers whose posts I much enjoy.

    • susurrus says:

      Ditto (especially the last bit).

      You’re right to highlight Debbie being a great photographer. I do follow her. Cee of course either runs or has seeded (perhaps that should be Ceeded) and handed over several other great challenges, including the Oddball Challenge. I could also have mentioned some of challenges I enjoyed that no longer take place – HeyJude’s gardening challenges, for example. I have a feeling for how much effort goes into hosting the challenges because of applying lessons learned from my BloggingU experience. That was almost overwhelming at first. I think it’s a good, natural thing when the hosts after having given a lot of their time can hand on their challenge to someone else. It’s almost as if there is a point at which the popularity of a challenge becomes a problem… perhaps that was part of the Daily Post’s demise.

      I try to keep in mind what I originally wanted for my blog, which was to be a happy, inclusive, thoughtful place where I could share things that gave me pleasure or gave me pause and lots of flowers! Doing too many challenges could distract from that. By their nature, most of them are random and whenever I cheerfully write a post on ‘inscape’ or ‘toys’, some part of me is aware that I have garden visits languishing in my files.

  7. Oddment says:

    As you know, my family considered me the queen of the pokes (I still maintain I am deliberate, not slow), so you also know that mulling is my modus operandi. Sometimes I can be impulsive with blogging but most of the time I have to be reflective. I’ve looked at some challenges and they seem overwhelming so I’ve never tried any of them; I admire all the ways in which you and others participate. There are some wonderfully interesting people out there, aren’t there? Your textures, by the way, are so good that my fingers itch.

    • susurrus says:

      I much prefer writing the impulsive posts – they are easy compared to the mulled ones. Sorry about the itching – that would be the feather and wool one, I dare say. I had a blogging buddy who took part in some writing challenges you might have enjoyed. He is a creative person and used to write quirky short stories I used to look forward to reading. Looking from the sidelines, in the ‘real’ world he seemed to have had his heart broken so badly that he stopped blogging and although several of us tried to coax him back, he hasn’t posted for several years.

      • Oddment says:

        That’s sad about your blogging buddy, but I can understand; blogging requires a certain stamina, and sometimes we just can’t pull it up. Maybe some day your coaxing will be heard new. We never know when an encouraging word will bear fruit.

    • susurrus says:

      It’s good to have something to motivate us, especially as blogging is a habit we can easily fall out of, for some reason, even when we enjoy it.

      The challenges sometimes distract me from what I had planned to blog about, but on a personal blog, that’s no big deal.

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