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 Replies to “So Many Challenges, So Little Time!”

  1. 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.

    1. 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. 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.

        1. The more people take part, the more surprises there are, and often you’ll be surprised by what you find yourself sharing. As you know, if the prompt is ‘bridge’ we’ll see bridges from every angle, but we can stand by to expect playing cards, teeth, a handshake, stonehenge or anything that links anything.

  3. 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? 🤗💕

    1. Jo – if you have a moment, you might like to read a comment from Eunice, below – it’s the second one – the first is about a link I accidentally deleted.

    1. They are fun. I like the way they pull my blog in a different direction by making me share shots that would otherwise languish in my files and prompting new trains of thought.

        1. They do but it’s like looking at one of those railway hubs that have railway lines in parallel and diverging, linking the main lines to the shunts.

  4. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. Thanks Derrick. The prose didn’t reply match with the pictures this time, but thanks for persevering, especially as I know you don’t take part in the challenges. I imagine your community is very fulfilling just as it is.

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