On writing over 20,000 words about TV Sitcoms #AtoZChallenge

by - May 12, 2016

I completed the #AtoZChallenge. I honestly didn't think it was possible.

26 posts in 26 days of the month (Sundays off!) based on a theme of my choice and the 26 letters of the alphabet.  I'm a 'one post a week' kinda guy. That's been my average for over a decade now. 26 was way out of my comfort zone.


Especially when I saw all the awesome themes bloggers from across the world were writing on, it got even more intimidating. I like having something unique to offer and I was sure I'd be dwarfed by the lyrical prose on offer from everyone else.

On Choosing TV Sitcoms as my theme

Writing about TV Sitcoms was not a sudden decision. I've honestly always wanted to do it. I'm a sitcom buff since a very young age and have always loved collecting trivia. The now defunct blog of mine, The Appletini, was in fact initially created with the idea of just sharing trivia on TV, movies and entertainment. But I just was not able to handle two blogs simultaneously.

When it came to making my A to Z List, I didn't have to look far.
I found entries as far back as in a 2014 diary, detailing the format I wanted. Even the idea to end it with a section on "What Aliens Would Think of Us Based Solely On This Show" was conceived years ago.


The 2016 shortlist. 
The 2014 long list extended across three pages!

That was part of the need to have a unique voice. But as always, life ensured I never followed up on that idea... until this challenge came along.

Many shows like MASH, The Wonder Years, Scrubs, The X-files  and The Golden Girls were pretty much locked in years ago. I consider these evergreen classics. There is genuine love as I talk of them in their posts - I want everyone to know these shows and enjoy them the way I did,

MASH TV show

Others like MasterChef Australia & Brooklyn Nine-Nine snuck in on the basis of consistently good performances which deserved recognition. They are not classics yet... but they will be a generation from now. 


House, Friends and so many other superb shows were there in the initial list and seemed easy choices. And yet, they didn't make it, losing out to less popular shows like Happy Endings and Fringe.

That was deliberate. Some shows need no introduction to the present generation. Others remain criminally underrated and needed people to know of their existence: I actually ended up doing a whole post just on Underrated Shows That Deserved More Love.

Labour of love: 

The idea was to write short 300-500 word posts so as to be able to properly pace myself and complete the challenge, considering I spend most of my hours inside an operation theatre with limited access to the internet or even laptop. And yet a part of me demanded that the articles be worthy - someone who had not seen the show should leave the page knowing everything about it that mattered.

It was a tough balance. What should have been a tough 13,000 word challenge (500 words x 26 posts) ended up being a monumental 20,000+ word encyclopedia of TV shows with over 1.5 GB of photos shortlisted & downloaded and then edited to meet the needs of the post. 

Tons of research did go into it, seeking data and facts and crunching down the numbers (total episodes, awards) while also seeking out trivia for each individual show.

The Final A to Z list of TV sitcoms.
You can access them all here.

Lists:

Some letters posed a challenge for me. There were shows which started with that letter but I wasn't convinced they were worthy of an entire post (sorry, Quantico. Not yet.). That's when I used some creative license, eschewing the description of an individual TV show for lists involving many.
This gave me the added benefit of talking about other shows that did not make the list but deserved to be spoken of. This was also more painstaking since it meant seeking out dozens of TV shows for a single post instead of just one.

But I learned a lot too while researching and ended up with some of the best and most loved posts of the challenge here. My own favourite lists include:

One among more than a 120 pictures that were tailor made 
to suit the post

The list of TV stars who were successful on two or more shows was even more arduous as I had to find individual pictures of stars from two shows and then edit them all into new pictures. 




In each of the List posts, I gave the readers the chance to chime in and add their own personal favourites related to that particular topic, thus allowing for some unique opinions and helping me out with ones I may have missed while making the list. 

End result:

I joined the challenge three days before it began. But surprisingly, I was always at least three posts ahead of the deadline, completing my last post with a whole week to spare.

What worked for me and what I can recommend to you is this:
  • Having a fixed template for all posts meant I just had to fill in the blanks.
  • Love for the theme - it's easy when it is TV Shows!
  • Keep it small entertaining - Give the readers something they would enjoy reading.
  • Interaction - I got friends and fellow bloggers to try to guess which TV show would appear the next day corresponding to the letter. This gave me a fresh perspective on others' views, their expectations as well as made it a fun guessing game which kept readers waiting for the next post.
I personally had a great time achieving both goals -  completing the challenge as well as making articles I wanted on each TV show.

What comes next:

Here's the thing: My #AtoZChallenge is not over yet.

I've bookmarked the main link page at the A to Z Challenge site as well as certain blogs whose themes I loved.

In the weeks and possibly months to come, I want to seek out more themes from the 1343 other fellow challengers and learn from them - just as I had an advantage with my (totally useless) knowledge of TV Sitcoms, their far more useful knowledge on themes as varied as decor, recipes, life in the army and even dogs offers me mini encyclopedias on so many facets of the world and help me expand my knowledge and make new blogger friends simultaneously.

It's what we call a WIN-WIN situation. I certainly recommend it to you too.
You can read about the insights of fellow A to Z Challenge Survivors here.

Of course, if you are going to start seeking out themes, you could always start with my handy list of facts and trivia about TV Sitcoms! Touchwood, you will find a new awesome show to love.



 

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21 comments

  1. A brilliant summation of a spectacular innings Doc! Loved your entire series! One may have completed the AToZChallenge but its effects are long-lasting, right?! Cheers, well-done and hope to see another brilliant series from you in next year's challenge!
    @KalaRavi16 from
    Relax-N-Rave

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    1. Thanks Kala :)
      And yes, the effects are long lasting... still plan on visiting and finding so many new blogs from that list in the days to come.
      Next year? gulp... let's see what theme I can dream up by then!

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  2. Congratulations once again, doc on completing the challenge on your first attempt!
    I'm pretty sure that your theme was a massive hit, all because everyone loves watching a good TV show! And the aliens segment was pretty cool!
    Cheers and all the best 😊

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    1. Thanks Mithila... loved your theme too. Absolutely informative and creative! And as you know, I learned 24.5 words from it :D

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  3. Wonderful idea and approach to take it to successful end. I loved the details you had put in each of the posts. Some shows I have seen and some are now on my list to watch. Thanks. Hats off for a wonderful effort!

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    1. Thanks Ruchi... yes, it was worth it in the end for me too since I felt I did exactly what I set out to do...

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  4. All your hard word behind the wonderful and entertaining articles...In spite of having a hectic schedule ...This is awesome! Congrats..

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    1. Thanks Nabanita... was worth it in the end just to complete a few days ahead of time and relax as the countdown ended :)

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  5. Love your roundup, Roshan and such a great job of presenting April's posts! I've been on the move and tried to keep up with my own posts - and now intend to do the rounds. I'd bookmarked your blog because I am a TV buff, too! I really wish some of the classics would come back on air. One thing I love is to check out what some of those stars are doing now, after going into oblivion. For example, The Wonder Years - I know "Kevin" continued to act, but "Winnie" went on to become an academic. Lovely theme! Congratulations on a thrilling finish!

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    1. Oh I certainly hope you enjoy this series then... lost of good classics we grew up to in here.
      And yes, I know of 'Winnie's profession :) Like most boys who grew up crushing on her, I too wondered where she went :D

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  6. A great Presentation Roshan. You reminded of some great shows of yesteryears.
    Would surely go through your list slowly. Congrats once again!

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  7. Oh are such a researcher. Good to know that all that was planned and that too such a meticulous one. I enjoyed your theme. And I was impressed how many shows you have watched ;)

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    1. oops! I meant, You are such a researcher :)

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    2. Thanks :)
      And well, seeing these many shows is a sign of a total lack of a social life, right :)

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  8. Another TV entry for the challenge! I love reading TV themed posts because there are so many shows out there, that often miss some great entertainment. I didn't do shows but rather favored episodes from shows I watch. Glad you completed the challenge. This year was a struggle for me because I had two blogs in the challenge along with meeting deadline for sponsored posts and other clients I write for. I hope to see what you bring to the challenge next year.

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    1. Hey Shawnte :) Good to hear from you.
      Can't imagine doing 2 challenges simultaneously! Somehow managed one!

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  9. You really make everything seem so effortless ! Even your reflections post left me with something new that I learned - that planning is long term and research is an on going process.Your attention to detail really pays off so thanks once again for a wonderful 'education' on American Sitcoms. Perhaps you could now analyse Indian TV shows and figure out why Saas Bahu series are still not dead!

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    1. Thanks :)
      For Indian TV shows and saas bahu, I am not the man... you need someone like Tolkein or Rowling to decipher the myriad mazes of those shows!!

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  10. I admire how hard you work at this. You totally deserve all the short story contests you win! Proud of you :)

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