Review of 2017 Write Every Damn Day Book Bingo Challenge

In 2017, I decided to challenge myself and others to a Book Bingo (#2017weddbookbingo)! The card below needed to be blacked out by the end of the year. Although I read more books than the categories listed on the bingo card, this challenge gave me an opportunity to explore different genres and read a few books I might not have prioritized reading. Below is the list of books I read in 2017 for each category.

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A BOOK THAT BECAME A MOVIE OR TV SHOW: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A BOOK ALL OVER #BOOKSTAGRAM: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

A BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

A BOOK IN A SERIES: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

A BOOK YOUR BFF LOVES: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

A BOOK FROM A DIFFERENT COUNTRY: The Storyteller by Walter Benjamin

A BOOK BASED ON A TRUE STORY: Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

A BOOK ABOUT WRITING: On Writing by Stephen King

A BOOK THAT RE-TELLS A FAIRY TALE: Cinder & Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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A BOOK RELEASED IN 2017: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

A BOOK OF POETRY OR SHORT STORIES: Whereas by Layli Long Soldier & Afterland by Mai Der Vang (both were amazing! I couldn’t only pick one for this list)

A BOOK WITH A BEAUTIFUL COVER: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A BOOK WITH TALKING ANIMALS: The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman

A BOOK YOU MEANT TO READ IN 2016: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

2018

To kick off 2018, I am participating in a yoga journey hosted by Yoga with Adriene. Her 2018 January series is called TRUE!  Some of you may have noticed that I changed my instagram username to @biblioyoga. I’m constantly re-defining myself and my goals and in 2018, I will earn my 200hr YTT certification to teach yoga! I selected a new name that illustrates my love of reading and writing with my love for yoga.

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I am a fan of having a visual to help guide me in my journey. There’s something about checking boxes that is oh-so-satisfying! If you are looking for a great way to kick off your new year, I highly recommend this Yoga with Adriene’s at-home practice! Namaste y’all!

In 2018, I plan to launch another “challenge” like the book bingo, but I plan to combine reading, writing, and yoga. Keep following my instagram and checking the blog this month for more details. In the meantime, remember to Write Every Damn Day!

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life-begins

At the beginning of the year, our social media swims with epic mountains overlaid with beautiful fonts spouting common phrases like “Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try” & “Dream it. Wish it. Do it.” The beginning of a new year always feels rejuvenating. There is an energy and pulse around everyone in January. As the year continues, the pulse fades rather quickly and everyone settles back into the humdrum of life. Why can’t our entire years be January – how’s that for a cheesy quote with a mountain behind it? Seriously though, for years, I’ve found myself saying, “Someday, I’ll publish my novel. Someday, I’ll publish my screenplay.” Well, my friends, 2017 is going to be my year because I am going to remove “someday” from my vocabulary and work towards my goals Every Damn Day!

In thinking about my personal goals, at the center is always my desire to create lasting happiness. I’ve struggled with depression throughout my life, and I have found that lasting happiness only occurs when I’m being creative and productive. Sure, I can eat healthier and lose some weight too, but I think if Happiness is my central goal, the desire to better myself physically and mentally will spiral from my pursuit of inner peace.

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the quest for inner peace

My 2017 Creative Goals:

  • Finish writing novel with editor/coach
  • Send off for publication by the end of 2017
  • Publish at least 5 pieces in magazines, journals, anthologies, or collections
  • Conduct at least 2 more writing retreats
  • Go on a solo writing retreat – I’m hoping for a solo teepee
  • Read publicly at least once this year
  • Register and attend Writefest in Houston
  • Successfully complete an on-line workshop
  • Attend Texas Book Festival in Austin (I’ve missed it the last few years)
  • Research potential MFA, PhD, and Writing Residencies
  • Continue posting on Instagram and Blog regularly
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo
  • Write. Every. Damn. Day.

Instagram & Blog Goals

  • Provide memorable and helpful content regularly
    • Instagram – at least 5 posts per week
    • Blog – at least 1 post per week
  • Host a reading and a writing challenge on Instagram
    • #2017WEDDBOOKBINGO – starting January 1
    • Create a monthly writing challenge during NaNoWriMo
  • Be authentic
  • Establish relationships with my followers

On New Years Eve, I posted my first reading challenge to my Instagram followers to help inspire their reading quests. I plan to send prizes to those participating in the Bingo and hope to complete it myself in 2017! The Bingo card is posted below. The rules are simple. You can strive for a regular Bingo (5 in a row) or try to Blackout the entire card by 2018. My followers should be posting examples of what they are reading for each category and sharing the Bingo card with others in order to win swag 🙂 All of the awards will be related to literature and writing 🙂 Be sure to follow me on Instagram at write.every.damn.day

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In order to ensure a successful completion of my personal goals, I’ve made several writing friendly spaces in my home. I fully intend to share those spaces with you in my next entry. Expect lots of pictures and creative ways to make every room in your house, the perfect space to write! In making your own space encouraging, it becomes easier to Write. Every. Damn. Day.

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Winter Writing Retreat | Wimberley, Texas

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The Spirit of the Texas Hill Country is one unlike anywhere else. The rolling hills, the laid back lifestyle, and an expanse of dramatic sunsets and starry skies. Don Swander wasn’t lying when he wrote about his love of nighttime Texas celestial nirvana, “The stars at night are big in bright, deep in the heart of Texas.” Leaving the Hill Country and relocating back to Houston was one of the most heartbreaking decisions in my own personal life. For almost ten years, I could walk to quaint coffee shops to write and venture to campus to teach philosophy or attend classes and lectures to develop my own intellect. The loss of this community caused my soul to grow weary during my late twenties. The last few years, I’ve made space to write, but my practice is not what it once was. By hosting retreats and this website, I hope to reconnect with other writers, artists, creatives, yogis, intellectuals, and lovers of aesthetics.

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Texas Sky

We only spent three days in the Hill Country, yet I feel so rejuvenated. My passion is reawakened, and I feel like I have a clear purpose once again. I am a writer. I was meant to put pen to paper and create. The practice of writing transforms when you are in a novel place. All three of us felt that leaving our every day lives in the Houston area behind allowed us to focus. We collectively shared our desire to write and recognized how difficult it is to put pen to paper when you find yourself distracted by the mundane tasks of everyday life. We are all allowing “life” to interrupt our practice of writing, and need to live by the motto of this website.

Write Every Damn Day.

I’ve always been fascinated by how a sense of place can inspire your writing. As an undergraduate, I enrolled in a course called, “The American Novel and Sense of Place.” Our discussions were centered around how the landscape and culture influenced a variety of novelists writing around the same time in America, spanning across the continent. We pondered how a place could influence an Author’s voice and storytelling. In the novel I am currently writing, my characters reside in a town similar to the one I grew up in during the 1930s. Abra draws inspiration from the bordertowns of Texas; interestingly, the décor of our AirBNB inspired her writing as well. The home was a Southwestern style with tribal masks, Mayan artwork, pottery, animal prints, and earth tones. When she and I met to conference about our writing, she kept discussing how the snakes in the artwork around the house were inspiring her story and research.

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Our backyard

I found myself reading and writing near windows or outside in the morning. The backyard was covered in lush greens with the subtle mellifluous tone of wind chimes occasionally sounding. One of the reasons I selected this particular property was the ample mount of outdoor spaces to write. Unfortunately, a cold front blew into Texas, so we were bundled up outside – I took full advantage of the cold weather and used it as an excuse to wear my red panda kigurumi.

I think each of us found a time to enjoy the beauty of the property. Janeen spent a morning drinking tea and writing outside while Abra, a certified yogi, led me through a sequence that inspires creativity. She brought a book titled, Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System by Anodea Judith, and began our practice with an edifying excerpt.

After we bowed to one another with Namaste, we decided to take advantage of the hot tub. Other than eating, this was the only time neither of us was reading, writing, sharing, or editing. I went on the retreat with the goal of writing 10,000 words. I reached 8,000, but I also received some valuable feedback, wrote poetry, read On Writing by Stephen King, and edited the first eight chapters of the novel. Overall, the three of us were incredibly productive, especially in the evenings.

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Janeen writing fireside

Inside, we all found a comfortable spot together in one room by the fireplace at night to write. There is something enchanting about writing by fireside. The glow, the warmth, the crackling – all of it kept me awake and focused longer than I had anticipated. We each had our own room if we needed to be in a space of our own to write or conference one-on-one privately without disturbing one another.

I found myself writing all over the house. I felt invigorated and uninhibited. Writing away from home kept me from thinking about the laundry list of tasks I need to complete daily. Green tea, yoga, nature, and surrounding myself with other constructive and creative women truly made me the most productive I’ve been in years. As much as writing is a solitary activity, doing it in the presence of others is energizing and refreshing.

The only negative about our retreat – it wasn’t long enough. There is nothing more inspirational than being surrounded by writers in a cozy space.

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Do we have to leave?

After checking out of our fabulous AirBNB, we explored Wimberely! It’s a eccentric, artsy town with adorable shops and a welcoming atmosphere. There are boots decorated by artists throughout, so each of us took a moment to snag a picture with a boot similar to ourselves.

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Exploring Wimberley

Personally, I feel like this is the best gift I could have given myself for Christmas. I am a true Cancerian by nature,  constantly doing for others, but in hosting writing retreats, I’ve discovered a way to give to myself and others. If you are interested in participating in a rewarding experience, I intend to host another retreat in the Spring, as well as this summer. If you are interested in renting the same property featured in this post, Casa Grande – A Slice of Heaven in Wimberley, Texas , I highly recommend Mark as an AirBNB host.