Category Archives: Challenge

Blog a Day Challenge: January Report

I admit that when I set this challenge up for myself near the end of December, I did so with trepidation:

  • Would I be able to find something to write about EVERY SINGLE DAY?
  • Would I be able to do all the research necessary for each post during a single day?
  • Would I be able to find enough overlap between the three areas of my current life (reading, writing, retirement) to make all three areas interesting?
  • Would I neglect other areas of my life in order to get a post written and published every day?

I did manage to write a post a day for the first month. Here’s what I’ve learned from the challenge so far:

  • It was easy to find topics to write about once I began paying attention to what goes on in the world around me.
  • Not every post needs to be a research project. (Since I tend to approach everything new that I come across as a research project requiring a lot of background investigation, this lesson was perhaps the most difficult but important one for me to learn.)
  • The various areas of my life do cross-pollinate each other once I begin to think that way.
  • So far I have not felt that I am neglecting any important parts of my life, probably because I’ve made an effort not to compartmentalize the several aspects of my life but rather to see them as complementary parts of a whole.

One challenge I still have to face is how I’ll keep up with writing and posting when we travel.

But overall, I’ve found this first month of the blog post a day challenge in 2015 to be enlightening and rewarding.

Here are my January stats:

Number of posts written: 31

Shortest post: 55 words

Longest post: 1,360 words

Total words written: 19,115

Distribution of posts across my three blogs:

The total of posts here may not equal the number of posts written last month because I occasionally publish the same post on more than one blog. However, I have included each post only once in my total word count.

Last month’s featured posts:

1. 8 Lessons College Bowl Season Teaches About Writing

I’m featuring this post because it resulted from the first time I saw how something in one area of my life (personal experience) applied to another part of my life (my writing). I see posts like this all over the internet and often find them interesting, but in the past I just didn’t think this way. But this one appeared out of nowhere while I was watching college football, an example of how synchronicity happens once you open yourself to the possibility of it.

2. Flow

I’m featuring this post because it’s my first attempt at defining a technical term for a general audience on my blog.

I’d appreciate it if you’d take a look at this post and then leave a comment telling me whether you think I’ve succeeded.

I Need a New Challenge. . .

During the 6 years while I was back in grad school, the practice of reading challenges blossomed. Often I’d see a challenge that looked so interesting, but I just didn’t have time to participate.  I guess my doctoral program was itself a 6-year reading challenge.

Anyway, since I finally got my degree this past summer, I’m now ready to undertake a reading challenge. I’ve signed up for What’s in a Name 5, hosted by BethFishReads. Here’s her description of the challenge:

Here’s How It Works

Between January 1 and December 31, 2012, read one book in each of the following categories:

  1. A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title: Black Hills, Purgatory Ridge, Emily of Deep Valley
  2. A book with something you’d see in the sky in the title: Moon Called, Seeing Stars, Cloud Atlas
  3. A book with a creepy crawly in the title: Little Bee, Spider Bones, The Witches of Worm
  4. A book with a type of house in the title: The Glass Castle, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Ape House
  5. A book with something you’d carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: Sarah’s Key, The Scarlet Letter, Devlin Diary
  6. A book with a something you’d find on a calendar in the title: Day of the Jackal, Elegy for April, Freaky Friday, Year of Magical Thinking

The book titles are just suggestions, you can read whatever book you want to fit the category.

Other Things to Know

  • Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
  • Books may overlap other challenges.
  • Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.
  • You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
  • You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order.

I decided on this challenge because, as  I looked at the categories, I realized that I already had at least one book for almost every category on my TBR list.

Although the directions say that making up a list of books before hand is not necessary, I went ahead and did it anyway because it was so much fun to realize that I’ll actually have time to read these books now. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Topographical feature

  • In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  • The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  • By the Lake by John McGahern
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine by Ann Hood
  • Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay
  • Master of the Delta by Thomas H. Cook
  • The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates

Something in the sky

  • The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

Creepy crawly

  • Bedbugs by Ben H. Winters
  • The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Robert Cormier
  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
  • A Maggot by John Fowles

Type of house

  • Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
  • Green Mansions by W. H. Hudson
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
  • Asylum by Patrick McGrath
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
  • The Keep by Jennifer Egan

Something you’d carry in your pocket

  • The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields
  • Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally

Something on a calendar

  • In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
  • Blue Nights by Joan Didion
  • October 1964 by David Halberstam
  • Solstice by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

There are a few titles on this list that I’ve already read, but I’ve left them on in case other people are looking for books to fit a particular category. And some of the books that I have read before could stand a rereading.

I’m pretty well set in all the categories except “something you’d carry in a pocket, purse, or backpack,” so if you have any title suggestions for that one, I’d love to hear them.

Thanks to BethFishReads for hosting this challenge.