Tag Archives: 500 Words a Day Challenge

2014: The Opposite

Ok, I admit I’m terrified to revisit my 2013 writing goals post, but let’s do it. Click.

2013 Writing (+ Reading) Goals

  • continue with 500 words a day challenge {hmm, maybe? need better record-keeping skillz}
  • write at least one essay {do blog posts count? ;)} + submit it [no]
  • read more books, especially fiction YES!
    • read some of these books + write reviews and/or interview authors YES!
    • read some new-to-me books on writing YES! + write an article {wrote articles, but not about those books}
    • read some of these books YES!
  • keep a reading journal YES!
  • keep on top of my book posts YES!
  • blog better YES!
  • tweet about new blog posts {working on this}
  • work on a business plan YES!
  • start a sketchbook [no]
  • snail mail {tally: 15, including packages}
  • finish The Dissertation [no, but thisclose]

Hmm, that wasn’t as terrible as I anticipated. Whew.

Things I did in 2013:

Made a lot of progress on the dissertation. Part of the reason I posted this was to remind myself how much I actually accomplished since last January. I know time’s supposed to fly, and on a day-to-day basis it sometimes feels like it, but when I look at those book covers, it seems like a million years ago. I think I was losing sight of the forest for the trees. So, perspective.

I did TC Mini-Nano again (try it! it’s fun!). Extra-pleased with my story because not only did I get to 5,000 words, I wrote a complete first draft. Still needs a ton of work, of course, but so happy to have a story with an END.

Started a linked story collection (3 stories so far, including my mini-nano story, a story I’ve been noodling around with for a while, and one that came out of nowhere).

I started what I’ve been calling “the Big List” (a la “the Big Salad”). It’s just a neverending to-do list in my (paper) writer’s notebook. When I think of something I need to do, I write it down. When I do it, I cross it off. What can I say. I love making lists and crossing stuff off them.

I also “scribbled” a lot of ideas in my digital writer’s notebook in Scrivener.

I read two of Janet Mullany’s books, reviewed one (Review of The Rules of Gentility by Janet Mullany) and interviewed Janet (“Toasted Cheese Success Stories: Interview with Janet Mullany“).

I also wrote two other Absolute Blank articles: “So You Want to Write an Article…” and “‘You Shortlisted My Submission… Why Didn’t it Make the Final Cut?’” and three Snark Zones: “Unqualified Praise Only, Please,” “The Star-Ratings Tango,” and “CTRL-Z.”

Moved TC (the main site) to WordPress. Yeah, 13 years of hand-coding was enough.

In my quest to read more for fun, I started reading books at breakfast, and whoa. By the end of the year, I’d read 30 books. Success.

And yes, I kept a reading log (notes while reading), which made keeping up with my book posts way easier.

Got my feed reader under control. Ditched a bunch of feeds and organized the rest into 5 themes, each of which I only check once a week.

Started listening to podcasts in the kitchen. Gold, Jerry, gold! (How is this writing-related? Well, some of them are writing podcasts, of course.)

Watched a bunch o’ new(ish) movies. (Writing-related because movies about writers. Also screenwriters write them. And some are based on books. Just go with it.)

Learned how to knit. (Writing-related because this.)

Lesson: I may be better at just randomly starting to do things than setting goals. But, hey, it’s January, so… let’s set some goals for 2014!

  • Finish the Dissertation. No, really. Stick a freaking spork in this thing.
  • Move TC (the lit journal) to WordPress.
  • Establish freelance editing business.
  • Keep record of words written (so I don’t have to answer with a vague ‘maybe?’ to 500-words-a-day challenge question next year ;)).
  • Bonus: Do something creative with my Tumblr. (deliberate vagueness!)

Ok, that’s it. Keeping it simple. If I accomplish those things, it’ll be time to break out the champagne.

And, oh right. I need a word/phrase. Until a few days ago, I had nothing, and then this came to me, and it felt right. So, I declare 2014 the year of “the opposite.” Maybe I’ll get hired as assistant to the traveling secretary for the Yankees.

Jerry: If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

George: Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!

Writing Goals for 2013

First, I guess I should revisit my 2012 writing goals:

Goal 1: 1hr creative writing 5x/week.

First two-thirds of the year: #fail. However, I turned this around in the last third of the year. In September, I did the TC Mini-Nano. In October, I did the 250 words a day challenge. In November, I did NaNo—I didn’t “win” but I wrote a lot. In December, I started the 500 words a day challenge and my final word count for the month was almost 19k.

Goal 2: draft of dissertation by end of year.

Argh, no. But I have made a lot of progress since September. I still hope/plan to have the thing done in 2013.

Goal 3: blog 3x/week.

Yes, check. Ok, so it wasn’t a nice M-W-F three times a week, but I posted 165! times in 2012, which works out to an average of 3.17 times / week. I’ll call this one a #win.

Goal 4: 366 project.

366 terrible haiku written. Check. And blargh. Never again.

I guess I did learn something (didn’t I already know this?): every day for a month = fun challenge. Every day for a year = enough already. My attention span rebels at the year-long challenge.

Also in 2012:

I wrote 4 articles + 2 editorials + 2 reviews for TC:

I finally bought my own domain. Professionalism!

I entered a writing contest. (I wrote something! I submitted it! #win)

I read a bunch of books. It was a pretty good reading year with only one real clunker (I’m looking at you, King of Torts). Best fiction: Ayiti. Best nonfiction: Quiet.


Susannah Conway suggests selecting a word to represent the upcoming year. Sure, why not? So my word is…


Haha! Expecting something else, were you?

Aloha because it means both goodbye and hello and 2013 is a year I hope to say goodbye to some things (The Dissertation) and hello to some new things.

Aloha because it also means (amongst other things): love, affection, compassion, mercy, sympathy, kindness, grace, charity. And we could all use more loving-kindness in our lives.

And aloha because Hawaii is going to be my reward to myself for finishing The Dissertation. (I have one vote for Kauai—anyone else care to weigh in?)

2013 Writing (+ Reading) Goals

  • continue with 500 words a day challenge (see sidebar)
  • write at least one essay + submit it
  • read more books, especially fiction (b/c reading novels makes me happy)
    • read some of these books + write reviews and/or interview authors
    • read some new-to-me books on writing + write an article
    • read some of these books (eventually all, but not all this year or the dissertation will never get done)
  • keep a reading journal (i.e. jot down notes/page numbers while reading so it’s easier to write about them afterward. efficiency ftw.)
  • keep on top of my book posts!
  • blog better (i.e. more posts other people might actually be interested in reading)
  • tweet about new blog posts (i.e. get over my squeamishness about self-promo)
  • work on a business plan
  • start a sketchbook
  • snail mail (admit it. you’d love to get a letter, a card, a postcard.)
  • finish The Dissertation

500 Words a Day Challenge

My novel word count for November ended up being 23,768. That averages to 792 words/day, but the reality was some days I wrote some days I wrote more and others less.

Out of curiosity, I also did a rough count of all the other words I wrote over the month (my AB article, blog posts, posts at TC, etc.) and that all added up to 12,505 miscellanous words. Not to mention whatever I added to my dissertation (ongoing, so I don’t have a monthly word count).

So, not 50k, but still a lot of words. Onto my next goal.

In September, I did the 167-word a day mini-nano challenge, writing fiction (a short story), and that was a piece of cake. In fact, most days I wrote more than the goal amount and ended up with 7,653 words (average 255 words/day). So in October, I took on the 250 words a day challenge, this time working on non-fiction (personal essay/cnf). Final word count: 8,597 (277 words/day average). Again, the word count wasn’t a problem. At the beginning, I found using this method of writing in chunks less satisfying for non-fiction than fiction, but I think I found my footing by the end of the month. Use it as a time to get ideas on the page rather than trying to create a coherent narrative from the start.

Then NaNoWriMo.  I had some story breakthroughs, which was awesome. But I was also trying to work on my dissertation and write an AB article (it’s one thing to fit nanoing in around other things, it’s another thing when those other things are also writing) and the word count just wasn’t happening. Because I knew I wasn’t going to hit the daily word count, my motivation to write every day was less than it had been in September and October. In short, though I wrote more (way more!) in November than I did in September & October, I was less disciplined about it, and maybe I’m weird, but this felt less satisfying.

For December, I’m taking on the 500 Words a Day Challenge. Since I managed 250+ daily over 2 months without difficulty, I figure I’m ready to take on a bit more, but at the same time, I want it to be a definitely-achievable goal. So, 2 pages. I can do that. Look, I’m already at 381. 😉