Tag Archives: Goals

2014 Failures (and Successes)

So… these were my writing-ish goals for 2014:

  • Finish the Dissertation. No, really. Stick a freaking spork in this thing. [hahaha. ok, so I got it to almost-done, and then I got distracted. see below.]
  • Move TC (the lit journal) to WordPress. [YES! YES, I DID THIS.]
  • Establish freelance editing business. [I made some moves in that direction at the beginning of the year, but then other things took precedence.]
  • 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 ;)). [Yeah, no. zzz.]
  • Bonus: Do something creative with my Tumblr. (deliberate vagueness!) [Also no.]

Ok, so what happened is I applied to teach a class and was hired, so I got distracted with that. (I knew this would happen, which is why I stuck with TAing for so long. But I really like this class–it’s feminism/info tech, so…) Getting it all organized, syllabus & stuff, in July/Aug, and then teaching it for the first time in the fall. Anyway, I’m teaching the same class this semester, so it should be easier. So back to the neverending dissertation I go… (blah. I’m so over it, tbh. which is how I’ve felt at the end of every degree, so… I think that’s a good thing?)

Usual TC contributions:

I’m getting good at doing “cheat” articles 😉 And I love co-writing in docs with Steph. The September article was so fun to write.

What else? Oh, I started those “some things I read this month” posts b/c I read more than just books. I like those, will continue. And I started making Pinterest-friendly images for our articles at TC b/c I noticed we were getting lots of traffic from there. TC’s traffic is wayyyy up since I moved everything to WordPress, so I’m pretty stoked about that. Also, I did like a comic thing for the March AB article and Steph and I started doing podcasts. Look at me, putting my drawings and voice on the interwebs. So yeah, I may have failed at most of my named goals for the year, but (THE) OPPOSITE was an excellent word-of-the-year choice. My track record of being better at just doing things than setting/meeting goals remains intact.

With that said, I have just one writing goal for 2015: FINISH THE DAMN DISSERTATION.

And my word for the year is: OPEN.


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!

New Year’s Day

In service of my goals, yesterday I walked downtown and bought some things:

  • a 2013 planner (50% off)
  • a sketchbook, 5×8-ish, big enough not to feel cramped, small enough to carry around. and I pulled out my pencils/erasers/pencil sharpener and put them with the sketchbook, so no excuses.
  • a 3-pack of Moleskine journals (like this, except these ones have a pattern on the cover)  — one of which I’ve already started writing reading notes in. go me.
  • a box of all-purpose cards. now I just need some stamps. I think I’ll also get some Vancouver postcards. (want snail mail? email me your snail mail address. I promise not to do anything nefarious with it.)

I walked around Canada Place for a bit (drinking a latte and taking phone photos of the snowy North Shore mountains, like everyone else and their dog who was downtown) and then I went to see Argo. It was good, no doubt. I have to give BAf props for being able to create suspense when I already knew the ending.

When I first heard about this movie, I was puzzled because it was advertised as some untold story and I was like what? Because I knew this story. I imagine it was plastered all over Canadian news at the time. I can’t explain why I have a vivid memory of this story and nothing of the Marathon of Hope when they happened the same year. The only thing I can think is that the constant repetition of the Terry Fox story over the past 30 years has obliterated any of my personal memories of it.

Anyway. The “untold” part of it is the CIA involvement. But the movie makes it seem like the Canadians were just doofy bystanders, undeserving of any of the kudos they received. Which, if you think about, makes no sense: Tony Mendez, the CIA guy Affleck plays was in Iran for like a day. Clearly, there was a lot going on in Iran in the 79 days preceding Mendez’s appearance that is totally glossed over. Like the real Canadian passports that just magically appeared. There’s a slam in the postscript at the end of the Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor, which seems totally uncalled for. But if you don’t think about any of that: good movie.

Oh. Before the movie, there was trailer for this. It was almost entirely Ryan Gosling shooting people. Intercut with Sean Penn emoting intensely. It has the same rating (R) as Argo, which did have some violence but I would guess probably got its R not from its violence but from the number of times ‘fuck’ was used. Because impolite language is totally equivalent to violent death. And we (society) remain puzzled as to why some people get it in their heads to go on shooting rampages.  Just saying.

As I left the theater, I was thinking hmm, need food. I didn’t feel like going grocery shopping. I wanted something like fast food but not fast food if you know what I mean. As I walked to Stadium Station, I passed T&T. Through the doors I could see what looked like a deli case. Hmm, I thought. I went in. As I suspected: sushi. Perfect. Well played, T&T, well played.

And then I went home and started reading book #1 of 2013, Turtle Valley.

It was a good day.

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

Writing Goals for 2012

All right, it’s January 1st! Time to set some overly ambitious goals for the new year 🙂

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

I’ve been successful at incorporating running/yoga into my everyday life, so I’m modeling this goal after my running/yoga practice. I started thinking about why I’m successful at that, but writing always gets pushed to the bottom of the list. The thing with running & yoga is that I don’t really think about product on a daily basis. I know I’m never going to be the best runner or yogi and that isn’t really the point anyway. The point is the practice. If I go for a run or spend an hour doing yoga, afterward I’m satisfied—even if was a crappy day and there will be crappy days—because the satisfaction comes from just doing it. In the long term, daily practice does lead to rewards (like personal bests & the ability to do poses that used to be difficult) but the nice thing is these are a bonus. (Whereas if product goals are your primary focus, you’ll feel like a failure until you achieve them, and if you never do, you’ll probably quit.)

Lately so much of my writing time has been product-focused. When you need to produce a completed piece of writing, you can’t just say “I’ll spend x hours on this” because at the end of x hours, you’ll probably not be done (everything takes longer than you think it will) and you have to keep going until you are done (which is frustrating), but you probably also have a deadline (which is stressful). All of which adds up to a generally unpleasant writing experience. With this goal, I want to focus on writing as a practice, and on shifting my mindset from viewing creative writing as a reward (which is why I always leave it till last—it’s the  “I don’t deserve to take time to do this because I haven’t finished x, y, and z” mindset) to viewing it as a necessity, something that will only benefit my other writing. Speaking of other writing…

Goal 2: draft of dissertation by end of year.

Goal 3: blog 3x/week.

Goal 4: 366 project.

…discussion of goals 2, 3 & 4 reserved for future posts (see Goal 3 ;)). Goals 2, 3 & 4 are definitely overly ambitious, but I did warn you.

Wonderful Secrets

When I think about the things in my life that have given me the greatest sense of accomplishment, in each case, I told very few people what I was attempting to do — I would just privately start taking the first steps, and then slowly work toward it, before letting anyone know (for example, I didn’t tell most people, including my parents, that I was thinking about going to law school until after I got accepted).

I think there’s something delicious about taking baby steps toward something that you dare yourself to do, all-hush-hush-like, with only yourself or, at the most, a few confidants knowing.  I love the feeling of “if they only knew!” that happens when you start to make progress.  I think there’s something to be said to having wonderful secrets about what you’re capable of doing, only to be revealed in due course (or, never to be spoken of again, if that works, too).

Karen Walrond

omg, yes. This! I also didn’t tell anyone about law school until I was accepted. I love having secret projects, like running or school or writing or whatever. Outside pressure, regardless of how well-intentioned (soooo, how’s that Big Project of yours coming?) doesn’t do anything for me; it just stresses me out (makes me feel like I haven’t done enough, I’m going to fail, etc.). It’s so good to know I’m not alone in feeling that way.

On the other hand, I sometimes think that people interpret keeping quiet about a project to mean that it must not be a big deal—when in fact it’s the opposite. Just because I like to quietly work at my goals doesn’t mean I don’t want to celebrate once they’ve been achieved. If anything, I want to celebrate more. After all, I’ve been saving up. Not counting my chickens until they’ve actually hatched. So when I share my achievement? Break out the party hats and noisemakers!