2017 Resolutions

IT’S 2017! LET’S DO THIS.

2016 was rough, but I managed to accomplish 6/10 of my blogging resolutions. This year, I’m widening my resolutions to include blogging, reading, and writing. We’ll see if I can accomplish them.

blogging

1. Post three times a week. This is a constant goal of mine that I struggled with in 2016, but that I want to bring back for 2017.

2. Write more discussion posts that I’m proud of. I accomplished this in 2016, but I want to push myself even further.

3. Be more consistent with Top Ten Tuesday posts. This fell apart at the end of 2016, but they are honestly so much fun to read and write.

4. Stay up on my reviews, and make sure I actually have fun while writing them.

5. Make my reviews more thorough, including calling out problematic things I notice and including trigger warnings.

5. Keep making 52 Letters my own, especially with adding some more personal posts and working on my graphics.

reading

1. Read 60 books. Last year I read about 55, the year before, about 70, so 60 seems like a good goal. I want to push myself without stressing myself.

2. Read more diverse books, especially ones by marginalized authors and #ownvoices books. Hopefully at least one a month

3. Never take longer than 2 weeks to read a book. After that, the book is kind of dead to me, and I just need to move on.

writing

1. Edit my WIP and get it to a place where other people can actually read it.

2. Bring back Hell and Styx, my short story series. I’ll need something to write while editing my novel.

3. Work on my short stories and poetry. One of my main regrets is that I did not do this in 2016.

4. Just keep writing.


What are your goals for 2017? Are there any I should add to my list?

Blogging and Bookish Resolutions for 2016

Hey everyone! As we begin a new year of reading and blogging, I thought that it would be a good time to write down some goals I have for improving this blog next year.

1. Post three times a week. 

I was doing pretty well for this before the last two months. Hopefully these three posts would be a review, a discussion/meme, and something writing based.

2. Read 75 books. 

I read 74 books this year. Stretching my goal to 75 might be an awful idea–next year is going to be crazy stressful–but I think I can do it.

3. Use better graphics consistently.

I have Photoshop, and I honestly love working with it, but I often get lazy when I’m writing posts and go with simpler graphics than I could make. This year, I want to stop this habit and really develop the graphic design part of this blog.

4. More discussion posts!

Discussion posts are definitely the hardest posts to write because they take time, effort, and thought. However, I wrote a few discussion posts last year that I was really proud of and I got a lot of positive feedback, so I want to continue to deliver discussion-based content. Going with #1, I also want to work in better graphics to my discussions.

5. Write reviews directly after I finish a book.

Right now, I have a horrible habit of waiting anywhere from one to two weeks after reading a book to sit down and write the review. GAH I know it’s awful and I need to kick this habit.

6. Interact more with the blogging community!

I want to start commenting back, following more blogs, and really developing friendships with members of the blogging community. I also want to build my Twitter following and interact with more of you guys on Twitter.

7. Start doing read-a-thons. 

This goes with #4, but I want to start doing RATs to get to know more of you better. I haven’t done them in the past because of school, but I want to get over the fear of not being able to read a ton of books and join RATs anyway.

8. Get back to Weekend Words. 

This is an original feature of my blog that I started about halfway through the year. I’ve only been doing it off-and-on (and mostly off recently), but I love the feature that I came up with and I just need to remind myself to actually DO IT.

9. Increase the writing focus of 52 Letters.

I want to get back to sharing short stories and poems with you guys. I also want to branch out into writing-based discussions and share with you my experiences with my WIP.

10. Have fun.

This one goes without saying, but I want to make sure that I’m blogging because I enjoy it, not because I feel like I need to. I doubt that this will really be a problem, but you never know.


And that’s it! Ten seems like a good number.

What are your goals and resolutions for 2016? Do we share any?

4 Ways to Stay Motivated During a Hectic Life (Second Draft Journal #3)

Second Draft Journal is a series of posts in which I randomly discuss things that occur to me during my process of writing my second draft of my WIP. Today I’m tackling how I make sure I stay motivated.

Staying motivated. It’s a broad topic. Everyone has their own tips. Here are some ways that I’m kept myself feeling good about writing and itching to sit down and write, even if my hectic school schedule doesn’t allow me the time.

SDJ staying motivated

1. “High Scores”

So I talked a while back about the spreadsheet I keep in which I track how many words I write per day. The spreadsheet itself is a useful motivation tool–it gives me a kick in the pants when I haven’t written in a while, and it challenges me to sit back down and write more when I realize that I only added 900-ish words in a day.

Recently, I took it a step further and decided to keep track of my “high score”–the most words I’ve written in a day, to date. Right now my high score is 4,071 words. I know that’s pretty low in the grand scheme of things, but if I write that many words (or get close) I’m proud of myself.

What I specifically like about the high score motivation tactic is that it is a pleasing balance of motivating without being a lot of pressure. I know that not every day that I sit down to write will be a high score-setting day, but when I can tell that I’m on a role and the words are flowing well, the high score pushes me to stay in the chair for a little while longer and hit a new “best.”

2. Monthly Word Count Goals

I’ve also set myself a goal of adding at least 10,000 words to my WIP a month. For August, I’ve already achieved this (13,000, like what?!), but I know I’ll still keep writing. I like that the goal is low enough that if I have a rough month, I can still accomplish it, but that I still want to keep writing after I achieve it. The goal of getting higher and higher above that baseline monthly target will keep me motivated.

3. Reading Just Enough Writing Advice to Keep My Head in the Game

I wrote a post a little while ago about the debilitating effect that reading other people’s writing advice can have on my self-confidence. While this can still trip me up, I make sure that I expose myself to writing advice fairly regularly. Whether it is a random pin that comes up in my Pinterest feed or a Chuck Wendig post, I make sure to check out writing advice blog posts when they cross my path. I tend not to spend a lot of time reading them–just glancing at the main headings and skimming the paragraphs. This way, I get a dose of writing advice that keeps me thinking about writing and that points me in the right direction, but I don’t get bogged down in specifics or self-doubt. Other times, when I have more downtime, I’ll go back and really focus on the writing advice that I found, sometimes taking notes or bookmarking especially great pieces.

Reading other people’s writing advice gives me confidence (if I’m already doing what was suggested), makes me think (in a good way), or helps me find my way through a rough patch (like a scene or a relationship that I can’t quite make work). Making sure I read posts like that regularly keeps my head in the writing game.

4. Fall Asleep Thinking About My Story

I find it is much easier to sit down and write a scene that I have already run through in my head a few times. I usually do this while I’m falling asleep, playing out different ways a scene could happen, playing with character reactions and personalities. It gives me something to think about, and distracts me from anything that is stressing me out–my WIP is kind of a happy place for me. Making sure that I think about what is coming up next in my story (or just a part of the plot that I need to develop further) when I’m falling asleep also connects my WIP to my daily life, even if I didn’t write that day. Often, if a writer goes a long time without writing, it is hard to come back to the story; I’ve found that keeping the story close by when I’m not writing makes it easier to come back. 


How do you stay motivated? Have you tried any of these methods?

Summer Wrap Up

School is back.

dt crying

Hello, junior year of high school.

Goodbye, amazing summer.

I don’t hate school or anything–once I get into it, I actually enjoy it–but the sudden switch from laziness to forced productivity is a lot to handle. Acclimating to new teachers and new classes is also hard in the beginning, and I’m ready for everything to settle into the usual rhythm.

But less about school, more about summer. I set myself eight goals at the beginning of summer, and I met almost all of them. Here’s a look back at what I accomplished.

1. WRITE

I totally succeeded at this one. I added 30,500 words to my WIP over the course of nine weeks, bringing my total up to 83,800 words. I have to say, this is better than I ever expected from myself. I’m getting close to the end of my second draft, and I have everything left that I need to write plotted out. I am so ready to write THE END on the last page.

I didn’t write short stories, but that’s okay. I wrote a few poems, some of which I shared here.

Most of all, I’m proud that I kept writing, and that I wrote scenes that I actually enjoy. Of everything that I added this summer, I like most of it, and my self doubt has decreased from “crippling” to “mild.”

2. Read 20 books

I read 21!!! YAAAAY.

  • The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas
  • Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #1) by Michelle Hodkin
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  • The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
  • Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  • Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt
  • The Thief (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • The Queen of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • The King of Attolia (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • A Conspiracy of Kings (Queen’s Thief #1) by Megan Whalen Turner
  • When Lightning Strikes (1-800-WHERE-ARE-YOU #1) by Meg Cabot
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

My favorite new read: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids

cover the summer of chasing mermaids

Most surprising read: The Picture of Dorian Gray

cover the picture of dorian gray

Favorite reread: The King of Attolia (no competition, since it’s my favorite book ever)

cover king of attolia

3. Keep blogging (at least three posts a week)

Yep, did this one too. I had a total of 37 posts! I can’t say much more on this one, besides that I maintained my goal of writing (in numerous different forms) and that summer laziness never took over.

4. Spend time with friends

CHECK. I hung out with friends a lot, more than I expected I would. Lots of trips to Coffee Bean, lots of lunch hang-outs, lots of good times were had.

5. Catch up on TV shows

I sort of succeeded? I caught up on Doctor Who (season 8), but I didn’t watch the most recent season of Once Upon a Time. On Netflix, I finished up How I Met Your Mother (the ending was whatever…I cried but felt like the last season was completely unnecessary for that pre-planned ending), and started watching White Collar. I’m a few seasons in, and while it isn’t amazingly well written or intense, it is fun to watch.

6. Learn ballet

Well, I had to do this one. I had a ballet summer school class for PE credit, and it was a great experience. I remain loyal to my first love, fencing, but I can definitely see myself taking another class if It fit in my schedule.

7. Finally get my drivers permit

WHOOPS. Nope. That didn’t happen. SSSHHHH

8. Enjoy myself

SUCCESS. I had a really great summer. Lots of new experiences, lots of fun times with friends, lots of relaxation.

Also, my sister made us both amazing steampunk fairy costumes for San Diego Comic Con. Check out her blog here!

sdcc pic 2

08-IMG_2993_resized


How was your summer? Did you accomplish your goals?

July Wrap-Up!

july wrap up

I can’t believe July is over! Where did it go? I officially have TEN DAYS of summer vacation left. AHHHHH!!! I’m not ready for junior year! (Who is?)

In Life

This month was good. I finished up the ballet class I had been taking at a local community college to get high school PE credit out of the way. I got an A, preserving my GPA and making it so that I never have to take PE at high school again. YAY! I miss all of the awesome people I met, and though it weirds me out to say it, I actually miss getting up at 7 every morning to do 2-3 hours of ballet a day. It was a great way to stay in shape over summer, and I got to learn the basics of ballet from an amazing teacher. I know I won’t have the time or the resources to do both ballet and fencing during the school year, which means that I probably won’t do any ballet for at least a year (if I ever go back to it at all).

In Reading and Reviewing

Remember that long weekend of reading I had last month? Well, this month I finally caught up on writing all of the reviews for those books. I can’t believe I fell so behind. Most of those reviews will be published in August…a full two months after I read the books. Whoops. I’m just glad I took detailed notes after each book so that I knew what to write. (*high fives my June self*)

This month, I didn’t get a lot of reading done. I only read four books, mainly because none of the books I had on my shelf appealed to me. I kept being in the mood for some inexplicable other book that didn’t exist, but I never made it to a bookstore to try to find a book that would grab me.

I did enjoy the books I pushed myself to read. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (review here) was a powerful and creepy read, but the “classic” writing style made it take me longer to read it. I then read the blood-chilling ARC The Dead House by Dawn. A very conflicted review of it will be coming next month. Needing something that wasn’t horror-filled, I read another ARC, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, which I enjoyed. To give myself a break from heavy paranormal and fantasy books, I picked up Aces Up by, which ended up disappointing me, but was fun to read for an afternoon. I’m now rereading Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke, wondering if I will enjoy it as much as I did the first time.

In Blogging

Despite being so behind on reviews, this month was a good month for me in regards to posting regularly. I had 16 posts, which shakes out to one every other day and holds me to my summer goal of posting at least three times a week.

I posted five reviews this month, covering a lot of different genres. In the YA fantasy world, I reviewed Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, which was fun to read but lacked originality. For contemporary YA stories I reviewed The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler (which I LOVED) and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (which was a light summer read, but nothing special). Firefight by Brandon Sanderson took care of the scifi/dystopian genre, and The Picture of Dorian Gray rounded out this month’s reviews as a classic. Though I usually avoid classics, I genuinely enjoyed this one.

As a random addition, I reviewed season eight of Doctor Who, talking about my newfound love of Clara as a companion and the greatness that is Capaldi as Twelve.

I took part in three TTTs: Top Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read, Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity, and Top Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds. In other bookish posts, I took part in the Would You Rather Book Tag and I recounted my amazing time at SDCC in a book haul post. A pleasant surprise, I received the Blogger Recognition Award from Hidden Staircase! (Thanks again!)

In Writing

This was a good month for me in writing (in that I actually worked on my WIP). I added 12,000 words to my novel, bringing the total up to 77,000 words. I can feel myself working up to the ending, and I am ready to finally finish the second draft of this project.

I published two poems: You Never Left and Tomorrow Me. For a Chuck Wendig Challenge, I took a day to talk about what it is that drives me to write. Putting my thoughts down on paper helped motivate me to write, so thanks, Chuck!

I also committed myself to a few personal writing goals. I want to write at least 10,000 words a month, and I want to finish this draft by the end of 2015. I can fail the first goal a few months and still be able to meet the second, as I don’t expect this draft to be longer than 100,000 words. Since I started writing this draft in December of 2014, if I meet those goals, it will have only taken me one year to write. I know that that isn’t exactly the best timetable, but I think it will have been the fastest I ever finish a project. Factoring in all of the time I devote to high school, I will be extremely proud of myself if I can pull this off.


So there was my July! How was your month? What books did you read? What books should I read next? (I’m in a slump, guys! I need recommendations!)

 

My Goals For This Summer

Today is my last day of school. As of now I am FREE! (No really, I scheduled this post to go live one minute after my final bell rings.) Here are my goals for this summer, both relating to this blog and in my personal life.

1. WRITE

I can’t stress this one enough. I need to get back into writing poetry (which I kind of dropped recently). I want to get better at writing short stories and maybe enter a content or two. And I absolutely have to work on (and finish?!?!) my second draft of my WIP, Devil May Care. I haven’t worked on it in two months, but the last time I really got into writing it, it went well, so I hope I can get that productivity and confidence back, for two months at least.

2. Read 20 books

This is the goal I set myself last summer, and I think it will be a good goal for this summer as well. I haven’t been able to read as much this year as last year, but without school, hopefully I can at least catch up a bit in my overall total. I also really need to start working on my reading challenges (I haven’t even started some of them yet!).

3. Keep blogging (at least three posts a week)

Sometimes, when I have a lot of free time, I basically cease to be productive. I know this about myself. This summer, I want to make sure that I keep blogging, because I know at some point I’m going to get lazy and stop writing new posts. I’m setting a goal of three posts a week, though hopefully I will have closer to four. I also want to focus on getting some more original content, like discussion posts, and posting more of my writing, instead of just doing Top Ten Tuesdays and book reviews.

4. Spend time with friends

This one doesn’t tie into my blog, but I need to write it down somewhere. I love my friends, but last summer I didn’t really organize any get-togethers, and by the end of summer I was regretting it. This summer will be friend-heavy, even if it means I don’t read or write quite as much as I would have otherwise.

5. Catch up on TV shows

Once again, this one isn’t directly blog related, but I haven’t watched the new seasons of Doctor Who or Once Upon a Time, and I really want to. Also, I haven’t been able to go on the Geek section of Pinterest for months, and I need that back in my life, spoiler free.

6. Learn ballet

I don’t actually have a choice about this one. I’m taking ballet at a local community college to get PE credit for high school. I waved my second year of (required) PE last year to take journalism instead, and I have to make it up. Hopefully, this will be a good experience, though doing three and a half hours of dance four days a week for a month will probably leave me exhausted.

7. Finally Get my Drivers Permit

I started this last summer. I am so lazy in this regard. I have like one chapter of online drivers ed left and I just need to do it, but it is sooo boring. Honestly, I don’t really care, but the people in my life want me to be able to drive so…it’s on the list

8. Enjoy myself

Sometimes, during summer, I feel like I’m wasting my precious weeks away from school if I just read a book for the whole day, binge watch TV, or do nothing. I have to remind myself that I enjoy doing those things, and they help me relax–and that’s all that matters. Summer is about relaxing and having fun, more than anything else.


What about you? What are you summer plans? Are they they same as mine?

Poetry: A Writer’s Manifesto

There you are

My blank page

Empty

Waiting

Taunting

Me with your nothingness

And I conquer you with

Stories

And make-believes

Twisted fairytales

And memories

Of who I used to be

Fantastical lies

Truer words have never been spoken

But they can be written—

That’s the goal