The Problem with Resolutions

Again, happy 2017 to you, my dear readers! May your next twelve months be full of excellent reading, and may your newsfeeds be less full of celebrity deaths.

I have for the past few years posted my reading and blog-related resolutions here on Ampersand Read. Here is the problem: that doesn’t seem to help me reach those goals. For some people, writing a goal down, and having it somewhere semi-permanent helps them keep the goal constantly in mind. Posting it to a public place can help some people feel more accountable: you’ve told people that you are trying to do something, so you are more likely to attempt to accomplish it in order to tell those same people that you were successful.

But apparently I don’t seem to work that way! I thought about the resolutions I posted back in January maybe once or twice this entire year: once about mid-year, when I thought about posting about my progress (but promptly realized that I hadn’t made much progress at all), and once when I finished Fahrenheit 451 when I suddenly remembered that it had been a goal of mine to read more older, “classic” literature this year. It also felt a little silly to post about my goals once, then never return to them until I posted about my new goals an entire year later.

All of that is a long way of saying that I will not be writing a long analysis of what I hope to accomplish this year. At least not on the blog. I am still setting goals, and I will still try my best to achieve them. But I think I will focus on fewer, broader goals in the hopes that that will inspire me to work on them throughout the year, and not just think about them wistfully every once in a while 🙂

But what about you, fellow bookworms? Do you have any new year’s resolutions that you are looking forward to diving into? Because let’s face it: the best resolutions, and the ones you tend to accomplish, are ones you actually look forward to doing. Have you set a book goal on Goodreads for the number of books you want to try to read this year? Do you want to read more classics? Read more new releases?

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& Fridays: Resolutions, Book and Otherwise

Well, happy 2016, everyone!!

This is going to be a good year. I can feel it. It’s something in the air. Or the water. Or the piece of chocolate I’m eating right now.

Whatever it is, I think it’s good. And I hope you feel the same!

In the past couple of weeks, I have given some thought to what I would like to accomplish this year. I am pretty proud of the way I handled 2015. I did join a gym, and I did go (although December was a joke – I let the holidays and planning my party get in the way of working out – oops!), and it did make me feel better about myself. So more of that! There is a yoga studio near my new workplace, so a couple of those classes might be in order. When I thought of something I wanted to work or focus on in the new year, I wrote it down. It helps that I’m still old school and keep a paper planner on hand to keep my mind and days straight. It’s great for the writer and visual person in me to physically write it, to see it on the page.

But before we get to those, let’s recap what I wanted to do last year!

2015 resolutions:

1.) Keep up this blog all year.
Hey, I’m still kicking! Again, after National Novel Writing Month this year, I lagged a bit in the blog writing department – I was so done with frantically writing things! This coming year, I think I should push to have all of November and most of December’s posts planned out before November even begins.

2.) Attempt to write, every single day.
I wrote for a good, solid, 4 months or so, every day. I filled two and a half notebooks, and I wrote it all by hand. And then I stopped. I don’t think for any good reason, really. I picked up again in November, of course, but I actually found the commitment to write every day to be a little stressful. I felt horrible id I didn’t write for two days in a row. And if I wrote a small amount, it was just as bad. My writing goal this year is a bit more lenient this year, while still making me put pen to paper (or mouse to computer screen).

3.) Don’t buy any more writing books.
I don’t think I did? Oh wait, I did but one about writing a book in a month. I featured it in a blog post right before NaNoWriMo. But I did read that one and use some of the worksheets for my novel planning!

Ahhh, my lovely paperback collection...waiting for me on the shelf...calling my name...

Ahhh, my lovely paperback collection…waiting for me on the shelf…calling my name…

4.) Re-read Harry Potter.
Ooooh, didn’t do this one, either. I had forgotten that I resolved to do this! (probably because I didn’t write it down…) I WILL write it down for this year, how about that?

5.) Read 50-60 books.
I read 55! Even when my life is busy and stressful, I find time for books. They relax me. Even when it’s late at night and I should be trying to fall asleep in order to be fresh for work in the morning, I read a chapter. It’s my reward for the day, the thing that makes me feel normal. I will set my Goodreads 2016 goal for 55 books. Let’s see how it goes J

Whew! Not too shabby, I must say! A lapse in writing, and forgetting to re-read Harry Potter…overall, not too bad!

This year, it’s about maintaining and increasing – bring it on!

1.) Grow the blog.

I love all of you early readers, but the truth is: I did nothing to earn you (besides write posts, I suppose!). I have not gone out into the blogging world and commented or linked to my blog. Twitter is set to automatically post a status when I write a new post, but I haven’t done anything to it other than that (I’m not a big Twitter person, but that is neither here nor there). I am getting to the point of really liking what I post here, and keeping it up semi-regularly. I want to share that with more people. And you know, start giving away cool stuff to those of you who read. Yay!

2.) Write 52 stories in 52 weeks.

I think this originated with Ray Bradbury’s quote/challenge: “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” I like this idea for many reasons. I won’t feel as much crazy pressure to write every single day, even when my day has been busy or I’m cranky and/or exhausted and just want to sleep, not read. Also, a story can be any length. Not that I intend to write 52 one-paragraph stories. But if I churn out a shorter story one week, and a longer one another week, that’s fine. But this is a commitment to writing that I think I’ll find more manageable, and more fulfilling: more to show for all of my work, still requiring me to write on a regular basis.

3.) Read at least 7 “classic” novels, or novels from 1970 or earlier

Those numbers are pretty loose and random. But when I look at the statistics of the books I have read on goodreads, nearly ALL of those are from the last five years are so. Not that everything on goodreads is everything that I have ever read. Only the past few years are chronicled accurately there. But that is still a little sad. Not all good literature was written since I have been a bookworm! I need to broaden my “have read” repertoire. What are your favorite “classic” novels? Or simply a novel from the past that really struck you as amazing? What do I absolutely need to read?

I volunteered and organized book drives with Better World Books! Check it out!

I volunteered and organized book drives with Better World Books! Check it out!

4.) Volunteer more.

In high school and college, I devoted a lot of time to community service. In college, I really found a program I loved that benefitted a literacy cause, and I did great things with it and within the community. I loved giving back, but since graduating, I have done very little in terms of community service. I want to change that. Whether it is for a literary or literacy cause, I want to start volunteer again. I have had way to many fulfilling and life changing moments because of it to just stop.

Alright! All that, and re-read Harry Potter, of course 😛 What are your resolutions, my readers? Remember, I go Pirates of the Caribbean style with it: treat them like guidelines, things to keep in mind all year and to strive for, not strict requirements in stone that you must complete to have a successful year. And again: HAPPY 2016!!

Fortitude Friday

HAPPY 2015, EVERYONE!!!

How were your holidays? Your Christmases, your Hanukkahs, your Kwanzaas, your New Years Eves?

An awesome Christmas gift I received! Banned books socks!

An awesome Christmas gift I received! Banned books socks!

Mine went along swimmingly, thank you for asking! 🙂 I’m super excited for what this year has to bring. New opportunities are cropping up at work, someone I love comes home from a deployment in Afghanistan, and friends far and near are making big, ambitious plans to see and hang out with each other this year. I have three penpals from three different states that I hope to see in person this year. Fingers crossed that I can keep my resolution to see them all, separately or together!

It’s also that (maybe dreaded?) time of year that the R-word happens. Yep, RESOLUTIONS. Do you make them? Are yours to eat healthy and lose weight? And then two weeks in, you have half a box of Krispie Kremes and feel like you’ve ruined everything?

Well, never fear! I treat resolutions like those pirates on Pirates of the Caribbean do, more like guidelines, really. I almost always break mine at one time or another, but I see them not as iron clad I-do-these-things-or-I’ll-have-an-unsuccessful-year-and-feel-like-a-failure, but more like things I should pay attention to more this year. Targets to focus on and remind myself of positivity every time I feel discouraged or grumpy throughout the year (mainly when I’m hangry. I get hangry like you WOULDN’T BELIEVE).

Last year my goal was to complain and gossip less. When I did find myself whining, I tried to remember that hey, there’s nothing really big in my life to complain about. My mantra when I felt a little lost in college was “it’s really all going to turn out okay.” The “really” being in there because sometimes it was genuinely hard to convince myself sometimes that something would eventually be okay. I’m not saying I 100% succeeded the entire year. I didn’t. But it was a good thing to think about and try to improve on myself.

My household's newest addition: a kitten we've named Cheshire, next to my new book-shaped pillow!

My household’s newest addition: a kitten we’ve named Cheshire, next to my new book-shaped pillow!

SO. That’s a long winded introduction to basically say that I’ve prepared some resolutions that I’m going to post on here! Mainly reading and writing ones, as that’s what this blog is focused towards. I also have that whole eat healthier and exercise more thing going on, but I had a chocolate muffin for breakfast and haven’t joined that gym yet, so…work in progress!

RESOLUTION #1: Keep up this blog all year
Before NaNoWriMo in 2014, I was totally rocking the blog schedule. I had reviews planned out and scheduled, I had Friday posts written and saved for every week: I was golden. AFTER NaNo, not so much….I’m not saying I should have two months of reviews and Friday posts planned out at all times, but the goal this year is to work on posts once a day every week, probably on one of my days off, so that I don’t feel flustered and like I’m letting people down if I forget a Friday post (been really bad about those ones lately. Sorry everyone!)

RESOLUTION #2: Attempt to write, every single day.

awritersbookofdays

Key word: “attempt.” I’m sick of saying my goal is to be a writer, that I really want to write a novel one day, and…I’m not a regular writer. So this year I shall make a conscious effort to write something every day. If I don’t get a substantial amount down, I won’t beat myself up. But I’m going to try. And that’s important. I’m using The Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves as a guideline for each day. She uses very short prompts (“Someone cheated,” “Write about the passing of hours,”) to get you going, which I’m digging right now.

 

RESOLUTION #3: (On a related note:) DON’T BUY ANY MORE WRITING BOOKS
^That is to say, books about writing. Like A Writer’s Book of Days kind of thing
Seriously, I have enough. Ask me how many I’ve read. Go ahead.
None of them.
It’s seriously a sickness.

RESOLUTION #4: Re-read Harry Potter
Because it makes me happy just thinking about it 🙂 And I have that lovely paperback set I mention in my &Favorites section up there!
Another series I loved as a kid that I should revisit: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (and really, the whole His Dark Materials trilogy)

RESOLUTION #5: Read at least 50 books, but really, shoot for 60.
My coworker did a really awesome thing in 2014: she set a challenge for herself to read a book from every section in our store. 60 books in total (she left out sections that didn’t make a whole lot of reading sense: computer programming languages, children’s coloring books, etc.) giving herself a little leeway for books she really wanted to just enjoy (“wild cards”). And she got to read a lot of really cool stuff. She was really into her history selection, and she read Bill Nye’s new science book. It was a really, really cool thing. And she finished with two minutes to spare (she said she marked the last book as finished on Goodreads and got to stare at it in happiness for two minutes before it clicked over to 2015…)! A very brave thing, I think. On one hand, I’m selfish and only want to read the books I want to read. And I’m not sure how well I’d take to reading the history, the science, the subjects I don’t normally reach for. But hey, it’s called a reading challenge for a reason! Anyone up for seeing me blog my journey in 2016?!