Updates, or why I fail at goals

female-writer-sepA: Get in the box, D.

D: But–

A: Stop stalling, D, and get in the box . . . please.

D: But I am claustrophobic.

A: Not even that nice shiny blue one?

D: A, I am a time-travelling Pictish warrior-prince and Druid, not a time-travelling alien with two hearts.

A: Killjoy.

D: Crabby.

A: Okay, okay. Please just sit there and be quiet. Can you manage that?

D: If I must.

A: You must. Cheers, D.

I am going to chat about goals. And how I suck at them. Some of my big goals, which I posted over at the Rome Construction Crew, include finishing Part 2 of the book by my birthday, maintaining a more paleo lifestyle because it made me feel better, developing a platform online for the books, and ultimately finishing the Book 1 in the series by the end of the summer. On Monday, I posted goals about how I wanted to write. And be productive. And write. And organize this blog a little differently. And write.

And, none of that happened. My birthday was three days ago (and a great friend held a party last weekend – I asked Green Embers to do a dedication to her… ask him to do one for you!), and Part 2 is still in pieces. I love the white potato so much it makes paleo look at me in horror (but I still try, because I do feel better). Completing the book by the end of summer? I can still do that. Maybe. As for my weekly goals: they died.

The reasons why are frivolous: it was a short week, I covered for a sick co-worker and had a birthday dinner that lasted later than anticipated, because my mother and I forgot to turn on the oven (hello, sangria). So, I failed at my goals.

And I’m going to celebrate.

Yup. Celebrate. I – like many – can be a little hard on myself. I worry. I over-compensate. D gets ornery and things generally don’t go as well as they could. While frivolous, my week conspired against achieving anything of note. By worrying about it, I helped the conspirators.

I read a post at Critical Margins earlier this week, about how even excellent writers are bad writers sometimes. Because that is what it takes to get the words out on the page. I loved it and completely identify. On days when I’m just not feeling it, but I’m sitting at the computer anyway, this is what I tell myself. Just write it. It’ll suck, but do it anyway. Get it out there; it’ll be okay. Then there are those times where I hammer at my brain and expect excellence, thus becoming my own worst enemy, which isn’t unique by any stretch. This was one of those weeks.

So today, I’m celebrating failure.

Because even in my failure, I did get the following accomplished:

  • I typed up my notes and scenes that I hand-wrote last week. In doing so, I drafted the highlights of the rest of Part 2 and set the tone.
  • I came to grips with the fact that Maureen gets to face her demons and come out the other side now, and Sean can progress in his turn. That means it’s okay for this part to be ornery. (I like that word, and will use it at least three more times. Maybe not in this post, but in some post, some time. I could do a treasure hunt for the blog… find the word “ornery” and win a prize: grumpy cat meme. It could work.)
  • I killed a darling. Not a character, but an idea that I really wanted to work, but just didn’t. Not this time, not for Sean and Maureen. And possibly not for anything, unless I really get my Irish on and get all maudlin about something.
  • I helped my son prepare for his “Highlights from Hamlet” performance, and found a make-your-own karaoke track for Rock of Ages’ “We Built This City/We’re Not Going to Take It” for another group performance during the school talent show. I couldn’t go to the show, so I’m happy I was able to help him.
  • I learned more about marketing and developing a platform from this great series hosted by Ionia at Readful Things Blog. Hey, wait, that was a goal! Yes!
  • I have done more creative work in the last two weeks than I have in the last 10 years. Well, not true – all I have
    Hush – One of the best Buffy episodes

    done for the last six months is write, but it’s been all Sean and Maureen (and D as Dubh/Dubhal/Declan) all the time. Now, I have a granny skinny dipping, ghost merpeople, Claude – my first work of fan fiction – and a short story that may find a place in the beginning of Part 2. That’s a whole new world of crazy that just opened up in my brain, and for that I have all of you – the RCC crew, The Community Storyboard, my fellow bloggers, and my son, who doesn’t mind when I flash him signs saying “Bug off, writing” so long as they have pictures from the Buffy “Hush” episode – to thank.

There you have it. At goal setting, I fail, but at living life in general, I’m okay.

D: You are a beautiful loser, A.

A: Thanks, D.


Published by Katie Sullivan

Descended of pirates and revolutionaries, Katie Sullivan is a lover and student of all things Irish. Born in the States, she is a dual US/Irish citizen, and studied history and politics at University College, Dublin – although, at the time, she seriously considered switching to law, if only so she could attend lectures at the castle on campus. She lives in Milwaukee with her daughter, two cats and a pesky character in her head named D (but you can call him Dubh). Her first series, The Changelings Saga, a young adult historical fantasy trilogy is available on Amazon. She can be found writing with said character at her blog, The D/A Dialogues.

33 thoughts on “Updates, or why I fail at goals

    1. Thank you so much! Every once in a while, I think too much for my own good! 🙂 I’ve been much more moderate in my goal-setting and thus much happier of late!


  1. Happy Belated Birthday. I can’t remember if I wished it to you already, but it’s okay to do it again! lol I’m really not seeing any failure. I think you are doing a great job, Katie! And I’m with you about writing. I write even when I think it stinks and it never fails, I find something of use in the writing that I can then put somewhere else.


    1. Oh, I love birthdays and I will celebrate as much as people allow, so thank you, Kira! 🙂

      And thank you for the encouragement. As most of us do, I put too much on myself and then did none of it because I was overwhelmed. Luckily, like any good procrastinator, I did other stuff! 🙂 Now that I’ve told my brain to shut it and chill out, I’m doing much better!


  2. Happy Belated Birthday! And you are doing fine on your goals. You might want to look at the number of goals you set. Too many goals will make it hard to focus on anything. Just a thought.


    1. Thank you, Pamela! You are very right on the number of goals. I have trouble with focus as it is – why would I want to create more problems for myself?! I also realized that I don’t do well with the type of weekly goals I was giving myself; they were making me anxious and unable to do anything! I have a basic goal to write 500 words a day and I’m comfortable with that.


  3. Happy Belated Birthday, Katie. Please forgive me if you posted about it and I missed that post. It is hard to keep up when I’m driving. 🙂

    As to goals, I don’t set goals anymore. I have things I want to accomplish, and whatever I do toward that end is a success. Otherwise, I beat myself up. I think your approach to celebrating the successes you’ve had (and you’ve had many) is perfect.


    1. No worries – you have been on an incredible journey/drive – that series of posts was really lovely!

      And thank you – writing the post was a good way to poke fun at my own self-defeating perfectionism, and pretty cathartic too. 🙂 No more weekly goals, because I make myself crazy over them, just a regular idea of writing something every day and progressing as well as I can while still being happy!


      1. That’s how my blog started. It was a public forum to write every day. So far, it has worked. For my off the blog writing, I just set deadlines, get an editor lined up, and am forced to be done by the date I have to hand it off. 🙂


    1. Thank you – I know. I’ve done pretty well in the last 6 months, so I suppose hitting the wall was to be expected. 🙂 Writing the post helped. And now, I’m caught up with all the blogs I follow and am ready to write for the next three hours! Yay Saturdays!


  4. Reblogged this on Kori Miller Writes and commented:
    I think it was Oprah who said: There is no such thing as failure; It’s just life’s way of telling you to go a different direction.

    I’m very goal-oriented. When I have an idea, I go for it! (I’ve even taught goal-setting and visualization to groups coast-to-coast.) I agree with Oprah. You have to change how you think about your goals. If you repeatedly miss the mark, maybe life is telling you to take a different path.

    What do you think?


  5. Welcome to the we failed and we rock at it club. Would you like to be the guest speaker? Hi, my name is Ionia and I have not accomplished squat all month. **ting ting…is this thing on?

    Okay now you should feel all better. 🙂


    1. Thank you – writing the post turned it around for my freaky little brain. I told the goals to bugger themselves and stopped worrying (okay, slowed the worrying down considerably). Thus, celebration!


    1. Thank you! I did feel bad that I wrote nothing *new* this week, just re-edited and worried over everything I had done last week. And then I told myself what I tell D all the time: deal with it! Just one of those funky mind-frame weeks, I think!


      1. I try not to worry about my past writing until it comes to editing time. Though, this week I did realize a missing scene in my 4th book and had to drop what I was doing to fix it.


      2. That’s a good method that I should really keep in mind.

        Realizing missing components can be illuminating and frustrating – I did something similar when I realized that Sean was supposed to be an altar boy halfway through the second chapter of part 2. Oops! 🙂


      3. A real altar boy – My father, who was himself an altar boy in the 40s, reminded me that it would have been incredibly odd if he had not been one in 1958 Ireland. And Sean usually did what was expected of him because he is also a good guy, and moderately pious.


  6. Awww, you haven’t failed at goal setting, you’ve done quite well! I think the most important thing is to make sure that when we don’t accomplish our goals when we said we would that we don’t beat ourselves up, which you’ve identified! So kudos! Keep working hard, you’re doing a fantastic job! 🙂

    (Me personally if I can get one goal from weekly goal list accomplished I am super happy, every other goal is just gravy. 😀 )


    1. I see the failure more as the beating up of myself in my head all week when I realized that not much was going to get done! Self-sabotage was silly! My goal this week: not beat myself up!

      I like your attitude about it. I’m working to shift that way. Combine that with simplifying the goals a smidge (Or make watching Sherlock and having a cocktail with my friends a part of my goals) and I might not make myself nuttier than I am! 😉


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