Writing Goals Versus Life Goals

And now for something completely different.

Beginning with this entry I hope to have periodic guest bloggers. Maybe once a month. Maybe less, maybe more. This is something that I wanted to begin back in October, but life and schedules got in the way. So, new year, new adventures.

This first guest blog is written by my good friend Charlie , who is blogging her way through her bookshelves at her own blog, That Girl Who Read Books. I met Charlie during new student orientation at Hamline and then we started off our MFA journey together, sharing two classes that first semester (we finished it together too, last May). She is a wonderful writer and I feel privileged that I’ve shared so many moments in her creative journey. Since this is January and I’ve been on a little bit of a kick here about resolutions, goals, etc., I gave Charlie the vague, yet immense subject of “writing goals versus life goals” and what follows is what she had to say.


By: Charlie Broderick 

When Tom asked me to write a blog for him about writing goals versus life goals, I wasn’t sure where to start. I couldn’t differentiate between the two—my writing is my life, so all goals overlap.

I know that sounds dramatic. I can almost see the eye rolls. It’s exactly what a writer would say, and a better writer would either find a new way to say it or say something different. Right?


The best writer captures the truth.

In trying to be realistic with my goal setting, and keeping to word count, I only set one goal for this blog post:

GOAL: Do Not Fear or Misuse Technology

The Heming-way
The Heming-way


If I have the choice between using a kiosk or a person, I choose human interaction. Until last week, I had a flip phone that was only used for talking. I enjoy wondering about things for days at a time, and then going to the library and doing research if something still intrigues me. I like indexes, author’s notes, and the weight of a book. Don’t get me started on how much I love the smell of old musty books. I like knowing that advertisements do not govern my search. I like going to the source and knowing that I can trust it (for the most part).

I am a person who avoided the Internet. When I got lost, I had to result to this thing called an atlas, or call someone with an iPhone. I used to pay with checks until every place stopped taking them. Whenever I had a brilliant idea, but didn’t have anywhere to write it, I had a zero percent chance of remembering it. I started carrying around scrap paper and Moleskine notebooks; that gave me a fifty percent chance of remembering ideas if I wrote them in my diary by the end of the day.

Internet, kiosks, phones, etcetera, were all designed with the idea of saving time, but I found that it was very easy to waste time using them. If one wasn’t technologically inclined, using these interfaces was much like being a foreigner and not knowing the language. I still can’t figure out how to scan my produce at the grocery store. So for a long time, I feared technology.

This year my goal was to use it as a tool and embrace it.

Now I can dictate ideas in full sentences to my phone and it will E-mail them to me. In fact, I’m writing this at the gym while on the bike. It’s a strange feeling for someone who used to do all of their writing in their head. For days I’d wander around thinking about what I wanted to write, composing and re-composing sentences, and then I’d sit down and it would come out.

This should feel like a miracle for someone like me, because I’ll never lose an idea again. Instead, I wonder about the quality of my writing. The fear isn’t unwarranted.

I need only look at the way listening has changed with technology, as has most communication. On one hand, we can talk to more people, keep in touch easier, and spread ideas faster. On the other hand, what’s being said is only a blurb of what we really meant to say—all nonverbal clues are gone, and previously what would have been an hour conversation, leading to tangents or different topics, is diluted to a few short sentences. Now I can keep a virtual diary, but my handwriting, with all it’s scrolls and nuisances would be lost.

I think of Hemingway banging away on a typewriter, forced to think about each word, each sentence. It must have felt like writing, and at the end of the day, the pages were there in his hands, proof of work. What I have is a file somewhere on a hard drive—nothing to hold in my hands, and dictating thoughts while riding a bike hardly feels like writing. But then again, I think of ancient philosophers banging away with a chisel on a stone tablet and I’m glad things have changed.

Embracing technology and knowing how to use it was the first step. So what do I do with all my newfound free time? I volunteer, with real people, and have real conversations while making art. And I edit, as some ideas are worth saving just for myself.

The New Way
The New Way

Published by: Thomas Rohde

Artist // Writer // Theatre Professional // Nerd // Night Owl Inspired by a steady and lifelong infusion of pop culture, comic books, and a vast assortment of films and books, our friendly neighborhood blogger has doomed himself to a life of creative pursuits. There's not enough time for everything, but we all do what we can. Artist: of watercolor, ink, comic illustration, horror/ sci-fi/ fantasy art. Writer: of fictions, tweets, captions & blogs. Lover: coffee, whiskey, wine & beer. Instagram and Twitter as @demipho


10 thoughts on “Writing Goals Versus Life Goals”

  1. Though I’ve adapted well to the age of technology, there are a few things I still wonder about – how reliable is my computer at storing information, really? And this flash drive business – if I lose that little chip, I lose it all! I’m exceedingly careful with all my bits and pieces of technology, but often I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to print everything out, laminate it and create a personal library of all my writings-in-progress – just so I won’t lose it in some random computer crash! Great blog post, thanks so much for sharing 🙂

    1. I totally relate to this! When I was working on my novel/ thesis I backed it up on three flash drives, emailed each version to myself and had a back-up hard drive. And then there are the multiple physical copies that were made … Charlie talked about the “Heming-way”, but something that didn’t get mentioned is that in the age before we had these multiple backups, Hemingway had a suitcase filled with his writing, a suitcase that was left on a train and lost forever.

      Thanks for popping over and reading Charlie’s entry!

  2. This is great Charlie. I especially appreciate your comments on what “feels” like writing. I do a lot of work long hand because I like the “feel” of pen and paper. Less literally, my creative process feels more grounded in my personal identity (Kate-as-writer) when I gather my notes about me, when I see the ink smudges on my palm, actively cross out lines rather than make them disappear with a push of a button. That said, I would also be lost without my Mac. My writing absolutely relies on digital transcription at some point. AND, certain editing takes place during this transference that I can argue would not likely take place otherwise. Both mediums are imperative to the end goal of finishing a piece.

    Your points about ease and quantity/quality of digital communication are also spot on. I would like to add to that the observation of volume. As people communicate more in tweets than lengthy letters, they are also firing them off to the inter-sphere like scattershot from a gatling gun. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. My point is, there’s more dross to sift through to get to what’s gold for you.

    Thomas, I feel like an ass. I had no idea you had a blog. Now I know. Yay.

    1. Kate! I do a lot of my zero draft writing by hand as well. Copious amounts of moleskine notebooks (both hardbound and cashier) are filled with my scribbled chapters before anything gets committed to a computer file. There is something about composing by hand first that feels freer because we’re away from those squiggly red spell check lines (and away from the compulsion to mercilessly re-edit the same paragraph into dust before we move on to the second).

      Thanks for stopping by and reading Charlie’s wonderful post! Hope you venture back soon!

      1. And keeps you away from the compulsion to check your email, play scrabble, read your friends blogs instead of writing your own… 🙂 Now that I know you’re here, it’s on!

  3. I enjoyed this post. I for one love technology and at the same time fear it. I don’t understand most of what I do, I just muddle through and hope someone knows what I mean. I’ve come a long way since last April, when I started my own blog, joined facebook and twitter. I like facebook, twitter not so much and I enjoy blogging. Without technology I doubt if I would ever have gotten to the point of sending my stories out, let alone have anything published. Editing, rewriting, and revising are all so easy to do with a computer, I wouldn’t want to ever go back.

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