My Goals for 2019—I Must Be Crazy To Think I Can Do This Much In One Year

Happy New Year! I hope you had another good holiday weekend with a possible day of work mixed in. If you managed to swing another day off today, enjoy. If you’re back at work just remember it’s a short week.

As I do with the first post of each year, I want to talk about the year ahead, specifically a few goals I’ve set for 2019 and some of the things I’d like to accomplish this year.

Last week I reviewed my goals for 2018 and discovered I finished more than I thought over the previous twelve months. No one was more surprised than me since it didn’t feel like I completed a lot throughout the year. I knew there were a few projects I never started, but in the end I was able to do more than I realized.

I’ve been sharing these goal setting and goal review posts since 2007/2008. If you’re interested, here are all my previous goal setting posts.

You can find a similar list of all my goal review posts over the years in last week’s 2018 goal review post.

General Thoughts

The last few years I’ve set an overarching theme for the year. I know the year won’t go as expected and I’ll have to forgo some of what I want to do to take advantage of opportunities that arise, but I often look to the theme of the year to help me in my decision making about which goals to focus on and which opportunities to accept.

Last year I set a theme around the word priorities (and to a lesser degree time and productivity). In 2017 I didn’t feel like I worked on the most important things. In 2018 I think I did.

This year the theme is efficiency. When I looked over the different writing projects I completed I realized I’ve committed myself to a lot of writing and I’ll be adding to my workload in 2019 as part of one of my goals for the year.

It made me wonder how I was going to get it all done. I have to find a way to make better use of my time in order to write more words each day and week and month throughout the year, thus the word efficiency came to mind.

A secondary word for the year is spontaneity, though it only applies to my writing of fiction. The last few years I’ve been deep in study of story structure and it’s helped me understand how stories are constructed a great deal. However, too much conscious awareness of the guidelines left me feeling as though my last draft was a bit too forced and I’m looking to introduce more of the organic, more spontaneity, into my writing. Maybe it’ll work it’s way over here as well.

It’s also a reminder to be open to opportunities that might arise throughout the year. Last year I took advantage of a couple and while it contributed to not completing all my goals, the trade off was worth it.

With that said here are the goals I’m setting for 2019. I’ve organized them a little differently this year. In past years I grouped my goals around each of my sites (or soon to be sites) along with a catchall group for non-domain related projects.

This year I organized everything around the type of work I do, writing fiction and non-fiction, design and development, business and marketing, and a creativity/productivity catchall. I also listed more goals than usual because I embrace failure it seems.

  • Writing Fiction
    • Finish the draft I’ve started
    • Successfully complete the Story Grid editor course
    • Continue directed writing practice
  • Writing Non-Fiction
    • Continue newsletter and incorporate writing for new site
    • Write and Publish new Design/Development books
    • Figure out how this site fits?
  • Design/Development
    • Launch site on
  • Business/Marketing
    • Expand my publishing empire
  • Creativity/Productivity
    • Improve my use of Ulysses
    • Add more spontaneity to my writing

It looks like a lot and it probably is, but I have a few reasons why I think I can complete all or enough of the above. I’ll share in the details.

Writing Fiction

These goals are the most important. This group, writing fiction, is my top priority. I haven’t always presented them that way in these year end and start posts, but I figured I should change that to match my priorities behind the scenes.

Finish the Draft I’ve started

I spent most of last year preparing to write a draft of a novel and I finally started to work on the draft in the fall. I’m about 25% of the way through (more or less) as I’m writing this and hope to have the whole thing finished by the start of spring or soon after.

I’ll take a very short break from the story and then I plan to jump right in and go through a round of analysis in preparation for another draft I’d like to start before the end of the year.

The only goal is to finish the draft I started. I’ll consider the rest a bonus.

Successfully Complete the Story Grid Editor Course

One of the unexpected opportunities that found me last year was an online course about Story Grid methodology, which is what I’ve been learning to better understand how to write stories. I specifically signed up to figure out why one of my stories wasn’t working and how to fix it. The course was called Level-Up and it was meant to do just that, take what we’d learned through other means to a deeper level of understanding.

Everyone who signed up for the course was invited to meet up in Nashville at the end of the course. While there I learned of another course to become a certified Story Grid editor. I’m signed up for a week of study at the end of February.

This isn’t a year round goal and aside from some pre-course reading and post-course writing, my time commitment is the week of the course. My reasons for signing up is that it ultimately presents an opportunity for me to take on writing clients since I do need to earn a living while trying to write a novel.

Continue Directed Writing Practice

Last spring I sorted my fiction writing into semesters. I gave myself specific writing exercises and changed the exercises every few months, kind of like the way you have different classes from one college semester to the next.

I called it directed practice because I choose exercises based on what I specifically want to learn to direct my learning through practice for a few months.

For example one “semester” I started my day by coming up with an opening line for a story and just writing for half an hour or forty five minutes. Another “semester” I used the time to read and analyze Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Part of each semester is also writing things I hope to publish so this past year’s semesters have also included working out a structural spine for a novel and now writing a draft of it.

I found it all very useful and my goal is as much a reminder as anything else to continue for another year. Maybe I’ll go as far as to be a little more organized and measured in how I choose exercises every few months.

Writing Non-Fiction

You have to earn a living, right? My overall goals in regards to writing non-fiction are primarily to create more books to sell or to promote said books.

Continue Newsletter and Incorporate Writing for New Site

I still don’t have a site for, but I have been sending out a newsletter (you can sign up through the link earlier in this sentence) for a few years. At first it was once every three weeks, but I pulled back to once a month.

It’s not a newsletter where I sell or promote anything. I write an essay of sorts that’s a mix of personal stories, what I’m working on at the moment, and hopefully a general point about life at the end to tie it all together.

This year, I’ll be launching the site, at least it’s an early goal for the year, which I’ll get to in a bit. A site is going to need content so part of this goal is work out a schedule of writing for the site that I can maintain. I’m hoping for twice a month, but that may prove difficult with the newsletter.

I plan on launching with a few months of content already written and scheduled for publishing in order to have a few months to work this out and develop a rhythm I can maintain to produce content on a regular basis.

Write and Publish Design/Development Books

I didn’t write any new books last year. I’d like to write some this year. Ideally I’ll be able to finish four books, which I admit is a lot and more than I’ve been able to write in the past.

Three of the books will all be part of a series about SVG that I’ll write using everything I’ve already written about the subject here on the site as a first draft. I’ll likely write the whole thing at the same time so I suspect it won’t take quite as much time as writing three books on three different topics.

If possible, I’d also like to write a book about CSS Grids. I need to revisit the topic for the updated design of the new site I plan to launch and I thought the topic might make good fodder here.

I’m always overoptimistic when it comes to how many books I think I can write in a year. In fifty one week’s time, I’ll probably tell you how I didn’t quite finish all four books, but somehow it feels realistic with the whole year ahead.

Figure Out How this Site Fits?

I’ve been thinking about this site the last couple of years and how I need to change it to better reflect that I no longer offer design and development services and now consider myself a full time writer.

I’ve yet to come to any conclusions aside from knowing I need to spend a little less time writing for the site if I’m to finish all the other writing I want to do.

I want to keep this site going, but I need to figure out how it contributes or can contribute to my overall business needs. Naturally it helps promote any books I write about web design and development. The question is how much time and effort is the right amount given my current priorities.

I’ve been thinking about what I could write here that isn’t quite as detailed or researched to save some time and I’ve been thinking about how often I can realistically publish more in-depth content. I have ideas, but not definite conclusions yet about how best to proceed.

A redesign is probably in order too, but I’m not sure when I’ll have the time so I’ll hold the goal to figuring out what I want to do and what needs to happen next with Vanseo Design.

Last year I thought I might need to take a month or two break from writing for this site to work on other things. I didn’t have to. This year, I’m pretty sure there will be a break for a time, though I don’t know when or for how long.


I only have one goal in this group, but it’s a big one that needs to be completed early in 2019. This is the year to launch I’ve been putting it off for a couple of years so as not to commit myself to more writing, but the procrastination needs to come to an end.

Launch Site on

Assuming I successfully complete the course, I’ll have an opportunity to sell Story Grid editing services, but to do that, I’ll need to have a site from which to sell said services. Nothing like a deadline to get you moving.

Fortunately, I’ve put in some work to the new site over the years. I’ve already looked over the content I’d previously written and have updated some and planned more to have ready for launch. I’ll have to wait for the course to understand the specific editing services I can offer, but I’ll prepare as much as I can before then.

I’ve also begun reworking the design I created a few years ago. Some technical changes in what’s production ready when it comes to HTML and CSS has me wanting to try something I wouldn’t have been able to do a few years back. It’s not a radical departure from the design I came up with previously, but it will require some work.

Ideally I’ll have everything developed as a WordPress theme by spring and I’ll add in what’s needed to offer editing services once I know the specifics. If all goes well, I’ll point you to the new site sometime in March or April. Until then, you’re more than welcome to sign up for the newsletter. Again, I don’t sell anything. I send something that’s a mix of personal story, what I’m doing behind the scenes, and some general point I’m trying to make.


It’s only the last couple of months that I’ve started to publish books outside of this site and I still need to figure out the overall landscape. I have just the one generic goal in this group.

Expand My Publishing Empire

Yes, my empire of three self-published books and one written for another publisher. Hardly an empire, I know. So far I’ve published ebooks only through Amazon and I want to expand on that.

I want to go wide as they say in the indie publishing world and set up shop on as many online stores as I can. Amazon is the big player, but there’s no reason not to sell through Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and any other store I can find.

I also want to look into selling print books through Amazon. I don’t think it’s all that difficult and while I doubt I’ll offer every book in print, I think some might do well with a print version to go along with the ebook.


I’ve listed a lot of goals this year and a theme of efficiency to encompass all them. Seems like I’m going to need to be more productive so I might as well add one productivity goal. I have a creative one as well.

Improve My Use of Ulysses

I made much better use of Things in 2018 to help me get a lot of work done. This year I want to improve how I use another app, Ulysses, which is app I primarily use to write anything.

I developed the way I organize all my writing in Ulysses when I had a lot less writing to organize and it hasn’t scaled well. So much of my writing is a disorganized mess as far as how the individual sheets are grouped together in their current hierarchy.

This year I’d like to spend some time organizing my writing projects and make better use of tags and filtered groups so I can find what I’m looking for quicker. I’m hoping to incorporate a system of colored tags and also make better use of other features the developers have provided, but I don’t regularly use.

Add More Spontaneity to My Writing

The last few years as I’ve studied the craft of writing fiction, I’ve spent a lot of time using the analytical and logical side of my brain. In looking over my writing last year I felt it was sometimes too orderly and forced, and I think it adheres to guidelines in a way that holds it back at times.

I don’t mean to imply the guidelines are incorrect in any way, but rather that I’ve focused too much on them and now want to change directions and bring more of the spontaneous back into my work. I want to create stories more organically than I’ve been trying to create them the last few years.

I’m writing a draft now using a more organic process and my goal is to practice more spontaneous writing in 2019 in order to allow my subconscious to participate more in my writing that I’ve allowed.

Closing Thoughts

Yeah, it’s a lot of goals for the year. I’m always a bit more ambitious than I should be at the start of the year when there are still so many days till next year. “Oh yeah, I can get all that done easily. There’s so much time left.”

The ambition will turn to panic sometime in November when I start to think about writing my 2019 goal review post. Then I’ll tell you about all the things that got in the way and kept me from completing all the things I said I wanted to do. For now, with 2019 nearly all ahead of us I’ll remain ambitious.

Again, my overarching goal is to be more efficient this year. Last year I finished a lot, but felt I could have finished more if I could have made better use of my time. I’ve already started to readjust some of my habits in an effort to make it happen.

And as I say from time to time, we can both laugh at me in about fifty one weeks for being so optimistic today. Yeah, it’s a lot and I still want to be open to new possibilities and opportunities that may arise between now and December 31st.

How about you? Do you set goals? If so, do you review them at the end of the year? Do you make resolutions? How long do you keep them? I find setting and reviewing goals to be a valuable exercise and I hope I’ve convinced a few of you to give it a try and see what you think, even if you need a few more days to recover from the holiday season.

Happy 2019! I hope it’s a good year for both of us and I hope it’s a good year for the planet and everyone on it.

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