Tag Archives: goal-setting

My Year In Journalism: Where I Published (And Appeared) In 2017

AmpLit Fest, writing festival, panel, journalism

#DailyWings: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”
–Robert Collier

Even though this blog post is abominably late…um, Happy New Year, everyone! January started off quite zen for me, but things quickly became a roller coaster as I took on more journalism and work projects than I’d planned to. (Already broke a New Year’s resolution, y’all.) This year, I hope to take better care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. That means reading novels for fun, eating lots of cheese, putting on more evening face masks, and not feeling guilty for spending an afternoon doing nothing — because sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In all honesty, I have never been more eager to say goodbye to a year than the Dumpster Fire of 2017. Aside from the fact that we got a horrible new president, I struggled with a lot of anxiety and low self-confidence, but most of it was created in my own mind rather than created as a product of external circumstances. A mix of New York pacing, small failures, feelings of being an imposter, and unrealistic multitasking did it for me, and I spent a good portion of the year trying to over-compensate for what I believed about myself: Not Good Enough.

In the spring of 2017, I completed my lifestyle fellowship at Bustle and applied for a two-week journalism fellowship in Germany. I went through two rounds in the application process and became very excited about the idea of going overseas for a few weeks. Consequentially, I did what you’re never supposed to do during an application process: I emotionally put all of my eggs in one basket. When I found out that I ultimately didn’t get the fellowship, it didn’t hit me until almost the end of the year how much it had affected me. More on that in a moment.

From a journalism perspective, I had a great year. I learned how to write and pitch stories as an independent freelance journalist. I learned how to successfully negotiate pay rates without feeling guilty and with the knowledge that I deserved to get paid for good work. I gained a ton of experience in politics writing and editing. I started getting requests for public appearances at writing events. And I wrote a ton of stories that I’m really proud of:

Even though I am no longer at Bustle, I still continue to write stories as a freelance contributor. One of my best political stories was about the recent Down syndrome abortion ban in Ohio, signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. In the essay, I talk about how the law was designed to pit the reproductive rights and disability rights movements against each other in an effort to unconstitutionally ban abortion.

Shortly after my fellowship at Bustle ended, I wrote a Mother’s Day piece for Romper about how my mother taught me how to take care of myself. She liked her present.

About a month later, I spoke at a panel about “Literary Citizenship: The Writer’s Identity” at AmpLit Festival, an annual literary festival in Manhattan that brings together established and emerging writers. I spoke about the lack of visibility for disabled creators and the responsibility of writers to provide space and support for those whose voices are traditionally left out of creative conversations. I’m helping to co-produce this year’s festival.

A researcher contacted me at some point and said her client was publishing a new edition of his sociology textbook and wanted to use one of the photos from my first NYT feature story. I learned that republication requires a fee, so not only did I make a small profit, but now I can officially say that my work has been published in a textbook for college students.

In July, I published my second piece for The New York Times about the nurse who saved my life on her first day of working with me. Like my first NYT story, I’d written this piece at Columbia University, in my narrative writing class. It’s called “Drowning Without Water.”

I am so excited to share my first byline for Columbia Journalism Review, a story I’ve been working on for months about how #disability #journalism has changed over time and the consequences of #inspirationporn. CJR is the leading industry publication for #journos and #editors at @columbiajournalism, and I’m grateful that this story has finally found a home there. As journalists, editors and storytellers, it’s our responsibility to bring more disability voices into the #media, cover disability issues that go beyond “feel-good” features, and end disability #stigma once and for all. ✊🏼 Read the entire story at: http://bit.ly/2eCfXtQ #journalist #journolife #news #ableism #equality #identity #intersectionalfeminism

A post shared by Wendy Lu (@wendyluwrites) on

In the fall, shortly after the Harvey Weinstein allegations, I wrote about the connection between sexual violence and multi-marginalize identity at Teen Vogue. This story is complicated in many ways (both the subject and the writing process), but I’ll just say that I am incredibly grateful to all of the people who believed in me and my ability to share this perspective. I think this essay brought something to the “Me Too” conversation that had previously been lacking.

This year, I tapped into the dating and relationships beat even further, covering one-night stands that turn into long-term relationships for Men’s Health.

Arguably my proudest story to date is an analysis that I wrote about how reporters can do better to cover the disability beat for Columbia Journalism Review, an industry publication for journalists. I’ve never worked so hard to get a story exactly right, with all of its nuances and lessons. This story was the most-read piece on CJR’s site that day, and I’ve also received some amazing opportunities as a result of its publication. (Stay tuned.)

A friend from high school, Kelsey, invited me to be a guest on her wellness podcast, Enlightened-ish. My first podcast experience hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped, probably because I was so anxious that I’d written a script out for myself so nothing sounded natural. I deliberately distracted myself from preparing too much for Enlightened-ish, and the episode turned out really well. I talk a lot about living and working as a disabled journalist, and I give tips for writers who want to get their stories out there.

I am very happy with how much I was able to accomplish in one year. The irony is that the fruit of all my hard work stemmed from intense anxiety, imposter feelings, and the belief that I had to make up for previous failures. Not getting the journalism fellowship in Germany was disappointing because I didn’t have any other “next steps” beyond Bustle, and that was scary to me. It was also disappointing because I’d worked so hard to write thoughtful essays for the application and obtain glowing reference letters, and it feels awkward to go back and say, “I didn’t get it.” But the reality is that nothing is ever guaranteed, and you should never feel bad for trying your best.

If I could go back and do something differently, I would have appreciated myself a little bit more. I’d pat myself on the back for  putting myself out there for opportunities. I’d tell myself to enjoy the process of publishing each new story. And I’d tell myself that it’s okay to take a few days off to recharge. It’s okay to do things that aren’t directly related to work all. the. time.

I’m still working on this, of course. Like everything else in life, self-care is a work in progress. I’m trying to get better at lifting up my own accomplishments and being unapologetic about who I am. What are your happiness practices? What do you do to make yourself feel more confident and appreciative of yourself? I’d love to know in the comments below.

Have a wonderful weekend xo

My Path to a Happy Writing Life: 2015 New Year’s Resolutions

#DailyWings: “You have everything needed for the extravagant journey that is your life.” -Carlos Castaneda

Over the years, the term “New Year’s resolution” has gained a bad name for itself. In the last week alone, I saw so many posts on social media with catchy lines like, “My New Year’s resolution is to keep all the ones I had from last year” or “Whats my New Year’s resolution? To have none.”

If you’re the type of person who thinks New Year’s resolutions are tedious, useless or just plain silly, you are probably going to laugh at me. I am a New Year’s resolutions geek. (Edit: This sentence has be translated into: understatement of the year – so far.)

Every December (since 2009), I review my resolutions and check off how many I’ve kept during the last 12 months. Then, I plan out an extensive list of new resolutions for the upcoming year. For each list of resolutions, I break down different categories of my life (e.g. health, personal, writing, blogging, education) and list sub-resolutions underneath. My resolutions are saved as a simple Microsoft document, and I use Chris Guillbeau’s Annual Review spreadsheet to track my progress. Now here comes the are-you-bonkers-Wendy? part.
READ MORE

Cherishing 2014 and Anticipating the Future: A Year in Review

#DailyWings: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” -Neil Gaiman

One year ago, I was about to begin my final semester of college. I was terrified of the future, of 2014 and all the uncertainty that came with the new year. Graduation was so close, yet I had nothing planned out for myself. There were many ifs about what I would be doing once I left UNC-Chapel Hill, but the challenges weren’t just technical. I was emotional about my close friends leaving – the one group of people with whom I felt I could be myself – and about entering the 9-to-5 world. When so many of my peers longed to get out of our safety bubble that was UNC-Chapel Hill, I wanted to stay for as long as possible.
READ MORE

What I Learned From Launching My Own Website

#DailyWings: “When I write about a 15-year old, I jump, I return to the days when I was that age. It’s like a time machine. I can remember everything. I can feel the wind. I can smell the air. Very actually. Very vividly.” -Haruki Murakami

It was about six years ago: November 30, 2008. Minutes before midnight. I had just reached a little over 50,000 words for my NaNoWriMo novel, Sophie. All the endless nights of writing. All the story maps, character profiles, 20-page long chapters, granola bars, hot chocolate and word count math. After 30 days of literary frenzy and thinking nonstop about my novel, I’d finally reached my word count goal and won National Novel Writing Month for the first time.

It’s the same kind of rush that I’ve felt the last few months while creating this website. Besides NaNoWriMo, I can’t think of any other writing project that I’ve worked this hard on. The website just started out as a “new idea for a blog” way back before the summer even began. It was only when I asked my web designer and good friend Kimberly Li to work on a design with me that the idea started to take concrete form.
READ MORE

Embracing 2014: My New Years Resolutions

#DailyWings: “Nothing truly innovative, nothing that has advanced art, business, design, or humanity, was ever created in the face of genuine certainty or perfect information.” -Jonathan Fields

For what might possibly be the first time ever, I feel like it’s time for a new year. So much happened in 2013 that it seems only natural to “turn the page” and start a new chapter of this book that we call life. (Technically, “Chapter 2014” refers to the 2014th year of the Gregorian calendar rather than that of my personal life…I’m 21, not 2014, years old after all!) Note – this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m ready for 2014. On the contrary, my body experiences all sorts of physical reactions – my arms quiver, my heart palpitates at an alarming rate, my mind goes into panic mode – whenever I even think about life after college. There’s one more semester left. Graduation is in May. Anything beyond that is up in the air. 
READ MORE

The Long Goodbye to 2013

#DailyWings: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot

It’s really not going to be that long. Just give me two minutes. That’s all I need to virtually hug my readers and say, “You’re still here, then, after all this time?” Has it really been more than three months since my last published post?

If my blog still makes it to your news feed and you’re reading this, thank you for sticking with me. My queue has eight partially written drafts rotting away, forgotten and obsolete. Every time I sat down to write for myself (either on this blog or in my journal or as part of an unfinished piece of work) this semester, guilt weighed down in the pit of my stomach as I thought of all the “real writing” that needed to get done – feature stories for the newspaper, online articles and so forth. One of the most crucial lessons I have yet to learn is that writing for myself is just as important as writing for others.

You’ll read more about my new years resolutions (many of them are writing-related) tomorrow – I’m a big fan of themes, and thus 2014 has been dubbed the year of literary frenzy – but before that I need to give a proper recap of 2013. Here’s my annual…

READ MORE

Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Year In Review + Fourth Annual No-Kiss Blogfest

#DailyWings: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art–write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” -Neil Gaiman

One of my main new year’s resolutions from 2012 was to meditate every day for a certain amount of time either somewhere on campus or at home, and I’m excited to say that, for the most part, I succeeded. There’s nothing better than lying on the grass in the campus arboretum, your vision cloaked by an entire blanket of blue sky, and letting your mind wander.

There are two ways for me to engage in meditation — one in which I try to rid my mind of all thoughts and cognition, and only allow sensations and feelings to take over the present moment. The other way is to simply not fight any of the thoughts that come to mind, but rather let them come as they “flow.” Both are helpful for me when I want to re-organize my mind (as if it were a sock drawer!), and both are good for long hours of travel.
READ MORE

Winter Break Productivity: It’s a Balancing Act

#DailyWings: “Other things awaited. It was good to be young and to know it for once. So much unfolding to do.” –The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

It’s been a week since I took my last final exam in social psychology and came home for the holidays. After reuniting with my family, receiving notice of my class grades and hanging Christmas stockings up by the fireplace, it feels like everything has fallen into place. Things are as they should be. I’ve taken the last couple of days to relax on my favorite couch at home with Mockingjay in one hand and a mug of hot chocolate in the other. Life is good.

And yet, there is a small tug in the back of my mind, reminding me that something’s not quite right. I have never been able to sit still for very long without getting antsy — especially if I’m not doing work. Leisure is wonderful, but winter break wouldn’t be the same without some productivity, too. Even as I immerse myself in the world of Panem, the thought of internships to apply for, blog posts to write and stories to pitch and always sucks me back into the real world.

READ MORE