My Year-End 2018 Goals Reassessment (New Year’s Resolution Redux #3)

I’ve got one more kick at the can.

I’m a long-standing lover of New Year’s resolutions, and this year, aside from just setting some—which is the easy part—I decided to perform regular progress assessments in order to course correct as needed to help boost my likelihood of achieving success.

My first assessment was in February, the month that many people let their New Year’s Resolutions slide.  The second assessment was in July, just before I went back home for my summer vacation.

With the year now quickly drawing to a close, this final progress assessment will help reveal which of my resolutions require a final push toward completion, and which, inevitably, will rear their heads again in 2019.

My resolutions for 2018 include the following:

1) Keep my critique group running efficiently and effectively

Assessment: Once again, this resolution is progressing more or less on track, as it has been for the entire year.

Not all group members (myself included) are currently submitting chapters for weekly review, as we instead focus on rewrites.  Because of this, neither has the group had a face-to-face meeting since before summer.  Additionally, I don’t feel like the chapter-a-week format is quite working for me anymore.

However, as a resource available for getting feedback on our work, the group is still functioning, regardless of whatever changes in format might be forthcoming.

Come December 31, I’ll easily be able to deem this resolution achieved.

2) Complete draft 6 of my WIP using the feedback from my critique group

Assessment: With so many parts of my WIP having been revised and rewritten to differing degrees, I don’t even know what draft I’m technically on anymore.

While preparing to enter Pitch Wars in August, I rewrote my first seven (now six) chapters, thus effectively creating the start of draft 7.

Back in July, I was in the process of rewriting the first part of draft 5’s second act (draft 5.2 I was calling it since it had yet to be read by my critique group).  I’m now rewriting this section again in response to group feedback, which technically makes for draft 6 of this portion.

Meanwhile, I haven’t looked at the latter part of Act II and Act III in almost a year, let alone submitted it to my group.  It thus stolidly remains part of draft 5.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m calling the whole thing draft 7 now.  Regardless of what I call it, though, the fact remains that it’s still not done.

Solution: Admittedly, the rewrite (re-rewrite) of the first part of Act II is proving challenging.  I need to include more tension and more danger to the protagonist while at the same time cutting eight chapters down to about five.

But on the whole, my incomplete draft is not really a problem in need of fixing.  I’m constantly working on my WIP and need to just allow my progress to happen in its normal course.

Which at this point will clearly continue into 2019.

3) Make a decision about going back to school

Assessment: By July’s assessment, I’d already learned I wasn’t accepted into the program I applied for.  The decision of whether to actually go back to school (vs. deferring admission) was thus rendered moot.

In my opinion, this still counts as having achieved this goal, for I did everything within my control in support of it.

Come December 31, I’ll have to decide if I want to reprise this resolution for 2019, or else abandon (or postpone) the whole endeavor.

4) Devise more of the plot of my next novel, as informed by more research into ancient Greece

Assessment: Without question, this has been my most challenging resolution for 2018.  Not because it’s inherently difficult, but rather because various deadlines throughout the year, both personal and professional, prevented me from making proper use of my time to fit it in.

During the last couple of months I made ~some~ progress—namely, I started listening to a Greek history podcast, although I’ve yet to reach the period of history that will feature in my novel (the Classical period).  And again, I haven’t prioritized getting to the correct period of history.

I have no shortage of tasks to keep me busy in my writing life.  However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my shortfall in this resolution is partly due to insecurity over my ability to do this project justice.

Solution: With six weeks still left in the year, I can still make something happen with this resolution, for all that, without a doubt, I’ll be repeating this goal in 2019.

I have a couple of fairly short books on ancient Greece (one a scholarly reference, the other a graphic novel, both under 200 pages) that I’m going to challenge myself to get through at least one of these—if not both—before December 31 during my Christmas vacation.

I also have a plan for freeing up more time for research in the New Year that I’ll discuss in next week’s post.

However, this resolution more than any other is the one where my mental game is the biggest thing holding me back.

I really need to stop doubting my abilities and to embrace the mindset of growth and abundance that comes from pursuing a task that’s a step beyond the things you already know you can do.

I also need to keep reminding myself that a crappy book can always be fixed.  Nothing can be done either for or with a book that doesn’t actually exist.

5) Achieve better balance in my life between working and not working

Assessment: Back in July, I declared this one mostly achieved.  In a sense this is true, at least with regards to my personal life: I’ve cut back on unnecessary time commitments and try to group necessary tasks to give myself larger blocks of free time.

At work, however, things have been … busy.  I have two different roles in my organization.  One of these I just took on in March, yet it has largely lain fallow for most of the year during a period of transition at the company’s executive level.

It was only this past October where both of my roles required my attention, both becoming overly busy at the exact same time.

In the first two weeks of October alone, I racked up 31 hours of overtime.

Solution: Thirty-one hours of overtime is definitely excessive, however there were other staffing challenges that contributed to this.  In addition, as I become more skilled at my secondary role, my efficiency is sure to increase.

Other than that, my sleep seems to be as good as it’s going to get, my year-long attempt to get eight hours a night continually foiled by my body’s ungrateful refusal to remain asleep for any longer than seven.

These days, with it darker earlier and later at night and in the morning, I’ve decreased my bed time by half an hour, now retiring at 11:00pm and waking in advance of my 6:30am alarm.

I’ve done all I can think to do with this resolution for the time being.  If I decide at all to continue pursuing this in 2019, it will more so be a matter of maintaining what I’ve managed to achieve.

6) Keep a list of noteworthy things that I accomplish throughout the year

Assessment: As I conceded in July, I have utterly failed at this one.  This isn’t the first time I’ve attempted it, and I’ve already decided that it won’t be the last.

Solution: In preparation for next year, I need to explore whether there are some journaling apps or other innovative formats I can obtain or create to help make the practice of marking my accomplishments more habitual.

Perhaps I should post a monthly update on this blog.  Public accountability—and the associated fear of public humiliation—are often very powerful motivators.

How did your New Year’s Resolutions go?  Do you plan to try, try again at any of them next year?

(Image source #1, #2, and #3)

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5 thoughts on “My Year-End 2018 Goals Reassessment (New Year’s Resolution Redux #3)

  1. I admire your resolutions, your reassessment of your resolutions, and all you’ve gotten accomplished this year. You know what you want – and are doing it. Wow – and Well Done!

    I have one goal: write Scene 26.05. To the end of all polish. Once I get my brain working on writing (instead of picking shower enclosures), it WILL happen. The downside is it could be months, and I’m not a very patient person, and Andrew keeps nagging (he never had to before). I think he likes the spotlight.

    May I suggest what is my favorite book for continuous tension, The Fire in Fiction, Donald Maass? I’ve transformed the 14 different places where you can increase the microtension into a checklist, and I go through every possibility for every scene, noting where a little tweak increases the interest, and that definitely reminds me of things I can aim for, not in increasing word count, but in choosing the best words. Chapter 8.

    Sorry you didn’t get accepted into the program you applied for, and I hope you are teaching yourself so much that you’re absorbing the content anyway. Mentors are nice, but you do get beyond them. Eventually. People can point out specific craft problems in your writing, but they’re not as good at identifying uniqueness.

    My resolution is the same as always: get through today. Hope once we’re settled into the place when it’s ready, and unpacked completely, that I can plan a little further ahead.

    From that experience, I’d say: try not to disrupt what IS working for you unless you absolutely have to!

    Are you aware of J.M. Ney-Grimm’s work? She also writes novels based on Ancient Greece – and she blogs, too. You might get some ideas from her. She was a great mentor when I was working on my cover, too.

    Get finished with your drafts – can’t wait to see the results.

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    • The reassessment of my resolutions worked really well for me. I’ll definitely be doing that again next year!

      Thanks for suggesting The Fire in Fiction. I remember you recommended this to me before when I asked you which of Maass’s books you found most valuable. I must have gotten busy and forgotten to read it. I will check it out. I also have his emotion craft book that I’ll be reading soon.

      The program I applied for wasn’t writing-related, but rather to do with my professional life (not that I’m not professional about my writing). In retrospect, it was good that I wasn’t accepted. Doing a Master’s (another one) would have been very labour-intensive, and I really want to devote more time to my writing, not less. I may look into alternative forms of professional development in the near future, but I’ve already decided that next year I’m not going to do anything extracurricular to my day job but write.

      I am aware of J.M. Ney-Grimm. Her work seems more myth-focused where mine will be more politically-focused, but I am trying to immerse myself in all forms of media set during that area to get a sense of what’s been done.

      I think that “get through today” is a wise and sensible goal for anybody at anytime, no matter what else they have going on. It has a very “power of now” sensibility to it that we could all benefit from.

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      • I’d love to hear your take on Maass’ emotional craft book. He has a lot to say in his various books, but there is a lot of repetition, too, and I always wonder if there will be enough new material in a book to justify buying a hard copy (the way I keep all my craft books so I can reach for the exact page I want (eidetic memory)).

        Some classes are wonderful shortcuts to the material (Gwen Hernandez’ Scrivener online courses fall in that category for me): master a lot of detail quickly, emerge with a gestalt. Others are endlessly boring slow ways for people who won’t read a book and parse it for themselves to be forced to review the same material enough times so that it sticks. Some others are a quick introduction so you can get started well on mastering the material yourself. I only do the self-learning and quick intro ones any more, and only online, so I wouldn’t have an opinion on the formal course you missed, except that I believe you are savvy enough that you wouldn’t apply to one you didn’t think would help.

        I suggested Jessica’s work more in the sense of possibly having similar fan bases – people who are interested in one aspect of Ancient Greece might be interested in another.

        You are wise to not dilute you extracurricular time into too many pursuits.

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