And just like that, a quarter of the year has passed.
It’s time for me to make account of my progress on my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019.
Last year was the first time I did these quarterly New Year’s Resolution check-ins. Doing so did more than help keep these goals top of mind. It also gave me the chance to course correct on any resolutions that had fallen by the wayside.
So many people don’t achieve their New Year’s Resolutions because they make them too large and amorphous. When a goal isn’t broken down into concrete, actionable, ongoing steps, a weak start can immediately feel like failure.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
This year, my resolutions fell into three broad categories—become a better writer, improve my non-writing life, and keep track of my achievements for the year—with specific sub-goals to demonstrate success in each of these endeavours.
In order to assess my progress, I’m using a simple scoring system of either zero, one-half, or one point per sub-goal.
My scores for this first quarter are as follows:
1) Become a better writer
- Finish the current draft of my WIP – Points: 0.5
- Read at least 18 books total – Points: 0.5
- Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0.5
- Attend a writing conference – Points: 0.5
- Conduct research into Ancient Greece in support of my next novel – Points: 0.5
- Always be researching in general – Points: 0.5
- Devise more of the plot for my next novel – Points: 1
- Buy a new laptop – Points: 0.5
- Create and send out at least two newsletters – Points: 0
Total points: 4.5/9 (50%)
Summary of progress: My writing life generally feels like it’s going well.
I’ve been working steadily on draft 7 of my WIP, and although I’ve been slow at rewriting the first part of Act II, I’m very near to being done with this. Once I am, I’ll then return to my existing chapters, which I think (I hope!) are in better shape and will only need revision rather than blank-page rewriting.
Work on my next WIP, which will be set in Ancient Greece, has really turned a corner. Since last year, I’ve gone from having no real idea what the story would be about (and also being afraid to do research for fear of still not knowing) to having come up with a full story premise.
I also started writing a detailed synopsis/zero draft/on-the-fly brainstorm of everything I know so far that’s going to happen.
This brainstorming has helped direct my research toward specific topics of Ancient Greek history, and so far this year I’ve finished reading two reference books (although I did start both of these in 2018).
I’m sort of but not quite hitting the goal to be always researching in general. I follow a number of historians on social media, which exposes me to tons of interesting references.
I find I’m very good at collecting research that might inform future novels—articles, blog posts, reference book titles. But I definitely need to get better at actually reading this stuff.
I have read three novels so far, though, so along with the two reference books, my reading goals seem to be on target. To aid my progress, I’ve made a reading list of books I absolutely want to read in 2019 (as opposed to my general to-be-read list, which will take the rest of my life and beyond to get through).
I haven’t managed to finish a single writing craft book yet, but am 39% through one at present.
I signed up for a writing conference—the Historical Novel Society’s biannual conference. This will take place in Washington DC in June. (This could have been one point instead of half, but I haven’t technically attended the conference yet.)
I’m not ready to devote the time to buying and setting up a new laptop just yet, but I’ve researched different models and specs online and consulted with the IT coordinator at work.
As for my newsletter, I’ve done absolutely nothing. I haven’t even subscribed to the hosting platform. I may reduce this sub-goal to sending only one newsletter this year.
2) Improve my non-writing life
- Explore and sample potential new hobbies – Points: 0
- Create/put myself into situations that allow me to meet new people – Points: 0
- Spend less time at home/work in alternate locations – Points: 0
- Say yes to more social invitations – Points: 0.5
- Initiate more social events/activities – Points: 0
Total points: 0.5/5 (10%)
Summary of progress: Not much has happened with any of the sub-goals in this list.
The winter was long, dark, and colder than usual, so my desire to leave the house—indeed, to leave my bed, which is my wintertime home office, sleep hygiene be damned—was largely nonexistent.
I’ve kept up well with friends and accepted invitations to a handful of events, but no more than usual, nor have I done much to either initiate activities or meet new people.
I have an idea of what sort of new hobby I want to explore—joining a gospel choir; it’s on my bucket list—and even had someone research all the different choirs in the area for me.
But that was their work, not mine. All I’ve done is skim what they gave me, without clicking a single link.
3) Keep track of my achievements for the year
- Start journaling again and write in my journal a minimum of every second day – Points: 1
- Use the “Bullet Journal” format – Points: 1
Post my accomplishments to my blog every quarter along with my resolution progress assessmentAt the end of each month, write a summary on how it went – Points: 1
Total points: 3/3 (100%)
Summary of progress: I’ve truly surprised myself with this resolution.
My goal was to journal a minimum of every two days, but I’ve done so every day since January 1.
It’s the Bullet Journal method that’s the secret to my success. Because it’s fast: it takes me less than 10 minutes to recount my day. As well, the mix of using the journal as both day planner and diary helps me always have something to write, even if just a to-do list.
BuJo technically calls for the use of a blank notebook in which you number your monthly and weekly calendars yourself. I instead chose to use a day planner, which further saves me time.
Neither do I bother with any artwork, especially the elaborate, Instagram-ready sort that’s become synonymous with Bullet Journaling.
I use a bit of washi tape for headings, a few foil stickers to cover needless markings in the day planner, and I draw a coloured line with a highlighter at the end of each day’s entry. That’s it.
I’ve decided I’m not going to post my accomplishments to my blog, that I’m doing well enough at journaling to not require additional accountability to force me to track them.
Instead, I’ve been writing end-of-month summaries for myself. While not part of Bullet Journaling proper, the mindfulness aspects of the system (its true ethos, not all the artwork), make their creation really easy.
In my summaries, I list the high(s) of the month, the low(s) of the month, one or two things I was grateful for, one or two things I want to improve in subsequent months, and a short sentence to encapsulate my thoughts on the month as a whole.
BONUS: Stretch goals
- Attend two writing conferences – Points: 0.5
- Pitch my WIP at a writing conference – Points: 0
- Complete the outline for my next WIP – Points: 0
- Write the first chapter of my next WIP – Points: 0.5
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision note – Points: 0
Total points: 1/5 (20%)
Summary of progress: They’re called stretch goals for a reason; they’re not a priority and thus not something I’ll feel guilty about.
Still, I’ve made the necessary arrangements to be available the weekend of the Surrey International Writers Conference. I usually have to work that weekend, which has prevented my attending the conference for years, even though Surrey is only 30km away.
Also, I’ve done enough outlining/synopsizing of my Ancient Greek WIP that I could rough out a first draft of the first chapter.
But I choose not to—not until I gain a better sense of the story’s physical environment. The sights, sounds, smells, etc. that really bring a scene to life, and make me much more excited to keep on writing.
How are your goals for the year going?