For people with New Year’s Resolutions, the middle of the year is truly do or die time.
On the one hand, if you’ve yet to do any work toward your goals for the year, mid-year seems to represent the latest you could realistically start and still achieve the full desired result.
On the other hand, if you’ve been working away all along, the middle of the year should place you midway through your progress. Should.
The purpose of this post is to determine just that—where I am in relation to where I should be at this point in the year.
Back in March, I posted my New Year’s Resolution check-in for the first quarter of 2019, its purpose being to assess my progress and to inform any increased efforts or changes that needed to be made along the way.
Now it’s time to do it again, once more using a simple scoring system (0, 0.5, or 1) for each sub-goal of my three broad resolutions for the year: become a better writer, improve my non-writing life, and keep track of my achievements for the year.
My scores for the midpoint of 2019 are as follows:
1) Become a better writer
- Finish the current draft of my WIP – Points: 0.5 (first quarter points: 0.5)
- Read at least 18 books total – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0 (0.5)
- Attend a writing conference – Points: 1 (0.5) – COMPLETED
- Conduct research into Ancient Greece in support of my next novel – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Always be researching in general – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Devise more of the plot for my next novel – Points: 0.5 (1)
- Buy a new laptop – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Create and send out at least two newsletters – Points: 0 (0)
Total points: 4/9 = 44% (4.5/9 = 50%)
Summary of progress: I will always make time for my writing, but this quarter saw a noticeable slow-down in my productivity.
This was mostly due to the requirements of my day job. I had three special projects due in May—two on the same day—which not only saw me putting in overtime, but also forced me to devote much more brainpower than usual to my job.
Because of this, I wasn’t able to mull over my writing as I often do during the day in preparation for each night’s writing session. This thus saw me coming to the page unprepared to write, and spending the bulk of each session doing the thinking I’d missed out on during the day.
Thankfully the three projects are now complete, so my days should start getting back to normal. Also thankfully, I did still manage to finish rewriting the first part of my WIP’s second act, which has been a thorn in my side since the start of the year.
(I just haven’t gotten very far beyond this point yet, as I still have to think through the revision of a major turning point, but haven’t yet regained the mental clarity and capacity to do so.)
I continued to prioritize reading during my busy time, both as a form of relaxation and to keep up with the research for my next novel, which is set in Ancient Greece.
I’ve currently read 10 out of a targeted 18 books this year, both novels (seven completed, plus half of two others) and historical reference books (three completed, plus 80% of another). This puts my reading stats at just past 50%.
My reading of writing craft books, however, has been a flop. I started reading one in January and have only made it to 39%, which is exactly where I was back in March.
I missed a lot of lunch breaks at work this quarter, which is when I was planning to read craft books. More than anything, though, this particular title just isn’t holding my interest, so I’ll probably quit it and try something different.
I’ve done somewhat better in my goal to always be researching in general. I follow the blogs of a number of historians, and have increased my efforts to read new blog posts as they come in rather than let them pile up in my inbox.
Still, though, for the moment, I’m a better collector of research than reader of it. I have a number of posts and articles saved that I really need to just read. My plan is to read one a day over the summer while I’m off from work.
I also need to resume work on the detailed synopsis/zero draft/on-the-fly brainstorm of my Ancient Greece WIP’s plot, which I haven’t worked on since the end of March—another casualty of my busy quarter at work.
I still haven’t bought a new laptop, but I’ve finally decided on a model and that I will buy it in August while I’m off and have more time to set it up the way I like.
I haven’t worked on my newsletter either. I’d previously decided on a hosting platform (MailChimp) but MailChimp has since undergone a number of recent changes that don’t work with my needs and goals. I’ve thus revised my decision to MailerLite, but haven’t subscribed to it yet.
But at this point, the thought I had in March to reduce this sub-goal and send only one newsletter in 2019 is looking like a necessity.
Finally, I’m just today back from my first ever writing conference, the Historical Novel Society’s biannual conference, which took place in the Washington, DC area. I’ll have more to say about this in an upcoming post.
2) Improve my non-writing life
- Explore and sample potential new hobbies – Points: 0 (0)
- Create/put myself into situations that allow me to meet new people – Points: 1 (0)
- Spend less time at home/work in alternate locations – Points: 0 (0)
- Say yes to more social invitations – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Initiate more social events/activities – Points: 0.5 (0)
Total points: 2/5 = 40% (0.5/5 = 10%)
Summary of progress: I remain interested in the idea of joining a gospel choir.
I was invited to two concerts by a chorister acquaintance to see if the gospel choir she sings in might be a good fit for me. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend either show, and now there won’t be any more until the fall.
If I do decide to try out for this choir, auditions are only held once a year in June, the next ones being in June 2020.
My best, most productive place to work on writing projects remains at home; not only have I not gone offsite as targeted, I also did a significant amount of paid work in the comfort of my apartment. This afforded me far fewer distractions than occur in the office.
My existing laptop is quite heavy besides, with the battery life less than two hours, so this too precludes much work being done outside of the house until I get my new laptop.
I’ve been starting to get out more now that warmer weather has finally arrived. I’ve kept up with friends and initiated some outings, although as with everything else, my job kept this to a minimum, especially when I had to work late or on weekends.
I did, however, manage to make some new friends, via Twitter—some local writers that I’ve met up with twice and chat online with regularly. It being 2019, one of the best ways to can meet new people with common interests is indeed via the internet and social media.
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 (1)
- Use the “Bullet Journal” format – Points: 1 (1)
- At the end of each month, write a summary on how it went – Points: 1 (1)
Total points: 3/3 = 100% (3/3 = 100%)
Summary of progress: I continue to go strong with this resolution, and am currently one month out from the longest I’ve managed to track my accomplishments in each of the four different years I’ve resolved to do so.
My decision to re-frame my tracking as a monthly summary has helped immensely. I don’t regularly “accomplish” things per se; not the impressive, awe-inspiring feats that people humblebrag (or just plain brag) about in any case.
Most days, and weeks, and months, I’m just living my regular workaday life. It’s no wonder I never made it through a year of recording such minutiae.
However, tracking monthly highs, lows, gratitude, areas for improvement, and a short paragraph about my thoughts on the month overall is unintimidating. It puts no pressure on me to feel like I should be constantly achieving noteworthy things.
Meanwhile, my monthly summaries are informed by daily Bullet Journal entries, which help me remember all I did that month. This is through both the act of my recording it in general, and in it serving as a concise, quickly searchable record to jog my memory.
I definitely expect to keep going in this way, to the end of the year and beyond. Indeed, I’ve already started eyeing up day planners for next year (I use the Bullet Journal method in a pre-divided day planner rather than a blank notebook) and am excited to choose a new one in 2020.
BONUS: Stretch goals
- Attend two writing conferences – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Pitch my WIP at a writing conference – Points: 0.5 (0)
- Complete the outline for my next WIP – Points: 0 (0)
- Write the first chapter of my next WIP – Points: 0 (0.5)
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision note – Points: 0 (0)
Total points: 1/5 = 20% (1/5 = 20%)
Summary of progress: Not much stretching has occurred this quarter (or this year as a whole), but that’s okay. There is lots of time left and little obligation to achieve any of these extra goals.
That said, I did sign up for my second writing conference of the year—the Surrey International Writers Conference, which is a local event and one I’ll be attending with my new writer friends from Twitter. I also signed up for a pitch session at this conference.
Both of these targets could thus score one point instead of half, but I’ll wait until after the fact to mark them as fully completed.
In March, I felt I knew enough about my Ancient Greece WIP to rough out a first draft. I still do believe I could do it, but have no immediate plans to do so so as not to distract myself from my current WIP and main sub-goals.