And so 2019 draws to a close.
All year I’ve been working toward my three major goals for the year that I set on January 1, 2019 (my New Year’s Resolutions).
Every quarter, I’ve used a simple scoring system (0, 0.5, or 1) to assess 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.
The purpose of these check-ins was to ensure I was keeping on a consistent track, and if I wasn’t, to course-correct either my efforts or the sub-goals themselves as necessary.
But at the end of the day—and final quarter of the year—one’s New Year’s Resolutions are either achieved or not achieved. And the moment of reckoning has now come.
My final scores for 2019 are as follows:
1) Become a better writer
- Finish the current draft of my WIP – Points: 0.5 (first, second, and third quarter points: 0.5, 0.5, 0.5)
- Read at least 18 books total – Points: 1 (0.5, 0.5, 0.5)
- Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0 (0.5, 0, 0)
- Attend a writing conference – Points: 1 (0.5, 1, Completed)
- Conduct research into Ancient Greece in support of my next novel – Points: 1 (0.5, 0.5, 1)
- Always be researching in general – Points: 1 (0.5, 0.5, 0.5)
- Devise more of the plot for my next novel – Points: 1 (1. 0.5, 0.5)
- Buy a new laptop – Points: 1 (0.5, 0.5, 1)
- Create and send out at least two newsletters – Points: 0 (0, 0, 0)
Total points: 6.5/9 = 72% (4.5/9 = 50%, 4/9=44%, 5/9 = 55%)
Summary of progress: Finally, I succeed in getting a half-decent mark in my writing life.
Already I had attended my first writing conference (the Historical Novel Society’s biennial conference) back in June.
I also fully succeeded in reading 18 books—actually 19 full-length published books (three of which were just shy of 500 pages!) and one short story, in addition to beta-reading a novel each for two members of my writing group.
I read five reference books on Ancient Greece (one of which, on the Peloponnesian War, was 491 pages) in support of my next novel, and continued to always be researching in general, keeping up with blogs and articles of the historians that I follow as best I could.
Although not complete or even written down per se, so too did I devise more of the plot for my next novel, namely in the form of a mind map to draw linkages between the historical events I’ve learned about so far and the narrative themes and plot points I want to include.
So too am I now using the new laptop I bought in September, having taken some two months to find time to transfer all my files and settings.
It was the busyness of my day job and my many hours of overtime working two separate roles for the same organization (one of which I only started this year and hence am still learning) that delayed the migration to my new computer.
So too did all this extra work take away from my writing time, both through my physically spending more time at the office, and the mental distraction my job caused when I did sit down to write.
This slowed me down significantly.
I came close to finishing my WIP’s current draft. But with five chapters still left to revise, one of which requires a full rewrite, this is the perfect example of when I said a goal is either achieved or not achieved.
As predicted during my third-quarter check-in in September, this sub-goal as yet is still incomplete.
Neither did I read three writing craft books despite all the reading I did in general this year. I didn’t even read one craft book, having abandoned one at 39% while another has been sitting at 23% since at least September.
This too was a consequence of my busy work schedule. I’d planned to read craft books during my lunch breaks, but I doubt I managed to take even half my entitled breaks in 2019.
Finally, I already decided in September that I was going to shelve the newsletter for the time being in lieu of all the work I’ve done (and am still doing) for #HFChitChat (the Twitter community for historical fiction writers that me and a friend co-host).
I said in September that I’d at least sign up for my chosen newsletter platform, but I’ve since decided to not even do that right now. Instead, I’m going to wait until such time as I’m actually ready to make newsletters, in case new platforms that I like better come on the scene.
2) Improve my non-writing life
- Explore and sample potential new hobbies – Points: 0 (0, 0, 0)
- Create/put myself into situations that allow me to meet new people – Points: 0 (0, 1, 0.5)
- Spend less time at home/work in alternate locations – Points: 0 (0, 0, 0)
- Say yes to more social invitations – Points: 0.5 (0.5, 0.5, 0.5)
- Initiate more social events/activities – Points: 0.5 (0, 0.5, 0,5)
Total points: 1/5 = 20% (0.5/5 = 10%, 2/5 = 40%, 1.5/5 = 30%)
Summary of progress: My performance in this goal remained consistently poor throughout the whole year—again due to my busyness at work.
Because I spent more time in the office—particularly on weekends—and was mentally distracted when not at work, tiredness often prevented my making more of an effort to get out and meet new people.
My biggest achievement in this regard, the formation of a new in-person writing group from some folks I met on Twitter, happened back during the second quarter. As well, as a writing group, it can’t be counted as related to a new hobby (or a hobby at all, really).
I gave myself half a point each in the end for saying yes to more social engagements and initiating more of them.
I did do my best to keep up with people. On weekends I wasn’t working, I’d often be out socializing instead, which at times did little to alleviate my tiredness (nor the mental distraction that proved so damaging to my writing).
This entire resolution definitely needs to make a reappearance in some form in 2020.
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, 1, 1)
- Use the “Bullet Journal” format – Points: 1 (1, 1, 1)
- At the end of each month, write a summary on how it went – Points: 1 (1, 1, 1)
Total points: 3/3 = 100% (3/3 = 100%, 3/3 = 100%, 3/3 = 100%)
Summary of progress: Simply put, I killed it with this resolution in all four quarters of the year, to my own great shock and amazement.
For four years, I’ve tried unsuccessfully to list my accomplishments each month, and hit upon the strategy of both daily journaling and using the Bullet Journal method as a means of achieving this.
There’s nothing I’ll change about this process when I repeat it in 2020 save that it won’t be a resolution anymore. I no longer need it to be, for it’s now transformed from goal to practice.
BONUS: Stretch goals
- Attend two writing conferences – Points: 1 (0.5, 0.5, 0.5)
- Pitch my WIP at a writing conference – Points: 1 (0, 0.5, 0.5)
- Complete the outline for my next WIP – Points: 0.5 (0, 0, 0)
- Write the first chapter of my next WIP – Points: 0 (0.5, 0, 0)
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision note – Points: 0 (0, 0, 0)
Total points: 2.5/5 = 50% (1/5 = 20%, 1/5 = 20%, 1/5 = 20%)
Summary of progress: Not too shabby for my stretch goals. I attended my second writing conference—the Surrey International Writer’s Conference—in October, during which I pitched my WIP to an agent to great response.
As mentioned under resolution #1, I also got further in the pre-planning for my next novel and have thus awarded myself half a point for that.
In the new year, some of these remaining stretch goals will be repurposed into sub-goals that make up my larger resolutions for 2020.