2020 feels like it’s already lasted 57 decades.
But we’ve now passed the official midpoint of the year.
Like many people all over the world, I spent the majority of this quarter sheltering in place due to COVID-19.
Even now, as Vancouver slowly continues it’s phased re-opening that began in late-May, I’ve only been out for a handful of specific purposes—a quick trip to a bookstore, a couple visits to my workplace, an anti-racism protest, and most recently, to the hairdresser.
Otherwise, for some 13 weeks straight, starting back in mid-March, I haven’t left my house save to go to the grocery store or go jogging.
Which theoretically gave me lots of time at home to work toward my goals for 2020.
As during my first quarter goals check-in, I’m using a simple scoring system of either 0, 0.5, or 1 point to grade the smaller sub-goals of each overall goal. This helps me quantify my progress and determine if any changes or course corrections are necessary.
My 2020 goals and progress for the second quarter is as follows:
1) Continue to make progress in my writing journey
- Completely finish my WIP – Points: 0.5 (First quarter points: 0.5)
- Query my WIP – Points: 0 (0)
- Figure out the rest of the plot for my next novel – Points: 0 (0)
- Start my next novel – Points: 0 (0)
- Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Always be researching in general in support of future novels – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision notes – Points: 0 (0)
- Rewrite my blog bio – Points: 0 (0)
Total points: 1.5/8 = 19% (1.5/8 = 19%)
Summary of progress: All the scores are exactly the same as the last time. Still, I feel like I’ve made considerable writing progress in the second quarter.
Most of these sub-goals are dependent upon the first one, which as yet is not complete. However I did finish the draft I was working on last quarter, which included a significant amount of rewriting. Now I’m doing another rapid pass to both line edit and reduce the word count.
I’m going to have to cut my first act roughly in half. But I’ve actually saved this for last, having started this latest draft near the start of Act II, after which I then moved on to Act III.
Once I complete Act I, which I hope I can manage in a month, the book will be ready for beta readers and after that, for querying.
At which time I’ll immediately jump into my next WIP. Even though I haven’t done any more tangible work on its actual plot (having devoted all my time to my current WIP), I did still have a major breakthrough that will enable me to resume progress on it when the time is right.
I’d never stopped thinking about my next WIP, but had hit a roadblock of not knowing what would happen beyond a certain point.
But through a series of fortuitous events, I came to the critical realization that I wasn’t having a “plotting problem”. Rather, it was that I didn’t understand the motivation of my antagonist (which in turn would influence the actions of the protagonist, which would generate the plot).
This realization made, I enlisted the aid of a friend who was able to help me figure it out. I still don’t know what comes next in my plot, but I now have an important building block for once I’m ready to work on it some more.
Something else that will help me is one of the craft books I read while in lockdown, that being Save the Cat! Writes a Novel.
(I borrowed this from a friend in February, who told me she wouldn’t need it back until April. Haha, yeah—tell that to COVID-19. I didn’t get it back to her until almost June.)
I loved this book! (See my 5-star review.) Save the Cat’s explanation of the 15 beats of a story really clicked with me, feels like a valuable plotting tool I can actually see myself using. I’ve now read two-and-a-half craft books, which means I’m sure to achieve my goal of three by the end of the year.
I’ve also been keeping up with always researching in general as best I can, amidst trying to devote every free moment to revising my WIP.
As in the past, I’ve fallen into a habit of doing more collecting of research than actually reading it, but I’m working on a plan to get through a bunch of it in the next quarter. So far this year, I’ve not completed any reference books in support of my next WIP, although I do have one in progress.
I still haven’t rewritten my blog bio because again, as in the previous quarter, I forgot it was included in my sub-goals, so I didn’t make any time for it. I’ve since added it to my weekly to-do list, where I’ll at least see it, even if I still don’t do it just yet.
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: 0.5 (0)
- Go on a trip somewhere I haven’t been before – Points: 0 (0)
Total points: 0.5/3 = 17% (0/3 = 0%)
Summary of progress: As in the first quarter, COVID-19 continues to have the greatest impact on this goal in particular.
During the lockdown, I was at home all day every day for 13 weeks straight. I’m still in a sort of self-isolation, as I continue to work from home (my workplace has reopened with strict social distancing in place, but I’m not prioritized for a return to the office since my work doesn’t require it) and only go out on short, very purpose-driven outings.
It’s not an environment that’s particularly conducive to taking up new hobbies. Or meeting new people since keeping one’s bubble small and with only known people is essential in helping prevent community spread of the disease.
At this point, I expect this pattern will continue for the remainder of the year—if not longer—until a vaccine is produced. It makes me consider just crossing out this entire goal for good.
However I have given myself half a point for putting myself in new situations. In May, I was invited to speak on a live, online panel with other writers and authors about writing historical fiction, which I did.
It was my first time doing something like this, and I was very nervous about it. I don’t much care for public speaking, and even though the audience was invisible to me, this felt very … public. Plus, there would be a permanent recording at the end of it that even more people would watch.
But everyone who took part was very nice. I got to know them all a little through a chat group where we introduced ourselves and discussed what to talk about on the panel.
Overall, it was a very positive experience and not nearly as scary as I expected once we got going. I would do it again, and am even thinking about doing my own panel as part of the #HFChitChat historical fiction writing community that I co-founded and co-host.
(Watch the writing historical fiction panel.)
3) De-clutter/Mary Kondo my entire apartment
- Remove excess/unnecessary items from every room – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
- Attempt to give usable items away to friends/family who want them – Points: 0 (0)
- Donate usable items that no one wants – Points: 0 (0)
- Minimize the amount of garbage generated – Points: 0.5 (0.5)
Total points: 1/4 = 25% (1/4 = 25%)
- Living room
[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Desk
[ ] Armchair
[X] Magazine box
[ ] Couch
- Dining room
[ ] Side chair
[X] On top of cupboards
[X] Behind the oven
[X] Behind the fridge
[ ] Coat closet
[ ] Shoe trays
[ ] Storage closet
[X] Shower caddy
[X] Medicine cabinet
[X] Cupboard under the sink
[ ] Closet
[ ] Top of dresser/ornament shelf
[ ] Dresser drawers
[ ] Smallclothes drawers
[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Nightstand
[ ] Under the bed
Summary of progress: The de-cluttering has not progressed a whole lot further than it was last quarter.
COVID-19 has been no boon in that regard, for since I’m still working full-time, I’ve had no opportunity to devote consecutive hours and days to the project that would see it concluded quickly. Also, since I’m putting most of what little free time I do have into my WIP, that leaves me even less time for tidying.
Plus I get bored of it after a couple of hours. I’ve tried to enliven my progress by listening to podcasts while working, which has helped me get a little further on my closet.
But on a Saturday afternoon, my rest day, I’m only willing to do so much at a time. As a result, my progress will continue to be slow for now. I do plan to make more time for it during the weeks I’m on vacation in August (since I won’t be travelling anywhere).
I did spend part of my day off on July 1 (Canada Day) cleaning behind my fridge and oven. July 1 is technically part of the third quarter but I’m counting it here anyway, because I can.
4) Complete additional long-standing/outstanding tasks
- Get new running shoes – Points: 0 (0)
- Make a will – Points: 0 (0)
- Try to get a doctor – Points: 0 (0)
Total points: 0/3 = 0% (0/3 = 0%)
Summary of progress: As during last quarter, I am still living amidst a pandemic with no doctor, will, or decent running shoes.
It sounds like the set-up for a bad joke.
Vancouver is currently in Phase 3 of our re-opening, which means that I should now be able to pursue all three of these outstanding tasks. Which I should, in case/before we have to go into lockdown yet again.