The third quarter, for me in any case, is the one that makes or breaks the year.
In the matter of achieving year-long goals it really does feel like the point where shit, as they say, gets Real.
Q3 is past the midpoint of the year, where theoretically I should be halfway through my targeted pursuits. It takes me into the dog days of summer (since I live in the Northern Hemisphere) where I usually have a couple weeks of vacation at my disposal.
And with the Covid-19 pandemic still very much being a Thing, as they also say, I spent my two weeks of vacation in my home city (instead of travelling), in my home, period (to minimize exposure to the virus), with little else to do other than what I said I would back at the beginning of the year.
So how did I make out in the third quarter? As usual during my three-month check-ins, 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 for that quarter. This helps me quantify my progress and determine if any changes or course corrections are needed.
My 2020 goals and progress so far is as follows:
1) Continue to make progress in my writing journey
- Completely finish my WIP – Points: 0.5 (First and second quarter points: 0.5, 0.5)
- Query my WIP – Points: 0.5 (0, 0)
- Figure out the rest of the plot for my next novel – Points: 0.5 (0, 0)
- Start my next novel – Points: 1 (0, 0)
- Read at least three writing craft books – Points: 0.5 (0.5, 0.5)
- Always be researching in general in support of future novels – Points: 1 (0.5, 0.5)
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision notes – Points: 0 (0, 0)
- Rewrite my blog bio – Points: 1 (0, 0)
Total points: 5/8 = 63% (1.5/8 = 19%, 1.5/8 = 19%)
Summary of progress: It occurs to me that my point system of either 0, 0.5, or 1 is not precise enough to truly represent all the writing progress I made in the third quarter.
For example, rather than one-half, my progress on completely finishing my WIP actually feels more like 75%.
Having completed rewriting the novel during the second quarter, I finished another draft in Q3 where I both line-edited and edited in general with a view to reduce the novel’s wordcount, which I did, although it’s still long by recommended debut standards.
In August and September, I sent the book to my critique partners, who were given explicit instructions to point out any other areas they think could be cut. Any further progress on this novel (including querying) is therefore stalled until I receive notes on it.
After sending my WIP to my CPs, I turned my attention in two other directions.
One was in working on my query package for this novel. I both finalized my query letter and did two drafts of a synopsis, the most recent of which I need to send back to my writing coach for more feedback. I also gathered information on how to go about researching agents to query, although I’ve yet to start the research itself.
The other thing I’ve been doing is plotting my next WIP! This is very exciting to me because for years it’s been only a hazy concept in my mind. I had no idea what it would take to solidify it into something I could actually sit down and write.
What it would take, it turns out, was the book Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, which I read during Q2, and absolutely adored. Following this method meant I’d have to work out 15 different beats for the story (actually 30 beats since it has dual POVs and each character gets their own set).
So far, I’ve completed 24 out of 30, having written nearly 18,000 words in the process. Although I call myself a plotter, I’m actually more of a zero-draft pantser who likes to note down every little detail about the plot as it occurs to me to make sure I don’t forget it.
Also, I’ve written two opening lines for my next WIP—one for the prologue (yes, a prologue) and one for Chapter 1—so I’m counting the sub-goal of “start my next novel” as achieved. Because I can.
I’ve been doing A LOT of research for my next WIP through some unconventional means (listening to podcasts and interviews with historians, watching history videos, even watching play-throughs of a historically-themed video game).
These have allowed me to squeeze in research during the regular tasks of my day-to-day, although I do have a couple more reference books to read as well. I’ve also started gathering references for my next-next WIP, although I’ve not read any of these yet.
I also still haven’t finished reading that half of one craft book I have left, nor have I read and annotated the first draft of my WIPs sequel. So much reading, so little time!
I did, however, finally update my blog bio (technically in the first days of the fourth quarter, but close enough for grace). Read my new bio here.
2) Improve my non-writing life
- Explore and sample potential new hobbies – Points: 0 (0, 0)
- Create/put myself into situations that allow me to meet new people – Points: 0 (0, 0.5)
- Go on a trip somewhere I haven’t been before – Points: 0 (0)
Total points: 0/2 = 0% (0.5/3 = 17%, 0/3 = 0%)
Summary of progress: Still, the pandemic is making itself felt most strongly in this specific goal. I’ve gone ahead and crossed out the sub-goal of going on a trip somewhere I haven’t been before because that’s definitely not happening.
Even during the summer months, when provincial officials encouraged people to boost tourism by travelling around the province (much of which I haven’t visited), I had no real desire to do so.
With every outing of every sort now requiring so much extra care and attention to maintain a high level of personal safety, I’ve found that, more than anything, I’d really rather just stay home.
So instead of new hobbies and new people, I’ve dug myself even more deeply into the same old same old, having spent the majority of Q3 on either my writing (goal #1), tidying up my apartment (goal #3), or else catching up on my pleasure reading during the not unappreciated extra time I’ve been afforded for all three.
3) De-clutter/Mary Kondo my entire apartment
- Remove excess/unnecessary items from every room – Points: 0.5 (0.5, 0.5)
- Attempt to give usable items away to friends/family who want them – Points: 0 (0, 0)
- Donate usable items that no one wants – Points: 0.5 (0, 0)
- Minimize the amount of garbage generated – Points: 0.5 (0.5, 0.5)
Total points: 1.5/4 = 38% (1/4 = 25%, 1/4 = 25%)
[ ] Bookshelf
[ ] Desk
[X] Magazine box
[ ] Couch
- Dining room
[ ] Side chair
[X] On top of cupboards
[X] Behind the oven
[X] Behind the fridge
[X] Coat closet
[X] Shoe trays
[ ] Storage closet
[X] Shower caddy
[X] Medicine cabinet
[X] Cupboard under the sink
[ ] Top of dresser/ornament shelf
[ ] Dresser drawers
[ ] Smallclothes drawers
[ ] Nightstand
[ ] Under the bed
Summary of progress: As I’d predicted back in Q2, the two weeks of vacation I had in August helped me make some headway on this goal.
Although it also didn’t help at times; on days when the temperature was high (my entire second week off), it heated up my apartment to the point of sapping my energy for sorting through closets and reorganizing shelves.
Still, I’m getting there. To the naked eye, my apartment looks very tidy indeed, for all that a few more drawers and storage spaces still need some work.
I haven’t bothered to offer things to friends and family because a) I’ve seen very little of them all in person (especially my family, who are all on the complete opposite side of the country) and b) with all of them likewise spending the bulk of their time at home, they don’t need my cast-off clothing or accessories any more than I do.
I have, however, filled two corrugated boxes of goods to donate so far, which has helped me minimize items for the trash.
4) Complete additional long-standing/outstanding tasks
- Get new running shoes – Points: 0 (0, 0)
- Make a will – Points: 0 (0, 0)
- Try to get a doctor – Points: 0 (0, 0)
Total points: 0/3 = 0% (0/3 = 0%, 0/3 = 0%)
Summary of progress: Honestly, I’ve really dragged my butt on these tasks.
My running got noticeably stronger during Q3, causing me to wonder whether I really needed new running shoes at all. Note: I still need new running shoes, even though that means hauling my lazy backside to the complete opposite side of town to go to my preferred running store.
The other two tasks are just work that I didn’t feel like doing during the summer … or anytime prior to that. I’ve gotta get my act together here.