The first quarter of the first full year of the Covid-19 global pandemic is now over.
Setting and achieving your goals during a pandemic is a delicate balance. Always with goal-setting you want to find the sweet spot between ambitious and realistic, between things that will challenge you but you’ll still actually be able to do.
But when life as we know it has disappeared and, for good or for ill, the ways of the world will likely never return to how they once were, this can be a real hindrance to your motivation.
Meanwhile, just the day-to-day stress of surviving during Covid—all the individual tasks, changes, and anxieties this comprises—can suck away your time for achieving goals no matter if you’re the most motivated person in the world.
All this to say that I set my goals (New Year’s resolutions) for 2021 cautiously, keeping them mostly writing-related and requiring me to stay close to home. With the first quarter now over, as usual, I’m assessing my progress to date. I do this to determine if any changes or course correction is needed to improve my chances of success by the end of the year.
I used to use a simple scoring system of either 0, 0.5, or 1 point, but discovered that this wasn’t always precise enough. This year, where possible, I’ll be using percentages to grade each goal.
My 2021 goals and progress over the first quarter of the year are as follows:
1) Writing life goals
- Query my completed novel – In progress
- Read four key reference books in support of my next novel – 25%
- Draft my next novel – ~5%
- Start researching my next-next novel – 0%
- Read the first draft of my WIP’s sequel and make general/overall revision notes – 100% (completed)
- New: Make a beat sheet for the next draft of my WIP’s sequel
Summary of progress: Right off the bat percentages fail me. A big goal for the year was to query my completed novel, and I’m currently doing so.
But the extent of my control over the process is limited to researching agents and sending query letters, with no way to know how much of each will be required, or how long this entire querying journey will take. So “in progress” is the best I can offer for this sub-goal.
I didn’t intentionally set out to divide the four reference books I’m planning to read into each of the year’s four quarters, but this is now seeming like a handy sub-goal.
When it comes to goal-setting I’m all about breaking it down to smaller and smaller components that can be achieved in shorter durations of time. I’ve written about this before.
I really enjoyed Q1’s reference book and have since decided on the order in which I’ll tackle the remaining three (in order of how soon I’ll need the information for my new WIP).
I’ve now started my new WIP in earnest! (I wrote two opening sentences last year, one for the first chapter and one for a prologue, but I’ve since decided to re-purpose the prologue content to Chapter 3).
I’m not very far into it yet (I based my percentage on an estimated 110,000 words) for a few reasons:
One: A final line-edit of my previous WIP, plus the researching of agents and preparation of my initial round of queries, took time away from the new WIP.
Two: Because it’s been so long since I drafted anything completely new, I’ve kind of had to re-learn how to write.
And three: Because even though I wrote a 32,000-word “outline” (more of a zero draft) for this new novel last year, the beginning of the story—the initial goal and emotional state of the MC straight through to the inciting incident, as well as how she responds in the moment to the inciting incident—is the part I’m least clear about and am thus having to muddle/pants my way through…
…while also trying to remember how to write at all. Fun times!
Still, that I’m working on this novel at all is incredibly exciting for me since I’ve been mulling over some version of this story since 2015.
I’ve written before about the process of reading through the sequel I years ago wrote for my previous WIP.
At that time I was about halfway through. I’ve now finished reading, making revision notes (SO MANY REVISION NOTES), and even creating an outline of everything that happens in this draft of the story.
As much as I despise reverse outlining, Future Me will be so grateful that it already exists when I finally get around to revising this book.
I know that Future Me will also appreciate a beat sheet reflecting the changes I want to make. So I’m going to do that too, and have added it as another sub-goal to complete by the end of the year.
I haven’t started researching my next-next novel at all. However, I was getting up at 5:30am to read my sequel for an hour everyday, and this ungodly hour has since become something of a practice. So now that the sequel-reading is finished, I know what next I’ll be doing in that early morning hour.
2) Real life goals
- Get more exercise (closer to my pre-pandemic amount) – in progress
- Make a will – 0%
- Miscellaneous career goals – in progress
- Finish de-cluttering my apartment (continued from 2020) – 0%
- Living room
[ ] 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: I’m definitely not anywhere closer—or even particularly close—to my pre-pandemic amount of exercise.
A large part of this is because I spent most of Q1 feeling quite unwell (not Covid, but extremely low iron—surprise!), and lacked the physical strength to even perform my pandemic fitness regime with vigour.
My iron deficiency is being treated, but I’m now first having to rebuild my fitness from an even lower level before I can attempt to add more exercise.
That said, I did start doing a twice-weekly arm workout this quarter, which I’ve largely continued throughout my sickness. My muscular arms were always my favourite physical characteristic, and I wasn’t liking how sloppy-looking they were getting while in quarantine.
(I’m happy to report that the dedicated arm work has been helping and my vanity in that regard is mostly restored.)
I don’t want to get into details about my career goals but there has definitely been movement, including within areas I didn’t even have in mind initially. There’s much more for me to do, but again, its hard to quantify.
I’ve done nothing in support of getting my will made, although having gone through an illness once again impresses the importance of this goal upon me. Neither did I resumed my apartment de-cluttering project in Q1, but I really want to get this task completed this year.
(Image source #1 and #2 – J.G. Noelle)