Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017. New Year, Revised Goals.
As I look back over the past twelve months, with as much stress as it’s brought, I have to be proud of myself. I’ve read more books this year (for pleasure) than I have in more than a decade. I’ve lost weight (about 40 pounds). And I’ve done more blogging and fiction writing this year than I have in the past several. So, all in all, I can’t say that 2016 was quite such a bad year.
Oh, yeah, and I did this, too:
What I Wish I’d Done Better in 2016
I always wish I’d done everything better, so I guess I should say the top thing I wish I’d done better. I wish I’d eased myself back into writing the way I’ve done it in the past. While doing the FirstDraft120 challenge has been helpful for me—and I’m by no means quitting on it!—trying to jump right in and write a full novel wasn’t the greatest idea. Especially not when I’d gotten completely out of practice of writing at all for the past several years. I’d give you some kind of sports analogy of an athlete who gets injured and spends several years not doing anything physical at all trying to jump back into pro-level sports, but I think you know what I’m talking about.
So instead of castigating myself for not meeting the goal I set back in the beginning of October of finishing a first draft of a new historical romance novel—or, worse, just throwing up my hands and quitting—I’m taking my own advice and restructuring/resetting my goal.
For the remainder of FirstDraft120 (until 1/31/17), my new goal is to do something fiction-writing related for at least one hour (combined) every day.
That means that I might work on writing up a treatment of a new story idea and cast the characters. I might write a scene or two of the story I started for FirstDraft120. I might work on character development for that story or for others I’ve started and then not done anything with over the past year or two.
And I might work on my “imaginary husband” story. Which is what I did for part of the time in the car with my parents traveling to see family in Louisiana last week.
I spent a little while feeling guilty about writing on that instead of on the Spymaster story. But then I made myself stop. You see, almost twenty-five years ago when I had my first bout with extreme depression, I wrote myself out of it by writing something that started out as a “where will we all be in five years” scenario for me and my closest friends from college and turned into a 200,000-word unfinished fictional story that got me through a whole lot of stress and out of which developed Bonneterre, Louisiana, and my first published trilogy.
And when I reminded myself of that, I realized, subconsciously, I’ve been trying to do the same thing with the “imaginary husband” stuff but negating any good it might be doing for me by making myself feel guilty and telling myself it’s not worthwhile.
So in 2017, my goal is to write/work on something fictional every day, whether it’s something I think might be publishable eventually or something just for me. Because my goal at this point (and should have been when I started the FD120 challenge) shouldn’t be to “write a publishable book,” but to “relearn the joy that writing daily can bring.”
That’s also why I’m giving myself a time goal instead of a word-count goal. Because it isn’t the words I produce that are important, but making sure I spend time doing it daily. (I’ll be restarting my tracking spreadsheet in order to track this goal, too.)
Have a Goal for Every Day in 2017
In addition to doing writing-related work for at least an hour every day in 2017, my other goal is to have a goal for every single day: something I want to do, to learn, to accomplish, to complete, to start, etc. For this, I must give a tip of the hat to Mike from one of my favorite YouTube channels, Press Record. Though I’ve known this for many, many years—that I do much better on a daily basis if I’m on a schedule and working toward something specific—Mike said it in just the right way at just the right time (yesterday) for me to be able to articulate it in my own mind. (Skip ahead to 16:23 in the video, if it doesn’t automatically start there. Also, “Nora” is one of his dogs.)
What are your goals/revised goals for 2017?
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