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A Writer’s Retrospective: Reflecting on Goals and Resolutions for 2009

March 16, 2009

Most of us kick off the New Year with some idea about what we would like to achieve in the coming year.

For some of us it’s making resolutions to take up or give up things, and there are differing schools of thought on the appropriateness and effectiveness of creating resolutions.  Others set of goals – writing down a list of things to work at across the year.  Then there are some people, like myself who gift the year with a theme (last year it was authenticity and this year it’s been action) and use that as a guide.

After the first few weeks it’s easy to become disillusioned, distracted or busy – and our resolutions, goals and themes get forgotten. Half way through the year we’re struck down with the realisation that we haven’t even made a dint in what we’d hoped to do – and any enthusiasm left drains away into apathy – well there’s always next year.

Not this year!

This week I’d like to invite everyone to take a look over the lists they made at the start of the year and share their progress.  One of the most powerful things any human can experience is to be witnessed by their peers.  So here’s your chance.

To get the ball rolling – I’ll share mine.  And please feel free to comment.  You’ll be amazed at how many other people are in the same boat as you.

My Progress Report

My year for the past few years, has begun with a weird mixing of resolutions – which I classify as the things that need to be changed IMMEDIATELY; goals – which I now do up as an action plan and it refers to things that are to worked on/at over the year; and a theme – which colours everything I do during the year.

My resolution this year was to give up sugar – which I can proudly say I continue to achieve each day.  I enjoy a little sugar on rare occassions (usually as part of some of Annie’s awesome raw desserts) and some of the cravings exist, but I’m proud to say it sugar is no longer a staple of my diet.  Sugar really is an addiction. Without sugar I feel better able to focus, eat better and sleep better.  Consequently I am healthier and more energised than I have been for many years. This obviously has positive flow on benefits to writing.

My action plan, which I entitled A Vision In Perpetual Motion contains thirteen dot points.  Of interest to this exercise are:

  • Write Something Every Day Yes – generally!

Picking up two weekly columns has helped greatly, especially when you mix it with blog entries and participation in the variety of writing prompts available.  I’m yet to feel comfortable in raising the bar to two or three page a day – but like weight training – I’m building up to it.

  • Participate in Fiction Friday every week No!

I’ve been abysmal at this.  Six stories this year – from 11 prompts.  The more non fiction I write, the more I need to commit to writing challenges such as Fiction Friday to indulge and play in the fictious side of my writing personae.

  • Read two books a month Yes!

To date I’ve consumed six and a half books.  This is the easy part of the action plan.

  • Complete a manuscript No!

I’m not ready to return to any of my manuscripts yet – but I’m aware that I have made this commitment.

  • Enter a minimum of four competitions No!

I haven’t even had a look, let alone consider where I might like to send something.  I’m considering this a wake up call and going to open up my latest Queensland Writer’s Magazine once this is posted.

  • Publish at least two non-fiction and two fiction pieces No!

I guess I was thinking of published as in ‘printed on paper’.  Hmmm?  I really should write down some target publications and see what I have that fits their submission criteria.

  • Compile an electronic anthology of my work No!

I can hear Paul and Annie collectively alternating between laughing and grimacing.  January it was full steam ahead. February it was luke warm followed by an epiphany as to why it may not be progressing, renamed and refashioned it. Still no movement. Now in March it seems like an impossible idea and I’m consumed with guilt.

I have made a commitment, then infected fellow writers with the idea – so I will have to return to the editing desk soon. A good sort of peer group pressure that is of the imaginery type. I have learnt the hard way that editing is far harder than just sitting down purging a first draft from your imagination. Also that editing should be an ongoing process – which would make creating an anthology a far easier task.

  • Get my Chinese Whisperings anthology project off the ground

This is a joint project with Paul. There is a temporary website up and we’ve almost completed gathering together all the writers for this ambitious project.  I am resisting editing the story that kicks it off though – which is slowly the forward momentum.  What is it with that story?

  • Commit to a schedule of professional development Yes!

Short story writing master class done.  Short story critiquing circle for April – Sept signed up and paid for.  I also attended a networking luncheon and made some fantastic contacts. I’ve scheduled in at least the Byron Bay Writers Festival (and let my family know as it means me being absent this year for four nights) – and dreaming of the Melbourne Writers Festival.  Plus I’m half way through completing the Artist Way again.

  • Watch one movie a week Yes – generally!

Some weeks I watch more than one and other weeks none at all.  With Script Frenzy approaching there will probably be a bit of a movie watching frenzy.

I have also been reminded by this process that I have a number of other projects scheduled for this year that I haven’t given a whole heap of thought to but probably need to begin thinking about them – such as NaNo and a project I conceived three years called The Blood Sister Project.

When I blessed the year with the theme of action – I honestly had no idea how fast your writing life can change once the momentum builds. Since the start of the year I’ve:

  • picked up two weekly columns
  • have just this week past been approached to share articles with a Canadian website
  • had an article rejected from a website because it was ‘too contentious’ and in the process got myself networked in with a bunch of amazing women and spoke with an actual news journalist about selling the story.

In addition our Reclaim project has got the attention of a major Australian parenting writer Pinky McKay and as well as a new parenting website starting here in Australia. And among it all – I feel there is a greater sense of balance between writing and family and time for myself. What I am struggling with is getting a balance between non fiction and fiction.  But I’m working on it.

And you?  How many ticks are on your list? What are you struggling with?  What one word would sum up your year to date and what word would you like to manifest through the rest of the year?

Image: Reflection in a sop bubble from Wikimedia Commons
3 Comments
  1. March 16, 2009 5:03 am

    You aren’t hearing any laughter or grimacing from me – that sound is guilty shame, as I STILL haven’t edited my work. How does a June deadline suit everyone? 😉

    I’m keeping track of my own objectives this year. At the end of each month on my blog I review my progress with my goals. Some are goals for the year, so cannot be fully complete. I have a target of six competitions to enter. So far I have only entered one, but there are three with closing dates in June I am aiming for.

    I also have a target of reading two books a month, so that’s always an achievement. One goal can’t be completed until November (NaNoWriMo!) so that one is always unfulfilled for now.

    I do have a goal of writing two pages a day, and I am seriously falling down on it. But it is good to keep yourself accountable regularly, rather than just at the end of the year.

  2. March 16, 2009 8:52 am

    I agree with being accountable on a regular basis. After I wrote this I thought about the KPI (key performance indicators) that many people have in their jobs – and the reviews that they get from their employers.

    That when we fly solo – we need to keep coming back and being accountable to ourselves – accountable for what needs to be done and what we can celebrate having achieved. There is no employwer to pull us aside.

    I realised it had been a while since I checked in … and wondered if other’s were in the same boat.

    Oh and June sounds fine? Any date in particular?🙂

  3. March 19, 2009 3:51 pm

    Reflecting on goals and resolutions. Very good article, its good to hear others have the same problems with maintaining regularity with reaching goals/resolutions made at the first of the year. We are accountable for our success as well as our failures.

    Good luck with your goals Paul and your expectations. Perseverance !!!!

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