Every year I like to write up a recap/resolution post. While I know that not everyone is into New Year’s Resolutions, I like taking at least one time a year when I reflect on where I am, where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Originally my yearly reflection was limited to me figuring out how many words I’d written the previous year. This started in 2006 when I started my ten year plan to become published, which was a fairly straightforward plan that consisted of writing, revising, and submitting a book a year.
I’d reached the end of the 2006 without finishing a book (much less revising and submitting it) and I was feeling down because I’d failed in my goal my first year out. So I sat down and counted up how many words I’d written in order to prove to myself that I was actively working toward my goal (in 2006 I wrote 171,701 words; in 2009 I wrote 348,100; in 2011 I wrote 361,952; and, in 2012 I wrote 172,548).
After several years of merely recording the number of words I’d written, I decided to add more information to my yearly recaps. I’ve said before that it’s really easy for authors to move the goal posts in terms of goals and accomplishments and so I think it’s important to record specific goals so that you can note when you achieve them and hold yourself accountable when you don’t.
To that end, I start each year’s recap/resolution document listing my goals from the year before and noting my progress — whether I achieved them, gave up on them (whether there was a reason to or not), or are still working on them. Then, I note other things I’ve accomplished that maybe weren’t set as goals. After that I list my word count for the year (and for my own personal use, I list these by project rather than cumulatively) and I make three lists: achievable career goals, dream career goals, and personal life goals. And then at the very end, I like to jot down a few brief paragraphs of where I want to be/ how I see my life this time next year.
I know this all sounds perhaps a bit over the top, but I love being able to open up a random year’s recap/resolution document and see a snapshot of my life. It allows me to see where I was at the time — what my priorities were, how I focused my time and energy. It’s almost like journaling in that way and it’s been interesting for me to see how my approach to my life and my career has shifted over the past several years.
So how did I do with my 2012 goals? As I mentioned here on Magical Words last year (link here), one of my big goals in 2012 was to do a better job getting the word out on my new releases. I failed miserably. There are a lot of reasons for this but at the end of the day it comes down to the fact that I still have a hard time juggling promotion and the rest of the business of writing.
Another big goal of mine in 2012 was to work toward a healthier me and this is one that I’ve achieved. In the past year I lost almost 70 pounds and started exercising regularly. One of my “where do I want to be next year” notes in 2011 was that I wanted to be in a place where I wouldn’t bat an eye at going hiking or doing something fun and physical and I’m ecstatic to finally be in that place.
Last year I wanted to take care of maintenance around the house (done) and begin decluttering and organizing (in progress, though I’ve made big strides in organizing finances with the addition of Quicken for my personal stuff and Quickbooks for my writing business). I also wanted to reclaim more personal time and to that end I try to leave my “desk” around 6ish and tend to take the weekends off if possible.
One of my biggest accomplishments career-wise last year is that I sold a new book series! The Pirate Stream is a middle grade series that I’m writing with my husband, JP, and we sold four books to Kate Sullivan at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The official announcement is here, and the first book, The Map to Everywhere, should be out in fall 2014.
As for my goals for 2013: other than finishing the first book in the new middle grade series and draft the second, I have a few writing goals that I don’t feel comfortable sharing until they’re farther along. But overall my goal is to get a lot of writing done (and I’d like to keep track of my writing the same way Holly Black does here).
In other 2013 work goals – the rights have reverted on several of my short stories and I want to get those put up online (which involves slight revising, getting covers made (i.e. learning how to make covers), formatting, etc etc). I also want to revamp my website.
My life goals are pretty much the same as they have been in years past — I want to work to maintain my health, read more, waste less time online, get better organized. Oh, the organizing… one of these years I’ll find a system that works!!
I began 2012 in an interesting place — I’d just signed with a new agent and there were a few family issues that dominated a lot of my emotional energy. I had several projects that I wanted to work on, but I wasn’t quite sure which would be the best use of my time which, ironically, meant I spent more time trying to figure that out rather than writing. I faced a lot of uncertainty and had absolutely no idea what life would look like at the end of the year.
Sometimes that’s just the way things go and all I could do is focus on the basics: writing, exercising, taking time to think. Day by day those smaller tasks built into something larger: a proposal, significant weight loss, a more balanced life. The cumulation of it all is that I’m starting 2013 healthier and with a new contract on a series that I get to write with my husband.
Last year I concluded my recap/resolution post talking about how easy it is to just put your head down and power through life and how important it is to step back and examine where you are and where you want to be. How important it is to make sure we’re living intentionally. Laini Taylor writes about this beautifully here — in fact, this is a post I’ve marked and re-read when I want to be inspired. In it, she asks: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
I think it’s a question we should all ask ourselves at least once a year.