Thursday, December 29, 2011

Where Did the Time Go? A Year in Review. Kinda.

I don't know about you guys, but 2011 seemed to fly by. I had a lot of goals last year, and will be making some again this year, so I thought it would be fun to check back and see if I actually accomplished the things I set out to do. I am a bit surprised by the results.

The Writing Goals
1. Write my spy novel and have it ready to go to my agent by August.
Odds of success:
100% for the writing part, maybe 70% by August. Pass/Fail: The novel is done and currently with my crit group, but it never made it to the agent by August. I don't feel too bad about this one, because I love how the book is developing and we all know that some books just take more time. I also started later on it than I expected to.

2. Write a few short e-books on special writing topics.
Odds of success:
100%. Fail: I have some written on these, but I got distracted by redesigning the blog, which wasn't on the To-Do List. I did that instead of this early in 2011. No regrets there.

3. Do NaNo with an MG fantasy idea I have kicking around.
Odds of success:
50%. Fail: The YA novel took longer so this got pushed back. And I came up with another idea I like a lot better, so who knows when this book will be written.

4. Do a fun blog/NaNo tie-in idea I had last year.
Odds of success:
50%. Fail: Again, I blame the YA novel (grin). Had that been done by August, I would have had the time to do this. I did do a mini-NaNo Week though, so I did the spirit of some of this.

5. Finish a novel called "Creatures" that's almost done and had to be back burnered, and keeps getting back burnered.
Odds of success:
30%. Fail: This was a long shot so I'm not real surprised I didn't get to it. I actually forgot it was even on the list until I wrote this post.

6. Blog Tour!
Odds of success:
90%. Fail: I did do some guest posts but no actual tour. Things were too crazy by the time Darkfall came out.

The Non-Writing Goals
1. Exercise
Odds of success:
100% to start, 60% to finish the year. Pass-ish: I did manage to exercise more and get out and about, though this last month with all the holiday travel and craziness I haven't done squat. (or shall I shay squats? har har) But the hubby and I did get bikes, have gone riding, played Frisbee golf and did a lot of work in the yard. We were both more active overall.

2. Balance work, writing, and life better.
Odds of success:
70%. Pass: However, I learned that balancing things better meant cutting things out. I started taking at least one day a week off from writing, shut down for the day at a reasonable "end of work day" hour, cut WAY back on social media, and a little on blogging. I didn't stress as much over not being where I though I would be or doing what I thought I should be doing, (I still stressed, but I'm getting better at not stressing) and I have a much better idea of what matters most to me and where I should spend my time.

3. Read more.
Odds of success:
80%. Pass: I did read more in 2011, which I enjoyed. I also read some new and different genres than my own, which was fun. Some of my faves from the year: Across the Universe, Black Cat (currently reading the sequel Red Glove now), Will Grayson/Will Grayson, Hourglass, Cleopatra's Moon, Married With Zombies (and the sequels, Flip This Zombie, and Eat, Slay, Love). I'm sure I'm forgetting some, especially anything I read early in the year.

4. Get organized.
Odds of success:
70%. Pass: This surprised me more than anyone. I got my closet, kitchen, and garage organized, though I still want to do my office. I'm spending more time writing now than the day job stuff, so it's time to make a few changes to make the writing easier. And it seems the garage needs it again. Holiday decorations never get put back right at the end of the year. My fault of course, but this gives me an excuse to clean out the garage in January.

So what the heck did I accomplish?
A total redesign of the blog started my year, and was a huge success (my monthly numbers now are a tad higher than what my total 2009 numbers were). An update is in the works, but I decided to wait until folks are back from holiday/end of year busyness before talking about that more. (It involves hearing from you guys!)

I wrote a book and stretched my creative muscles by trying something I'd never done before (romance! eek). There's still work to be done, but I'm pretty happy with it so far. It has the potential to be really awesome, which is quite exciting. And terrifying, because it also has the potential to totally suck. But I guess that's true of every new book. I am feeling the pressures of "the next book" though, which makes me second guess every word I write. (that's probably a whole post in itself)

The hubby and I came up with an awesome idea for a reluctant readers middle grade series. This is a market I've been interested in ever since Erin Thomas' guest post here, and one I feel is worth pursing. I get emails from young readers who say they didn't like reading until they read The Shifter, and that's one of the best feelings ever. To be able to reach kids who like stories but don't like reading? Totally awesome.

I visited a lot of schools, met a lot of readers, participated at book festivals/conferences/events. I really enjoyed that and hope to do more in 2012.

I set up and learned how to Skype! Very cool, and I felt like I was talking to NASA. The ways the screen looks, and the slight delay reminded me of the videos the astronauts send back from space. This will make it easier for me to visit non-local schools next year, which I hope to do more of.

I learned how to paint Nerf guns and they looked awesome. More on that later, as there's a fun writing tie-in. (and pictures, you have to see the pictures)

Overall, I realized I've spent way too much time trying to do it all, and frequently spending time doing the wrong things. Between the writing, the blog, and the day job, I essentially have three jobs, all of which demand full-time job attention at various times. Nothing new here for writers, we all wear multiple hats, but it did take me a while to figure out all those hats are not created equal. You gotta prioritize, and when you do, you have to put "me and my family" at the top of that list. If you spend all your time working and worrying about work (be it a job, a blog or writing) you miss out on the things that give you the fuel and passion for that work.

I've been thinking about my 2012 goals, and they'll be a lot more realistic and hopefully doable. I tried to do too much this year and failed at most of it. But that's okay, because I learned from it and the really important things got done. I can see having a few lists for next year--things I want to do, and things that would be nice to do, but are probably not gonna happen. Goals to feel like I accomplished things, and goals to push to do just a little better.

How about you guys? How did you do for you 2011 goals? Ready to make new ones come January 1? (and share some here on my New Year's Day post?)


  1. At least you got some goals down.

    This year? Finish my very first rough draft of a novel! :D

    My goal? Submit my novel into a nationwide contest.

  2. Well, my goal was to finish or at least get further along on my novel. Instead, I started two other new novels, only one of which is related to my first novel. I hope to get all three done in 2012.

  3. Sounds like your New Year goals were a success. They gave you a way to measure what you were doing. :)

  4. I agree that 2011 went way too fast! :) My goal for 2012 is to finish my fantasy novel and start querying agents by Oct/Nov/Dec.

  5. Read widely and review books weekly across 12 genres: check.
    Write a novel: finished one first draft in May, finally started another WIP a few weeks ago and am halfway through my outline.

    Those were my main reading and writing goals. I definitely learned a lot from reading in other genres, and my current WIP is teaching me so much about my process. For 2012 I'm excited to reread books I've loved and delve into recent releases (including debuts) and to finish my current WIP and one other first draft.

  6. Awesome :) Keep it up! 2012 is going to be a great year.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  7. I so appreciate people who take the outlook of life changes and look what I still did that wasn't part of the plan. Good luck with the future and way to go!

  8. Not bad! Thanks for sharing how things went for you this year. For me, a fledgling writer, knowing how professional writers deal with their time and goals helps me fight anxiety and the annoying self-doubt.

    I didn't have any goals when I started this year, actually I was feeling lost and looking for a direction. The good thing is that I found it, and I started writing again, after a couple of years not doing so.

    I'm a little scared of planning new year goals, because I tend not to accomplish them and do other things instead. Still, I have plans for the first quarter of the year. It feels less daunting to make plans for three months instead of twelve. :)

  9. CO, great goals! And they work well together to keep you motivated.

    LinWash, ambitious, and good luck there :) How far did you get into them?

    Chicory, thanks, they did. It will be a lot easier to know what I can and can't get done this year.

    Michelle, a solid goal, and good luck there!

    Sophia, grats! Sounds like you had a productive year. Reading widely is so helpful, especially if you're reviewing them and looking at them critically.

    Sarah, thanks!

    Tasha, thanks! Life is like a plot :) It changes when you least expect it, hehe. But often that's when you find the really good stuff.

    Ceridwen, grats and writing again, that's wonderful. I think three month plans are just fine. Goals are there to motivate you and keep you on track for what you want, and if shorter ones do that better, then go for it. :)

  10. Janice, you accomplished SO much this year! Glad to see you did so well with your non-writing goals, especially the work/life balance. And I'm intrigued by the romance! ;-)

    Have a great 2012!

  11. Neat post; it's helpful to see how the goals apply to both writing and real life.

    My current goal was to finish my young adult novel and start querying. Won't quite have it queried yet, but I'm planning to start the process next week, so it's close. :-)