Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013, and a Look Back at 2012

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and you're ready to face the new year and all its challenges.

I'm going into 2013 with a fresh perspective. I didn't realize how badly I needed a vacation until I took two weeks off, and spent the first four days stressed out because I wasn't working. That was an eye-opener for me, and one of the reasons why I cut myself off from the world for a bit. Seven days with no email, Twitter, Facebook--nothing. It was good to recharge the batteries and get a little distance on my day-to-day routine.  

I realized I needed a better routine.

So, based on this new perspective, here are my 2013 goals:

1. Stop making so many goals
Chance of success: 100%.  Failing this one would be pretty bad as I'm about to write them. More and more over 2012 I felt like I was being pulled in too many directions, and it was all my own doing. I wanted to do too much and there's just not enough hours in the day to do everything. This year, I want to focus more on what's important, and let the unimportant work itself out. I don't have to do everything.

2. Work less (and go to a five-day work week)
Chance of success: 80%. It's cliche, but I really do want to work smarter, not harder. Folks often ask me how I manage to get so much done, and the reason is I work all the time. Toward the end of the year, I was working seven days a week, most of them 10-12 hour days. That's just too much. The brain needs downtime. With the new blog schedule, I'm going to try to write my posts during the week and keep  my weekends free for offline fun.

3. Re-dedicate myself to the writing
Chance of success: 100%. I've let too many things distract me from my writing this past year, and it's time to focus. I have a solid schedule that works for me when I follow it, so no more slacking off. I've never been a words-per-day kind of gal, but I might try to set daily goals as well as my weekly goals for a bit and see if I can kick start the muse more easily. Burnout made me not want to be near a keyboard for a while, and I need to do something to get past that now that I've had a break.

4. Take better care of myself
Chance of success: 50%. I'm the first thing to go when I get busy, but I am going to try and eat better and exercise more this year. I know how much better I feel when I do it, so I can't understand why I don't keep up with it. I think it's because I feel I have to get other things done first, which just robs me of the energy to do the things that will give me enough energy to get everything I need to do done. It's a circle, and it's vicious. I hope that 90-minute thing will help here.

5. Find a good daily schedule
Chance of success: 75%. Rachel Gardener had an interesting post about working in 90-minute intervals I'm going to try. I started paying attention to how I worked after reading that, and noticed I did start to feel fatigued and need a break about 90 minutes into whatever I was doing. I know I get more writing done when I stick to my morning schedule, so I'm going to try to schedule my days better. Pick certain days to do certain things (which I used to do and stopped; not sure why) Plan time for exercise, getting away from the desk to stretch and clear my mind. I'm going to buy some timers and everything to help out here. I'm just not a multi-tasker (I tried, and failed this year), so I'm going to try smaller tasks per day and better planning overall.

2012 Goals: Did I Pass or Fail?

One of my favorite parts of these New Year's posts is the look back at what I did and did not accomplish. So here's how last year turned out:

Get the new YA polished and off to my agent and editor
Chance of success: 100%. Note there are no dates on when this will occur. This novel has proven to me that it’ll get done when it’s done, but it’s almost there. Crits come back in a few weeks and I’ll be ready to dive in and polish that sucker up. Pass: My agent has it now and I'll be getting edits back soon. I've gotten some fantastic feedback from friends as well, so I'm feeling good about the next draft. Not off to my editor yet, but that good for early this year.

Write at least one of the new MG reluctant reader series I have planned
Chance of success: 80%. I want to say 100% here, but until I know how the YA pans out I won’t know what my schedule will be. I assume I’ll have several months to work on a new project while agent/editor reads the YA, but you never know how these things go. Good news, these books will be short, and I plan to outline the snot out of them, so they should go quickly once I start. (Famous last words. Watch, these will be harder than Blue Fire was) Pass-ish: I've written about half of it, but it's missing something, so I stopped to figure out what. This was just before my break, so there's a good chance it's missing a writer who's not brain dead (grin). Looking at it with fresh eye will probably see the missing piece right away. 

Write another YA novel
Chance of success: 50%. A lot of this will depend on whether or not I sell the current YA project. (I hope so, and things look good for it, but you never know) The project could be a series, so if it sells as one, I’ll jump on book two. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably focus more on the reluctant reader project before I do anything else. All this can change of course if my agent has a better suggestion on where I should focus if it comes to that. Career planning and whatnot. Fail: The spy YA did indeed take more time than expected, so this didn't happen. But I did have a ton of ideas for new projects, so when I am ready to move to something new I have lots of options. Doubt that will happen this year though, not with the YA and the MG already on my plate.

Go to a few of the big conferences
Chance of success: 50%. I’ll attend a few smaller and local ones for sure, but I’d love to do a national SCBWI or RWA this year. And go back to Surrey. Not sure it’ll be in the budget though, as these things can be pricey. Pass: I presented at RWA Nationals this year, and did a ton of panels at FandomFest. Surrey was a no-go this year, but I still hope to get back there one day.

The Blogging Goals

Grow the blog

Chance of success: 100%. Well, 100% that I’ll do stuff to grow it. Whether or not it grows is out of my hands. But I plan to try several things, like:

  • Tweak the design to make it even more user-friendly
  • Write those dang e-books and get them out there
  • Write and submit articles to writing magazines
  • Do more guest posts and introduce myself to new readers 
  • Pass/Fail: The blog did grow by about 22%, and it did hit the one million page views mark, but I didn't get as much tweaking done as I'd hoped, and not as many articles submitted as I'd have liked. (Nothing new beyond the ones I've done in the past) I also STILL haven't done those vile ebooks. I do finally have a concept for them though, and several are in rough draft form, so I'm closer. I'd like to get those done this year, but I'm not going to make them a goal since they've proven to be a pain in the butt. I figure if I accept they'll get done when they get done, I'll actually get them done.
The Marketing Goals
New category! Marketing takes up time and is its own beast, so I think it deserves its own set of goals.

Be more active on social network sites in a way that doesn’t steal all my time
Chance of success: 50%. Yeah, I have doubts about this, as I haven’t been real successful here so far. But I miss commenting on sites like Absolute Write and keeping up with blogs and comments, and my poor Facebook page has been silent for far too long. There’s got to be a way I can do this and still get my writing, blogging, working and life stuff done. Pass: I've really enjoyed tweeting my writing links and book reviews, and that's been a great way for me to meet new folks. I've even been more active on Facebook, which is rare for me. I'll keep doing this in 2013 since it's working. And now that I've found a good program for scheduling tweets, it's even easier (thanks to Elizabeth Craig for posting what she uses for hers. Loving Social Oompf)

Do more events

Chance of success: 50%. This is really out of my hands, so I guess the better goal is “submit proposals to more events.” That I can do. But I’d like to get out there more and meet folks over the year. Both at writer’s conferences and reader festivals. Oh, and workshops. Those are always fun. Pass: Did a lot of events, a lot of travel, and met a lot of people. Didn't do as many school visits as usual, and that's something I'd like to get back to in 2013 if my schedule permits.

The Personal Goals

Re-do my office

Chance of success: 100%. My office was originally created for my day job, but that has slowed down while the writing has picked up, so I now need a better setup. I want to move some furniture around, shift files, put up more shelves, etc. Fail: I did plan out what I want to do though. On an excel spreadsheet with colored boxes and everything. But the hubby's office in the basement needed a makeover a LOT more than mine did, so we focused on him. (And it's looks fantastic).  We've already talked about getting mine done in January, so odds are I'll get to this early this year.

Eat better

Chance of success: 60%. I’m a junk food junkie, always have been, but this whole getting older nonsense makes it harder to eat like that and stay alive. Luckily, I like veggies and whatnot. I just gotta buy them more often, and then remember to eat them. And plan meals instead of hitting dinnertime and deciding it’s easier to eat junk than cook. Pass, then fail: Started out great, but the longer the year wore on the more I pushed myself, and the less I followed this.

Exercise more
Chance of success: 60%. If I can get back on a regular routine, this will be easier. Typically, as soon as something throws me off, exercising goes right out the window. Maybe if I move the Wii into my office. That way I can at least do the Wii-Fit yoga stuff in the afternoons when I need a break and need a pick me up. I have fun doing that. Pass, then fail: Ditto here.I do have plans to take exercise breaks after my 90-minute working intervals, so we'll see how this goes.

Have more fun
Chance of success: 80%. The last few years have been pretty hectic and crazy, and in 2011 I tried to take more time for myself. I did okay, and it’s time to carve out a little more me time. Except that me time is always the first thing to go when I get busy. (If you see me and I desperately need a haircut, you know I’m swamped). The hubby will help here though, which will increase my chance of success. He already has fun stuffed planned for us. Pass-ish: I did better here, and had more fun, though I didn't cut back the work half, just added more stuff to my plate.

Read more

Chance of success: 75%. I think I’m going to try to do one of those reading challenges, and read a book a week if I can. This will fit well with the more me time goal. Spending Sunday mornings curled up with a book is both fun and easy to do for me. If I can just keep myself from getting on the computer. I also enjoy reading before bed, so I need to keep a book on the nightstand as well. Different books most likely. I’ve found nighttime reading is better with lighter books. They’re easier to put down when you get sleepy. Pass: I did fairly well here, and read a lot of great books. I even branched out into some new genres I hadn't read before (like paranormal romance). 

Things I’d like to do but probably won’t

Start a vegetable garden.
I’ve wanted to do this for a year, but I think it’s just a recipe for dead plants. I want to go out every day and play in the garden, but actually doing it is another story. Pass: I'm as shocked as you are. Granted, the poor garden was planted all wrong, and much of it died, but I did take care of it and keep up with it until my bad gardening planning became clear. (and thus the garden was doomed). Plans to do it again this year are in the works, only this time, I'm consulting my gardening book to make sure I don't plant late fall veggies with early spring veggies and mix plants that shouldn't be planted in the same box.

Be more active on the author site blog
Right now, the blog part of my author site is more for displaying news, but I’d really love to make that a weekly post so I can connect to my readers more. Something like the Sunday Social I tried (and failed) to do here. I think I might be able to do a weekly “here’s what I did” type post, as long as there’s something interesting to talk about. Pass-ish: More active, yes, but active-active, not really. I tried to do a weekly blog post there, and succeeded a few times, but mostly it floundered. I'll keep trying, and sooner or later I'll figure out what works over there. It took me a long time to find my way with Twitter, so there's hope. 

So what about you guys? What are your goals for 2013?


  1. Happy New Year. You are a most industrious writer. You must be so proud to have accomplished so many goals. Best wishes for continued prosperity and writing success.

  2. Thank you for this - especially the 90-minute thing. My writing suffered in the latter half of the year when a number of things came up for my kids, plus I wasn't real happy with the way my writing was going. Seems like planning some 90-minute intervals might be a good way to get it all done in a week and still have some reasonable expectations for getting some decent output in those sessions.

    Happy New Year to you! And best of luck with the Vegetable Garden, Take 2!

  3. Very cool way to evaluate your year! I hope there are more lunch dates in this year's plans too! :) e

  4. You're awesome. I missed your face online this week, but I'm glad you took time for yourself. My goals are to write and draw every day even if I have to take a full time job again. I don't want to lose the habits I've built these last couple years. Thanks for always being such an inspiration. xo -cat

  5. Happy New Year! Loved reading your resolutions, Janice, and I share several of them. Whew! AND, one of mine, of course, is to get my monthly poetry column to you with oodles of time to spare rather than at the proverbial last minute... ;0)

  6. 2012 had some pass some fails but you were certainly productive and visible :-)

    2013 looks to be a wonderful new year so here's to hoping for a healthier, happier year of prosperity :-)

  7. You really are swamped. Best of luck with 2013.

  8. Happy New Year and good job on last years resolutions. I accomplished all of mine, including the publishing one. Kensington will publish the first three of my first series.

  9. This post makes me want to give you a hug! That "spent part of my break stressed because I wasn't working" thing was definitely me, too. I love your suggestions for a fresh perspective in 2013. :)

  10. Happy new year, Janice!

    I'm not brave enough to make an official list of resolutions like that, but I do need to take more time for myself to relax, and not guilt-trip myself for it.

    Somewhere in the madness of raising two new baby girls I have to also edit my second book and write my third!

  11. Linda, part proud, part sad I didn't do more. Crazy, I know :)

    Khanada, let me know how it goes for you. I really think the 90 minutes will help my days be more productive. The veggies thank you for your support, even though they are scared of me.

    Elizabeth, totally more lunch dates. I can think of a few gals I'm well overdue to hang with.

    Cat, good goals. Even doing a little every day can keep you on track. I've been wanting to get back into drawing myself.

    Robyn, lol that's a goal I can get behind :P We're in it together!

    Angela, thanks, to you as well!

    Sheena-kay, and all my own fault, too. I hardly noticed how much was piling on until it was too much. Just got to me slowly. :)

    Ella, grats, that's fantastic! We'll have to chat about you doing a guest post here when you launch :)

    Nicole, -hugs back- It's nuts how we don't notice how much we're working until we stop, isn't it? I guess it's worse when we love what we do. It doesn't feel like working sometimes.

    Paul, with two newborns, I think you should get a year's pass :)

  12. Happy New Year, Janice and welcome back.
    Your list is impressive.
    I wish you all the best for 2013 and I look forward to reading your new posts.
    I've have one goal...complete one task at a time.

  13. Tracy, that sounds like a great goal. That's my mantra on most days so I don't overwhelm myself. Helps me check things of my to-do list.

  14. Hi Janice,
    So far so good, but I'm only ending the fourth day. Color coding my "to do" list makes it fun.
    No need to respond, just enjoy your weekend off.