Saturday, January 14, 2012

Goals for the New Year

It may be a little late, two weeks into the new year, but I'm using my first blog entry of 2012 to put out what my goals for this year will be.  
First, I need to tell you that 2011 was a very, very good year for me.  Unlike most people, I was sorry to see it go.  I'm hoping to build upon my successes from last year in 2012.  To that end, I've selected the following as the things I would most like to do this year.
Half a Million Words
By the end of 2011 I had written 495,892 words.  I keep track of my daily word count in a spreadsheet, along with the time spent writing and the project I'm working on.  It wasn't until two or three days before the end of the year I noticed that I was that close to half a million words.  With all the holiday stuff going on, I wasn't able to schedule any extra time to reach that milestone.  So I decided to make it my goal for this year.  It comes to about 1,400 words a day, which is a bit more than my previous daily goal of a thousand words.  Obviously I tended to go past my daily minimum on a regular basis last year to be so close.  I think it's a very doable goal.  
Why pick this as a goal?  Why not say I want to sell a dozen stories this year, or that I want to get my novel published before 2012 ends?  Those are things I want to do, that I'm striving to do, but they are also goals that rely on other people in order to achieve.  One of the qualities I want in my New Year's resolutions is to make it something I can do on my own.  Focus on my own behavior.  Making sure I sit down every day and write a certain amount is entirely within my control and is the basis of achieving those other ends.  
A Blog Entry a Week
This one will be harder.  I was hoping to do this last year, but fell short.  I've already missed the first two weeks of this year as it is.  But that's not a reason to not give it a try.  A record of 50 "wins" with only two "losses" by the end of the year would be a good one.  
One of the problem I have with writing these blogs is my uncertainty over who might be reading them.  It feels a log like stuffing a message in a bottle and throwing it into the sea.  Another is figuring out what my purpose is in doing it.  "Everyone" says that, as a writer, I need to develop my online presence.  I need to use social media to build an audience.  I'm not sure what that means.  I'm still trying to get published on a consistent basis.  For now, I'm operating on the "Fake it until I figure it out" mode of thought.  As soon as I 'get' what I'm trying to do, I'll let you know.  
Submit One New Story Each Month
Another hard one that I've failed to achieve in the past.  But as with blogging, I'm going to give it another try.  
I want to be faster as a writer.  I'm not.  It takes me weeks to develop an idea to the point where I have enough to start writing about it.  It will take me two or three drafts, or more, to figure out what I'm trying to say and the best way to say it.  This frustrates me.  I remember something I once heard J. Michael Straczynski once said, that he strove to be faster than those writers better than him, and better than those writers faster than him.  I'd like to shoot for something like that, too.
I have looked at my process in this light and I think I've come up with something of a solution.  At least a way of tackling the problem.  What I used to do was work on something until it was complete.  Get the idea.  Develop it.  Write it.  Rewrite it.  Submit.  I would go on to the next thing.  
What I'm trying to do now is figure out how to keep several projects moving along at the same time.  This last couple of weeks I wrote out the beginnings of a couple of story ideas I've had in my mind for a while.  At the same time I'm writing the third draft of the opening of my novel.  In between I'm rewriting a draft of another story I finished some time ago to get it ready to submit by the end of this month.  It's a bit like herding cats, but I'm trying to keep a bunch of things moving forward in all their different stages at the same time.  That way there will always be something new to work on and something I've worked on ready to finish and send out.  Check back here to see if it works.  
I Want to Protest Something
Everyone is doing it these days.  Time magazine even named the Protestor their Person of the Year for 2011.  It seems like something to do.  
Seriously, though, there is a lot of stuff I dislike about how things are in this world.  I grew up in the sixties and yet I've never gone out and expressed my displeasure publicly over something.  Watching all that has  happened this year, and listening to the comments of other people sitting on the sidelines with me, makes me think that I need to take more of a stand from time to time.  
I Want to Volunteer to do Something
This is the flip side of wanting to protest something.  It's easy to point at something and say, "that's wrong."  It's harder to figure out what to do and do it.  The Occupy movement is a good example of this.  Do I think things are unfair?  Yes.   Do I think the wrong people are getting the blame, and that people more responsible for the problems are reaping the benefits?  I think there is truth to that.  Do I empathize with the people who are camping out and marching and carrying the signs that express these sentiments.  Definitely.  
Do I think it will make a difference?  That is where uncertainty creeps in.  In a way it's a lot like having an idea for a story and being a writer.  I've met so many people who have said they had a great idea for a story, but were worried about how to protect it so no one else would steal it.  Ideas are a dime a dozen.  Actually, if you bought a dozen ideas for a dime you were overcharged.  It's only when you convert that idea into something concrete, and work out whatever flaws it might have, that it becomes something of value.  It turns into something that can move other people, to laughter or tears, and maybe get them to do something, like buy the next thing you write.  
I don't want to just be someone who says, "I don't like this."  I want to be someone who does something to fix it.  I used to do things like this as a kid.  I want to try it again as an adult.  

I'm going to leave it there for now.  There are other things I want to do: Save more money.  Sell more stories.  Go to WorldCon in Chicago and Comic-Con in San Diego.  As well as more personal things.  But they are all things I've done before, or which are already part of the schema of my life.  The ones above are about changes I want to make in my doing that I think I need to do in order to get to where I want to be.  
2011 was a really good year, I thought.  I want 2012 to be even better.  As I posted on Facebook on New Years, I'm looking at 2012 as being something of a roller coaster ride.  We've just begun the long climb up.  I'd like to see everyone stepping off at the end year, dizzy and giggling, wiping our brows and saying on a laugh, "Let's do that again!"  
Happy New Year Everyone!


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