It’s that time of year again. Time to look back on what I accomplished in the past 365 days, ascertain what I did right and what could be improved upon, and using that knowledge, set my goals for the coming year.
I’m not a fan of making resolutions, so when I discovered Chris Guillebeau’s wonderful 2008 Annual Review on his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity, I hitched on to the ride immediately. It’s the perfect scenario for those creative types who are working for themselves but still want some accountability. (Here’s the link to the actual post. Go on over there and take a read. I’ll wait.)
Okay, now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the system…
Last Christmas, with Chris’s template in mind, I set my goals instead of fretting about resolutions. My focus was on Work, Family, Self, Home, Knowledge, Health, Friendships, and an overarching “theme” goal focusing on enhancing my creative time by cutting back in other time consuming areas.
When I looked back on them today, I was pleased to see I’d achieved many of them, especially in the categories of writing, family and friendships. I’ve become much calmer, much more Zen about life in general, and my workflow is cleaner and more productive. I’ve surrounded myself with happy, productive people, worked hard, and played hard. This year was full of ups and downs, and if the goals were anything to go by, I accomplished about 80% of what I set out to do professionally, and 50% personally.
Not bad. It could have been better, but the trick to all of this is to be accepting of what you accomplished and not beat yourself up over the things that were left undone.
The Year of Evolution
This year, I set different goals. I went rather whole hog and named 2010 the Year of Evolution. I’ve altered my categories a bit to match with my current world view: Writing, Business, Self, Education, Health, Home, Family/Friends, and a Five Year Goals section. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details, but I have a lot on my plate for this year, including launching two books, writing another Taylor Jackson book plus proposals for future novels, writing a stand-alone, making my social networking more meaningful, working on my golf game, and taking the final steps toward a real fluency in Italian.
Setting personal goals and setting professional goals are very different beasts. My professional goals are specific, with dated estimates of word counts and draft completions. They are tangible. They guide me when I get off track, and force me to consider where I spend my time.
My personal goals are different, more amorphous. Take golf, for example: I want to drop ten strokes off my score this year. There are steps that need to be taken to make this a reality: join a club, hit balls twice a week, play at least once a week. Join the women’s league so I have accountability. Most importantly, carve those precious hours out of my already hectic schedule to make this happen. Trying to jump into this in a week is a sure-fire recipe for disaster – some goals must be worked on slowly, made supple and amenable.
Therein lies the difference. Personal goals I measure in steps rather than benchmarks.
The most interesting part of my goal-setting came about purely by accident. I’m no math major, but I got it in my head I wanted to know just how I spent my time last year. Push came to shove, I started thinking about word counts, and voila – I ended up with a breakdown, albeit estimated, of how much actual writing in did in 2009. What I found was disturbing, to me at least.
I wrote 505,938 words in 2009.
Only 136,738 were fiction.
A whopping 369,200 were non-fiction. Now, this includes email, but still, that’s insane. Email alone counts for 215,200 words. (I sent 2152 emails last year, so that’s an average of six emails a day at 100 words apiece.)
27% of my writing in 2009 was fiction. To break it down even further, I wrote on average 1386 words per day, 374 of which were fiction.
Considering I make my living as a novelist, I find that horrifyingly low. Granted, all my dates changed for my book releases, and I took a few months off during the summer to deal with some life stuff, so I didn’t do a lot of writing during that period. But that’s still not enough creative work versus business work.
The numbers were enlightening, to say the least. Twitter, which I joined in February, added up to 48,000 words. That’s 3200 Tweets at 15 words per tweet. Facebook must be about the same or even more, so it gets 48,000 too. Murderati blogs* came in at 45,000 (30 blogs at 1500 a pop), and I probably wrote another 5,000 words of original content for the Tao of JT. Add in essays and interviews, and we’re at 156,000 non-fiction words before email.
With the numbers in front of me, I can’t help but see just how much time I spend on non-fiction endeavors.
TOO DAMN MUCH.
A New Chapter
2010 is the year I turn things around. I’m going to make every non-fiction word count, utilizing Artist Data and Tweetdeck to post to Twitter, Facebook and MySpace simultaneously, eliminating over 1/2 of my social networking word count. I’m also going to be a much less frequent visitor to the sites.
My blogging will stay about the same, with 2 posts a week at the Tao of JT and bi-monthly columns at Murderati.
Email is a necessary evil, and if you think about an average of 6 emails a day, that’s not too bad.
Most importantly, I’m going to up my fiction totals tremendously. My word counts really should be in the 250-300,000 range, which I’ve achieved in the past.
My goals are set, my plan is in place, and I’m really looking forward to achieving all that I set out to do this year, and more.
How about you? Resolutions or Goals this year?
Happy New Year!
Rough Estimate of Words Written in 2009
(all numbers approximate)
Fiction Novels The Immortals 80,000 The Pretender 20,000 The Cold Room 30,000 Short Stories Killing Carol Ann 4,338 Chimera 1,500 Have You Seen Me 900 Total Fiction 136,738 Non-Fiction Essays The Charm School 3,000 Murderati Columns* (30 Blogs x Avg Words 1,500) 45,000 Tao of JT Columns* 5,000 Interviews 5,000 Total Non-Fiction 58,000 Work (2,152 Emails X Avg Words 100) 215,200 Total Work 215,200 Social Media (3,200 Posts X Avg Words 15) 48,000 48,000 Total Social Media 96,000 Total Fiction, Non-Fiction, Social & Email Word Count 505,938 % Fiction 27% % Non-Fiction 11% % Social Media 19% % Work/Email 43%
* I know most media analysts include blogging in the social media category. But since mine are more columns and essays, I’ve decided to include them in the non-fiction category.
Wine of the Week: 2003 Mosiac Merlot, Sonoma Valley