As a writer, and as a person in general, it is important to self-evaluate to see what we are doing well and where we need to improve. One way I do this is by setting goals and then reviewing them to see how well I met them.
This year, I had three writing related goals:
- Complete the re-write of The Four Crystals.
- Write at least the first book in my chapter book mystery series.
- Read 50 books.
When I created my goals for 2019, I thought they were achievable. And, for the most part, they were.
Goal #3: I’ve read or listened to over 70 books.
Goal #2: I got Book 1 of my chapter book mystery series to a polished state and completed a rough draft of Book 2.
Goal #1: Although I made progress, I will not complete the re-write of The Four Crystals this year.
Meeting two out of three goals is not bad, and I have to remind myself of that, but my failure to complete my number one goal bothered me. When I reflected over why I had failed to achieve what seemed like a perfectly reasonable goal at the beginning of 2019, I came up with the following list of reasons I had not succeeded.
- I was in a musical during the summer, and between my day job and rehearsals, I did not have time to write.
- Instead of treating the re-write like the creation of a new rough draft, I attempted to create a first draft, which is a little more polished and takes more time to write. (My definition of a rough draft is the same as Allison K. Williams’ vomit draft, and my first draft is a hybrid between her story and character drafts. See “Optimal Editing.”)
- I am part of two writer’s groups and teach a weekly German class, so some of my free time is devoted to participating in and preparing for those activities.
Once I gave myself that reality check, I had to decide what to do with my discoveries so that I would meet my future goals.
- Summer Musical: I enjoy acting. Theater has been a big part of my life, but at this stage, writing has become more important to me than performing. I decided that unless a local theater was putting on one of my dream shows, I would take a break from acting until at least autumn 2020.
- Rough Draft versus First Draft: Although writing a first draft instead of a rough draft would not be time efficient for a new project, it is the right choice for The Four Crystals. I have a very clear idea of what I want the story to be, and I need to see whether or not my vision for the book is working. A rough draft would not help me to determine that, but a first draft would. I need to adjust my timeline for the re-write.
- Writer’s Groups and Teaching: Being involved in writer’s groups exposes me to genres I would not choose to read on my own, which benefits me as a writer. The feedback I get from the groups is beneficial and helps me to hone my craft. At this point, I think that staying active in both groups is the right choice. As for teaching, I made a commitment for the 2019-20 school year, but come 2020-21, I need to consider if offering a weekly language class is in the best interest of my writing career.
What I took away from my goal evaluation is that I still have room for improvement when it comes to time management and that I need to be even more selective when committing to different activities. At least my 2019 goals were more realistic than the ones I set for 2018. I am learning and improving!
As 2019 comes to a close, I highly encourage you to look over your own goals for 2019 and determined what worked, what didn’t, and why. Then, apply what you learned when creating your 2020 goals.