Tag Archives: resolutions

2013: The Obligatory Goal-Setting Post

Photo by Harold Neal

Happy 2013! I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season, and has hit the ground running in 2013. I know I did.

And what would the start of a new year be without the obligatory look back and look forward of a goal-setting post?

As I said last year, I’m not a believer in namby-pamby resolutions. But I love me some SMART* goals. So let’s look at how I went with last year’s goals and then I’ll share this year’s goals with you. You’ll keep me honest, right?

Last Year

Complete First Draft of TNT#1

This time last year, I set myself the goal of completing this first draft by April 30. That date came and went, so I revised my target and set a goal to complete this first draft by September 30. Again, that date came and went without me coming close to achieving the goal.

Research and Plan Novel B

I didn’t even get close to doing this. Bzzzzzt!

Social Media

I originally had a variety of social media based goals to accomplish. But as the year went on, and I embraced this blog, Facebook, and Twitter, social media become a part of my life rather than another task to be completed. I removed any SMART goals based around social media when I revisited my goals in July.

Write and share 26 Flash Fiction stories

When I looked at how I was tracking in July, I’d only posted 2 new flash fiction stories on my blog. I put my head down and worked on writing more FF and by the end of the year I’d posted 15. Although I didn’t hit my initial goal, I’m pretty happy with that result.

Write and submit 6 short stories to fiction markets

I only submitted three over the course of the year, but again I’m pretty happy with that.

Read 50 books

This was one goal I completely blew out of the water. I read 69 books during 2013, and loved taking the time to immerse myself in reading. And I truly believe that doing so has had a positive effect on my writing as well.

Lose 8kg (17lb) and maintain fitness

I didn’t quite make my goal, unfortunately. But I did lose 6kg (13lb), which is great. (Honestly, I’m just thrilled not to have put back on the weight I lost during 2011!)

Overall

I’m pretty happy with my progress over 2012. Although I didn’t meet my writing goals, I made significant progress toward them. And, more importantly perhaps, my confidence in my writing improved and I met a lot of other writers online. I feel that 2012 was a positive year, and I can’t wait to take that positivity forward!

2013

This Year

Complete First Draft of TNT#1

With my new writing plan in place, I will continue to write every day. This will allow me to complete my first draft by 1st March.

I will then do a single revision pass to fix the continuity errors I know are present (because I changed the direction of some of the characters midway through the novel), which will be completed by 1st May. Then I will let it sit and marinate for a while before doing a second revision pass. This will be completed by 1st October. Then it will be in the hands of my Beta Readers.

Complete First Draft of Novel B

When I’m not working on TNT#1, I will use my creative time to start writing Novel B. I will complete this first draft by the end of 2013.

Write and share 12 Flash Fiction stories

Once a month I will write and share a Flash Fiction piece on my blog. These stories will be written during the time I set aside for blog writing, not during creative time.

Write and submit 6 stories to contests/fiction markets

I will identify 6 contests and fiction markets I would like to write for, and use my creative time to write short stories to submit to them.

Read 75 books

This is a slight increase on last year’s result, and means reading 6 or 7 books per month. To achieve that goal, I will continue to listen to audiobooks in the car, keep a book in “the smallest room”, and carry a book with me everywhere I go so I can use every spare 5 minutes for reading. I will also do my best to minimise my “Good Book Hangovers” (that feeling after finishing a great book where you can’t bring yourself to start a new one and say goodbye to the characters you love).

Overall

This is the year I want to push myself to the next level, and make that commitment to treat writing like a real job. No more excuses. No more “I don’t feel creative” or “I don’t have time” or “I have to do the washing/ironing/cooking/cleaning/whatever”. I’m ready, 2013.

Bring it on.

What goals have you set for 2013? (Feel free to share the link to your own obligatory goal-setting post!)

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*If you don’t know what a SMART goal is, you’re missing out on a great tool for success. There are plenty of resources in print and on the interweb to explain how SMART goals work, so I won’t go into too much detail. Let it suffice to say that any goal you set should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-based
  • Realistic
  • Tangible/Time specific.

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Mid-Year: Time to Review Those Goals

Back in January, I set myself a series of goals for 2012. Since the start of July is halfway through the year (and a new financial year in Australia), it seems like a good time to officially review how I’m tracking with my goals, and adjust them as necessary. So, with no real ado at all, let’s get into it.

Writing

Novel A (hereafter referred to as TNT#1)

  • Complete first draft by 30 April.

I’m not even going to go any further. I didn’t succeed in this, and so certainly didn’t/won’t succeed in the other goals based around TNT#1. There are a few reasons for this, the two most notable being that (1) I found myself “stuck” on plot elements back in February and have only just figured them out, and (2) I took a break from all things computer-related back in March — including writing, as it turns out.

I’m not really disappointed in this. I’m just as enthusiastic about my manuscript, and feel in a stronger position to write it now. So I’m officially revising my goals to the following:

  1. Complete the first draft of TNT#1 by 30 September.
  2. Revise and rewrite TNT#1 based on feedback from Round 1 beta readers by 31 December.

Novel B

  • Research and plan Novel B by 30 May.
  • Begin working on first draft of Novel B before end of year.

I haven’t done any real research into this novel, although it’s still bouncing around in my head. It’s gaining strength and momentum in there, which is great. I’m confident that I will begin working on this first draft before the end of the year, so will simply revise the first part of this goal.

  1. Research and plan Novel B by 31 October.
  2. Begin working on first draft of Novel B before 31 December.

Social Media

Obviously I stopped pretty much all social media for 3 months, which wasn’t in the plan. But, all in all, I’m quite happy with this falling into a secondary place in my priorities. In fact, I’m so unconcerned by it that I’m officially removing it from my list of goals.

Short Stories

  • Post 26 flash fiction stories on my blog.
  • Submit 6 short stories to fiction markets.

Well, I’ve so far posted two (yes, two) flash fiction stories this year, and submitted no stories to fiction markets. I’d say that’s a big, fat fail on this front. Still, there’s still six months to go. I’m not actually going to adjust these goal at all — I’m just going to actually start working towards achieving them!

Reading

My goal for this year was simple: Read 50 books.

So, how am I go? Well, when I look at my handy dandy book tracker, it tells me that so far this year I’ve read 38 books.

Thirty-eight!**

Somehow I think I’m got this goal covered.

Other

My other goal was to lose another 8kg (17lb) this year. So far, I’ve lost about 4kg (9lb), which is about perfect. I’ve swapped from using my potentially homicidal Wii-Fit for exercise, to a kids dance game on the Wii that gives me a great cardio workout whilst simultaneously making me look like an ungraceful gallumphing git. So, you know, it’s win-win. Kinda.

Revised 2012 Goals

  1. Complete first draft of TNT#1 by 30 September.
  2. Revise and rewrite TNT#1 based on feedback from Round 1 beta readers by 31 December.
  3. Research and plan Novel B by 31 October.
  4. Begin working on first draft of Novel B before 31 December.
  5. Post another 24 flash fiction stories on my blog by 31 December. (For total of 26.)
  6. Submit 6 short stories to fiction markets by 31 December.
  7. Read another 12 books before 31 December. (For total of 50.)
  8. Lose a further 4kg (9lb) by 31 December. (For total of 8kg.)

How are you tracking with your yearly goals? What changes/revisions/adjustments have you made?

** For a while, I was posting notes on each of the books I read — not so much a “review” as details of the book and my opinion of it. Did anyone actually read them? Did you like them? Or were they a waste of time/space that I could be doing something else — like reading more books?

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Monday’s Top 5 (Better Late than Never)

Yes, I’m a day late. But in all fairness, it’s still Monday somewhere. Probably.

To start us off today, I’d like to once again mention Dan of Making it Up As I Go… He has a very well written and considered article this week about why he is Choosing to Self-Publish. As I’ve mentioned before, I intend to pursue traditional publishing for myself. However, I’m all for self-publishing when it’s done for valid reasons (as opposed to the old “traditional publishers are just trying to rip us off, man!” or “gatekeepers are evil!”). Dan’s post is full of great reasons that he’s taking the self-publishing route, but more importantly (in my opinion) he addresses a question that too many writers completely ignore: Why do you want to be published?

The Surfing Pizza this week brings us a great story about listening to music on vinyl, Living in the Analog World, and finding a rare gem in an unlikely place.

Before even walking in, you can tell this is the perfect kind of bookstore, the kind roughly the size of a closet. At least a master bedroom closet. Old light bulbs with metal filaments give off an apricot glow. Musty wooden shelves press to the ceiling and loom over—or perhaps more accurately, hunch over, like old giants. And if you are quiet, and if you listen carefully, you’ll swear you hear those shelves breathing, the sounds of giants harrumphing over us mere mortals below.

Are you sick of reading New Year’s Resolutions posts yet? I have to admit that I’m not. I love reading about the goals people have for their life and their year. And amongst the resolution-overload, there are always some shiny gems waiting to be discovered. This post from Mommy Rotten (“I’m the mom who makes you feel better about your own mothering. By comparison.”) isn’t really about resolutions, but her Guilty Pleasures make for great January reading. In her own words:

Everybody has them.  Every January I kind of take stock of my guilty pleasures to see if I should or would give any of them up in the interests of making myself a better person.  I usually don’t.  But I thought it might be fun to take you all on this futile journey of self un-improvement with me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I spent my entire school life being bullied. I promised myself back then that I wouldn’t let the same thing happen to my own children. As my eldest son gets ready to start school (two weeks to go!), the subject of bullying and how to empower my children to deal with it, is often on my mind. There are many strategies to ensuring your child doesn’t have a “victim” mentality, including fostering a healthy self-esteem, but what to do when that isn’t enough? Enter the wisdom of Wendy Thomas.  Her post this week details the conversation she had with her daughters about what to do if they are bullied.

“No one has the right to say or do anything that makes you or anyone else feel bad. In the future, if someone says something to you in order to bully you, or if you hear someone say something to someone else specifically to make them feel bad, I want you to let that bully know that his behavior makes you angry. Very angry. I want you to look that person right in the eye and at the top of your lungs I want you to shout – continue reading

And to finish on a lighter note this week, I’d like to draw your attention to Peas and Cougars, where Rae shares her “love” for Captcha verification. Check out her cartoon: Captcha Bitch.

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Celebrate! It’s a new year!

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had safe and happy celebrations, and you’re excited about the new year. I know I am. I love beginnings — of books, movies, jobs, weeks, months, years, anything really. A beginning feels like it’s bursting with potential. The future could hold anything. So it is with great joy that I approach another new year.

This year will be a big one. My eldest son starts school (well, kindergarten, but whatever), my youngest turns 1 and steps further away from true babyhood, and I’ll graduate from my mid-thirties to being “closer to 40”. Plus, of course, there’s so much opportunity for personal growth and change.

I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I think they’re silly. They tend to be ridiculous things like “lose weight” or “get fit” or “watch less TV”. They’re stock phrases that mean nothing.

I love goal setting, on the other hand. Real goals. SMART* goals. And although I reflect on, revise, and rewrite my goals regularly, the new year seems like a nice time to sit back and do it again.

Writing

Last year, I set out in April with the idea that 2011 would be the first year that I really sat down and turned writing from a sometime hobby and dream into a career. With that in mind, I set a number of goals for myself:

  • Finish the first draft of Novel A by October 31. Send our for beta reading.
  • Write the first draft of YA Novel B during NaNoWriMo, finishing by November 30.
  • Rewrite, revise and edit Novel A by December 30, readying for querying.
  • Start and maintain a blog, building to become part of an online blogging community.
  • Submit 8 short stories to competitions.

So, how did I go?

  • I realised early on that with the pressure/time constraint of raising two children and having a shift-working husband, I would never reach my self-imposed deadline for Novel A. I tried writing 100 Words a Day to some small success, but the system didn’t quite work for me long-term (despite the fact that I love the idea). I played around with a few other time-finding methods before I finally worked out how I could find the time. I then revised my goal to wanting to write a minimum of 5000 words per month (preferably 10,000). I did that in October, and reset my goal to wanting to complete the first draft of Novel A by April 30, 2012.
  • Since I was on a roll with Novel A, I chose not to participate in NaNoWriMo, and to further develop and plan my idea for YA Novel B. I still want to write it, and think it will be better now than if I had written it when I originally planned.
  • No revising was done. But I did find a great critique partner in real life, and a few great critique partners online whom I fully intend to utilise when I’m up to that point. I consider that a win.
  • My blog is great. If I say so myself. I wrote 168 posts in 2011, had just over 17,000 page views, have 102 subscribers, and feel like I’m actually part of multiple blogging communities — both in the writing blogosphere and the parenting blogosphere. And I’m thrilled and honoured to be part of it all.
  • I actually only submitted 5 short stories to competitions, but I was shortlisted for two of those (even if I didn’t win), and had one published in an anthology. I also realised that short story writing is not my forte — I’ll stick with novels and flash fiction (1000 words or less). I participated in a number of online blog-based flash fiction competitions, mostly the ones run by the ever-amazing Mr Chuck Wendig, and had 3 winning pieces: Wish You Were Here, Grudge Match, and Pest Control

So, how do my writing goals look for this year?

Novel A

  1. Complete the first draft of Novel A by April 30 and send to beta readers.
  2. Rewrite, revise and edit Novel A based on suggestions and feedback from beta readers by July 30. Send to second round of beta readers.
  3. Revise and edit Novel A based on suggestions and feedback from beta readers by October 31.
  4. Begin query process for Novel A by November 30.

YA Novel B

  1. Research and plan YA Novel B by May 30. This is something I don’t normally do, but the setting and subject matter of this novel is something that I can’t just “make up as I go along”, so I really need to put the hard yards in first.
  2. Begin work on the first draft of YA Novel B. (Due to be completed by February 28, 2013.)

Social Media

  1. Continue blogging. (As if I’d stop now, this stuff is addictive!)
  2. Buy a domain name, create a website/blog of my very own, transfer everything from here over to there, and then make it all better. Note: I have no idea how to do any of this. Complete the transition by 30 June.
  3. Join twitter and learn how to use it. I’ve done the first part (yay me!) but now need to work out the second. I’d like to have this all under control by June 30 as well. In the meantime, please follow me and I’ll follow you back and we can work it out together. Or, at the very least, my home page won’t be covered in zeros! You’ll find me @JoEberhardt.

Short Stories

  1. Continue participating in flash fiction contests — at least once every second week, for a total of 26 entries this year.
  2. Submit 6 flash fiction stories to short fiction markets.

Reading

I started 2011 with the intention of “reading more books”. That’s exactly the type of non-goal resolution I hate! Technically, I suppose I succeeded. I have no idea how many books I read in 2010. I have no idea how many books I wanted to read. And I only started recording the books I’d read after April, when I started blogging.

Since I started recording them, I read 22 books in 2011. On one hand, that’s quite good. But on the other, that’s way less than a book a fortnight. And only one of them was a particularly large book. Most were in the 250 – 350 page range.

So this year, my goal is to read 50 books. That works out to be one a week, with a couple of “reading breaks”. I have a feeling some of the books I read may well be research for YA Novel B, which will do double duty in the goal stakes. Just the way I like it.

Other

While I do have some more personal goals, I’m not going to tell you what they are. Sorry. They mostly revolve around my relationships with others, my finances, and my family. But the one “other” goal I will share is my weight/fitness goal.

This time last year, I was 8 months pregnant. I’d been overweight when I fell pregnant, and by the time I was 6 months along, I felt like I was the Goodyear Blimp. I barely had enough energy to get out of bed. I didn’t set any real goals based around my weight, because I was pregnant. Did I mention I was 8 months pregnant?

Anyway, after Baby was born in early February, it took my almost 3 months to recover from the caesarean. By then, I realised that I still felt like a blimp. And that, in turn, made me feel old, unattractive, and ungainly. (Please note: none of this is based on how I looked — just on how I felt.) So I took up jogging (which I hate), started watching what I ate, and hoped for the best.

Nothing happened. Except that I felt miserable when I was jogging.

Then we were given a Wii Fit and, despite it’s occasional sociopathic moments, I turned a corner. I found exercises I could enjoy in the comfort of my own home. I looked at how and when I was eating, rather than what I was eating, and I started to develop toned muscles and lose fat.

Bliss.

This time last year, I was 8 months pregnant. This year, I’m not. That alone accounts for a weight loss of a good 8 – 10 kg (17 – 22 lbs). But I actually weigh a grand total of 26 kg (57 lb) less. And, more importantly, I’m physically stronger, more active, have greater physical stamina, better balance, and I feel great in my body.

I’m officially within the healthy BMI range for my height, and I’m still about 8 kg (17 lb) above my “ideal” weight. 

My goal for this year is to lose that 8 kg, and continue working on my health and fitness through maintaining the exercise and eating routines I’ve developed over the last six months.

Looking Forward 

I’m excited about what this year brings. What about you? What are your goals? How are you going to achieve them? Do you regularly goal-set throughout the year, or are you a “New Year’s Resolution” kind of person?

*If you don’t know what a SMART goal is, you’re missing out on a great tool for finding success. There are plenty of resources in print and on the ‘net to explain them, so I won’t go into too much detail. Let it suffice to say that any goal you set should be Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Tangible/Time specific.

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