New Year, New Promises

We’re a couple of weeks away from Christmas, and so inevitably I’m starting to think about the New Year. Specifically, New Years Resolutions. I’m a bit of a stickler for setting them. I always have great intentions. January, I think, is built on great intentions. But I tend to falter after a couple of months, even when I think everything is fool proof. Part of the reason behind it, I think, is because I try to do too much. (Though, that said, I think I managed to keep my resolution to write every day for…eight months one year.)

Every year, I make promises to myself. Every year, I fail. This year, I’m going to try get a head-start on my resolution. I’m going to try introduce the habit required to keep it going as of today, in the hopes that it’ll become second nature for me to make time to do what I feel the need to do.

My resolution is simple: write every day.

My goals are more complicated. My goals will be changing with each month. Typically, I set about twenty of them for the year. Mostly they’re in my head, or jotted down somewhere no one will see them. That doesn’t really work, for two reasons:

  1. I have zero accountability for my goals.
  2. I scare myself off with too much work in my face, even if it’s actually possible to complete in a year.

Thankfully, this year things are different. This year, I have a plan and a writing group that meets IRL every week.

to do sample

One thing I want to try, for at least one month, is to write a flash fiction story every single day. I’ll probably attempt it in January, because I have no weekend events to schedule into the mix.

I’m also hoping to give a NaNoWriMo-scale writing challenge a shot at some point early in the year, because I failed so dramatically this year. (Just under 15K in…) I had a difficult time of November. I was working on a documentary, but more significantly I was helping in the moving of furniture and lives up and down the stairs in my house. I’m still finishing that work, but when I do I’ll have a proper workspace again. That’s important for writing, especially when attempting to write a lot in a day.

The broader goals for the year include:

  • Release a comic
  • Revise and update Planning Before Writing
  • Release a new book on writing
  • Publish The Blood of Leap
  • Redesign my website (if I don’t manage that before the end of the year)

I’ll also be releasing my documentary in the New Year. My plan was to get it out in November, but given how much that month sucked, and a few delays in production, I’ve pushed it back a bit. It also makes no sense to me to release it at Christmas time, when everyone is insanely busy. So, January – with a bit of luck. I’ll have time to craft a press release and a trailer for the launch of it, and it’ll be a nice lead into a year of comics, with a comic course in February to look forward to.

Some months will be different than others. Some goals could be accomplish-able in a day or two, depending on circumstances, while others could – by necessity or design – take the full month to complete.

For example, I might want to take 30 portraits in 30 days. I could have 30 volunteers over a weekend to have a photo taken of them, which would completely eliminate that goal straight away. On the flip side, I’ll be writing a flash story a day in January. Even if I write two in a day, that’s not a day off later in the month. It’s a habit building exercise, not a target towards ‘X’ amount of stories.

Some things are easier to do than others. I know I (probably) can write a flash story every day in January, even if I’m busy promoting the documentary. I know I can’t write a full book in March, because I’ll be preparing for K-Con in Kerry on April 1st. Every month, I’ll release my plans. Every week, I’ll update on my progress. And every time I’m setting my goals, I’ll remember to make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound), and maybe a little bit DUMB (Dream-Driven, Uplifitng, Method-Friendly, Behavior-Driven) in terms of what I’m setting.

Essentially, it boils down to setting goals that I think I can achieve that are related to my writing and media production dreams, that I can segment and measure each month. It might mean I write a first draft in February, and the goal for April is to edit it. It might mean that I write three comic scripts in March, but only focus on getting one of them made in June. These are hypothetical scenarios, of course, but the point is that if I want to do something like ‘Publish The Blood of Leap‘, I can break the workload down across several months if need be. I’m not bound to a single project for a month, and I don’t have to do everything for that project in a month.

I know myself well. I know that I’d struggle with too many projects to be worked upon in equal value at home. It’s something I’m working on, and I know that figuring out how best to divide my personal time up to get the most amount of work done on different projects is the best way to start this. 2017 will be a new year, and I’m going to try keep my promises to myself.

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About Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is a writer, born, raised and still living in Dublin. By day he's a student and bookseller, by night he writes fiction and uses social media.
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