Allow me to sum up my year in one word: overfull.
For me, 2018 was full of personal milestones: I graduated from college, got married, then my wife and I got a house. Through all that + working a day job and volunteering for the Horror Writers Association and the Red Cross, somehow I managed to do pretty well on my creative professional goals as well.
All year, I’ve been following in the footsteps of my favorite podcast, The Mando Method, and publicly stating my goals as a way to check on my progress, hold myself accountable, and adjust future plans as necessary. I set my goals at the start of the year and did a mid-year review. Now, it’s time to declare what I have and have not accomplished in 2018:
- Finish and release two books with soundtracks. This goal was to complete my Masks trilogy of poetry books with soundtracks, which I didn’t quite do. The books Mask: Persona and Mask: Self have both been finished and released. I have recorded the Persona album; it needs some final mixing tweaks and artwork, then I can release it. I haven’t even begun work on the Self album.
- Finish my serialized novella. I did accomplish this goal by writing and releasing The Black Circle in monthly episode chunks on Patreon.
- Start a Patreon account with exclusive content. Thumbs up. I managed to release an average of 6 things every month + posted plenty of behind the scenes stuff.
- Start my first novel and/or interactive fiction. I have indeed started both. I worked on an interactive story during the summer but abandoned it to focus on other things. I used NaNoWriMo to write 11K words of my first novel. Not sure how smart it was to begin two projects on top of everything else I do, but I did meet the goal, lol.
- Write more short stories and poetry for market. This meant writing and submitting more than last year, and I did that by just a hair. Out of 20 submissions, I got two acceptances: Haunted are These Houses and Bards Against Hunger: Indiana Edition.
- Keep working on building my platform. This is a vague goal that is hard to measure. But this year, I grew my mailing list, did interviews with Write to Survive Podcast and Kendall Reviews, and wrote a guest post for Gingernuts of Horror. I also participated in two author events, which is a small number but twice as many as last year and a superb achievement for a mega introvert.
Overall, I would say I did damn well on meeting my goals, and I am proud of my small victories in 2018. In looking at where I fell short, I can identify three factors that are not excuses but circumstances I need to keep in mind when setting goals for next year:
- Moving and having a house. I had no idea what an impact this would have on my plans. Maintaining a home is a big responsibility and takes time away from doing other things. It is amazing having my own space dedicated to being creative. Now I just need to find the time to actually do it.
- Too many ideas a.k.a. difficulty prioritizing. This shouldn’t be a problem for a creative mind, except for when the ideas pile up faster than they can be implemented. I have a long list of projects in progress and an even longer list of next things to work on. How do I know what to work on next?
- Stretching myself too thin. Kind of goes along with having too many projects but also includes life, the day job, and my poor concept of time. I do get things scheduled and prioritized, eventually, and just having everything on paper in an orderly checklist relives so much anxiety for me. But as time goes by, I take on new projects, life throws curve balls, and I overestimate how much time I have to do it all. I need to be more realistic with how much I can put on my plate and always assume things will take longer than I think they will.
In fact, I am taking on less in 2019, and I encourage you to do the same. This past year, it seemed just about everyone was overworked, overwhelmed, and overly stressed out. I know I feel completely burned out right now. We don’t need that. We don’t have to be constantly multitasking, checking notifications, and reacting to every piece of misinformation that pops up in our never-ending feeds of distractions.
Unplug and take a break every once in a while. Disconnect and take a breath.
I plan on working hard and trying to exceed my own expectations no matter what life throws at me. But I will also remember to rest when I need to, take breaks and reflect on the moment, and cherish what truly matters to me: the health and happiness of my loved ones and of myself.
So, where to go from here?