Here’s to 2016: What I’m Getting Done This Year

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It’s almost beyond parody these days to write a “new year, new me” post. It’s almost as much beyond parody to think that the changing of a calendar is meaningful enough for serious life change – the traditional New Years Resolutions never last beyond a few weeks, and they’re usually the same vapid “I’ll be a new me! I won’t drink anything!” stuff.

I myself am guilty of this; I sat in December 2014 setting out my stall for 2015 with a similar sense of deluded optimism; however, I have to say, I am pleased that 2015 is over. It’s a year overshadowed by some pretty deep and painful personal tragedies but also tumultuous change, which is scary, so yeah my goals went completely out of the window, but in a sense, especially coming to the personal tragedies (I’m not going to discuss them here, mainly as they’re intensely personal and people I want to know do already, plus again, I want to start 2016 fresh), I’m pleased they’re confined to 2015.

A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with a very close friend of mine about my goals for 2016 and he gave me some excellent advice that has really struck me: don’t make a list of New Years resolutions to be forgotten about by February if you’re lucky, or a list of hopes and dreams (or other sentimental nonsense) – make list of things you will get done in the new year. And so, I intend to do just that:

  • I’m going to make a concerted effort to do well in my university studies – I’ve already acknowledged that, with the first semester, I allowed a few personal gremlins to kind of allow me to sink into a few lazy habits. They’re going to be banished. I’m actually enjoying university and the challenge, on an academic level, it’s presenting; I know I can do well, and my confidence is there. Plus, I’ve got some good university friends who have backed me up thus far and I look forward to more mutual support from them in the coming semester.
  • I want to find more time to do more reading – I’ve let myself become lazy with my reading, both for pleasure and academic study, which is a shame as I love books. If I had to pick out of music, books, games and television, I’d have to choose books as my primary vessel of entertainment. I’ve gotten into using Goodreads as a social tracker of my book progress and I really do find it useful! One of the most important pieces of  advice for a writer is that to be a great writer one must be a great reader, so it’s about time I took that to heart! Looking forward to setting my goal for 2016!
  • It’s time I got back in the saddle with my writing – for reasons I pointed out initially, I’ve been a bit dry when it comes to writing my own stories for pleasure; my output in 2015 has been pretty barren compared to 2014. That said, I want to move on with a load more projects:
    • More short stories – I’ve learned some interesting tips and techniques, especially for characterisation, across 2015 and it’s time to put them into practise. I don’t want to bind myself to a set number/output (writing doesn’t happen that way), but if I could come out of 2016 with 6-8 short stories that I am truly proud of, I will be happy.
    • I want to fully outline my post-apocalyptic novel The Thaw by the end of the first half of the year – this is a project I do feel could be great, but that I need to step up and organise for fully. I want to be in a position to take a deep breath over the summer and actually have the first draft written before I return to University in September, so I want to make sure that the b ulk of the organisational work is complete before then.
    • I also want to commence editing proper on Mars Zero – it’s been too long since I approached this project, and there’s a lot of work to do. But I still truly believe this story is worth pursuing, especially if I work hard to “science” it up and make use of the skills I have learned
    • I’m still committed to make prose my primary format, but I would definitely like to complete work on my first short film script, possibly work on another concept I have and write a play (possibly to produce/direct toward the latter half of 2016)
  • Most of all, I want to make so much better use of my time. I allow my perceived lack of ability drain my confidence, and I procrastinate horrendously. If I make one big personal commitment, it’s to have more confidence in what I do and to waste less time. Sure, free time and low time is important, and I don’t want to be too rigidly-scheduled but it’s about tightening up and getting sh*t done.
  • Oh, and getting to 14 stone by the summer would be raaaaad.
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Plans and Resolutions for 2015

2014 has been a great year overall, and certainly one that I shall see as a definite milestone. With 2015 only a few solar cycles away, I’m addressing and setting out my stall for what I want to accomplish from the next year, just like I did before.

Workflow

I feel that especially in the last quarter of the year that my workflow has suffered a little, possibly in conjunction with my new university studies. Regardless, I’m resolved by a number of surprising academic results to tighten my ship and adopt a thoroughly revamped and refocused workflow that I hope will allow me to achieve more:

  • I will set aside five days a week to actually do creative stuff; of course, a couple of rest days will be most welcome. Can’t be all work and no play!
  • Adoption of the Pomodoro technique more rigidly. I feel this would correlate with my preference for short bursts of activity, as opposed to slogging out sessions (though I won’t rule those out). I’ll initially aim to focus my efforts in these sessions in these areas:
                    • Writing new prose, either as a short story or a potential new novel draft.
        • Writing my short film scripts; I’ve several ideas that I want to develop and at least have completed first drafts of
        • Concepting new ideas; ideally into single-page concept documents that I can pick up later.
        • Revising previously-written work for publication

 

  • Aim to publish a new short story on my website in the last week of every month.
  • Re-organise my digital workflow; I’ll be creating annual folders in my project file to keep a more organised track of the ideas and things I’m working on. A tidy house is a productive one

In terms of projects, I’ve a few goals there, too; especially for the first half of 2015:

  • January: produce and outline my new post-apocalyptic novel idea, Before the Winter
  • January – March: Write a first draft of aforementioned novel of at least 65,000 words
  • February: Finish and digitise my annotated notes for the second edition of my novel Colonisation
  • January – March: Finish and finalise the script for my short film idea, Doors
  • March – May: begin preparation and drafting for my second short film idea, working title of Mrs. Appleton

I’d also like to:

  • Submit a short story each month from either my current stock or new material.

Become an active member in the following organisations:

Personal

To achieve above I need to address a few key issues personally that I feel have bugged me and that New Year 2015 presents an excellent opportunity to address:

  • Rationalising my bedtime; I spend far too many late nights either wasting time online or watching TV, and I do suffer from fatigue as a result. I need to work to claw back some of my night-time for good quality rest away from burning my retinas on LCDs. My body clock needs resetting!
  • I will no longer be drinking carbonated drinks from January; I have proved I can go a month without Coke before and I feel that it’s something that’ll greatly benefit me. I’ll also hope to swap m y junk food diet for more fresh fruit and less ready meals. If I’m less tired, I’ll be more inclined to prepare my own meals.
  • Discovering more music: a couple of great Twitter friends have helped me get out of the 70s prog rock rut I’d nestled myself in and fill my shelves. I’ll aim to slowly but steadily increase my collection though services like Spotify but also through personal recommendations.
  • Reading more: an avid reader makes a great writer, so the adage goes, and I’ve let my progress slip a little. Again, I’m going to aim to do about half an hour of reading a night to tie-in to my bedtime reconstitution; reading being a great way to help the brain to wind down and prepare for sleep, especially away from an LCD. And you never know, it may even inspire something awesome!

So, that’s my list and I hope to make good of it. I’m also aiming to not let this get lost to the mists of time and I’ll be placing a printed version on my wall above my work station to remind me of these goals. I’ll aim to keep my blog updated with progress – there’s a few projects I couldn’t discuss here but should be absolutely awesome as I’ll be working with some absolutely great people and it should hopefully be a valuable experience.

This time next year I’ll want to be able to say I’ve got the following done during 2015:

  • Finished editing Colonisation
  • Written a new novel (and begun redrafting)
  • Written twelve short stories for a potential second anthology
  • Written (and started production) on my first short film
  • Lost weight
  • Treated myself to a year of decent sleep, music and books

See you on the other side, and happy new year!

Header image courtesy of HDWallpapersPics

New Years Resolutions

I thought it might be fun and interesting to talk about my goals for 2013.

I’m not going to bleat on about personal weight-loss and other quite vacuous topics (not that they’re being dismissed; quite the contrary) but I would rather today go into detail a bit about writing-y resolutions that have occurred to me.

  • Read more frequently – I have to be a great reader to be a great writer; therefore, I want to maximise my exposure to the work of others. I want to therefore get through a book every 2-3 weeks at the very least.
  • Get Colonisation out the door – I’ve had a few issues with the tardiness of beta-readers. Whatever, I’ve had assurances from more than one that feedback is incoming; saying that, getting my beloved Colonisation out in the first three months of the year is a priority.
  • Write a short story every month – I really do want to write more actual short stories (~5,000 words); I’ve seen they can be fun and good exercise. Again, practise makes perfect; I’ll need to capitalise on even the slightest glimmer of an idea – of which I have a lot – and work on them.
  • Complete the initial edit of The World Eaters by the end of August – I’m taking a bit of a different tack to The World Eaters than Colonisation; TWE is arguably a longer, more complex book but one I’m in love with, universe-wise. I aim to have it out by January 2014 at the latest, hopefully quite a bit earlier!

I hope this has been somewhat informative of what the year ahead has in store. I aim to put out a fair bit of original content, but novels I have found are an annual occurrence. In time I hope to be able to get more projects running concurrently but having about ten shorts and a full novel out by the close of the year seems a good plan.

What are you most excited about, readers? And if you have any suggestions or feedback; leave a comment! :-)