All set for the new year with a bunch of plans

I really do love the beginning of a new year. Everything meanders to a halt over Christmas and the first week of January, giving me time to relax in the sunshine before drawing in a deep, deep breath.

As usual, I have a bunch of plans for this year, some involving creative endeavours, others not. Mostly they don’t involve introducing anything new (although one never knows, of course), but rather my focus will be on doing certain things better and making steady progress forward in others.

On the writing front

This will be a year of novel revision for me *cue angelic choir*. The dreaded first draft of my current project is complete enough for rock and roll, and now I arrive at what for me is the fun part. The first draft has been a massive undertaking, but now I get to work it into something worth reading. There are characters to flesh out, subplots to strengthen, scenes to add, scenes to delete, scenes to modify, words to review, layers to add… I daresay you get what I mean.

Whenever I finish a draft of anything I can’t help but speculate on how much better it would be if I only introduced X, Y and — ooh, yes, Z! Invariably this leads to more revision than I originally anticipated.

But building up a story to achieve my vision is the part of writing I love (and tend to spend too much time on), so I am massively looking forward to revising this novel. I have no idea how long I should allow myself to do this. I know some people revise novels in a couple of months, but I can’t see that happening with me. I think if I get it done this year I’ll be satisfied. Quicker would obviously be ideal.

I’m not going to start immediately, however. Before I immerse myself in novel revision land, there are some other things I need to do first — primarily surrounding getting myself established as a self-employed person. This needs some care and attention on my part, and to focus on this, I need to not be plotting how to fit in a daily writing session…

Time management

Pretty much every year I identify the need for improved time management, but now I’m working from home it’s ten times more imperative. Somehow I need to balance billable work, non-billable development of my fledgling ‘business’ (it seems so weird to use that word), writing sessions, reading, blogging… and allow for some general relaxation.

image courtesy Steve Grosbois under a Creative Commons license.

image courtesy Steve Grosbois under a Creative Commons license.

When I had a salaried position, all I had to do was turn up to work and worry about how to schedule my so-called leisure hours. Work was the default and writing/blogging/reading had to fit around it. Now — ahem — it’s all too easy to put writing first and fit paid work around that. All very lovely in theory, but I suspect I’ll end up homeless and broke if I continue to do that… Hence the desperate need for better time management! I suspect I’ll be blogging a bit about my adventures in time management this year.

Having said that, I do intend to enjoy this life choice I’ve made. A large part of my preparations this month will involve determining what productivity goals are realistic on all fronts, bearing in mind I still intend to write in cafes from time to time and take long lunches in the sunshine.

coffee-face

And then…

My most prominent extra-curricular time-out activities from last year (not involving cafes) look set to remain so in 2014. I am referring of course to my more-or-less monthly Dungeons and Dragons sessions and the weekly SoulSong choir (along with ancillary activities), which easily proved the best new thing of 2013. It’s been simply fabulous to get away from the screen one night a week, dance, sing and make a great bunch of new friends.

On top of these I have pledged (again) to read more books this year. Dammit, last year was a disaster! One tactic I am considering is nominating a screen-free evening every week, whereby I read instead of writing/blogging/watching TV. The kindle screen will of course be exempt from the ban. Another possibility is to enforce a ‘no phone in bed’ policy.

My goal is to read (on paper or e-ink) a minimum of one book a month. Audiobooks will be on top of this. Hopefully I can exceed this tally, but given recent habits I want to set myself an achievable goal.

Somewhere in there I want to improve my exercise regime as well. And lose 5kg. Yeah, yeah, I know. Who doesn’t?

As for last year’s goals…

Last year I also declared my intention to:

  • Transform my study into a writing nook — I never did get the new desk/chair/computer etc, but it’s still definitely on the agenda, because my study is now my work space. As a result, I haven’t been doing a lot of fiction writing in the study, which is possibly something that needs to be looked at. However, I find it hard to sit in the one place at home all day. Come evening I need to relocate to the sofa. In fact, come lunchtime I often need to get out too. (Hence the cafe writing thing.)
  • Join Goodreads and Pinterest — I joined the former (although barely pay it any attention), but not the latter. Seems I have enough social media to worry about for the moment.
  • More getting away from the desk — SoulSong was a definite step forward in this regard, but I think I could do more with my weekends going forward. In particular, I didn’t get away to the family beach house nearly as often as I’d have liked. More feeding of muse required!

phillip island - Jan14

Last year I wrote

“I want to feel good about what I’m doing this year — maintain the joy, not get stressed about what isn’t happening, focus on what I have to do not what others are doing… I’m going to continue with the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ principle of Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it, and try to ‘run my own race’.”

I think this year I’m feeling a tad more purposeful. If 2013 was about indulging in the joy of life and writing, 2014 needs to be more about consolidation and achievement. Not that I want to lose the joy, but I think I need to step it up this year. Bring it on!

If you’re someone who sets annual goals, I’d love you to share them here in the comments. If you’re not into goal-setting or resolution-making, how’s your year shaping up?

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