Friday, October 7, 2016

Last Quarter Check In

I paid my quarterly taxes.  I've updated my spreadsheets. The air is cool and the leaves are turning.  So, it must be time for me to do my quarterly check-in.  You can see my updated Write Club chart on the left.  You'll notice some things are already done.

I finished submitting work to agents in August. It helped that I changed this title.  It started as submit Wish You Were Here to agents, but since that project is more literary than commercial, I decided to go ahead and submit some picture books and my mid-grade novel to agents to see what kind of response I'd get.  I also submitted some picture books to publishers.  In total, I've now submitted to nearly thirty agents and publishers, well above my goal of twenty.

Not surprisingly, then, my rejection goal is also complete.  This goal was a late add in, but I love the idea of celebrating rejections, so I wanted to track them.  Tracking rejections has inspired me to submit more work, go figure.  Since August, when I added this tracking to my list, I've submitted nearly 100 poems to journals and anthologies.  That's more than I sent the other six months of the year. I've gotten some lovely rejections and some acceptances already.

This morning, I finished my blog post a week goal.  NaNoWriMo is coming up soon, and I'm spending the month of October planing and outlining.  In November and December, I'll spend almost five weeks travelling for my other job, so I scheduled all my Writing Prompt Wednesday Posts.  I've got some fun pictures and prompts coming up in the next few months. I hope you'll stop by for inspiration every Wednesday.

I read my 1,000th picture book just a little while ago, so I've checked off that goal, too.

I'm on track to write a picture book a month for the next three months.  I have a long list of ideas, so I don't think that goal will cause me any problems.

That leaves three more: Christine, Poem a Day, and Year of Writing Dangerously.

Obviously, I won't complete Poem a Day this year.  But I've written many poems this year, and I'll continue to do so.  This month, I'm working on short poems (14 lines or less).  Next month, I'm working on children's poetry.  I've learned so much from this challange and though it wouldn't work for everyone, it's pushed me to explore new things with poetry.   If I weren't writing so often it might take me years to begin to explore some of the new things I've learned.  And 192 poems out of 277 days isn't bad.

I'll write more about Christine in a later post, as I'm still working through the resistance I've had to finishing this work.

The 365,000 words goal is easier to deal with.  I've been writing low word count projects this year.  I finished Wish You Were Here, I've written many poems and blog posts, I've written ten picture books so far and have a huge list of inspiration that will keep me writing well into next year.  I've completed a lot of work this year, but that hasn't equalled a lot of words.  I imagine I'll write at least 100,000 by the end of November, but the word count goal looks like another goal I won't meet this year.  And I'm okay with that.  Really. I've written 73,000 new words this year, even though this is the first year I've tracked my word counts, I'm pretty sure that's more than I'd written by this time last year.

What I really wanted was a way to quantify and make measurable the goals I have for my writing life.  I tell my husband all the time that he's got it easy in his job--other people generally give him tasks or ideas to work on.  All my work is work I assign myself, tracking goals helps make that work more measurable and helps me learn what's realistic for me.

I'm working on a creativity coaching class with Eric Maisel, and it's interesting to find that other people don't like the kind of measurable goals that I set for myself.  For some people, this type of goal setting leads to resistance.  But I've learned to appreciate setting and tracking specific goals, and when I find I'm resisting a goal, it gives me a place in my psyche and my processes to explore, so I can learn how to set more effective goals next year.

I'm already thinking about next year's focus.  After two and a half years of working towards a poem a day, that seems more like a daily practice now that I won't need to track.  I feel better if I take an hour or three to work on my poetry everyday.  I don't think I need a goal for that anymore.  I'll let my thoughts continue to percolate through the next few months as I decide what I need to do next year to push this writing career a little farther.

I hope you'll be thinking about your goals, too.  About what kind of goals work for you. About what matters to you.  About your life as a writer.  I look forward to hearing what you discover.



  1. Thanks, Jazz. At this point, it just feels like I'm doing what I should do. Mostly, I'm spending 20-40 hours a week working at my craft. Looked at that way, this list doesn't seem like much to me, so thanks for the reminder that I am, indeed, getting a lot done.