Goals for the New Year

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions–I find it all rather arbitrary and a little poorly timed (I still have a lot of leftover Christmas-related sugar, dangit). However, I do like to take this opportunity to review my year for improvements and consider continuing and new goals for the coming year–things that I can fail at and stumble on without giving up. They’re aims, not requirements. If I’m being honest, I take it all very seriously (I’m a spreadsheet, checklist, graph, and written-analysis kind of person). I make a “Little Book of Goals” that I print out, staple together, and carry around with me, just as a reminder of those things towards which I’m working. It helps me focus my efforts.

2018 turned out not to be my year. Which is okay–it’s going to happen from time to time. I’m not always great with change, and a lot of things changed this year. But those changes have bred new opportunities, which I’m already embracing. For example, while work on Cursed suffered this year, I did a HUGE amount of brainstorming and have completely reworked it so that I’m ready to begin the rewrite. In 2018, I spent a great deal of my time on Toastmasters and violin, and my career in finance has continued on an upward trajectory.

I also learned a great deal about myself this year. I struggled with some dark moods several times, but I’ve managed to pinpoint some of the causes and have been actively working to eliminate those aggravators. I’ve reached the end of my rope concerning not exercising, and my frustration has finally reached a point that compels me to do something about it. I also started listening to myself speak, and I’m actively working to better control my tongue.

For 2019, I’ve already created my little goal book, and I’ll share a few of the goals for each of the categories:

  • Fitness: Work out three times a week for >30 mins.
  • Spiritual: Five-minute prayer every morning and evening.
  • Academic: Complete the Effective Coaching pathway in Toastmasters.
  • Literary: Rewrite Cursed (again!).
  • Recreational: Practice >6 hours of violin a week.
  • Domestic: Build and install custom bookcases.
  • Travel: Visit my grandma.
  • Intellectual: Read a total of 60 books.
  • Financial: Save 50% of gross earnings.
  • Health: Go to bed before 10:30pm every night.

There are several more “goals” that I have in mind that supplement those listed here, but I try to keep everything as simple as possible. I’m preparing for some big changes to potentially happen this year: my first personal clients, my own purchased home, greater health (now that I better understand how to get myself there). None of it is guaranteed, but I’m arranging things just in case.

Ultimately, if I can, at any given point, immediately make the things around me just a little bit better than they are–my house, my attitude, my skill level, my understanding, my finances–then my life as a whole will be a little bit better.

So I will leave you with well wishes for your own wonderful new year and the piece with which I begin and end every year (and NaNoWriMo, in fact):

God Bless!

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Reflections

One of the best things about NaNoWriMo is when it’s over and I can be nerdy with statistics! I’ve been delayed in getting this out up to this point for one reason: all those things that I put off doing in November have demanded my attention in December. I’m still trying to catch up.

So, on with the stats!

  • Total words written: 606,606 (New Record!)
  • Most words in a day: 50,158 (11/01) (NR), then broke that record on 11/29 with 50,351, both with time to spare (my previous best was 30,125 in 2017)
  • Fewest words in a day: 6,105 (11/30)
  • Daily average: 20,220
  • First word/last word: He (one of the MCs)/empire
  • Number of words past original goal (350,000): 256,606
  • Number of words past previous best (506,605): 100,001
  • NaNo Lifetime word count: 2,528,341
  • Number of projects: 3 (second half of one novel, one whole novel, then first half of another novel)
  • Laughed evilly: 15 times
  • Average daily sleep: 5.5 hours
  • Weight lost: 4.5 lbs.

NaNoWriMo-2018-daily-statistics

The three novels on which I worked were all from the same epic fantasy family saga on which I’ve been working for over 14 years. I’m in no rush to finish it (as might be apparent), so I closed that document at midnight on 12/1 and haven’t gone back to it since. I think I’ll save it for next year’s NaNo–there’s at least another million words in the arc. I like the idea of giving it time to percolate some more.

This year’s NaNo, for all its statistical glories, was a strange one. I meant to go slower, to aim for a much smaller goal (as above, 350k), but my competitive spirit won over me and I just kept going. I didn’t push myself like I did in going for 500k–had I gone for 750k, an idea with which I briefly flirted, 2018 would have been a lot more damaging to my health. I struggled, however, to celebrate any of my accomplishments, even on days when I wrote 50k. It just didn’t feel like that great of a victory (for the record, I’m one of those “you can always do better” people with moving goals). I just felt ennui, even when others were excited on my behalf.

I’ll be back in a week or two with my more refined writing goals for 2019, but I do know that I’m going to try even harder for a lower number next November. NaNo is wonderful, and I adore trying to beat my previous bests, but I feel like I skirted around burnout, and NaNo17 was a contributor to my burnout earlier this year.

I hope everyone has been enjoying a wonderful December so far recovering (if necessary) from NaNo!

 

NaNo18 Day 30: And So It Ends

Cue the parades, the fireworks, and the flyover! In my timezone, it’s now officially December 1, and I’ve concluded this month’s shenanigans with a final tally of 606,606 words, a full 100k over my previous best NaNo. I’ll post more about my general observations and statistics this weekend when I’m a bit more coherent.

NaNo18 was a challenge for many reasons, some of which were new and specific to this year’s circumstances. Ultimately, the wording prevailed. Many characters were killed in the making of this production. I haven’t finished the series yet–I’m about 1/4 of the way into Book VII, and there are probably another 1 million words left in the series. I might revisit it in the coming year, but I plan to save a big chunk of it for NaNo19. Several other projects are calling my name, including the rewrite of a novel I’ve been trying to shape up for serious publishing efforts.

Whether you wrote 500 words or 500,000 words this month, you are a champion. You wrote. You created. You did the thing. Go forth and keeping doing, keep creating, keep writing. You deserve it, your novel deserves it, and the world deserves it.

Happy NaNo, everyone!

NaNo18 Day 29: 600k Already… Oops

I did the thing I told myself all month I wasn’t going to do after the first time: I did a second 50k-word day. But I couldn’t help it, I tell you. I had the day off of work, the house to myself, and the motivation of having a pretty goal to hit and only two days remaining in which to do it.

So I did it. I’m not half as sore as I was when I did 50KDay1, and I finished a full 15 minutes earlier than before. That was after starting two full hours later than 50KD1. So I’d say either my focus has improved, my fingers have improved, or my time management has improved. Probably a little of all of them.

My official final tally for the day (and it’s only 11:40? Dang, I’m breaking records all around) is 50,351. I had to beat my only other 50k day, so I wrote about 200 words more or so. Just to make it officially my wordiest day ever. That puts me at 600,501 total. With a full day to spare, I figure I’ll write another ~6,100 words to beat my previous best NaNo by a cool 100k+. I’m not going to lie, though. I’ve never ended a NaNo having reached my goal this early, and I’m not quite sure what to do!

And just because I can, and just because it’s the only proper thing to do as we head into the final 24 hours of NaNo (and let’s face it, no life is complete without 80s music), I have to leave you with this:

Let’s make the most of this final countdown, people!

(P.S. Back up your novel, and if you’ve hit 50k, congratulations!… and don’t forget to validate!)

NaNo18 Day 28: Setting Up for the Big Finale

Well, today I was completely unmotivated, exhausted, and busy, so I logged my lowest wordcount this month, at just a speck over 10k. However, this brings me up to the beautiful number of 550,150 for November, and that is a lovely launch point for tomorrow.

I’m taking the day off of work specifically to work on NaNo. While I definitely am not aiming for another 50k day like Day 1 (and I wasn’t even aiming at it there, either, to be fair), I do have to hit, absolute minimum, 30k if I want to have any chance of achieving 600k for the month. I work on Friday, and while I can slip in some writing in the morning and the afternoon, it will be tough enough to get 20k that day, let alone 25k if I split the remainder equally.

Honestly, I’m a bit worried about it, but I’m simultaneously excited. In spite of the extreme weariness I’ve experienced (as in other NaNos), I’ve had a lot of fun with this year’s project and progress. There have been rough points, but if today’s lack of motivation still delivered 10k, then I feel like I’m set up to accomplish something. Not reaching 600k is not an option, so it will happen. It’s just a matter of how hard I’m going to have to push myself, and what hour, exactly, I will hit it.

I’m off to bed to set up for a good day tomorrow. Best of luck to everyone as we close in on the final forty-eight hours!

NaNo18 Day 27: Closing In On the End

…of NaNo, not of Book VII, alas.

After a 15k day, I’m calling it quits tonight with 540k total. That keeps me on par for 600k this month. I suspect I will fall behind a bit tomorrow, as I have a violin lesson after work, but I’m taking Thursday off and should have time to rack up some words that will make the final 600k-word goal easier to achieve on Friday.

I was very unmotivated today. While I didn’t struggle to write once I sat down to do it–and I dictated quite a bit of the story while pacing in the laundry room, where no one in the house could hear me–I just didn’t feel like writing. Part of this was because I’m still so tired and just want to sleep. But a big part of this was due to my coming up with half a dozen awesome business ideas throughout the day.

I’m a wantrepreneur, you see, and I’m always devising The Next Million-Dollar Idea®. After skimming through Money magazine (to which I am, by proxy, subscribed) and reading an article about passive income and other “side hustles,” I was flooded with a bunch of ideas that have been nagging me for anywhere between a few days and a few years. I’m convinced that I should start positioning myself to take advantage of these magnificent ideas*, but I don’t have the time to do that during NaNo. So everything keeps getting pushed until December, and I. Can’t. Wait. There are so many things with which I want to experiment, but I have to remain disciplined and focused in the face of these distractions. There is a time for everything!

May we vanquish the distractions of these final few days and come out the other side victorious!

*Magnificence of ideas subject to interpretation. Reader discretion is advised.

NaNo18 Day 26: A Late Blitz Brings It Home

After an 18k-word day (mostly evening, to be honest), I’m up to 525k total for the month.

This morning was very rough. I didn’t even want to get out of bed, let alone write (the consequences of staying up too late, alas, and then having trouble falling asleep). So I was pretty useless until about 6pm, when I just blitzed it with about twelve consecutive word wars. I considered stopping when I hit 520k, but it was only 10pm. Happily, I’ve hit my goal a half hour early, so I’m going to take advantage of this windfall by keeping this update short and getting to bed.

Keep on trucking, everyone! We’re almost there!

NaNo18 Day 25: 500k and My Personal Record are Vanquished

WOO-HOO!!!

After a 25k-word day today, bringing me to a total of 66k for the traditional 50k Weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), I flew past 500k and kept going until I beat my previous best NaNo ever (506,605, 2017) and landed at 507,074. What a day.

I didn’t start writing until 4pm. Yes. 4pm. I had every intention of writing as soon as I got home from church, but chose to practice violin while I had the house to myself for a short time. Then I procrastinated. Then, because I was so tired, I decided to take a quick, 10-minute nap with my dog. That was at 12pm. I didn’t get up until 3:30pm. I warmed up some Thanksgiving leftovers since I’d unwittingly skipped lunch, then, with a gripe and a groan, sat down to write.

And the words just came. I admit that I relied very heavily on word wars today to keep me disciplined, and I even created a couple of word war parties (back to back word wars, set up and ready to go on the forum thread) where several others joined in. It not only kept my fingers flying, it actually made the day fun. Hopefully, this weekend’s dedication continues forward for the rest of the week.

We are in the last five days of NaNo everyone. Let’s make these days (word) count!

NaNo18 Day 24: The Second “The End”

I’m wrapping up this fine evening with a few minutes to spare and a hair over 21k for the day, bringing me up to 482k and within grasping distance of the half million. This morning and throughout the afternoon, I struggled just to sit down to write, and after I took a short nap with my dog, it became even more difficult. But I’m a night owl, and as soon as dark fell, I was tapping along on my keyboard like a dancer.

Book VI is finally finished, my second completed novel for this month! The fallout from the big plot turn has played out, opening entirely new avenues for the next book. I worked on the first chapter of Book VII so that it wouldn’t be such a hard start for me tomorrow, as I fully intend to hit 500k (and maybe even 506,606, which will beat by one word my previous all-time highest NaNo). That will help catapult me to 600k in spite of work this week.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the final day of the last weekend of NaNo. To be fair, the dates fell a little strangely this year, but it feels like the month really flew by. Part of me is thrilled by this–I’m so ready for SLEEP–but part of me, as usual, is saddened. There really is nothing quite like NaNo.

Happy writing, everyone! Don’t forget to back your novel up!