It’s the beginning of a whole new year; what time could possibly be better to become more motivated and inspired? You have a whole 365 days ahead of you, and now is the time to start making them count, so we're asking authors what they've got planned for the year ahead!
Aleksandr Voinov tells us about setting goals for the year ahead and the value of evaluating the year just gone.
This year is different – again
I love throwing out my old planners between Christmas and New Year – firstly, because they look seriously beaten up after 12 months in my backpack and being exposed to coffee mugs, and secondly, because I’ve had my new planner sitting primed and ready on my desk biding its time since mid-November. It’s also a way of getting rid of the guilt-inducing white gaps in the middle of the planner and toward the end of it – no, I didn’t write every day in 2018. Chances are, despite my best intentions right now, I won’t write every day in 2019.
I’m starting to think that part of the change over to the brand new, fresh year, is to just say, “aw, shucks, this, this, this and this didn’t work out as planned, but I know I tried and had my reasons.”
In 2018, for example, I got almost two dozen books back from various publishers. Making a daily wordcount (even a really low one) went out of the window in March/April to November when I focused on re-editing and re-publishing roughly 70% of everything I’ve ever written. When I go through my 2018 planner, everything is nicely on track with wordcounts etc until late March and then things go haywire with re-release schedules. As they say, no plan survives enemy contact.
The upside is that, going into 2019, I have completed my re-branding and relaunched a huge number of books with new covers and all typos and formatting issues fixed. That wasn’t the original plan, but sometimes all you can do is roll with the punches.
Still, 2019 will be a year when I track my wordcount (again). I’m not doing it to beat myself up or terrorise myself with guilt or pressure, but to track what I’ve achieved. See, perfectionists like me can work themselves half to death and still berate themselves for being lazy. Ever since I’ve started to make lists of what I’ve actually achieved, that has been changing. So, the planner also has space for those little victories – got that present, finished that book, paid that bill, made that trip. I really believe it’s important to celebrate the small victories, when you put the shoulder to the wheel with a career or hobby like writing on top of all other commitments.
And similarly, like with all goals, it helps being realistic. Will I be able to write 1,000 words a day with everything else going on? Likely not. But I can do 300. That’s still a full novel and a half over the year. For me personally, that should be enough to finish 2-3 half-written books. And the hope is that once that I’ve settled back into that kind of routine, I can up the ante to 500 or 750 next year, depending how well this one went.
Attitude is also important – I forgive myself for slipping up, and then I get back on target. It’s okay, we’re all human. The right attitude is honesty and coming at the goal with generally good faith willingness. Nobody can fault us for failing (yes, not even we ourselves!) but that includes making a honest attempt at succeeding – that is, to show up for the work, do our best and maintain just that dash of daily discipline to get the goal done. The key is steady effort, placing our bottoms in our chairs, and tracking what we’ve achieved, not what we haven’t.
Personally, I also believe very much in rewards – if I hit my word count goals, I’ll get myself that essential oil I wanted or book that weekend trip, depending on the size of the goal and by how much I’ve beaten it and over-delivered.
So, yeah, my biggest writing goal for 2019 is to write 110,000 words. I also have health and financial goals, of course, which I’ll also be tracking, but after having zero new releases in 2018, writing fresh words and finishing 1-2 books is very high on my list of priorities, so I’ll spend the rest of 2018 getting ready for it – throw out the old planners, plot that book and do that writing course, so I’m raring to charge into a brand new year.
Aleks's latest release, Memory of Scorpions, is out now. For more information about him and his writing check out his website and blog, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.