New Year’s Resolutions: Update #1

This is a follow-up post to Happy New Year! and The Disciplined Writer.

Discipline-wise, last year was not a great year for me. Don’t get me wrong. I made a lot of progress. I established this blog, had a few things published in The Paperbook Collective (Issues 3 and 5 if you haven’t read them yet), and worked really hard on always having some form of writing materials on me in case I had a great idea when I was out and about.

What I didn’t do well was actually sitting down and translating those ideas into prose. Recently I came across what I’m hoping will be a useful piece of advice in this area. A professional writing mentor suggested keeping track of word count goals by dividing them up into a pie chart and colouring in the segments as you go. (You can read the full interview here.) My pie chart hasn’t got any slices filled in yet, but I’m working on it…

Word count chart

Another thing I didn’t do well last year was meeting deadlines and submitting work to competitions and journals. Perhaps that had something to do with the way I was storing my list of deadlines. Here’s a screenshot of the excel spreadsheet I use.

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Quite straightforward really. I think what we have here is a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. If I wasn’t anticipating a deadline in the near future, I wouldn’t bother opening the document. If I suspected one was coming up, I’d check the list, and nine times out of ten, realise the deadline I was looking for was now unrealistic, or worse, already behind me!!

Now I have a constant reminder – front and centre.

Image

I’ve had this whiteboard for a while now, but it’s taken me a long time to figure out the most efficient way of using it… For a while I was using it for ‘to do’ lists, but since those changed almost daily, a notebook was sufficient. Now (as you can probably see) the left half is taken up with a list of potential blog ideas, and a small fraction of what’s on my TBR list. On the right hand side is a list of competition deadlines, themes (or organisation names where no theme is specified) and word limits. THIS YEAR I HAVE NO EXCUSE FOR FORGETTING A DEADLINE. Of course there’s always the possibility that I’ll miss one for any one of a variety of other reasons, but at least I’ll be aware that I’m missing them!!!

Incidentally, I’ve noticed the first couple of deadlines on this list are only three weeks away…I’d better go write something! 🙂

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