If I were to make a list of “What’s Hot & What’s Not,” I think New Years Resolutions are eking their way onto the “Not” list. Read John August’s latest post if you need convincing.
What I will look at is successes and failures.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the measurements of success. If we were to look at the game of football, the ultimate goal in any given year is to win the Super Bowl. Inside of that goal, are 16-19 sub-goals per year – to win the game. And inside of each of those games are further sub-goals: to score a touchdown. If you ask any coach or player what they’re thinking about in any given week, the answer is always the same: the next game. And if you were to ask any of them what they’re thinking about in the middle of the game, the answer will always be the next drive; or the next play.
And yet, inside the game of football, there are a million ways to measure performance. Rushing yards; passing yards; touchdowns; interceptions; turnover margin; time of possession; punts inside the 20; explosive plays; “passer rating”; penalties; number of 100-yard rushing games per season; December record; number of times Jessica Simpson is mentioned during the broadcast . . . the list goes on and on.
Often, as humans, we trick ourselves into thinking that the measurement is the goal itself. When that happens in football, the result is selfish players who want more touches so they can pad their stats, ultimately leading to a poor locker room environment, bad teamwork, and a team that, realistically, won’t win the big one.
In real life, it can be just as insidious, though for most of us it’s less public.
So when it comes to being a writer, what are the measures? Finishing a screenplay? Writing every day? Selling a script? Yes, those are measures. But remember, they are not the ultimate goal.
So … what are my 2009 measures of success/failure?
- I’ve doubled length of Charisma, from 40 pages to 82. I’m still embarrassed to admit that I haven’t finished it, but you know what, I doubt I’m the only one who’s struggled to finish the first project that he really cares about. The fact that I’ve kept at it for 2 years is a big deal.
- I released my book, Ups & Downs, and have had a few scattered pieces of success with it, but overall have gained very little traction. I have two boxes of books in my study, and the predictable future is that they will stay there unless I change something.
- I had 23 blog posts in 2008 and 304 visits from October-December 2008; and 64 blog posts in 2009 with 407 visits from October-December (with a few days left to go).
- Over the last few months, I’ve come up with structures to increase my productivity, and now I have one to track the time I spend doing various activities, including writing. This way, I can do with my life what football players do with their game – look at where the failures occurred, and adjust accordingly.
- I don’t know how many books I read this year or how many movies I watched. I feel like I should be tracking that, too.
- I’ve figured out that I don’t like doing marcom (marketing communications), and am shifting my business more toward narrative nonfiction ghost writing; book editing; tech writing; and proofreading, all of which I enjoy.
- I’d like to continue my existence/time management structures. The goal is to have my time measured every day, without gaps. Realistically, I will get upset with myself some day for not doing something I was supposed to do, will make myself wrong, and won’t do it. But I will be back on track within a week, because I have enough people holding me to account for doing it. If I can go the entire year having missed, 30 days, I get a bronze star, 20 days a silver star, and 10 days a gold star.
- Finish the novel I’m working on with my dad, a short story/novella I started right before my dad’s and my scheduled start date, and Charisma.
- Exceed this year’s 64 blog posts and 407 4th-quarter visits, without being one of those annoying people who posts what color shoes they’re wearing every day.
- Attend, in some capacity, the 2010 Writer’s League of Texas Agent’s Conference, the Austin Film Festival, San Diego Comic-Con, two comic book conventions closer to home, and two more authors/publishers conferences/conventions.
- Continue reading every day and log every book I finish.
- Come up with a marketing plan for Ups & Downs that gets the two stacks of books out of my office as a result of sales.
So are these New Years Resolutions? Maybe. But they’re realistic, and I know going into it, that the likelihood of completing every one is slim, and if I screw up, I won’t stay mad at myself, I’ll just get back on the horse and keep riding.
Because success is just a function of being willing to fail more times than the other guy.