July is here!
Six months are complete, and it is a perfect time to assess our creative writing goals, and the progress we are making toward them.
You may have noticed, I’ve been a little quiet lately. If you are a regular reader of the Stories I Read, Stories I Tell blog (or listener to the More Stories Creative Writing Podcast) you may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet lately. It’s true. I’ve been partaking of some time away from the computer to focus, and re-focus.
In other words, I took some time off to assess my progress so far in 2015, hold my accomplishments and failures up to measure them against my stated goals, and then execute some corrective maneuvers.
For me, some things have been going pretty well. I’ve made significant progress on a novel. I’ve written six new short stories. I’ve read more than thirty books. I’ve met goals (more often than not) in the areas of physical activity, weight loss, meditation, sleep, and nutrition. I have more readers of my blog, listeners of the podcast, and social media “friends and followers” than I did at the start of the year. I started a series of day-long writing retreats, and each time I had more participants!
In other words, in many ways, the year I had planned has been the year I’ve lived, and when I look at it from that perspective, I can’t help but be reminded that 2015 has been a pretty good year, so far.
But of course, there is the pessimistic side of my brain that intrudes on the good feelings, and with at least some valid reasoning: I’ve not accomplished everything on my list.
The pessimist me is quick to point out the places I’ve not succeeded. I haven’t published the three fiction chap-books I’d planned to publish. I haven’t produced the new videos I’d hoped for. I haven’t done any of the thirty-day challenges I’d put on my goal list. (And a few of my faithful readers will remind me, I haven’t had new photos taken to replace the ones they aren’t very fond of!)
The pessimist me is even really good, once he gets the ball rolling, at taking the “wins” above and tarnishing them, as well: you could have lost even more weight, you could have done more exercise, you could be even further along in finishing the novel.
Gaining Proper Perspective on My Creative Writing Goals
When I started writing the words that would become this blog post, I was actually a little down on myself. It’s early in the morning. I haven’t had my coffee. The pessimist me was winning.
But when I really started to list the “wins” above, I started to feel better about what transpired the first six months of this year.
That’s the power of writing down and tracking my goals.
The cynical me was ready to admit total defeat, but when I looked back over my progress, I was able to see that this year hasn’t been a failure. Not by a long shot.
By keeping track of specific and measurable bits of data, I can tell myself: Hey, it hasn’t been a perfect run, but look at what you DID do!
Which is enough to get me back on the horse (to use a cliched metaphor, which has many layers of deeper meaning ever since I read McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.)
The Middle Ground
Doing an assessment of my progress allowed me to balance the two perspectives. I also pinpointed some areas where I needed to change my goals. Some goals I had set were no longer big priorities to me and there were some new things that I needed to add to my list.
Assessment time is critical, not just to adjusting your activities to accomplish a larger number of goals, but also to help you decide which goals are really worth your time, energy, and creativity. Have you taken time, recently, to assess where you are in your creative life?
Goal-setting is an imprecise activity because it deals with the future, and that means that while goals are an important aspect of keeping our creative lives on track, they are also not infallible. It seems like every year, something “comes up” in my life which is an unexpected twist, and that event or epiphany or opportunity forces me to take a fresh look at what I’m doing and what I hope to do next.
For me, this year’s mid-year reassessment allowed me to re-focus, not so much on a stated goal, but on the path to achieving it.
I’ll talk more about that in the next post.
I have some exciting news. I’m still putting some of the details together, but if you aren’t already on my E-mail Newsletter list, you might want to join that list. I only send an email from that list every month or two, but it’s a great place to be “connected” with the events, opportunities, and announcements I have.
If you’d like to opt-in to the list, just click here: Eric Sheridan Wyatt/Words Matter E-Mail Newsletter
I will talk about some of the things that are upcoming here, on the blog, but the E-Mail newsletter is the place where I’ll have the most detail. This is especially important if you are local to the Sarasota-Bradenton-Palmetto area of Florida, or if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to share your writing with the world…I have some plans you might be interested in.
For now, let me say: Go write! You can thank me for that kick in the pants at a later date.