New Year’s Resolutions, Part 3

As I’ve written before, back in January, I made several New Year’s resolutions, but I later wound up adjusting them every three months. All year, I’ve been trying to set goals for myself that are ambitious, but doable—particularly to improve my writing speed, but also for other things. It always seems to take about three months for me to see where things need to change, either because I miscalculated at the beginning, or because of external changes in my life. So this is my third report this year as to my progress on these resolutions.

I’ve decided I’m going to try to be more honest this time about how my progress is going and cut some things to focus more closely on the others. I’m hoping I can springboard from this to something more substantial in 2020, but time will tell.

First off, my “New Year’s” resolutions for the year as of July 1 stand as follows:

  1. Exercise 30 minutes (at home) at least 3 days per week, except when I’m traveling. One of them must be Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Completion rate: 23%.
  2. Send 2 query letters for my novels to agents per month. Completion rate: 67%.
  3. Read at least 3 chapters of different books per week, including one audiobook. Completion rate: 96%.
  4. Publish at least 1 blog post per week. Completion rate: 87%.
  5. A complicated set of weekly and monthly writing goals that I did not list in detail. Completion rate: 73%.
  6. Write at least 250 words immediately after dinner on days when I don’t have something else going on. Completion rate: 94%.

Obviously, the exercise thing never really worked out. It seems like that would be the first thing to go (and fittingly so since it’s by far the most cliche resolution on my list). But I want to try to make one more push on it starting tomorrow, especially since I’ve moved and can’t walk to work anymore, so I’m going to keep it.

As for the others, these numbers look pretty good, considering so many people’s New Year’s resolutions fail by February. However, my point in setting these goals was to make them things I’d be able to finish 100%, so I do want to subject them to closer scrutiny.

For the query letters, that’s fallen behind because I’ve already taken care of the low-hanging fruit. The remaining agents who are of interest want more complex queries that take time to write, and between that and getting sidetracked with moving, I fell behind. I’m also far enough into the process that I want to start looking at how to go about self-publishing. I still want to try to move on that by the end of the year, but it’s at a point where I can’t really make it a routine task. Therefore, I’m going to drop that one as a resolution, though I’ll keep working on it.

One of my goals was to read a chapter from three books each week. This was increased from two before, but I’ve now finished the extra books I wanted to read, and I feel the need to do something else. In particular, I never finished watching the last season of Doctor Who, andI need to finish watching it before Christmas, when the new Christmas special will be out. This one fell by the wayside because I found it hard to set aside an unbroken hour of time to watch it. Mind you, it’s not really that hard, but I had a hard time stopping to focus on it on a weekly basis when I was always trying to catch up on my writing goals. I mentioned before that’s the same reason I never really picked the exercise back up. So my new goal is to watch at least one episode of Doctor Who per week. And when I run out of Doctor Who episodes, well, I always meant to watch Season 2 of The Orville and never got around to that either, so I can use that to fill in the space.

My blog is coming along pretty well. I always have enough half-finished posts to meet my goal (although I’ve been a bit sidetracked working on a big project for next year). I just need to be more diligent about finishing them.

Likewise, adding my daily writing goal has been a good move. Sadly, it hasn’t done that much for my total word count, but it has helped me get back into the rhythm, so that stays.

Finally, at the beginning of the year, I set a monthly writing goal that I chose not to detail. I made it monthly because that is how National Novel Writing Month does it. However, I rarely managed to meet it, and because of my schedule and workflow, I’ve decided a weekly writing goal will work better for me. And the complex set of subgoals I was trying to juggle have ultimately proved unworkable for similar reasons to the query letters. So I’m just going to cut through them and come out and say it this time: my new goal is to write 5,000 words per week. That includes blog posts, my novels, long-term projects that may or may not be published, and writing for my personal use that definitely won’t be. It’s all just about getting my word count up, but I do hope it will lead to knock-on effects like more reliable posting.

So finally, here is my new set of goals for the remaining quarter of 2019:

  1. Exercise 30 minutes at least 3 days per week, except when I’m traveling. One of them must be Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
  2. Read or watch parts of 3 different stories per week, including one paper book, one audiobook, and one television episode from my backlog.
  3. Publish at least 1 blog post per week.
  4. Write at least 250 words immediately after dinner on days when I don’t have something else going on.
  5. Write at least 5,000 words per week.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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