Happy New Year! Time to track our progress in the year past, and set our goals for the year to come.
I mentioned in my recent article about goal-setting that the smartest thing I did in 2017 was schedule all the tasks I wanted to do. Here is how it worked (changed slightly from what I thought on January 1 last year):
- Every morning at breakfast: read a chapter of the Bible and reflect on it in my Bible journal.
- Sunday—rewrite and submit old pieces in my file cabinet.
- Monday through Thursday—work on blog posts.
- Friday and Saturday—work on The Unicornologist and The God of Paradox.
- Odd numbered days—write a poem.
- Even numbered days—make a small piece of art or work on a larger one.
- Every evening that I’m home—practice piano for an hour and either recorder or guitar for an hour.
- Tuesday nights and Wednesday mornings: folk dancing.
- Once a week: go on an “artist date” to fill up on beauty and inspiration.
Here’s what worked and what didn’t:
- I’m happy that reading a chapter of scripture has become an almost daily habit, one I want to continue the rest of my life.
- I rewrote several old pieces from 20 years ago. I actually sold one. I sent a few picture book manuscripts out to agents; no nibbles, so I’m working on rewriting them again as flash fiction. I entered a couple of contests; no wins, but I did get one encouraging consideration for publication that ultimately didn’t happen.
- Last Saturday I posted my year-end review for ARHtistic License. I would love to cut back working on the blog to only three days a week, but I can’t seem to manage it. I used to work on the blog for as many days as it took me to be scheduled four weeks out, but often that was five or six days a week, leaving very little time for other writing projects. Working four days a week, I’m only about two weeks ahead, which I’m just not okay with. I may need to cut back my daily expectations for my blog, but I don’t know how. (Suggestions welcome.) I also submitted some guest posts to A Writer’s Path to help new readers discover ARHtistic License.
- I’ve made progress on The Unicornologist, and even thought it was finished at one point, but my beta readers convinced me it’s not. I started entering it into Scrivener, and I used a template that K.M. Weiland devised, which is showing me where the manuscript has structural problems. I think I need to go on a writer’s retreat just so I can concentrate on that manuscript for a few days without interruptions.
- I also thought I was pretty much finished with my Bible study guide, The God of Paradox. Just for fun, I asked my Bible study group if they’d like to give it a dry run, and they agreed. Boy, am I glad. Seeing my guide from the vantage point of a group leader is an education in itself. Writing Bible lessons and actually leading them are two totally experiences, and the flaws in my manuscript are revealing themselves. I’m making changes as we go along, but when we’re finished with the run-through, I think the study guide will need a pretty serious rewrite.
- I wrote a lot of poems this year, though not one every other day as planned. However, I’ve written enough poems in the last two years to choose the 33 best ones and enter them in a chapbook contest.
- I made a lot of little artworks this year, many of them Zentangles (though, again, not one every other day). The December ones were mostly Christmas themed. If you missed them, you can see them here.
- During December I practiced lots of Christmas carols on piano—one of my favorite holiday traditions.
- The fingertips on my left hand are now calloused from regular guitar practice, but they are still sore by the end of an hour. I am slowly improving.
- While practicing the ensembles in the back of my recorder book, I became disheartened, because I had no one to play with. I can’t be the only person who longs to play with others but doesn’t have an outlet. I looked on YouTube to see if anyone had posted recordings of the duets so I could play along. I found one video where one person played one part one time through. It was something, but didn’t go far enough for my needs. So the idea of a special project was born: recording videos of me playing each part of the duets two times through, to give recorder students (and me) an opportunity to practice duets with a virtual partner. Someday I’ll describe my incredibly long learning process for making videos, but for now, I (somewhat sheepishly) present Episode 1 of Playing Recorder Duets with Mrs. Huelsenbeck:
- I danced almost every Tuesday night and most Wednesday mornings through October, when I landed on my foot off-balance and injured it. A few weeks later I tried dancing again, and paid for it with a week of pain. A few weeks after that my foot felt better, so I danced again, but this time I aggravated a hip problem, and suffered for another two weeks. It’s clear I need to see an orthopedist, and I have an appointment for the end of February <sigh>.
- I planned to go on an “artist date” every week, but I didn’t. It was more like once every three months. FAIL. For 2018, I’m going to pencil a specific location into my calendar every month, as close as possible to the first day of the month.
I’m pleased that I made progress on most of my goals, even if I didn’t finish one of my big projects or secure an agent. For 2018 I’m planning on continuing as I had been, with the tweaks I’ve mentioned.
For the last two years, I’ve offered a challenge for readers to post their creative goals, record their progress, and share in the comments. The response has been mostly silence. So, this year, although I personally will take the time to reflect on my goals and progress at regular intervals, I won’t burden you by posting monthly updates.
I wish you the best possible 2018, full of inspiration and completed creative endeavors. Happy New Year!