Saying Goodbye and Looking Ahead

As the festive season really begins and 2019 draws to a close, I wanted to make my last post of the year about goals and challenges.

I’m not always very good at seeing the “bigger picture”, I usually tend to focus on what’s immediately ahead of me and what I need to do to tick off items from a short-term list with very little consideration of how they might fit into any kind of career plan. Which is rather ironic given that my librarian mind loves order, structure and clear organisation.

Living with a chronic illness for many years made me wary about making plans. I had to learn to pace myself and steal time whenever I could. I wasn’t able to create a routine that enabled me to write every day or achieve a number of words each week, because I literally could not predict how I might feel from day to day, month to month. Even though I am in a considerably better position now, I still feel wary about making longer-term plans which I might be forced to abandon. I hope that in time I will improve with that and have far less fear about the future.

What I have found useful this year has to set myself attainable short-term goals and ensure I completed them. A couple of useful mantras helped me here:

    Progress not perfection.
    Finished does not always mean complete.

A very simple list in the notes app of my phone allowed me to keep track of submissions and other goals I wanted to attain. It gave me the satisfaction of seeing those items ticked off and made me feel like I was “winning”.

Setting clear but attainable goals also ensured I held myself accountable, which was something I used to struggle with a great deal — especially if the imposter syndrome gremlins managed to persuade me that my work was not worthy in some way.

My 2020 writing goals currently look something like this:

• Write a new blog post every month.

• Write and submit at least twelve new short stories to paying markets.

• Write and submit two new short stories for charity anthologies.

• Publish the charity anthology “Black Dogs, Black Tales” raising money for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

• Get nominated for something.

• Submit a story to a predominately Australian/NZ anthology.

• Finish my YA fantasy novella Elf Fires.

• Finish planing and perhaps start to write my four-part SFF tree novella/novel.

• Continue my Werewolf Cop series.

• Send a finished MS to a traditional publisher.

It seems a lot and yet also it doesn’t, at least not when spread out over a full year. I definitely did a lot in 2019 — more than I intended or anticipated — and I found myself more than a little burnt out at times, so I want to avoid that next year. Also, in the middle of the year is CoNZealand, which I will be attending and possibly participating on panels, which looks to be a phenomenal experience.

One final point to make, which a friend of mine told me: even when you are not writing, or submitting, or publishing your work — you are still a writer. Your goals should galvanise and inspire you, not grind you down, nor make you feel like you have to keep running full-pelt on the writing treadmill. If you decide to take a break, or you feel like you are not as prolific as your friends or other writers, that’s okay. Your goals are personal milestones, and no-one else’s business. Don’t use others’ achievements as a yardstick to measure your own. Whatever else you do, do you.

I wish all my readers a very happy holidays and a fabulous new year. Here’s to many more exciting new things.