Friday, December 31, 2010

My Year in Review

I figured out why I seemed to be so blocked on the scenes I'm rewriting: Lack of information! Since these things came out of nowhere, they weren't elements I'd researched, and when I tried to just make stuff up without a factual foundation, it was lifeless. Fortunately, I had some of the key references for one of the subjects among my texts for my journalism history class (thank you, Dr. Olasky! You never know what from your college coursework will end up being vital in your actual work), and those directed me to a few other things that I might be able to get via Project Gutenberg. Then I guess I'll have to make a downtown library trip next week. Oh, and I've added a book to my year in reading total, which may bring the classics up higher in the genre list and which ups my total of work-related reading.

Since I work for myself, I don't have to go through the usual annual review, but I do like to take stock of the year and set goals and plans for the coming year.

I don't feel like I have that much to show for this year, but there was some groundwork laid that may come to fruition early next year. I spent about half the year working on a book that is currently backburnered and the other half of the year working on a proposal that's currently on submission. Even without selling a new book, I think once I add up my income and subtract expenses, I may have come close to earning what I did in my old job, thanks to movie option renewal, foreign sales on old books and royalties.

My work goal is to really intensify the writing output. I don't currently need to market anything, so most of my work time should be spent on writing. I'm determined to sell something new next year, so I'll have to keep writing on new projects until I find the one they want.

Personally, this was a decent year. I spent the summer doing physical therapy on a bad shoulder, I taught Vacation Bible School for the first time, and I started co-directing a kindergarden choir. I traveled to Denver and came back by train on my first really long-distance train trip. I got to meet one of my writer idols. I really expanded my cooking repertoire and started a cooking blog that I haven't been very good about updating. I experienced eggplant for the first time and have explored the neighborhood Indian markets.

I suspect my personal goals for the year will be about the same ones I always make. I really do want to get my house, and especially my office, organized. I'm not sure how to go about it, though. I've tried all kinds of methods and organizational systems, and nothing has stuck. I did have some success with the Flylady system, where you do little bits each day, with reminder e-mails, and very gradually declutter the whole house while creating new habits and processes to keep it clean. I lasted about a year with that back in 2002-2003 and got and kept the house in pretty good shape, but I also got almost no writing done during that time, and once I did start really writing (the first draft of what became Enchanted, Inc.), it all fell apart. I also got tired of all the sappy inspirational e-mails that come with all the e-mail reminders of what tasks to do. I tried taking the Clean Sweep approach to my office, emptying it entirely into boxes and then sorting through those boxes to put everything back. Most of the stuff is still in those boxes because I got busy before I finished, but I can't just throw away the boxes because I keep having to dig through them, looking for stuff. I've tried the 43 folders approach to organizing things to deal with, since most of my mess is work or business-related paper clutter, and getting that under control would instantly improve most of my house, but that seems to languish after about a week (I forget to check the daily folder or keep moving things to future folders). I tried dividing the house into zones and tasks that could be done in a short amount of time, and that failed after about two weeks. I would say that I need a deadline, like throwing a party, but deadlines are largely why my office is in the state it's in, after everything from the rest of the house gets tossed in there to hide it. When I try to do a little each day, I get discouraged from not seeing enough progress and give up. When I try to do it all at once, it's more than I can tackle, I get overwhelmed and give up.

Mind you, we're not talking Hoarders material here, except maybe in the office, which is totally out of control and has spilled into other rooms. It's just a case of someone who's used to moving every three years spending nearly 13 years in the same house. I normally do that clean/sort/purge thing when I move and don't have the habits for doing it while in the same house. If you have any systems or ideas that you think might help, I'm open to suggestions. What I may do is try to come up with some kind of point system and related rewards for the early days, when there's not a lot of visible progress. I need to sort out and set up my filing cabinet so there will be a place to put everything else, for instance, and that's not the kind of thing you can look at with a sense of accomplishment that encourages you to keep going. Maybe I'll embarrass myself by posting photos and then use the general public to hold me accountable to finishing the project this time around. I feel like everything else will just fall into place once the house is in order. That may be overly optimistic (Mr. Right will not just appear on my doorstep once my house is the way I want it), but I do think it would save me time and make my work more productive.

There are a few other things I want to try this year, but that will all depend on what deadlines come up and what my work schedule will be. I want to be more physically active because that helps with the work, and I want to keep expanding my horizons in general because that also helps with the work. I'm giving myself permission to be a workaholic this year, but there's a lot of stuff beyond just typing that counts as "work."


Chicory said...

:) I have the same problem with cleaning and organizing. The really funny part is that I clean houses for a living -but when you're cleaning someone else's house, you don't have to do the sorting. It makes a difference.

Shanna Swendson said...

The sorting is the hard part. I keep thinking that if I could just get everything sorted, I could keep things clean.