The Mid-Year Progress Report, 2012
The midpoint of the 2012 Year has officially passed us. So I thought it would be an excellent time to do a formal progress report on how I’m doing, what I’ve accomplished, and how things look for the remainder of the year.
At the start of the year, I had 5 broad writing-related goals, and any number of corresponding writing-related dreams that I didn’t think I’d achieve.
My first goal was: “Find at least 2 hours per week in which to write in at least 45 of the 52 weeks of the year. The two hours should contain at least one period of 60 minutes of uninterrupted time.” In truth, I haven’t kept track of the amount of time I’ve spent writing each week. The mechanism I put in place to track my productivity didn’t include a means to track my time. So I’m not sure how well I’ve done in that regard. But I can comment on whether I spent any time, generally, writing at all: because a week where I spent little or no time writing is a week in which I had a 0 wordcount. So far this year? I’ve had 6 weeks with no wordcount. That’s out of the 7 that I had allotted myself based on expectations that there would be things that came up.
Even if I think the second half of the year will have fewer things come up than the first, I still don’t think it will be none. I’m already expecting 2 weeks coming up where I have no wordcount. And I also already know that holiday weeks – especially major holidays – tend to be unproductive for me because Dear Wife and I are frequently untethered and disconnected during holidays, or otherwise too busy. I like writing, but I also like being untethered and disconnected and getting away from it all, so I don’t expect this to be any different. So, when Thanksgiving and Christmas 2012 come around, for instance, I fully anticipate low-wordcount weeks. So a mere 7 weeks spent not writing was… optimistic of me. The reality looks like it will be at least 10 weeks in 2012.
My second goal was to complete my background work, character studies, and outline by January 25th of this year. It’s already old news now that I missed this goal by a very wide margin. I didn’t finish my outline until early March, at which point I finally started working on the first draft of “Book of M’.
My third goal was to write at least 2,000 words of new First Draft per week spent writing (which theoretically excludes those weeks spent toiling on the background and outline). This is something I have kept data on (unlike that first goal), and I can report on that. But it’s not a very pretty picture. If I count only those weeks after I finished my outline… I’ve met this goal only on 5 out of 16 weeks, or 31% of the time. That’s not a very good track record. In fact, it’s a losing record. Considering only this goal, if I’d written 2,000 words on all 16 of those weeks, I’d have 32-thousand words written. In reality, I’ve got just over 20,000 words written. That looks better, at 63% of my goal, but it’s still not great. If, however, I’d met my second goal, I’d be at 44-thousand words, so again it’s starting to look not-so-pretty. That said, this year I have written almost 36-thousand words – background, outline, and first draft inclusive – so it’s not like I’ve done nothing. But it’s a far cry from where I wanted to be by mid-year.
On my fourth goal, I wanted to complete at least two short story first drafts, numbering less than 8,000 words apiece. On this goal I have done nothing as yet. I made the decision, at some point, that I would put off writing any further short stories until I’d crossed a certain threshold on my novel WIP. I wanted to establish some solid momentum in the novel-writing process so I wouldn’t lose momentum when I took a side detour down a short-story street. The upcoming weeks of low-or-no-productivity notwithstanding, I think I’m fairly close to that point in “Book of M”, and I can cross that threshold with a few weeks of solid productivity. And I even have an idea for a short story that I’d like to pursue. (Like “Story of G” which some of you blog-readers here actually read – and my thanks for your critical feedback – this one would be based on one of the flash-fiction pieces I’ve posted here, but expanded and refined and cleaned up, etc.) So this is one where I might actually still make progress this year. But so far, I haven’t. I do think it’s unlikely I’ll write two short stories this year.
My fifth and final writing-related goal was actually a reading goal, and I can happily report that on this front I’ve actually done well. My goal was to read 550-thousand words worth of novel-length fiction. So far this year I read two complete books – cover-to-cover, finished reading one I’d started in the prior year (finishing the latter two-thirds of it), and I’m two-thirds of the way through another – a pretty beefy fantasy doorstopper. Tallying it all up, I’ve exceeded my 550-thousand word goal, already, at about 610-thousand words. Even if I read somewhat less in the second half of the year, I’ll still have done this one goal a pretty decent service. Which is good. I’m super-happy to be doing some recreational reading again, at last. Plus, the writing-related upside is tha the more I read, the more I learn about writing, and slowly-but-surely the better my writing gets.
So that’s where things stand at the moment. From where I’m looking at it, now, it’s unlikely in the extreme that I will finish the first draft of “Book of M” this year. If my current rate of progress continues to hold true, it’s not likely that I’ll finish the first draft of “Book of M” until early 2014. As a general revision to my goals, I think it’s feasible to suggest that I think I could, under ideal circumstances and with a lot of hard work, finish it by mid-2013. We’ll see. But I’d like to see it done by this time next year.
Now, how about you? How are you holding up against your goals for the year? What do you anticipate the second half of the year looking like? Anything to crow about? Anything you wished you’d done differently this year so far?