How'd That Thing Go?
Year-End Assessments and Not Crumbling to Dust
How’d that thing go? How’d you do on NaNoWriMo? How’s it going with your Goodreads reading goal/whatever it’s called? Did you hit your numbers? Did you get an agent? Did you finish the draft? Did you sell your book? Did you hit the list? Did you get on whatever other list? Did your book get optioned? Did you get that blurb? Did you finish your research? Did you write your proposal? Did you Social Media like you wanted to? Did you get more followers? Did you learn how to make a reel? Did you put that thing up on the place for people to read? Did you did you did you?
My answer to most of these questions (the ones relevant to me) is: No. But this is what I did do.
I wrote like 25,000 words last month in my not-not doing NaNoWriMo. Isn’t that amazing? I did not write 50,000 words. Oh well. I know I was not-not doing NaNo, but also, that’s 25,000 words I didn’t have in October. (And guess what, you’ll love this. I already have 25,000+ words in another draft of this same book that I binned because I just had to start over. Ahahahahhahahahah! Isn’t that amazing!!!! 50,000+ words this year and no complete draft. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) (I am not being sarcastic.)
I am also like 15 books short of beating last year’s reading numbers (get ready for my Year In Charts post in a few weeks!!!) and I have a STACK of graphic novels and novellas I’m determined to read in the next three weeks. This one I think I can make. I am not above uh, tailoring my TBR, to hit this goal. It all counts!
I had a banner year agency-wise, so tbh, I feel comfortable coasting on that until January.
There are also so many other things I did not do this year, and looking back on them, so many were out of my control. Things I didn’t sell, my own and my clients’; ships that didn’t come in; lists that weren’t hit. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Yeah, I can be blasé about it because of my position—financially comfortable and in a position of power in the industry. I know it’s not the same for everyone out there in the publishing trenches. Emotionally, though, I am right there with you with my own expectations and hopes and dreams and frustrations. It’s the end of the year and it’s natural to think of all those well-intentioned plans made last January (or March or July or October). I’m going to make them again next January and March and July and October. I can’t help it; I’m a planner.
I was talking to my therapist last month and I discovered something new about myself. I (previously thought I) LOVE to make a schedule. I will literally write down an hour by hour schedule of what I want to do in a day, and it will feel good for about 90 seconds, and then I will just….not do it. As soon as I tell myself I HAVE to do something, I just don’t want to do it. I do the same thing with exercise. It’s so easy to be like two runs! one yoga class! and then I will just…..not do it. (I like all those things! I chose those things specifically because I like them!!! WTF Kate.) Anyway, I realized I don’t want a schedule, I want a sandbox. I want a list of things that need to be done and a container of time to do them, and then I get to pick. I need that container of time to be defined or it feels like I have way more time to do something than I really do, and then I beat myself up for not being “productive” enough, but I’m quitting that shit in 2023. This sandbox metaphor is really working for me, so maybe it’ll work for you, too.
And next year’s goals? I’m going to set them and they are going to be ambitious and I probably won’t meet them all, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. I accomplish so much every day, even if those things are not The Things I want to accomplish (because lol I don’t have control over half the things I want to “accomplish”). I’m going to build a lot of sandboxes next year. I’m going to let it get messy. And I’m going to give myself the grace to appreciate what I’ve DONE and let go of the things that didn’t happen, for whatever reason. I want this for you, too. this year and next and next and next. You did so much in the face of such bullshit. Be proud of yourself. I’m proud of you, too.
Yes! I had a sandbox day yesterday and was WAY more “productive” than my days when I have a regimented list. If only every day could be more like that!
I discovered the same thing re: feeling boxed in by listing out and thus requiring that I complete my fun want-to-do’s vs having a time window to create a sandbox in which I get to decide which creative task to complete! Here’s to exploring this new approach in 2023 🥂