Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 Resolutions and Accountabilities

Alright, so I didn't manage to get to writing this as early as I had originally intended, but I'm determined to have it done before the end of the day so I can do my normal weekly update on Thursday and still manage to get on track to having 52 updates this year.

Speaking of which, that's what I wanted to talk about in this post: 2016 New Years Resolutions.

Pretty much every one of them are going to be the same as last year's, but this time I'm doing more to make sure I stick with them. A lot more accountability.

Resolution #1: No More Than Three (3) Zero Days In Any Given Week

    I'm going to attempt to do the "Don't Break The Chain" concept of marking a calendar. Thing is, I need the calendar first. "Don't Break The Chain" and "No Zero Days" is basically the same concept. The thought is to do something productive daily that works towards an overall goal. Each day you accomplish this - a non-zero day - you mark your calendar. After a little while you'll see a chain of days that you managed to do the task you set out to do: write, draw, sing, exercise, clean, etc. It's added motivation to see that chain of "x"s - or whatever it is you use to mark the calendar - add up each day. You really don't want to "break the chain" by having a day not marked off. It's kind of weird to say this, but it's the same concept as marking a toddler's "potty chart" whenever they use the toilet instead of their diaper. They get excited about the number of stickers they get, and they are disappointed when they can't get one because they didn't use the toilet.
    Humans are simple creatures, and at times I feel like I need to just go back to those original tricks of "training" toddlers in order to help me break my bad habits. I've been sort of fail so far this year due to being sick, and so I'm hoping adding the "Don't Break The Chain" concept will help keep me disciplined.
    In the meantime, I have some challenges to keep me writing. First is the fact that the local writing group gives out prompts at the end of each meeting, and I try to write off of those prompts in time to read it at the next meeting. It's been going well so far.
    Second is that Phfylburt and I have a challenge set up for each other too. He's switched over to wanting to draw daily to improve that skill. So every Sunday we are now giving each other challenges/prompts. The following Sunday we exchange what we did that week given the prompt/challenge. Then we repeat the process by issuing each other a new prompt/challenge.
    I'll go more into this a bit later.

Resolution #2: Read At Least One Book A Month

    I wanted to make sure that I get this one this year. So, I started off by using my sickness downtime to crack open The Throne of Fire yet again. I managed to put a bit of a dent into it too. I'm aiming to have this book FINALLY done before the end of the month so that I can also manage to sneak in a book that I can "read in one day." Why one day?

    Much like with my first resolution, I've made sure to include a challenge for accountability sake. The challenge was put out by blogger Anne on the site Modern Mrs. Darcy. The long and short of it can be found in this picture she created:

    Now, just having the challenge and saying I want to do it is a start, but I've learned that I never tend to follow through with anything unless someone else can check in on me. So, my mom, Spink, and Cyhyr are all joining me. On the first of each month we are going to do a check-in to state what book we read and under what category of the checklist it was for us. This way we're not restricted to finding a book we'll all read as a typical reading group would, but we all still get the benefits of talking about the book we chose.

Resolution #3: Constructively participate on the Writers’ Huddle Forum At Least Once A Week

    Tweaked the wording of this a little from last year. I want to be a more active member again. I was doing so well for a while, and then again dropped off the face of the Earth. I have to be honest, part of me doesn't want to click on that link to go back to the forums because I know I have a lot to catch up on, and it'd daunting. But little bits here and there to slowly catch up shouldn't be too overwhelming. Baby steps. So, I'm tasking myself to rejoin the forum community by the end of this week. The accountability will be forum members seeing me active. The trick is going to be remaining active once the chaos of November and December swing by again. I just need to see if I can get one or two of them to send me FB messages asking me if I'm still alive if I haven't logged in after a week. I think that might do it.

Resolution #4: Complete At Least One Writers' Huddle Module

    Last year I did the MasterClass, and I still pull from it all the time. It has really reshaped the way I look at certain things in regards to writing. Knowing how much it can impact me, I'm really going to try to get through one of the modules on Writers' Huddle.

    In fact, Ali Luke just put up a new seminar about beating both procrastination and writer's block. That sounds right up my alley! She also just sent me an advanced copy of her book on basically the same subject to beta read. Now, to find a way to make myself accountable so I don't slack off on this again....

Resolution #5: Beta Read And Return Notes Within A Fortnight

    As I just stated, Ali just sent me - this morning, actually - an advanced copy of her book on finding the time to write, with hopes that I can beta and get some notes back to her. That's actually the next thing on my To Do list after finishing this post. I'm hoping it will work well with my other resolutions to keep me on the straight and narrow when it comes to writing discipline.
    I also have to get around to reading DFL's story that she sent me a little over a month ago. It didn't seem like such a big task at first. She wanted me to read her backstory for her characters. I was figuring it was something like Amara's; about 4 or 5 pages long. Instead, it turns out that her "backstory" is actually her "original story"; the first story in this saga that she wrote a few NaNoWriMo's ago. The whole document is over 100 pages. Not the "sit down and get through it in one day" reading I was expecting.
    So I've put it off. Something that is not fair to DFL at all. As a means to try to correct this wrong, I'm going to push myself to get through at least one scene every two weeks so I have something new to bring to her at the bi-weekly meetings. I only have one week this go, though, since our meeting is next Tuesday night.
    From this point out, I'm going to try harder to actually do right by the people I beta for. Get them their notes quickly. Especially after hearing how quickly James Patterson can manage this task. Once more, though, I feel I need some way of holding me accountable, and I don't think it's going to be via complaints. So far I've dealt with some saintly patient writers....

Resolution #6: Have 52 Blog Posts Published Before The End Of 2016

    I dropped the first part about "six items of prose published" because with all of these challenges keeping me away from zero-days, I should have something new to post every week. The trick is getting around to writing my weekly blog posts. So, this year I'm going for the big 5-2. I've come close, but I haven't actually done it yet. Perhaps this will be the year. Then, maybe 2017 will be the year of me posting an update at the same time and on the same day every week.
Alright, so those are my resolutions this year, with added accountability to try to get me to actually succeed with them this time. How have I been doing so far?

Well, for the Non-Zero Days, I've been "meh". I wrote on the 4th in order to have that dog story ready for the meeting on the 5th. I wrote my blog post last week. I'm working on this post today - and I started it yesterday - so there's that. Plus I worked on the challenge that Phfyl gave me. I have been doing other story-related things lately, but that's all the writing I've been doing.

Speaking of Phfyl's challenge, I promised last week, as well as earlier in this blog, to showcase what I wrote. Keep in mind that I'm not a poet, and this is VERY rough. As Phfyl put it:
Phfylburt: It did feel like a first draft and that it was kind of simply scratching the surface. It also didn't feel complete, like it could have used two or three more lines. Of course this is all subjective, so take it as you will.

He prefaced with a lot of nice things about the poem, which shocked me since I still think I suck at it. I'm with him, though, it does feel like a first draft. However I don't have a clue on how to edit a poem. Prose you can see where you can add description, or cut it, or add/cut dialogue, or where you can use a better word. Poetry? I dunno. Too "unstructured" for me, I guess. Kind of like how I'm not a fan of the "Open World/Sandbox" games like Elder Scrolls where you can go anywhere, do anything, or be anyone. I need more guidelines.

Alright, enough dawdling.
Inner Critic
Everyone else has their plan
What is mine? Where am I headed?
What’s going to grab me; drive me?
We all have it, and I need to conquer it
I can do this.
I need to do this.
This is me. Why can’t I find me?
Push through. Always pushing through.
Focus on the good. Focus on the positive.
Still, I feel so behind; just trying to catch up.
Want to know a fun bit of trivia about this poem?

The challenge was "write a poem (lets say simply twelve lines) describing nothing. It can be in whatever form you would like."

I interpreted that to mean that I wasn't allowed to describe anything. Phfyl MEANT for me to literally describe "nothing." He wanted to see what I would come up with in poetry form as I described the essence of "nothing"; however I saw it. The real fun part about this whole misunderstanding was that when he read my poem he thought that I had followed as intended, except that I was describing what it felt like to think of yourself as nothing.

I guess that is partially true. Maybe a part of my subconscious figured out what Phfyl was going for and decided to point me in that direction. So, the poem ended up having me describe what it was like to feel like nothing, while avoiding describing anything at all.


Well, my latest challenge is to write a news report based on a song. I'm still trying to figure out what song to use. I've also sent out a query late last night to see if Ronoxym wanted in on these challenges in order to stay on top of his reading/writing. He hasn't replied as of this posting. I hope he is willing to join in on this, because I have a great challenge in mind for him!

I'm now off to read Ali's book, which I might be able to qualify as my "read in one day" book for this month. I'm hoping to get another post in this week on my normal Thursday update. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


  1. I super-appreciated your speedy feedback (and your typo-spotting skills). :-) Good luck with all the resolutions! Rooting for you!

    1. Thanks. You always had quick responses to anything I shared with you - via your blog, or the forum, or FB, or email - so it seems only fair to prioritize your stuff too. Also, it was a subject I needed to focus on anyway. :D

      Good luck with your resolutions as well.