Well, this year is no different in that respect: I spent most of New Year's Eve scrubbing at my basement floor in preparation for sealing it. Not quite the life of the party. :) But I'll write more about that in a different entry.
In this entry, I am going to write down my New Year's Resolutions. This will be the first year that I can recall making any. And I'll never forget these, if only because I'll have a written record to remind me. ;)
My first resolution:
I will finish the rough draft of Prophecy by June 30, 2004
At this point, I expect it will surprise no one to learn that I haven't been sticking to The Master PlanTM for the last two months. I've got excuses: wisdom tooth surgery, house hunting, house-buying, moving, home repair, etc., ad nauseum. (In retrospect, I'm pleased with myself to have done presents for anyone this year, even if all I did was send baked goods.) Anyway, reasons or excuses, good or bad, doesn't matter now. It's all in the past: moving forward!
I'm going to take this opportunity to change the parameters of The Master PlanTM, seeing as I haven't been sticking to it, anyway. I've been wanting to get away from the "measuring my progress by word count" syndrome anyway, since it appears to be inflating an already fat volume. By current measure, I have thirty-three segments left to complete in this project -- nineteen of which are nothing but a blurb on my outline, and fourteen of which I've started but not finished. I'd tried implementing a "chapter completion" goal as secondary at some point, but that didn't pan out.
So this time, I'm going to try something totally different: time commitment.
My requirement for January: 3.5 hours a week writing Prophecy. Weeks start on Sunday. I need to do 90 minutes for this first Thursday-Saturday week. "Writing time" is defined as "time spent in front of a computer or other device on which to write, with no non-writing activities taking place, and the primary intent being to create a new scene."
Examples of activities that do not count as "time spent working on Prophecy":
- Reading through existing pieces of the book
- Thinking while I walk to work about what I plan to write
- Playing Snood with a window open for writing
- Hanging out on Sinai and complaining about how much I have to write
- Writing LJ entries about how much I don't want to write
- Revising an old scene
Examples of activities that do count as "time spent working on Prophecy":
- Writing a new scene
- Re-working the outline
- Staring at an open window for writing and thinking "Buhhhh."
- Typing up notes on how to handle future scenes
- Thinking of how I'm going to write a scene while I'm at the computer and capable of writing stuff down
- Research counts at a ratio of 4:1 -- ie, two hours of reading a book about Renaissance warfare = half an hour of writing. If I take notes, it counts at 3:1 (or as much as 2:1, if I'm taking extensive and pertinent notes).
Writing time has to be spent in a minimum of 15-minute intervals, and a maximum of 60-minute intervals. I can't get focused and productive in less than fifteen minutes, and after 60 consecutive minutes, my attention wanders and my productivity drops. (This doesn't apply to research; reading or web-browsing for information isn't nearly as much of a brain-drain.) I can write for longer than 60 minutes if I want, but generally that time won't count as time worked; it's writing that I'm doing for fun. (Writing is supposed to be fun!)
As a compromise between flexibility and procrastination, I am required to work four days a week for at least half an hour. Otherwise, I'd be trying to cram 3.5 hours of writing in ever Saturday. ;)
Additional time spent writing is fine. Time may be carried over from one week to the next, or one month to the next.
I'll stick to this through January, then evaluate how much progress I've made and decide if I need to tweak the time commitments up or down, or go back to word-quota system, or try a chapter-completion system.
By the end of 2004, I will have revised Prophecy into a complete and coherent novel that I am willing to show to at least six friends
This is my new "Victory!" condition. Once I have done this, I will consider myself to have finished writing a novel. The Prophecy concept is awfully ambitious and I may not get it to a stage where I think "yeah, this is publishable, I should shop it around". In particular, I might decide that the time I'd have to invest to make the book truly good would be better spent on a different project.
But, basically, I still want to finish it so I can say "yes, I've written a book". Moreover, circulating it to a slightly wider audience will give me a better perspective on how good or bad it is, how much work I need to do to improve it, and what things specifically need more work. That could mean years more research or a total overhaul of the whole thing, and I'm not willing to commit to that at this stage. So, instead, I'm setting a victory condition that I know I can achieve in a reasonable amount of time.
I'm not going to settle on a revision plan yet. I may take a month or so off after finishing the rough draft, then spend a month working on the revision, and then decide what plan would work best for finishing it.
Once I have achieved my first and second resolutions, I will be proud of myself. I will not qualify my achievements with "yes, but ..."
I will weigh 130 lbs or less, or have a 26" waist, by the end of 2004.
I'm not going to set up a diet or exercise plan right now. I weigh 140 at the moment, so losing ten pounds shouldn't be too much to ask of myself. I decided to stick in the waist measurment just in case I decide to become an excercise maniac and build up so much muscle mass that I become thinner without losing weight. This would be totally uncharacteristic of me and I can't see it happening -- but if it did, I'd hate to penalize myself for it. ;)
I will finish the JTM campaign, and start roleplaying online again
I've done hardly any roleplay in the last couple of months, which means that I've barely seen most of my friends outside of LJ. I'm not going to set up a quota or promise to do more roleplay this year than I did last -- but it shouldn't be hard to improve from the near-zero of the last two months. :)
I will strive to be calmer and more emotionally stable
Particularly at work lately, I've been cursing customers under my breath and stewing over trivial annoyances from co-workers. Frankly, this is over stuff that's not merely small, but microscopic. There's not a whole lot I can do to stop myself from being initially annoyed, but if I catch myself at it, I can stop myself and relax.
Get the basement to stop leaking
This may require professional help, but I should be able to afford that before year-end. I'm mostly putting this on the list because I want some easy ones on here. Hey, as long as I'm making 'em ....
To have at least five pairs of pants for work that fit well
Another easy one, and this has been much too annoying to me lately.
I will not be discouraged or give up trying, regardless of how many or how few of these resolutions I fail to achieve at the end of the year.
All right, that's all I can think of for now that I care to put on the list. Now, in a year, I can look back on this list and see how I did. :) I may add others to this later, if I think of something else.