At the turn of every new year, I take a look at what I’ve done in the last 365 days and figure out what I want to accomplish in the next. Sometimes, it’s a little disheartening looking back over the last twelve months. I’m ambitious in my goal-making, and I often put more on my plate than I can feasibly plow my way through. So at the end of the year, I’ve often done a lot less than I set out to do at the beginning. Books I wanted to write only gathered a handful of chapters over the months. Others I wanted to finish were never even opened. And the few stories I did finish took much longer than I expected and cost me a lot of undue stress and suffering in the process.
So at the beginning of the year, when everything feels possible and I’m refreshed by the promise of a new year, not yet worn down by seemingly endless nights of drafting and editing, I think… This year will be different. This year, I’ll make better use of my time. This year, I’ll finish everything I set out to do.
But will I?
Honestly, I don’t know. I do know what I’m capable of in all the right circumstances. I know what I can accomplish when all the planets align and I suffer no missteps or delays, but life has a way of screwing me over, despite my best efforts. Illness. Burnout. Lack of motivation. Depression. Whatever. I can’t plan for that exactly. I can only ride it out when it comes, try to maintain my forward momentum, and remind myself that it’s okay if I don’t meet every one of my goals as long as I do my best.
I’m not a failure if I try.
So here I am, again, at the beginning of the year, wondering what I’ll accomplish.
I know what I want to do, what books I want to finish—what books I must finish. The rest are maybes. Possibilities. If everything goes to plan. I’m a bit more flexible now in my yearly goals, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less ambitious.
Looking at my possible schedule for the year, I might finish as many as five books over the next twelve months. If everything goes to plan. If I write and edit like a god. In just one series, there’s a novella I want to write, a novel I wrote last year that I’ll have to edit and prep for publication, and then a sequel to draft. As part of the maybes, there’s another project I want to finish drafting by the end of the year, and yet another that I want to edit.
Will I manage it all?
I don’t know. The first schedule I made for myself spanned 55 weeks without any scheduled vacation or breaks between books. Oops. The second schedule was a bit more forgiving, with 12 weeks unallocated to any specific project or deadline. But depending on how the year goes, who knows what I’ll get done. I might only finish the novella and the edits for the novel to be published. I might be able to start drafting the sequel. I maybe—just maybe—will be able to finish the side-project I started working on almost two years ago. And if I’m really lucky, I’ll finally finish editing the project that I’ve now been working on for six years, on and off.
Realistically, probably not. But I’m hopeful.
If not, I know what my plans for 2017 will be.
All of this is to say… I don’t know, really. I like planning out my year. I like schedules. I like having an anchor in the face of the unknown to come.
Writing is my job, my career, and if I want to be successful at it, then I need to allocate my time properly and make plans for what I’ll write, edit, and publish over the next year or two. I might ambitiously unrealistic in my goals for the year, but at least I’ll never have the fear of not knowing what to write. That’s pretty much fixed for the next few years, and I’m sure to get more ideas in the meantime.
All I can be sure of is that the beginning of the year is a time of possibility and uncertainty. I don’t yet know what the year will bring, but at least I’ll be writing.