It’s time to check-in on the things I said I would do in December, and to talk about what I plan to do in January.
Three Things for December 2016
December 2016 was a month blighted by snowy weather and a moderately debilitating cold. Still, I had goals and I got some of them done.
- gift shopping – gifts sorted out. Christmas is a deadline you have to meet.
- finish a short story – I did work on a short story, but I really feel like I lost more than half of the time I should have spent on this to the broken routine of snow days and foggy cold-brain. The story is clean, now, but it needs another pass for subtlety and craft.
- read a drawer manuscript – I picked up Song.
Is it arrogant that I am enjoying reading my own manuscript so much? #writing
— Duncan Ellis (@DunxIsWriting) January 2, 2017
It seems to be all right.
On to 2017.
Three Things for 2017
I’m going to repeat these annual goals each month because I want to use them as the lodestone for defining the monthly goals, as well as to allow commentary and measurement against them.
- finish Shapes of Chance – this goal can probably be more accurately phrased as “finish another book”. I chose Shapes because I felt like it was the furthest along, but having read the rough second draft of Song I think I may have picked the wrong book here. There is a lesson in here somewhere, I am sure.It’s still quite likely that I will work on Shapes some more this year, but I will not be driving to finish it ahead of Song
- talk to some agents, aiming to obtain representation
- investigate publishing A New Dawn
Three-ish Things for January
I actually have four things for January since I have a couple of things to push for that I would like to be done for the end of the month, as well as the fiction work I want to continue.
- review Song
- figure out the holes
- make a plan
- short story work: complete and submit Coppersmith
This is the short story I wrote in July and was working on in December. The copy is fairly clean now, but there are still some holes that I need to address before I submit it.And I do plan to submit it: I like this story and I think it has value.
- A New Dawn: next steps
Time to drive this story to a conclusion.
- write Friday lunch presentation
Livia‘s genesis came from a presentation I gave at the day job about writing a novel in 30 days. I am down to give another one in February about what happened next, so I should actually start writing that.
There, that’s enough for one month.
The Death of Other Tracking Systems
This three things method is not the first goal and task tracking approach that I have used. What about the others that were in use before?
- goal posts – the sabbat goal posts I was doing last year have already been abandoned. As noted when I introduced three things, they had become onerous in the extreme to keep current, even with the six-weekly update cycle
- burndown charts – I was also using agile sprint charts to help with tracking how tasks were going. These burndowns were variously presented as cunningly crafted tables and spreadsheets, but I think I can say that the burndown charts are done with. I haven’t updated any of them in weeks, and I don’t think keeping them current now has any further purpose.
- word count spreadsheet – useful when I am in word generation mode, meaningless otherwise. This continues to be a vital tool for staying on track.
- writing log – continues to be extremely useful, since it’s the only consistently formatted, timestamped record I have of my writing and creative activities.