Goals for 2016

whvdy(This is continued from my 2015 in Review post.)

If you’ve stuck with me so far you are both a real trooper and awesome, and I salute you! I’ve decided not to do strict resolutions this year, bcause that’s a good way to accidentally overcommit. (I’ve noticed resolutions tend to be pass/fail and rely on hard numbers, making them easier to blow, whereas goals can be worked on and refined as you progress towards them (or stall).)

This is an ambitious list, and I don’t expect to be firing on all cylinders for all of them all the time. But hopefully I’ll make enough progress on each of them to say I met my goals nonetheless. 🙂

1. Write More, Write Better, and, perhaps most importantly: SUB MORE

Like most years, my goal for this upcoming year is 365,000 words, an average of 1k a day. I’ve never quite made it, but this year could be the year! And I definitely want to finish my shit. 2015 is strewn with the junk heaps of half-finished stories, whether they never made it out of draft zero or never got edited once they were done. I think if I pre-plan a little more (I’m bad at prewriting, which for me means my plots tend to go nowhere fast), more of my stories will end up in a fit state to be fixed up and sent off. So it’s not just about wordcount, it’s about stories that are truly finished stories.

I’d also like to push my writing. I’ve felt very stagnant as far as skill level over 2015, so this next year I want to do things like write outside my genre, push my use of language, try more formats for stories, etc, all in an effort to up my skills as a writer. If you’d like to recommend any articles or books that you think could help, please comment! I’ve also felt the creative well drying up a bit, so I’ll need to work on finding more inspiration so I don’t just keep writing the same sorts of stories over and over and over. I’ll also shove writing more blog posts into this goal, as I’m the worst about keeping this blog updated and I should also work out my non-fiction/personal narrative writing muscles more.

And subbing more! As noted above, I’m terrible about writing up a story, and then not editing it or subbing it anywhere. That’s no way to make a living in this business. So I want to go through the whole submission process more often this year, which should train me to take more stories through editing, finish my shit, and hopefully net me a few publications in the process. 🙂

2. Finish Nautilus

I think I said this last year, but it still stands! I love Nautilus, but I’ve been working on it for four years and would like to put it to bed so I can take on other tabletop RPG projects. Realistically, I”m hoping to get the rules all written up, playtested, and done this year. If I could get art, layout, and whatever distribution I decide on done, too? Badass, yay, awesome. But those things might take more time than I have remaining in the year after I finish drafting up the rules. So: at least text-complete (within reason, there will always be things like typo-fixes up until the last minute), hopefully complete-complete, but we’ll see how things go.

3. Finish a Submission-Ready Draft of The Shivering Deeps

This is another of those projects that I love, but have now been working on for a year and a half, plus lots of time of the development of the characters through other stories before that. I really want to tell this story of Sardimar, Glenna, Cassidy and friends. But I’ve been dragging my feet on really bringing it home, which is rather frustrating. So I’m planning to finish the first draft rewrites within the first couple months of this year and get it out to some betas. A few more rounds of (hopefully less major, or at least quicker) revision after that, I’d like to start querying agents. That will probably take me into 2017, but at least then I’ll be able to start cleaning up a novella and a novel I have sitting in the wings and start getting those out, too.

4. Read More, Read Better

This last year, according to Goodreads, I only read 40 out of the 50 books I was aiming to read. I hope to hit 50 this next year! I’ve also realized I’m mostly reading in the same genres. (Hi, Sci-Fi and Fantasy!) I want to push my reading, so I’d like to read more nonfiction and YA in the coming year, along with a smattering of the classics.  Nonfiction to hunt down that elusive inspiration, and to expand my mind. YA because I’d love to write in the genre but feel I don’t know a lot about it, and it’d be good to get a better idea of what’s out there. (Plus, it’s fun and fast to read, usually, which would be a nice change after reading some very entertaining, but very long fantasy books this year.) And the classics because the Classics Challenge sounds fun, it’d be another way to vary my reading, and because it’d be interesting to revisit some of the books I read in high school and see how they feel different now.

5. Improve My Body

This is going to be a process, so I’m not going to kid myself and think that I’m going to get all lean an muscular or whatever by march. But I’d like to keep pushing my weightlifting, which at this point is probably going to mean putting on some muscle. That’s going to be complicated! But I want to give it a go, which means managing my diet to healthily put on weight, not just lose it. So that might lead to fun adventures in body acceptance during the middle part of the process (where I’m more likely to have some extra weight that, uh, isn’t muscle), which I’m hoping I can handle. I guess we’ll see! I’d also like to start going running again, and to bike around more to keep my cardiovascular shape up.

I don’t have a hard and fast goal for how this is going to turn out, but have sent some benchmarks. In the end, as long as I’ve made good progress by the end of the year, I’ll be happy with it. I hope.

6. Keep Working on My Brain

Try to get my anxiety more managed and under control, figure out ways I can focus better, and try to keep myself calmer and happier. I have some ideas on how to do this, but we’ll have to see how it goes. The main thing right now will be advocating for and trying some medication, and then I’ll go from there.

7. Get Out in Nature More

I love spending time in nature. (Forests are my favorite, but I’ll take almost anything.) It calms me down, keeps me in shape, makes me happy, and is one of the few areas where I feel competent. (Being an eagle scout with a good bit of backpacking experience helps with that last part, though I still have a *lot* to learn.) So I’d like to get out there more. Take some pictures, explore the beautiful state/country I live in, and do something that makes me happy.

8. Travel

Assuming my bugetary needs allow it, I want to do some traveling this year that isn’t just for familial or similar obligations. Last year I got to check out Eastern Washington and Idaho as part of dating PK, which was rad! But I’d also like to start seeing the National Parks, visit new states, and maybe even go abroad. Travel is something I’ve never done a lot of, and I feel like I’m missing out on an important experience. So I hope I can find a way to swing some travel cheaply, and get out there and see the wide world.

(Current dream vacation: go on a rambling, chill backpacking trip through Japan. (Hopefully with PK!) I’d need to level up my Japanese something fierce, but it’d be worth it to do a trip in the vein of the Tokaido road. Nature, hot springs, temples, and lots of fun walking? Hell to the yes.)

9. Get My Financial Shit Together

I don’t do badly on this front, but I want to do better. I’ve mostly made it as far as I have due to having a well-paying day job (I’m honestly not sure how that happened, but I’m grateful even if I’m “eh” about the work), but I feel like I don’t take advantage of that enough. I want to be sure I’m saving for retirement, keeping my head well above water, and spending my money deliberately. That last one’s a biggie. I would like to try to live more frugally, and spend money on quality (for items) and more experiences (see above goals). But I’ll settle for just being satisfied with where my money goes, and having a good handle on exactly that.

Oh, and I want to be able to pay for grad school, so I can avoid loans if at all possible. Major sub-goal, that!

10. Gain New Skills

Not sure what it’s going to be yet, but I’d like to pick up a new skill in 2016. I really like learning new things, and it helps me keep my energy for doing everything else. Right now I’d like to pick up something creative (get back into drawing and/or learn an instrument, most likely), and start studying languages again. The former because I could use another way to express myself besides piles of prose, for a change of pace. The latter because I love learning languages, and it’d facilitate travel and being able to engage with more cultures besides my own. (The languages might not end up being brand new, as I’ve studied Japanese and Spanish before, but I’d definitely be learning tons of new words and grammar, so close enough!)

11. More RPG-related Work!

I love RPGs but don’t get a chance to spend time thinking about them and working on them as much as I want. So this year I’d like to read more RPGs, take some new ones for a spin, and try to improve my skills when it comes to designing and running them. I also think it’d be fun to get more involved in the RPG community, which I’m currently thinking would happen via blog posts and/or a podcast. (I have the mic, now I just need the guts, probably a co-host, and a solid topic focus.)

12. Dance

I just need to dance again, it’s been too long. INVITE ME TO YOUR BALLROOM EVENTS, MY FRIENDS.

13. Meet More People, and Look Good Doing It

I want to push myself to engage with more people, to talk more, and to put myself out there more. Meeting new people and befriending them can be tough for me, but it’s almost always worth it. Plus new friends are just great in general, and I sort of feel like I could do with a few new additions to my social circle. (I love all my friends! But I’ve also picked up very few new ones in the last couple years and it’d feel good to either deepen existing shallow friendships or pick up new ones. Variety is the spice of life, after all.) Plus this could lead to all sort of opportunities for collaboration, something that always excites me but I get very few chances to do at the moment.

The look good doing it felt so shallow I shoved it in here, but it’s true. I’ve been trying to refine my wardrobe and my aesthetic for a while now, and I’d like to give it the last big push this year so I can be happy with how I dress and present myself to others. Because it’d be a shame to miss out on a great connection because I’m embarrassed about how I ended up looking like a schlub today. Besides, my self-confidence can use all the help it can get.

14. Be Kind, Confident, And Reliable

This is a big one. I worry I can be impatient sometimes, or unnecessarily dismissive. So I want to work on that, and try to send out more positivity to those around me. Be Kind, yo.

Confidence is another area in which I rather lack, unless I *know* I’m well-qualified at discussing whatever specific thing is up for discussion. I”m going to need to be confident to further my writing career, my day job career, to do well in grad school—lots of things. So I’m going to try and push myself to put a confident foot forward, apologize if I make mistakes, and to keep on getting on, instead of wincing and turning into an apology puddle the moment I get anxious I *might* be wrong or have done something incorrectly.

Reliable: I’m just super bad at keeping on top of everything and want to try and be more organized and get more things done in a timely fashion. Whether it’s reading loaned books in a timely fashion, getting edits and beta reads back less than a bazillion years later, or getting longer projects done quickly instead of putting them off, I want to improve.

So, lots of goals! Hopefully good ones! I’ll do my best, and whatever goals you’ve set I hope you have the best of luck with them. We can do it! Happy New Year, everyone. May 2016 be your best year yet. 😀

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