Half-Year Review

So here we are about halfway through 2016.  There have been some ups and downs, and I wanted to be honest about how things have been going with regards to my 2016 resolutions.



I’ve been pretty determined this year, and it looks like it’s going strong so far.  I’ve got a handful of stories either in revision or being drafted.  Among all of them, drafting isn’t the problem, but I’m a little worried about revisions that are starting to pile up.



On paper, I can manage my time quite well.  I look at the week ahead each Sunday night, figure out which nights I want to go out with friends and which I ought to stay home and catch up on work, and assemble my to-do list.  Keeping a to-do list has really helped progress on small and medium-sized tasks.  Almost everything I have set for a given day gets done.  But it’s the larger tasks like development, revising, research, and working on freelance proposals that I’m sorry to say I’ve slacked off on way too much.  That has to stop.  I’m trying something this week where I get specific with my schedule.  For example, instead of a two-hour block of revisions, I’m splitting it up on my schedule with “Revise Story A” and “Revise Story B.”



I was doing all right keeping in reasonable shape for a while, and then went off the rails over the last couple of months.  This needs no massive explanation.  I haven’t slept much, I’m not watching what I eat (or turn too quickly to convenient junk food), and I haven’t committed much time to exercise.



I did find a couple of writing groups that I’m really happy with.  One is a Saturday morning work session in Sherman Oaks with some great people I’ve been getting along with.  The other is a critique group in Pasadena meeting every other Monday night.  That one’s been great because it’s less about line editing and more about getting an initial audience reaction.  There was a third group I joined earlier this year, a more structured and disciplined workshop group, but there were too many scheduling conflicts with the Sherman Oaks group and one of them had to go (making resolve that much more important).



January was magic.  February had a couple of missed days, and March even more.  I think I barely wrote anything in April, but I was going through some personal issues that made it impossible to focus on anything.  Jerry Seinfeld’s calendar trick really is amazing, and I’ve slowly gotten back on the horse in May; I’ve written about as much in May as I did in March and April combined.  I’m also going a little low-tech and drafting in notebooks, something a lot of writers from Seinfeld to Neil Gaiman advocate.  It’s great because it’s 100% distraction free.  No Twitter or email or Youtube.  As I write this, I’m looking up Quicksilver’s running scene from the new X-Men movie.  God, don’t you just love it when they get superheroes and the 80s mixed just right?



I can very proudly say I got this one in the can after attending AWP here in Los Angeles.  I had a great time at the conference, learned a lot, attended readings by incredible writers, and caught up with old friends.  Next year’s conference is in Washington DC.  I would love to go, but don’t want to get my hopes up.  In the meantime, I’m looking to attend a lot more local readings, at least once or twice a month.

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