2009 was a tough year for me. Tougher than I’d like to admit, even to myself. After nine years, I quit my full-time editorial job in early 2008 to concentrate on finishing my master’s thesis, confident that’d I’d be able to find a new position once I’d graduated. Well, I handed in my (draft of a) novel in December 2008. Twelve months later, I’m still freelancing. The job market, I don’t have to tell you, has been tough on everyone, especially writers.
Some progress has been made. I’m delighted to be writing about film again for Moving Pictures Magazine and working with clients on editing and consulting projects ranging from a literary romance novel to a blog that provides management and marketing advice to lawyers.
Still, as I look back on 2009, at what I wrote and what I read and what I watched—the criteria by which I measure productivity—little of substance was accomplished: I didn’t finish any fiction projects. I read only seventeen books. I watched only 109 movies. I neglected my blogs, both here at Mots Justes and at my new personal blog, LAcation.
A year from now, I don’t want to look back on 2010 and see the same results. A year from now, I want to have
- written five hundred pages of fiction
- read fifty books
- watched 250 movies
- published 250 posts on Mots Justes
- published fifty posts on LAcation
- pitched articles or freelancing services to fifty editors
You’ll note that these amounts are multiples of fifty. That’s because there are roughly fifty weeks in a year, so these goals easily break down to
- write ten pages of fiction per week
- read one book per week
- watch five movies per week
- publish five posts on Mots Justes per week
- publish one post on LAcation per week
- pitch an article or freelancing services to one editor
Although I can’t feasibly work on every project every day, perhaps I can write/read/watch five days each week, so
- write two pages of fiction per day
- read fifty pages per day
- watch one movie per day
- publish one post on Mots Justes per day
Suddenly these 2010 year-end totals seem doable.
Still, that’s ambitious, right? Without a forty-hour week, I feel the need to fill an “empty” schedule with projects to keep me busy. But my days aren’t empty, far from it. I spend two days a week in an office for one client, afternoons with private students, and evenings at screenings. Perhaps one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to give something (or some things) up. Otherwise, I’m setting myself up for failure.
But what? Everything I’m involved in, every project I’ve launched, serves my work in some way: How can one be a writer without, well, writing? How can one be a writer without reading? How can one write about movies without watching them? How can one be a writer without learning about one’s craft and connecting with other writers (e.g., though a professional writing blog)? How can one be a writer without exploring the world and experimenting with new forms (e.g., through a personal blog)?
I’m not ready to give up on any of that yet.
Here, at the outset of a new decade, I find myself in much the same place as at the end of the last decade, with many of the same goals and, frankly, many of the same strategies, which is frustrating. But just by writing this post, articulating my plan, exercising my writing muscles, already I feel more hopeful and motivated. Here’s to a happy and productive New Year!