Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: The 2019 Recapitulation Post

We're going to pause for a couple of weeks in our reading of Ultralearning by Scott Young to observe the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020. This has become an annual event for me here at Original Content, one I look forward to. The end of a year and beginning of another are temporal landmarks. I love them.

We begin today with the recapitulation post, in which I go over my professional goals and objectives for the year, determining what worked and what didn't, what I want to continue doing, what I want to change. This will set me up for planning next year's goals and objectives next week. (Honestly, I'm doing this the second and third week of December. I'm not actually working Christmas Eve.)

Woe is Me. This was a year that should have gone very poorly professionally because of the usual family health problems we've had here for more than a dozen years now. In fact, in February I did only two blog posts because we had two elderly relatives with serious problems at the same time. We had a death in April and a protracted wait before we could have the funeral in May. I had Lyme Disease in July, which wasn't all that bad, though I did spend a lot of time watching Netflix on a couch in the afternoons and the whole Lyme and its treatment kept us from the short trips we were planning. We were planning short trips because we started house hunting at the end of March, and that has gone very poorly. Very, very poorly. I will not get started on that. Wait. I just did.

In spite of all that, I stayed on task pretty well with my goals and objectives. And that is why you should have them, people. When the going got tough, and I didn't feel up to a lot, I had objectives/tasks in mind that I could choose from. I didn't have to struggle to come up with all new projects. I will be doing a specific blog post on this next year.

How Did Gail Do In 2019?

Goal 1. Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories. I was aware that one of our family members was very ill and thought, under the circumstances, that short-form work would be easier to manage than a novel. I mention this because it will come up with a later goal.


  • Revise "His Times Or Mine" essay Have made good progress on this.
  • Start some eating essays. Started one.
  • Choose an essay or short story from the files or journal to do a little work on every day. Nope. Never gave it a thought. I did, however, do a new essay at the end of the year and got it to the point of submission. It's seasonal, so I can spend 2020 looking for places to submit it next year
  • Read an essay or short story every day.
    Did very well with this, missing only 22 days, to date. Most of these were in the two months I was recovering from the antibiotics for the Lyme. I don't feel I got much from this every day experience. I have a different plan for next year.
  • Finish reading "A Room of One's Own" by Virginia Woolf during retreat week (next week!), because it will make me feel accomplished and smart. Did finish this, though I don't know if I finished on schedule. I do feel accomplished and smart.
  • Spend the last week of every month completing something. Anything. Yeah, forgot about this, too.

Goal 2. Concentrate on submitting completed book-length projects as well as short form work. I ended up concentrating on completing a novel instead. Nonetheless, I did 50 submissions this year, up from 37 last year. That includes taking part in Twitter pitches a few times. I had two agents ask for complete manuscripts for two different projects.


  • Research agents at "Publishers Marketplace" Started with this late summer/early fall
  • Research agents for adult books Same as above
  • Pay more attention to agents on Twitter. Which is not stalking them. Not much
  • Spend more time with essay Facebook group. Those people are publishing and share their work, exposing me to new markets. Which is not stalking them. Not much

Goal 3. Work on the YA thriller just enough so I'll have material to take to my SCBWI writers' group. I gave up writers' group for a big part of the year while we had sick family or I was sick. Got started with it, and this thriller, in the fall.


  • Start by revising the material I've shown them. No one is going to remember that. Got great feedback when I went to them this fall.
  • Work on blueprinting. Ah...But the "Ultralearning" read is going to help with this.
  • Just work on scenes. Don't worry about connecting things. No.
  • Read YA thrillers. Read several of these.
  • Keep theme in mind. What?

Goal 4. Complete a second draft of Good Women by September. Completed it much earlier. Since a lot of it was a second draft with new material at the end, I found this much easier to work on during funeral planning/sickness periods than coming up with new short projects for an earlier goal. As I said earlier, next year I'm going to do a blog post about this experience.

Forget Objectives. This Is What I Did:
  • Gave manuscript to Beta Reader 1. Made revisions.
  • Gave manuscript to Beta Reader 2. Made revisions.
  • Began submitting.
 Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding


  • Get started with writers' group again. That didn't start until fall.
  • Continue with Original Content. Yes.
  • Check out NESCBWI spring conference, with possibility of attending. Checked, didn't go.
  • Check out NESCBWI-PAL offerings this year, with possibility of attending. Checked, didn't go.
  • Be open to attending events for writers of adult literature. Attended a Connecticut Women Writers' meeting.
  • Attend other authors' appearances. Attended at least 4.
  • Continue with promoting Original Content at Google+, Facebook communities, Goodreads' blog, and Twitter. Google+ is gone. I was not as strong on this as I have been in the past, but kept it up, nonetheless.
  • Provide social media support for writers/bloggers generating diversity material. Was very weak on this. Am planning to up this for January, since Multicultural Children's Book Day is the 31st.

Goal 6. Expect the end of the year to be a disaster. Don't fall behind on goals so that I have to struggle to catch up while dealing with the holidays. I also ended up planning to do short-term things in December, reading for instance. I've been doing agent research. I've been planning for next year. December has been great. (Well, it was great. A future blog post will deal with this.)

Checking In With Goals

For a year or two, I was creating a done list each Friday, with which I checked to make sure I'd worked on goals that week. I found it very helpful, but also a little time consuming. It was one of the first things I gave up last summer when that family member fell ill. This year I'm going to try to do it just once a month. I see I did this at the end of January. Totally forgot about it after that. If I had kept up with that, I would have been aware that I was slipping on some of the Goal 5 objectives and been able to pick up on them.

I mention this because, as I just said, it was helpful, especially with the social media goals. I would hustle Thursday night to get things done, because I knew I had to report the next day. You might want to try it.

In Conclusion

Now, yes, if you read this carefully you noticed that I didn't publish anything this year. And, yet, I feel good about maintaining a work life, at all. I am sure this is totally due to creating and using goals and objectives.

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