*cues “Carry on My Wayward Son”*
Yeah, we’re here again. Another year done and over, and I’m wondering what I have to show for it on the writing facet of my life. I looked back at the massive gap in my posting schedule, and while I found the nearly seven month gap depressing, I noted that in Two Years! I’d written ten blog posts in this past year. Accounting for the two I’ve written since then, my total stands at twelve. While most of those were posted at the beginning of year, one a month isn’t the worse average. Even the little reminder that I had listened to hundreds of writing and self-publishing podcasts astounded me because to be honest, I had completely forgotten that. The hours I work shifted from super early, to relatively normal. While it did wonders for the amount of sleep I average a night (November aside), it cut out the four or so hours a week I could invest in podcast listening. I suppose the computer issues I had with ZJ did little to aid in my attempt to keep my Ipod up-to-date with the latest content.
Even the Facebook year in review was utterly depressing. People moving away for the most part, my plants on the deck, a day the sky attempted to “Mufasa”. While the last was beautiful (see above), it proved nothing on any front that I had accomplished something besides another year of breathing air and surviving the daily grind. I want more than just survival. I found only one bright spot of hope in all this: my posted picture of my NANO win. It was this last spark of hope that I held onto while I plunged into my last metric of writerly intent.
I opened up the thing I’d been dreading: my word tracker. And it wasn’t the tracker itself, let me tell you. It’s a gorgeous spread sheet for Excel that I found on, of all places, Tumblr. Here’s a link to the main site. The art work is superb. I chose Elsa for the year mostly because I enjoyed the cool color scheme. Cool colors just speak to me. Seriously, use these sheets. All you do is add your daily word counts, the rest of all the progress auto updates for you. You can look at daily, monthly, and yearly progress with fun pie graphs and countdowns and daily averages which are calculated for you. Best of all, they are one hundred percent free. I think the real question here, is why aren’t you using these sheets? All you do is set your goal and update your counts. I love it so much I wish it were an app I could download to my phone as an extension of my Fitbit app on this smart phone I didn’t know I needed.
I initially set the goal for the year at 200,000 words, so what I was truly dreading when I looked at my tracker was my seeing my progress, or lack thereof. I knew at the very least it would have to be over 50k because I did finish NaNo after all. Opening it up, I discovered that was pretty much all I had accomplished. 79,704 words not including this very post. Discounting the 50,001 I wrote for NaNo, that left me with 29,703 words for the year. This post is hovering over 1000 words, so I can say for the year, I hit 80,000 words. 120k short of my initial, lofty, New Year Resolution-y goal.
Okay, so I know this post has been very dark, all doom and gloom, but as I was reading one of my very helpful Christmas presents, Joanna Penn’s How To Make A Living With Your Writing, I found a nugget of information that made me reconsider a lot of what I had done. In retrospect, it didn’t seem as mockingly pathetic. I was really harsh with how little I accomplished, how very little it felt like I was succeeding, until I uncovered a small aside she made about sleep.
We all know that on average, an adult should sleep somewhere in the range of eight hours. After a really long writing day, she mentioned she’d sometimes sleep TEN hours. That made a lot of sense to me because I remember how drained I felt all of November. I felt like I had lived in a perpetual fog. At least, since that month, I have been able to swing by more than my usual six or so hours. Yes, as my Fitbit will be more than happy to tell you, this is my nightly average. I feel my Fitbit dashboard silently judging me. It gives me all these happy green smiles for all the walking I’ve done, how I always hit the mark on my H2O consumption, and yet, there waits, as usual, the biggest gap, a.k.a. my lack of sleep.
You’d think I’d be able to move past this issue of mine by now, but it never really happened. I had regular bouts of sleep deprivation since high school, but I could always make up for it by sleeping in on the weekends. Same in college. But since then, there have been no weekends, and on my one day off I usually don’t sleep in. I tend to do house chores instead. Sleep I miss you.
I suppose this is the time of year when we learn to forget old arguments and forgive those who wronged us so that we can move into the New Year less burdened, more ready and willing to accomplish new things, to do something. So this looking back over 2015 and looking into 2016, I want to begin by forgiving myself for not living up to my expectations of myself, let go of my disappointments, schedule in more time to sleep, and keep reading more from Joanna Penn so I can be prepared to self-publish in my future.
So here’s my meter for the year.I look forward to posting it more often for you next year! I managed 80,758 words of my 200,000 word goal. While working two jobs and averaging six hours of sleep a night. I’m keeping my goal of 200,000 words. Next year, I like to blow that 80k out of the water. See you in 2016, all!
Love and Lightning,
-M. L. Trumbull