Every year I start the year with a plan. Every year up until now the plan breaks down. But this year again, nevertheless, I started with a plan.
This year as every year I have two goals. A goal of aspiration and a goal of achievement. The aspiration is what I hope for, the achievement what I can reasonably work towards.
My goal of aspiration – my grail, my shining city on a hill – is to be published. Not self-published, you understand. That is attainable. Indeed it’s something I achieve with every blog post or photo on Instagram.
No, what I crave is the approval of someone else. Someone who does not know me. Someone who reads something I have written or sees a picture I have made and is prepared to invest time, effort and space in order to share it with other people who also do not know me. To have someone advocate for me, to say: This is good, you should read this, you should see this.
A goal of aspiration. And lo, I’ve already achieved it!
Last month. A poem I wrote in 2019 and submitted to a competition was accepted for publication and published. It even won a prize. Three weeks on I’m still buoyed up by that.
But what does that do to my annual plan?
It changes nothing. My goal of aspiration remains the same. I want to be published … again. But now it no longer seems so remote a possibility and it fuels my motivation to keep to the plan.
My goals of achievement this year are as follows:
- to write daily;
- to write a minimum average of 1000 words each day;
- to write and complete at least one short story or poem every month; and
- to submit at least one short story or poem every month somewhere for publication.
Now, at the beginning of February, I can say I hit almost all my targets in January. I missed writing on three days, and on five days (including the three when I didn’t write) I recorded no words written. But taking the whole month together (all 31 days of it) I averaged 1032 words a day. The two days when I reckon that I did some writing but didn’t record the number of words, the writing I did was mostly in the form of notes or responses to e-mail questions, and I didn’t bother to count.
Now, to be sure, some of those words I wrote for paid jobs. I translate texts for teaching and for the web, and I write teaching material for 8-12 hours each week. But I’ve done that for many years. In January it didn’t represent more than about 3000 words each week. The rest was all creative. Maybe not 1000 creative words a day on average, then, maybe it was closer to 700. But I can do better than that.
So much for the first two goals of achievement.
The remaining goals are dependent on the first. If I can write regularly and consistently, I should be able to complete at least one short story or poem every month. Surely? And if I can do that, I ought to be able to submit at least one as well. I managed in January. I will manage in February. And for the rest of the year, my hopes are high.