In the UK we already celebrated our last public holiday of the summer. If you’re in the US, you’re enjoying yours right now. Make the most, because when this weekend’s over, it’s time to knuckle down. Even if we don’t have to take in the harvest or stockpile supplies to keep our families alive over the winter, we still have that legacy of needing to to put things to bed before the sun sets on the year.
A year ago I tempted Fate by setting myself some fourth quarter objectives:
These days I’m (mostly) in control of my own schedule, and I’m determined to make sure I use that privilege wisely and well. I’m very aware that this is the time of year when everyone else puts the pedal to the metal. Stuff Happens and if I don’t set some priorities I’ll end up firefighting, spending all my time responding to what other people think is important, or overloading myself so badly that I get too fried to enjoy my birthday let alone stuff a turkey.
My plan for the rest of this year is to achieve the productivity without the pain, by being mindful about how I spend my time and making a balanced schedule one of my priorities. (If you’re curious, you can check out the details of that schedule here).
It was a good plan, so inevitably Stuff Happened. Shortly after I published the post, a business run by some close friends ran into a business difficulty that I had the professional skills to solve. It was a no-brainer, something that was important to my husband and me, but putting the problem to rights turned out to be a bigger job than we expected. We got there in time to enjoy my birthday and celebrate Christmas, but my carefully balanced writing plan went to the dogs.
Last year’s interruption came out of the blue. This year I already know there’s a chance I’ll have to work around some family stuff, and if I do, it will take priority. I accept that, but I’m still going to make a plan for the rest of the year, and I’m going to do my damnedest to make it happen.
With fingers firmly crossed, here’s what I’m thinking:
My One Goal to Rule them All is that I want to have the first Alexis book done, edited and polished by my birthday (mid-December). I strongly believe that this is realistic, and it will allow me to end the year with a feeling of achievement that I can use to carry myself forward into next year.
I want to improve my editing skills, and in particular, as I explained in this post, I want to strengthen my voice. Alexis is my priority, but if I have time I also want to re-visit Rose and Ian’s contemporary romance. Fellow Eight Lady Jeanne has offered to help me make both manuscripts more voice-y, and I intend to take full advantage of her offer (see her great post on voice here).
I want to enter both Alexis’s story and Rose’s in the RWA Golden Heart contest. Not because I want to win (that’s a stretch, though of course I’d be thrilled) but because I would really, really like to final. You might remember that Jeanne won the Paranormal GH last year, and I’ve seen from her experience what a great, lasting camaraderie there is among the finalists. I’d love to be a part of that community.
I’ve entered Alexis in a few contests already, well-established ones with a track record of training their first round judges. I’ll use the feedback from those to consider what changes (if any) I’ll make to my opening pages. I don’t think major revisions will be needed, but if they are I’ll consider entering another contest or two to test my changes on a new set of judges.
I decided a while ago that I’m not going to book any more craft courses or buy any more books until I’ve digested the ones I have already. I bought some lecture packets from Margie Lawson last year, and I want to work my way through those. And maybe for a birthday treat I might have to break my own rule and buy Robert McKee’s new book on dialogue.
If I can get Alexis and Rose entered in the Golden Heart in time for my birthday (mid-December), then I’d like to take a breather until after the new year, and I’d like to use the time to think about my series antagonist’s masterplan. I know what he wants, but it’s a grand design and I’d like it to be well thought through. A week or two of wine, good cooking and long walks over Christmas and New Year should combine well with non-fiction books on aspects of geology, astronomy, physics, history and evolution. There’s a lot to think about, and chances are I won’t figure it out right away, but at least I can lay the foundations.
Most of the Ladies are very disciplined about building exercise into their busy lives. When I had a desk job, I was that person, but now I sit down at my laptop and the next thing I know, it’s dinner-time. I’ve said this before, but this time I mean it. I plan to make sure I do some kind of physical activity every day, even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes.
How does the last quarter of the year usually shape up for you? Is there something you could do to make it more productive, more balanced or more enjoyable?