2015 Goals and Guiding Principles

As I wrote recently, I want 2015 to be a better year for me and for my sanity.  The Guiding Principles for me are twofold: Make More Stuff and Deal With My Anger.  These two goals are actually interrelated, as not doing the first fuels the second, and the second burns up all the energy and focus for doing the former.  The good news is that I see the cycle, and I know how to break it.  I make one of these posts just about every year and how I feel about my life at the end of the year is often directly proportional to how well I planned this.  While I was pretty tired and in a lot of new situations at the end of last 2013, I had a pretty amazing year for writing and making games.  Last year I didn’t really write anything (that I published), I didn’t finish any coding projects (although I started many of them).  I also didn’t ever get around to writing a list of yearly goals, either, even in March when I finally felt like it.

So, first and foremost, these aren’t resolutions.  A lot of people make resolutions like “Exercise more” or something similar. They resolve to be better, but that’s pretty useless, for two reasons.  First, there’s nothing concrete to it — no actions are specified, so it’s just a warm fuzzy feeling, not something to do. Second, it’s not measurable, so you never know if you actually did it or not. You might do it, and think you didn’t because you didn’t measure it to know. You have to have real, actionable, measurable items to determine your success. In 2013, for example, I wanted to publish a new story every week, and write a new game every month. I made it to mid-October on the story writing, and to August on the new games.  (That’s when I started my new job and everything went wonky for me.)

“You might say, we’ll that’s like a 75% on the one goal and only a 50% on the second.”  Then you might say, “weren’t there some other goals you never did?”  Then I’d have to nod and reckon you were right, but I’m still happy.  Because the third rule for me is that these are aspirational goals, if I achieve them too easily, I could have done more. I work best when there’s not quite enough time and energy to get everything done.  This is tricky because if I decided to say, write a novel every week, I’d know that was impossible and just give up. But if I said write a novel every two or three months, that might be doable, and I’d give it a go.  If I got two novels done in a year, that’s better than a lot of the authors I love, so go me.

Deal With My Anger

Dealing with my anger is the hardest principle to write goals for. I’m not even sure if the goals I come up with will help. That’s not really a problem either, because any project (such as trying to have a good year) can be renegotiated. Most everything is negotiable here, since it’s all me.

I’ve always kept a journal. Twenty years ago (in May, anyway) I decided to start doing it online. In part that was a reaction to my ex-girlfriend reading my private journal. In part it was an exercise in reaching out during my loneliest time. That journal has mutated from GeoCities to LiveJournal to a CMS I wrote myself to this very blog.  As time went on (particularly in the LJ days), I learned that it didn’t really replace a private journal. As more and more of the people in my life became internet people (instead of, or as well as face-to-face people I knew in the “real” world), I learned that I couldn’t support my relationships and say whatever I wanted, so I edited myself a lot. Things were pretty good and just writing regularly (or even kind of erratically) was good enough.

Now I have very personal stuff I need to process, and I’m used to writing on multiple computer and devices, so I need a cloud version, and I need it to be private, but I need to be writing a personal journal again. I’m going to go for my try every day, but do it five times a week as my metric. I’m not going to worry about word counts, or anything. I am going to try to keep track of the things that are making me angry, figure out what they are and deal with it.  I will bring some of it here, once I’ve got it better organized in my  head, probably. Or maybe only I care about that, but there’s something about this sharing that matters to me.

I’m also going to go to a support group, a long with some of the other parts of my family.  One of the things making me angry will be helped by this support group, and that’s all I can say about it — it’s not my issue to air, although it affects me, and I need to learn to deal with the parts of it I can affect (aka: me).  I’m hoping to do this a couple of times a month. We might shoot for more earlier.  As I haven’t done this in a long time, I’m not sure if it’ll stay on this list or expand.  As a teen I went to a couple of Epileptic support groups but I was neither self-aware enough nor having that big of a problem to need them, so I never went twice.  We’ll see.

Finally, I need to funnel this into my writing. I’m having this upheaval, and unlike the last time I felt this lost, I’m more aware of it, and a better writer. I want to make characters that can say what I can’t, that can feel and go through the stress I’m going through. Better more real characters. If this is going to block me from writing, it’s going to ultimately support me in my other major guideline, making more things.

Making More Things

This is more quantifiable and I’ve been struggling with it. Part of the goal here is not just working on things, but to actually finish them, and try to get them out into the world.  This year, I’m not going to worry about writing weekly. I’m not sure how I feel about the 2013 experiment; certainly a pressure to produce weekly got words out the door, but I don’t feel like regular writing brought eyeballs to my work. I struggle with this — the feeling that I make things and no one looks at them. While making things is good for my soul, the feeling of shouting into a big empty warehouse is like friction against that, and by October of last year the energy output to keep it up couldn’t overcome the friction, and I stopped. (And the total energy had dropped because of other things).

So, this year, what are these goals?

  1. A new short story to novella every month, posted to Tortugasms (nsfw, eh?).
  2. Two e-books, one of which is half done already, published to the various e-book sites for sale.
  3. A new small game or experiment every month.
  4. Two major coding projects, one of which is a game

This feels very non-ambitious to me as I write it, but I know that I’ve got some work to do, and I want to do something bigger. One of the coding projects right now, is my already started JavaScript parser engine + game.  The other is either a project I’m working on with a friend, or another game. I need some way to track incremental progress on these, so I’ll know that I’m working on them.  I plan to post more about the projects here, as I talk about design and technical issues as they come up.  I also want to learn TDD as part of the program, and better plotting as part of the novel writing.

I’m also on a monthly schedule now of getting paid, instead of weekly like I was in early 2013. The heartbeat of my life is a bit different, so I’m going to go with that.

And I can always rework goals as I need, which I have to tell myself as this post has been open for a week, and in my mind for a month. It needs to go out to the world now.

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