I just learned 2010 is going to be the Year of the Tiger, symbolizing among other things a year of “being focused and living in today.” I like the energy behind that thought, and I want to keep that energy alive. One of the best ways for me to do so is to keep a dedicated "writer's calendar" marking my progress.
A few weeks ago I lucked out when I went to the library and picked up a free calendar courtesy of the Albuquerque Water Utility. It's a quality publication, filled with beautiful paintings by New Mexico artists including a piece painted by Tom Blazier, the husband of one of the members in my writers’ group. I always take it as a good sign when that kind of synchronicity appears in my life!
Soon after New Year’s Day I sat down to plan how to use the calendar and how it could help me keep track of my goals and my attempts to achieve them. The first thing I did was divide my goals into four distinct types or levels. These became: daily goals, e.g., word counts, marketing tasks, or choosing the manuscript I want to work on for any particular day; weekly goals, which included things such as “artist’s dates” and writers' group meetings; monthly goals, which basically set out where I want to be with each manuscript by the end of the month; and my yearly goals, or what I call the Big 5: two manuscripts ready for submission; one published book; a completed art journal (which will have a lot of writing, not just art); and a disciplined, engaging poetry practice. For each of these goal types, I’ve created deadlines for when I want to have them completed or at least on the boil.
Essential to making my calendar work is making sure I never use it for anything unrelated to writing; no dental appointments or to-do lists that involve mopping the floor or buying extra milk. This is a calendar for my writing, nothing else. At the same time, I want to keep things flexible—if I miss a deadline for some essential and unavoidable reason, I’ll simply move it ahead to a better and more workable time frame.
Like most calendars, the one I’m using has some extra spaces without dates tacked on to the end of each month. So far these have proven to be a great places to write down favorite writing affirmations. Later on I might use the spaces to give myself some gold stars, or perhaps make a wish list of goals for next year.
Tip of the Day: It’s still not too late to find a calendar for 2010; in fact, now is a good time to buy one on sale. Try to get a calendar that’s sized to fit into your binder or work-in-progress, one that also has large enough date squares to easily write in. Mine is 8 ½ x 11, perfect to keep with my WIP.