June Retrospective

I am so tired, folx. Between anxiety attacks, I’m working full-time, doing a night class, and trying to make this whole writing thing my side gig. I haven’t come close to the rejections goal I set earlier this year, which is mostly due to having set that goal before having enough pieces to actually send out or a list of publishers ready to actually send to. Silly mistakes. But that’s what you’re here for, isn’t it? I can live with that.

I whine, but there are so many people out there who have it far worse than I do. This doesn’t make my exhaustion any less valid or, well, exhausting, but it does put things into perspective. Perspective is a good thing to keep a hold on, especially when you’re trying to do something far out of your comfort zone.

It’s been a crazy month for me personally, but also all over the world. So much so that I have forced myself to stop reading the news as much. I still keep track of the outside world through Twitter, but mostly I focus on not burning out while trying to produce work. Let’s see how that’s panned out:

Monthly Totals

Total words written: 9,523
Days missed: 5 (not including planned days off)
Average WPD (words per planned working day, missed or not): 433

Okay, not super well this month. Burn out is definitely something I’m struggling with recently. 

What Went Well

One day, this will be a picture of my OWN chickens!
Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com
  • I set goals for myself! I’ll talk more about this next post, but I figured out what I actually want to accomplish and broke it up into increasingly smaller goals until I can set tasks every day that are relevant to them. This also allows me to:
  • Schedule breaks. I keep burning myself out at work, in class, and with writing, and it’s mostly making my love of the craft suffer. After figuring out that I can still achieve (most) of the goals I set while taking days off, I’ve been able to schedule days where I do nothing but chill – and by days, I mean one full day combined with days where I write but don’t work or work but don’t write. I’m still working on figuring that out, but it’s a start.
  • I’m in the process of trying to buy a house, which takes up so much time and mental energy. It’s a lot of “I hope this doesn’t crash down around me” combined with “that’s going to cost how much?” and a lot of “we can have chickens??” I’m excited, so it’s going in this category, but damn it’s exhausting.
  • Because of the budgeting we’re doing for buying a house, on top of the fact that mortgage will be cheaper than our rent, it looks like I’ll be able to attempt to take a year off from “traditional” work much sooner than anticipated. This, of course, is really showing my privilege, so please know that I am ridiculously thankful for it, and will be paying it forward once everything is settled.
  • After setting up a schedule and a plan, I’ve finally been able to finish a few drafts of something. It’s just flash fiction, but it feels nice. Now I just need to figure out who the hell to send it to. Which is exactly how I don’t recommend you do this whole writing thing. Find a place first, kids. Then you can make sure it fits their requirements as you go.

Lessons Learned

  • See the last point above. This isn’t mandatory, especially if you are writing for personal expression or don’t care about being paid/published, but it’s helpful.
  • I’ve been a little cocky, I think. This year that’s coming up will not necessarily be the year that I actually start making money as a writer. It might end up being when I find out I have a long way to go to write what others want to read. We’ll find out, I suppose. Either way I’m excited to start improving, and my expectations have now been sufficiently lowered. 
  • Speaking of cocky, I’m going to be taking some time to rethink this blog. I’ll still be writing as transparently as I can about my experiences, but I think there are a lot of ways I can improve the content. More to come!
  • I’ve decided that I’m not much of a “morning pages” type of person. I am definitely able to write a lot of words that way, but it’s all unusable freewriting. This helps when I have writer’s block, but only takes up time I could actually be working on something otherwise. With the precious little time I have to work, I need to reserve as much as I can, which precludes morning pages. I’ll probably get back into it once I have the time to.

How I’ve achieved, failed, or abandoned last month’s goals

  • I planned to take planned breaks and stick to a schedule last month, and I’ve started working on this. It’s going to take some time to get into the habit, and I need practice to figure out exactly when and how to take the breaks, but I’m getting there.
  • Whether or not I’ve been exercising and eating well is debatable. I’ve taken lengthy morning walks twice a week with my partner, but it’s not the same intensity I used to exercise. One of the first things I’m buying when we move will be gym equipment, so maybe that’ll resolve itself.
  • As I mentioned above, Morning Pages are just not my thing. I tried them, but until I have more time to write, it’s not something I can indulge in.
  • An Errant Crow hasn’t been touched since I wrote last month’s retro! Instead, I worked on something I thought would be a quick edit (the flash fiction story I mentioned above), but I am second-guessing everything I write now. I have faith I’ll shake myself of the problem, but it’s something important enough to mention.

Goals or Action Items for Next Month

  • Join a writing group! I mentioned this already but I need to find a group of writers that I can workshop stories with and who’s writing I can critique as well.
  • Keep working on figuring out when I should schedule breaks to maximize my productivity while minimizing my encroaching burnout. I sound like one of those “rise-and-grind” bros, but honestly I’m just trying to make more time for doing what I love without completely frying my brain as I do it. It’s the mandatory stuff that’s making it difficult.
  • Get settled in my new home. It’s not really a writing goal directly, but will allow me to get my WRITING WALL set up. I literally just made up this term while typing the first draft of this post, but basically amounts to the random shit I will be putting on my walls for organization and motivation. I’ll be sure to take pictures and write about it, don’t worry. 

Your turn! What goals did you set last month? Were you able to achieve them? Why or why not?