May 2015 – Goals in Review

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The first few months of this year I was suprised at how quickly the month seemed to go by. Strangely, this month it feels as though it’s been ages since I wrote one of these goal review posts. I’m not sure what the difference was, exactly, but for a moment I actually got confused and thought that I somehow missed the last post.

But I guess I’m just kinda losing my mind because we’re totally on track. I’m a few days late because I didn’t want to disrupt “Super-Sale Excerpts” week, but other than that, totally on track. Stop second-guessing yourself, Tracey. Geez.

Goal #1. Take care of myself more.

There were a few ups and downs with this goal during the month of May. On the exercise side of things I spent a good bit of time running around with my daughter outside while I was home, and I’ve gone from a desk job to a field job these past two weeks, so I’ve been easily hitting 10,000 steps a day without even trying. I also bought myself a nice new pair of running shoes, but unfortunately I haven’t had many chances to try them out just yet. The first half of my work shift was strangely cold and rainy, and since rain turns Alberta dirt into the messiest, most slippery mud you’ve ever seen, I haven’t been willing to risk it. I did get a few excellent runs in this past week, but that’s part of June so it doesn’t count for the purpose of this post.

My eating habits have not improved – in fact, I’ve been positively ravenous the past few weeks so I’ve been eating everything in sight. But I did discover that eating strawberries daily is really good for my stomach, so that’s cool.

Finally, the last week of May was a bit stressful because of the job change, and a lot of my time at home was spent digging through the house for junk to throw out for heavy trash pickup, but I did manage to have some relaxing days as well. One particular day we took the little missy and her cousin to the circus and it was an excellent day. Two thumbs up for that one.

Goal #2: Continue to build my readership/viewership.

This has been another up and down kind of goal for the month of May. On the one hand I’ve gained several new followers on Twitter and Instagram, and my YouTube subscribers have been steadily increasing, which is humorous to me since I do those videos just for fun. On the other hand my blog has been pretty dead for the past month. I partially understand why, because I did take it easy on the blog through May as a way to gain some relaxation time, but I’m still a little confused. According to the WordPress stats I have 374 WordPress followers and over 100 email followers, but I’m only getting an average of about 30 views per day on the days that I post. That’s pretty piddly. By comparison, my “Enormous Funko Haul” YouTube video has gotten an average of 100 hits a day, every day, for the past five months.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to make the blog more interesting, but the truth is that anything I could do would require time that I don’t really have. But if anyone has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them.

Another good thing? “Nowhere to Hide” has been getting excellent reviews. Between the various Amazon sites and GoodReads, the book now has ten unique reviews – in addition to the two blogger reviews it got a while back – and so far no one has given it less than 4 stars. That’s a pretty decent record so far. The bad news? No one is actually buying the book anymore. Throughout April and May I didn’t have a single sale – hard copy or e-book – and although I reduced the price of the e-book to 99 cents recently to entice buyers, I have only had one sale of it as of the writing of this post. I won’t lie; this is extremely discouraging. I don’t ever expect “Nowhere to Hide” to be a money-maker, but I honestly expected to get a sale at least every couple of weeks. I didn’t think I would go for periods of months at a time without any sales at all. The answer, as many other writers would tell me, is to have more books published and available, but we all know that such a plan is not exactly a quick process.

Goal #3. Write. Write a lot.

Well the first thing to mention is that May definitely beat out April, and by about 9000 words, which is pretty awesome. All together, between blog posts, working on “The Other World”, and other random stuff, I wrote 21,657 words throughout May. That’s a big improvement over previous months, and a bit of a surprise since I didn’t realize I’d been writing that much. The job change I mentioned means that I can’t randomly scribble as much as I used to, and I took a bit of a hiatus from writing while I was home in May, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise to find out that May was actually my best month so far this year.

So that’s pretty much it for me for the month of May. How was your month? Did you get anything accomplished? Do anything fun? Please share!

A Little Push

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

29. Encourage other writers to keep going

I suspect that it is an inevitable truth that at some point (and possibly multiple, regularly occurring points) every writer feels like giving up. Whether you’re an amateur working on your first real manuscript or a published professional having issues in editing, writers are a naturally self-depreciating breed. As my rage comic indicated, we have a tendency to flow through repeating stages of “I’m so awesome!” and “I’m such a hack!” It is a tendency we share with artists, musicians, and other creative peoples who put a little piece of their own selves into their work.

Some of this constant shift in attitude can be attributed to physiology (moods, hormones, emotional state due to outside forces, etc), but much of it is likely due to the lifestyle of a writer and the inability of people in general to fairly, and without bias, judge themselves.

The lifestyle may break may would-be writers because they simply can’t (or feel that they can’t) handle it. The life of a writer may seem simple and carefree to many, but in reality it can be very stressful and difficult. Deadlines may lead to anxiety and burnout. Disagreements with editors and agents can cause frustration and a feeling of losing creative control. Rejections from published and poor critiques/reviews can create doubt, depression, and the belief that you’ll never be successful. It’s a mentally and emotionally exhausting situation to volunteer for.

And then there’s that bit about being unable to judge ourselves. As humans, we are notorious for this, not just involving creative processes, but in every aspect of our lives. One only needs to observe drivers on the highway to understand the concept. Everyone on the road believes that they are an excellent driver, while everyone else is a dangerous SOB who needs to be arrested. It’s the same with writers, except that in our case it works at both ends of the spectrum. Either you think you rock (even if you don’t) while everyone else is a hack, or else everyone else is amazing while you’re a miserable failure (even if you aren’t).

So, in conclusion, being a writer is wrought with emotional distress, time management impossibilities, peer-to-peer conflict, pain of rejection, and psychological issues, and on top of all that you might never become successful enough to make a living out of it.

And here I am, supposedly about to tell you to keep going. Hmm…

Here’s the thing…have you ever heard the phrase that nothing worth doing is easy? While it may not be a logical descriptor for every person in every situation, it still rings true a good deal of the time. Do you think the athletes who go to the Olympics just breeze through the events without any training? Do you think young army recruits just walk through the door and all of a sudden they’re a high-ranking officer? Hell, do you think pregnant women just have a squat and a grunt and a beautiful, perfectly healthy baby just pops out?

If you really care about something – genuinely want it with all your heart, then you’ll do what you have to do and endure what you have to endure to make that dream a reality. Olympians know that they’re going to have to push their bodies to the limit, but they crave that gold, so they move through it. Privates-in-training know they’re going to be trained hard and disparaged at every turn, but they want to serve, so they deal with it. And women know damn well that childbirth is like to be a painful, miserable event that makes them feel like they’re going to die, but they want to bring a life into the world so they damn well manage it.

So if you really want to be a writer, write. Put your heart and soul into it and deal with whatever you have to deal with as a result, because in the end that’s the only true way to get what you want. You have to be willing to do whatever is necessary, end of discussion. If you aren’t willing, well…I guess you didn’t really want it very much in the first place, did you?