We're coming up on the midpoint of 2016. That means it's a great time to reflect on our progress thus far.
Most years I share my writing goals and resolutions with readers around January and then post a mid-year check-in around early July. This year I conducted my mid-year check-in early. And I highly recommend you do the same.
Why Conduct an Early Mid-Year Review?
The thing about mid-year and year-end progress checks is we're looking back on what's already finished. If we didn't end up where we wanted to be by those points, we're out of luck. All we can do is hope for the best in the next quarter, half-year, or whatever check-in cycle we use.
Whether we're talking about three months or six, that's a lot of time. It's easy to fall back into bad habits or lose our enthusiasm all over again, leaving us in the same unsatisfied position when the next progress report comes along.
This is the big reason I decided to do my check-in a month early this year, and why I highly recommend it.
When you give yourself that extra month, it becomes a sort of recovery period. It feels almost like bonus time allowing you to catch up on at least some of your plans.
That's what I hope to do with most of June -- catch up as much as I can where I've fallen behind and make even more progress where I'm ahead of the game. Why not do the same?
Moving Forward From a Mixed Bag
So far, for me, 2016 has been a very mixed bag. I've had major ups and downs both personally and professionally. Some things just haven't gone according to plan. Others have taken me completely by surprise in the best of ways.
When I shared my goals and resolutions with you this year, I intentionally kept things a bit more vague than usual. I'll try to flesh out some of those goals here a bit as I talk about progress, or my lack thereof.
From a Personal Standpoint...
This year has been an absolute roller coaster.
To say my personal life has been flipped on its head in these past five months would be a massive understatement. I'm not going to get into all of that here. But let's hit on some of the good:
- I'm healthier than I've been in years and have lost a fair amount of weight.
- I stopped biting my nails (and let them grow out for the first time in many years -- a resolution I thought I had no hope of keeping).
- I made the decision to go back to school (and am making quite a bit of progress on narrowing down my grad school options).
- I went back to my maiden name -- something I've been thinking about doing almost from the moment I changed it due to all the problems it caused between business and banking.
- Things at home have been generally quiet and calm (and if you know the history, you know what a good thing that is).
- I've re-connected with a few people I hadn't spoken to in years which, while having had its own ups and downs, has been a generally positive experience.
- I've gotten back into watching soccer, which has become a surprisingly effective stress-reliever for me.
- Along those lines, I've stopped watching the vast majority of TV shows (which has freed a lot of time up for more important things -- like writing, reading, making time for movies I've always wanted to see, learning new things, and spending time on neglected hobbies).
That's a lot of great progress so far this year. But like I said, a bit of a roller coaster. That means there have been plenty of "downs" too. Two of the biggest:
- The weight loss halted for about a month and a half due to a combination of general stress and a knee injury I'm still recovering from (nothing serious; just slow to heal). It did finally start moving again in the past week or so though, so hopefully my metabolism is kicking back into high gear for a while.
- Relationships in general have been very up and down this year. A lot of things have changed in recent months with people I'm close to. And of those few people I reconnected with recently, I've since lost contact with two of them. The first was rather devastating actually, and something that weighs on me every day. But the situation is also completely out of my hands, so there's nothing I can do about it but wait and hope for the best. The second I've simply come to terms with. It sucks. But it's not going to affect me moving forward.
Overall, I guess things are looking up, right? For the rest, I'm doing what I can. And as for that one relationship that's left me feeling a bit crushed, well, I'm trying to make the most of that too.
The one benefit of personal issues that get me down is I tend to seek distractions. And when I desperately need a distraction, the one thing I can count on is my work. Perhaps that's why things are looking up so much in that department.
Getting Down to Business
While there have been both ups and downs professionally as well this year, the "downs" aren't really that bad. So let's knock them out first:
- I've made very little progress on the current round of revisions for my first mystery novel. That was originally going to be the first major revision project of the year.
- I haven't pushed out nonfiction guides and e-books as quickly as I would have liked (here and elsewhere).
- I've been a bit slower than expected on my end of the joint project I'm working on with Lori Widmer. This is mostly a matter of addressing technical issues that were more complicated than anticipated alongside a massive amount of pre-launch content creation. But it's still coming along!
- I stepped down from my role as the Asst. Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media for the Horror Writers Association.
Here's the thing though. I'm not all that upset about any of this.
As for the novel revision, it was bumped because I put all of my attention on the horror genre. The e-books just aren't my biggest priority. I do plan to hash out a release schedule in the next few weeks though, so they're still happening.
For the project with Lori, we'll get there when we get there. We're both more concerned with doing things right as opposed to doing things fast. There's a lot of backend work involved on this one, and it'll be worth the wait. As for the HWA, leaving the communications team was a tough choice, but it was the right one. I'm still an active member, and I still plan to help out elsewhere as needed to keep myself involved.
Now for the best part -- some positive developments to share:
- The podcast was indeed re-launched as planned. It's going very well and has been a lot of fun. I'm taking a break from it this week (due to the short holiday work week here), but listen to the latest episode if you haven't checked it out yet.
- I've been making plenty of progress on novel revisions for my first horror novel (why I'm not concerned about bumping the mystery revisions).
- Theme / design changes for All Freelance Writing are well underway.
- Initial changes to my small business blog went smoothly, and it's now ready for me to resume fresh content and test new revenue models as soon as I decide to move forward (soon).
- I decided which horror genre site I'll launch. I'm still figuring out the best content strategy for it and will then finish the design.
- I overhauled my horror author website as planned, even earlier in the year than expected. And I've been blogging there fairly often (such as this photo inspiration post from my trip to a near ghost town, Centralia).
- I planned to start submitting short horror fiction to publications around June. I'm happy to say I submitted my first story on the first of the month -- actually a bit earlier than I expected. This was about me finally getting past the perfectionism issue and using submission deadlines to get work out there. I did that. And I'm extremely happy about it, no matter how long it might take to place my first story.
Those are just the progress updates on things I'd already planned. But others have come up along the way:
- I recently let go of nearly a dozen smaller websites and projects that have been in development for too long. I decided a purge was in order, and honestly, it's a relief. I may cut more soon.
- I decided to re-launch NakedPR.com, officially bringing back my "Big 3" sites to lead my web publishing efforts under a new strategy. The site's currently being designed and should launch soon.
- Along those lines, I've started taking on limited consulting work again and will officially offer PR, social media, and content strategy consulting services to new clients shortly.
All in all, it's been a crazy five months!
I mentioned the reason I did my mid-year evaluation early was to give myself that extra month to "catch up" if needs be. I don't feel like there's all that much catching up to do this time time around -- more continuing on my current path:
- Get NakedPR.com re-launched.
- Update my service site to note consulting services are available.
- Write and submit the next horror short story.
- Write and submit at least two pieces of horror flash fiction.
- Work out the e-book / guide release calendar.
- Get regular newsletters out for FreelanceWritingPros.com subscribers (technical issues on the site will wait until the upcoming major theme changes are released).
- Finish the content improvement list for BizAmmo.com (which posts are getting updated to fit the new theme of the site before fresh content starts rolling out).
Other than that, it's the same old daily grind -- clients, manuscript revisions, blogging, admin, social media. You know how it goes.
How has your 2016 been shaping up so far? Are you making the kind of progress you hoped to make by now? Will an early evaluation give you enough time to get back on track before we hit the mid-point of the year? Tell us what you've been working on (or what you plan to) in the comments below.