It is that time of year in my workplace. You know, that time when you sit in your bosses office and talk about why you suck or don’t suck, rule the world or need to get off the throne. Performance review season.
This was the year I re-committed myself to my dream of writing and publishing, and I have been trying to walk the line between treating it like another job and keeping it in the realm of “something I do for love.”
To keep that committment going, I’ve decided to take the categories we get rated on in my “real job” performance review process and translate them into what I’d say to myself if I was evaluating my year as a writer.
I refer to myself by name here not because I am a flaming nutjob, but because I was trying to write like a boss.
1. Job Knowledge
Pam knows her way around writing a story, but as far as what to do with it once it was written, she needed a helluva lot of work. However, she took the initiative to improve her knowledge base in that area and took a course on querying, marketing and publishing. She has been putting that knowledge to the test ever since, and I expect it to yield results this coming year.
In the year ahead, I want her to expand her knowledge of self-publishing and continue to expand her exploration of creativity and writing in new genres.
2. Quality of Work
We all have good days and bad days. As a writer, Pam has had more good days than bad. Her ideas have been imaginative, original, and full of twists. She’s getting better at running with those twists while still bringing home the heart and souls of her characters. While there is always room for improvement, I’m impressed with what she’s done with the short stories she’s completed this year.
3. Quantity of Work
Pam completed 3 short stories that are now actively seeking publication, as well as several smaller contest entries. She has a 4th story now in its final editing stages, and 2 others in various stages of completion.
While I’ve been impressed with her productivity this year, my hope for the coming year is that she will shift her focus a little. Without completely giving up her exploration of short stories and writing in various genres, I want her to take her idea for a novel off that dusty shelf in her brain and begin bringing it to fruition.
For the last six months, I’ve been pleased to see that Pam has not gone more than 3 days without writing SOMETHING, and not more than a week without writing “something of substance.” She has completed significant work on a story or contest entry each week, and has at least blogged during rare lapses in other types of work. She has maintained that pace while working a full-time-plus job, completing two courses, and going out once a week to consume mass quantities of booze.
While I’d like to see her step it up even more, I’m not going to harp on that. I’ll be content if she keeps up the same pace and continues to love her words.
5. Cooperation and Teamwork
Yes, writing is a solo activity, but I’m not going to scrap this category. The solo nature of the venture just means writers need to be more proactive and creative in building their team.
Pam has made strides in this. She networked with other writers through her course. She created this blog devoted to writing and has spent a lot of time reaching out to other writers through their blogs, learning from them, offering her own insights and beginning to build a support network. She’s also very recently joined the Maryland Writer’s Association, and if she doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity to participate in critique groups this year, I will personally kick her arse.
6. Public Relations and Customer Service.
Well, she doesn’t actually have fans yet, so I guess this area really doesn’t apply. But if she handles an eventual writing success with the same mad skills she’s applied to not letting this aspect of her “day job” make her drool and twitch, I think she’ll do just fine when she gets there.
Goals for the next year:
1. Rev up the marketing attempts. Now that there is ‘stable” of short stories in the barn, get them out there.
2. Complete a course in forensics for writers (scheduled to begin in June), and possibly, if time/money allows, in writing memoirs.
3. Thoroughly research and gain a better understanding of e-publishing options.
4. Have “the novel” fully fleshed out and at least a third written by this time next year.
5. While focusing primarily on the novel, still dabble in other writing ventures and complete at least 10 short story, flash fiction or essay projects, contest-or-otherwise-inspired.
Note: Completing this review was fun and really helped me flesh out what I want my next action items and areas for improvement to be. I just wish I could give myself a big fat raise.