Last year, I went public with my goals for 2012. Now is the time to reflect on those goals, and make some new ones…
Last Year’s Goals
Blogwork: Last year, I hoped to write 96 new posts here at The Diversionist in 2012. I fell short of that, but not by nearly as much as I might have worried, notching a total of 82 new posts for the year. Not only that, but I’m pretty proud of the content I’ve written, digging more into the mindset and attitudes of a writer than writing advice (which is, on the net, already pretty infinite). My goals for The Signal fell by the wayside when my partner and I realised that our heart wasn’t really into it, with the blog formally shutting down in April.
Pagecount: I’ve known for a while that I wouldn’t touch my pagecount from last year. 2011 was a huge year for me, writing-wise, where I finally discovered my voice and started to feel confident about my writing. I wrote my three best pieces of work in 2011, Timeless, the Dead City Blues pilot, and The Inhuman Condition, though key edits on the latter were in the early months of 2012. I also wrote an Archer spec and the first draft of the Black Dog pilot, among plenty of other scripts, bringing my 2011 pagecount to roughly 600 pages.
I had other priorities in 2012, though writing was of huge importance to me still. Over the course of this year, I wrote around 440 pages; a steep drop from last year instead of the ~200 pg. rise I’d hoped for. I don’t think 400+ pages in a year is anything to feel shame about, thankfully.
Complete Internship/University Scripts: Here, I think I pass with flying colours. I completed my work on the script for my internship with a glowing review from my advisor. I completed edits on The Inhuman Condition, and continued to mould it into something I’m really proud of. And, despite a course where the process was horribly rushed and scattershot, I completed an experimental journey of writing episode two on spec for a potential project in advance of penning a pilot. As hoped, it was helpful with envisioning the world of the story.
Complete My In-Progress Scripts: I have decided that I will likely never end a year with all my creative ambitions sated. Of the five projects I cited last year, in 2012 I finished only one: completing the new version of my Black Dog pilot. The Choice was scuttled when MZPtv converted to all-original content. Dead City Blues’ run was extended by nine webisodes, set to air sometime in 2013. While I wrote plenty in the Darkenverse, Darken House‘s next volume is still trapped under a rather heavy writer’s block. And while I loved writing Characters, I’m still working out the post-pilot kinks.
Write My First Screenplay: This goal, much to my surprise, has been met after all. My first completed screenplay, after six years of dodging that format altogether, is an indie drama called After the Fight, which I wrote in a blur over the summer. It was a genre completely out of my wheelhouse, in a world I’ve never attempted to write, with characters largely outside my personal experience. And yet, despite a messy and frustrating process, I’m proud of what I have, even if it still needs work to reach its full potential.
Write My First Dramatic Spec: I’ve been talking about doing this for three years. I still haven’t done it. I’ve got most of a Homeland spec sketched out now, so perhaps, finally, I will cross this off my to-do list.
Graduate: I’ve crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s… except for a small financial hurdle from my pricey, amazing trip to Los Angeles in August through Ryerson and UCLA. Thanks to that, technically I’ll be graduating with the class of 2013. Hurrah. (Totally worth it, though.)
Get Representation: Done. Kind of. More on this down the road.
What I Didn’t Predict
Going into a new year, you can guess at what you want to accomplish, but you can rarely predict what opportunities you’ll have or how you’ll meet the challenges you face. The above looks at how I matched up to my expectations at the end of 2011, but what am I proud of that I didn’t expect?
I Became a Professional Writer: The line at which you can start to call yourself a writer is a grey area for most folks. For some, it’s just that you write regularly. (I hope 400 pages in a year is enough!) For some, it’s having your work produced; for others, it’s being paid for your work. In 2011, I crossed the first off when Six Years After was produced. In 2012, I achieved the latter with the Make Your Mark PSAs, written to a client’s specifications and paid for with an honorarium. I also feel as if 2012 is where I began to respect myself as a writer, when I exited a paid project because it was inhibiting me from doing my best work, rather than clinging desperately to a job because it was a job.
I can’t yet live off the money I make as a writer… but that will come. Eventually.
Networking: Networking has always mystified me. It was alien to me, the magic of building connections from nothing. In 2012, I feel like I finally started to get it. It’s about being friendly and professional and genuine, and being an active participant in a human network. Aiding others as they aid you. Now I’m an email addict. Plus, through the monthly Toronto screenwriters pub night, Ink Drinks, I’ve met plenty of amazing folks without even feeling like I’m networking at all.
NaNoWriMo Attempted: For years, I’ve wanted to take NaNoWriMo (a challenge to write 50,000 wds in a month) seriously, but I spent four Novembers in a row battling exams. In my first year out of university, without any real experience writing prose in years, I managed 12,500 words before having to stop halfway through the month. I may not have even gotten near the halfway mark, but it’s still 12,500 words more in prose than I’d done in ages, which was pretty cool.
The Writersroom: I started a massive undertaking: a program emulating the structure and process of a television writers room, with myself as the showrunner and creative head. I’ve had to learn so much about my process not just as a writer but as a manager, leader and creative head of a project. Communication, scheduling, group dynamics, responsibility. I’m hugely proud of what my group has accomplished so far, and after a winter break from the project, am looking forward to wrapping it up over the first half of 2013.
2011 was where I found my voice. 2012 was where I found my confidence. I’m hoping 2013 is where I master my skillset.
Write Faster: This year, my output was good… but not good enough. I had a lot to learn, and I don’t regret spending the time learning it. Now that I’ve had a year to focus on that, though, I need to hone my skills to be more consistent with my writing. Reviving my goal from last year, I aim to write 800 pages of script in 2013. I have plenty of projects to help me get there.
Specifically, my to-do list includes:
- The pilots for Wolf and Steele, Monsters and Otherside.
- My Homeland spec, “Press Pause”
- My three scripts for The Writersroom: “Pilot”, “Silence” and “Finale”.
- Three Dead City Blues webisodes (1.17, 1.18 and 1.22).
- Midwinter, a thriller feature.
- The Dead Girls, a crime miniseries pilot.
- The Wish, an action/fantasy feature.
- Sixteen Rooms, a horror webseries.
- Forever, a complicated brainbusting apocalyptic big-budget feature.
The biggest impediment to producing pages, I’ve found, is outlining. Once I have an outline I can dig in, but so many projects of mine have stalled for ages because the outline isn’t ready. I’m not sure how I can combat this particular bugbear. Pages can be pushed through, but outlines are more difficult to hammer into place without thought and care. Perhaps a writing partner could help with this, particularly when it comes to features. Something for me to think about.
Get Organised: I prefer to write measurable goals here, but the one thing I’ve learned this year is that I need some sort of organization system for my projects and ideas. For my actual project notes I’ve got a good folder system set up, but I still don’t organise my time effectively enough. I still work in waves, overwhelming myself and forcing a break instead of balancing things gracefully. This will require discipline, rather than putting things off in favour of leisure or yesterday’s tasks.
More Collaboration: I want to work with other writers more often. I’ve worked alongside them (in The Writersroom) and given/received notes, but I rarely work directly on a project with a partner. I’m discussing perhaps doing something like that with a friend of mine, so we’ll see if this surfaces.
Enter Contests: Sometime last year I compiled a list of various screenwriting contests and their deadlines and entry fees. This year I want to run the entire list if possible, see how I rank in competition to everyone else out there.
Submit to the Black List Site: Having access to professional readers is huge, and I want to see how my work rates. It’s affordable, and I want to support this amazing venture anyhow, so it’s a win/win even if my ratings come back less-than-impressive.
Read More Scripts: When I had my Kindle I made a dent in this, but it broke after a few months’ use and I can’t find my receipt, so I’m saving up for another one. I loved reading and reviewing scripts (see my work on two old pilot scripts here and here), and I’d love to get back into the swing of things.
So, there’s my reflection on 2012 and looking forward to 2013. How about you? Did you live up to your potential last year? What are your goals for 2013?