2016 in a word: completion

There’s a piece of paper that I’ve taped to my computer monitor. It has one word on it:


Why? Bear with me, it’ll become clear in a second.

I’m not a big fan of year-in-review letters or blog posts, but I can see some value in looking back over the past year (or the past month, or any sort of arbitrary span of time) and trying to figure out how things went. We spend so much time with our heads bent down as we try (at least) to barrel forward that we don’t always see the terrain around us. We end up letting our momentum carry us along until we do finally stop and ask ourselves, “Wait, where the hell are we?”

And by “we,” of course, I mean “I.” You may have no problem with this, but it’s a challenge for me.

So anyway. When I looked back at everything I did last year, especially when it came to writing, I realized I did a lot—but I didn’t really finish anything. I have two novels in progress, ideas for two more that I really want to get started on, at least three new stories in progress (there might be more; I don’t keep track of my stories as well as my novels), an essay for a possible anthology, and even (dare I say it) a couple poems.

Now ask me how many of those things I finished. Or better yet, don’t ask, because the answer is “none.”

Clearly, I’m really adept at getting things started. Getting things done? Not so much.

Here’s the thing: I thought I was good at getting things done. I was able to check a lot of things off a lot of lists last year, but none of them seemed to get me closer to any of my big picture goals. (Ugh, did I just use the phrase “big picture”? Somebody please make me never repeat that ever again.) Looking back, I realize I was doing really well at being busy, but not so well at accomplishing things.

I’m easily distracted. I know this about myself, and I don’t think I’ve been doing as good a job lately at focusing on the things I really want to do. Like writing. Or more specifically, finishing what I’ve started writing.

Hence, that piece of paper taped to my monitor. That’s the word I’m focusing on this year, at least when it comes to writing. There are other things I want to do in order to make it easier to focus on that, but more on those later.

If you had to sum up your goals for 2016 in a word or a phrase, what would it be? As for me, I’m getting back to my novel in progress….