I've posted my New Year's resolutions before and I should be clear that the resolutions depicted there aren't jokes, but rather slightly snarky ways of phrasing resolutions that I actually tried (and sometimes succeeded) in pursuing. I'm a little disappointed that I haven't kept updating that specific list, but I still try to use the new year as an excuse to do some reflection and figure out what I should do differently.
This year, I've got two broad resolutions:
This resolution covers a lot of ground. This resolution covers non-public writing: more journaling, more note-taking, more keeping ideas in places that I can go back to and remember. This resolution covers blogging: I keep three blogs, one for miscellany, one for short explanations of random topics, and one for longer explanations of technical topics, and I haven't updated any of them regularly for quite a while, but I want to return to all of them. This resolution covers fiction and other not-currently-public-but-theoretically-publishable work: I've got about ¾ of a novel draft finished, for example, and I'd like to finish that and move on to other pieces of fiction!
The way I actually think about this resolution is that I want to push myself to reach for writing without thinking about it. I used to write a lot more than I do now—it was just a default thing I did all the time, scribbling in margins and on scraps and writing blog posts for no particular reason—and I don't think there's any one reason why I don't write as much as I used to, but one way or another it's become less of a default action for me, and I want to address that this year.
I do a lot of flitting from project to project without necessarily moving any of them to completion. (See, for example, my aforementioned novel draft.) What I want to do is to start scoping projects better and then finishing them. The cadence I'm currently looking at is 'complete at least one medium-sized project per month', but I might change that goal as I go.
Here, for example, are some projects that I've done work on but haven't finished:
- Fiction: I have at least half a dozen fiction projects that I've written more than half of but still haven't finished, including short stories with working titles like I Like My Coffee Like I Like My Matter, Attwell Midheaven, and There Will Be Some Who Will Not Fear Even That Void, and then my unfinished novel draft, currently (badly) titled The Necromancer's Daughter.
- Software applications: I have projects like Hypsibius (a microtonal music tracker), Palladio (a grid-based shape grammar designer), and Bartleby (an open-source writing tool inspired by Scrivener) that I have begun to write but never finished to even an alpha release.
- Video game projects: I have notes, some of them going back more than a decade, for a variety of video game ideas: many of them are larger than I could conceivably build by myself in a reasonable time-frame, but several of them (like that Morrowind-inspired farming sim, that noir-inspired detective puzzle-adventure game, or that weird-Americana-fantasy dungeon crawler) are ideas that could be reasonably adapted into playable demos within a weekend or two. At least, I could build them into demos that I could present and test, and maybe choose to pursue them as larger projects.
- Other art or around-the-house projects: for example, I've been trying to get into sewing more, and I'd like to get to the point that I can sew certain basic items that I would otherwise buy, like ties or collared shirts. I also want to bind a limited series of books: in particular, I want to make a nice hand-bound edition of my collection of surrealist short fiction. Or even other more utilitarian projects: like, I plan to build a home carbonation rig and some planter boxes for my yard. These absolutely count!
I've got no shortage of ideas of what to do, but I need to get better at planning and prioritizing particular projects. If I count everything listed above, I still have more than I'll get done in a year (especially if I consider completing more than draft versions of them—a finished novel is a lot more work than a first draft, and beta software is a lot more work than alpha software!) but my goal isn't to make progress on them all or even on any specific one: rather, it's to get into the habit of being able to focus on such projects at least to specific definable goal states, even if those goal states are still “first drafts” or “alpha software”.
I don't know how much progress I'll make on either of those resolutions (especially given how broad and fuzzy they both are) but what's important in both cases isn't the results of the specific projects but rather the habits I want to build with them. If I end the year with none of the projects mentioned above finished, but with a renewed set of personal habits around project-finishing and a renewed habit of writing all the time, then I'll consider my resolutions fulfilled!