2021 Bingo

Last year, I made a bingo card out of all the things I wanted to accomplish. I knew they wouldn’t all happen. I knew a baby would throw a wrench in my best laid plans. So I played bingo with it, instead.

I met almost half my goals. Somehow.

A few things that did not happen:

  • all the rough drafts and revisions (two did, five did not), 
  • blogging at least twice a month (though I did pretty well at that on Patreon until the end of the year), 
  • or do a deep dive into the self-publishing process (a direction I’m considering for a couple less marketable or off-brand stories someday).

A few things that did happen:

  • I DIDN’T DIE (my middle “freebie” square that was not exactly a given between pregnancy, pre-vaccine pandemic with a virus inordinately dangerous to pregnant people, and general wtf-ery of the world),
  • I read 50 books (52, actually, and I never would have made that if not for audiobooks), 
  • wrote an average of one letter a month, and completed a monthly prompt challenge (that I talked about here).

Extra-noteworthy things:

  • I got this website all official! Still in need of a little more work, but it happened!
  • And I set myself a goal of ten story submissions in 2021–eminently doable, given how the latter half of 2020 went, submission-wise, but still more than I’d ever done. 

Want to know how many story submissions I sent out?

*drumroll*

20! That’s right: TWENTY! I’m waiting to hear back on four of them, but they’re otherwise all rejections–some personal, most not–and I don’t even care. Don’t get me wrong, selling a story is what I want; it’s just not a result I have any control over besides simply writing my stories and submitting them. To take a cue from Mur Lafferty, a working writer is a writer who’s sending out their work. So, hey, that’s me now!

Another awesome achievement of this year is that it turned into my year of short stories. I have not worked on a novel all year long. Which means that I feel like my writing and storytelling ability is finally–FINALLY–where I’ve always wanted it (though I only recently started believing I could write like that).

All that and I both gave birth to a baby and have so far kept him alive (no thanks to him or his sister). For all the rollercoaster of the 2021 and the continuing negative things in the broader context of the world, I am happy with what I managed to do. Grateful, also, for the many privileges that make that possible.

If you’re looking for a new way to set your goals for the year, I highly recommend the bingo card. As nice as it would have been to black out the entire thing, it let me focus just on what I could do and forgive myself the rest. And gamifying it to give me that sense of winning something just works so damn well for the reward-seeking part of me.

I’m not doing it again this year; 2022 will be a different kind of year for me (ie: no imminent newborn) so I feel like I can start planning again. But if you’d like to try this goal-setting game, please let me know!

Some tips and tricks to make your goals bingo more successful: focus on small steps that you have full control over. If you want to start querying a novel, break it out into smaller goals like finishing a draft, sending it out to alpha or beta readers, revising it, writing the synopsis, crafting the query letter–even researching how to write synopses and query letters–researching agents…you get the idea!

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