A look back at my 2016 Work-Life Goals

Health Goals, Writing Goals, Family Goals and Quality of Life, oh my! How am I ever going to find balance in all of that?

This time last year I ditched the “New Year Resolutions” schtick, and instead opted for long term goals focussed in specific areas of my life. I didn’t want to make vague promises to myself, I wanted specific, defined outcomes. Last year I started on a new treatment plan for my health issues and I’m happy to say they have made the world of difference for me. For the most part I feel like a healthy, happy human released from a world of so much damn pain and fatigue it was crushing me.

So, lets review those goals from last year and see how I did…

The combination of health and writing plus my family commitments add up to my overall goal for 2016 – improved quality-of-life (or QoL).

1) Health and Fitness

* Losing weight. Total success here, I’m lighter than I have been in decades and this makes a HUGE difference for my mobility and self-esteem.

* Eat healthier. I’m still tracking my food, most days, as I’m still on a weight loss plan. I’d like to say that I stuck to this plan 100% last year but that would be a huge lie. I fluctuated rapidly for a while and then I found my groove, I made conscious choices and now I find I’m really in control of what I eat, the choices I make and the enjoyment I derive from the life essential.

* Become more active. What makes me so excited about this goal is that I said “I don’t have the returned health to take on a marathon or even attempt a C25K program,” turns out I was wrong. I’m lifting weights 3 times a week and attempting a C25K program (with zombies) the other 3 days a week! This is massive for me and my hand swims in confusion as to how this is possible. It’s amazing what the right treatment will do for a person’s quality of life.

* Keep up with my conditions. This is no longer a huge need for me. I did keep up with my conditions, which is how I got to the real cause of my decade+ long illness.

* Get regular massages this was amazing and I highly recommend it, even once a month. I was lucky enough to have them once a week for several months at a time and it was just the best thing for feeling nurtured, healthy and pampered.

* Start learning dictation Yeah, haven’t don’t so well on this front, probably because my hands have actually been pretty great again with the drugs and all.

Takeaway – I kicked this out of the water! I am so proud of myself.

2) Write more. Write better and get some real direction with my overall writing goals.

* Learn. I’ve decided this is a lifelong goal because once you start learning, it becomes addictive. I still have a long way to go and decisions to make on where I want/need to take things in the future, but, having this as a focus point last year helped keep me on track.

* Publish. I did this. Three times. Not a landslide and I won’t be paying off my mortgage anytime soon, but I still got published and I still got paid.

* Get my WIP out to beta readers! Well, this didn’t happen. Only because I turned the whole thing into a much more epic story with the previous WIP as the background, research for the new WIP. This isn’t waisted effort, in my opinion, it’s just a second draft that doesn’t resemble the first 🙂

* Read more. Read more diversely.
I really struggled with this and I’m going to have to look back at my reading list for 2016 to see if I really achieved reading 5 books outside my comfort zone. But I did read, a lot.

Takeaway – I didn’t have enough writing focus last year as I was consumed by so much else. I need to formulate a better plan if I want to hit my reading/writing goals for 2017.

3) Get organised. Get productive

* Put systems in place that keep me moving forward.
I have finally settled on a fantastic system that is working for me, see, it must be working because I’m writing this 🙂

I didn’t want to use a physical day planner, there was no single app that fit my requirements and so instead I researched all the planners that are available, looked through them to see what I liked and didn’t like and then created something in Evernote that works brilliantly. I’ll try to write something more about this in the future because I think it could be useful for others.

* Daily Routine.
I’m still very dedicated to the routine rather than a schedule lifestyle. I do have my day planner with times and tasks and all that, but everything is fluid and flexible with room to move things through out the day, week/month as needed.

Takeaway – Getting organised takes time. You need to find the system that works for you, notice when/if the system is failing and quickly change to something new. But being organised is the only way to remain focussed and achieve your goals.

4) Travel and Learn a foreign language

WHAT AN AMAZING ADVENTURE! Yes, I had to yell that out. We had so much fun while we traveled through Europe and America, you can read about it here on my travel blog if you’re interested.

* Journal everything.
I took loads of photos. I used the Project Life app to make stunning scrapbook pages that were simple and elegant and I kept notes in Evernote. Yay me.

* Homeschooling!
This was a HUGE learning curve for our entire family and we learnt so much about each other and ourselves. It has its ups and downs and is seriously time/life consuming, but, world schooling has been a success for us. Our son loves it. He’s learning a lot more than he did in public school and we’ve decided to continue doing it.

Takeaway – You really do have to be dedicated to taking photos, noting down memories, thoughts etc after all your exciting travel days if you want to remember all the details for later blogging/journaling etc. These are two huge chunks of time that have to be entered into the routine.

Many of my friends have said how much 2016 sucked for them, and I feel such sympathy for that. Mine, I am pleased to say, was the positive, wonderful time I’ve had in forever. Bring it 2017, I am so ready for you.

Still giving thanks to www.thecreativepenn.com for the inspiration to write this post for myself. Let’s hope at the end of the year we can compare our achievements with a warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction in a life well-lived.

I’d love to hear what goals others have for 2017 and how you all made out in 2016. Please feel free to post in the comments, on my Facebook page or via a link to your blog.

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NaNoWriMo 2016 Word Count Badges

I made some little NaNoWriMo word count badges to keep me motivated. Please feel free to use them and share them around.

nanowrimo_2016_50k nanowrimo_2016_2000 nanowrimo_2016_3500 nanowrimo_2016_5000 nanowrimo_2016_7000 nanowrimo_2016_9000 nanowrimo_2016_10000 nanowrimo_2016_15000 nanowrimo_2016_20000 nanowrimo_2016_30000 nanowrimo_2016_35000 nanowrimo_2016_40000 nanowrimo_2016_45000 nanowrimo_2016_halfway

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It’s NaNoWriMo time again


Yep, another year has flown by and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is once again upon us. I’ve updated my writing goal calendar for 2016, you can find the PDF links bellow. The generally accepted recommendation is to do 1667 words per day, while this is a great target generally, I find that Nano starts like a fire spurted with gasoline, the flame bursts to life and burns hard and fast at the beginning of the month, but, burns out just as fast. People often loose the passion that inspired them in the beginning and this is when failure sets in.

I find the best approach is to go with the souped-up fire, get as many words out in that first week, let it cool just a little by the second, with a few catchup days at the end of the week, because life will inevitably get in the way of your best laid plans. By the third week you will be cruising along, still with enough energy as you come out of the weekend, maybe with a few hundred extra words up your sleeve. Hopefully you’ve given yourself a little wiggle room which makes those last weeks a breeze with a thousand or fewer words a day dwindling down to practically nothing on those last days when your enthusiasm and energy are flagging towards oblivion.

This is what I’m hoping to do based on the reality that is currently my life – Tracey’s 2016 NaNo Goal

This is the usual recommendation of 1667 words per day – 1,667 words per day

And this is the hardcore, go strong right out of the gate – Go strong, or go home

And just in case you want your own blank form to print out – Blank

I also highly recommend having a plan, if not a completed outline for your novel, but then, I’m not a pantser, I find it waists a great deal of time, energy, and more importantly, words at the beginning of a project.

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Rock The Vault: Celebrating The Urban And Rural Setting Thesaurus Duo

Becca and Angela, authors of the Emotion Thesaurus, and Positive and Negative Trait Thesauri are back with their new duo the Settings Thesauri.

As we storytellers sit before the keyboard to craft our magic, we’re usually laser-focused on the two titans of fiction: plot and character. There’s a third element that impacts almost every aspect of the tale, one we need to home in on as well: the setting.

The setting is so much more than a painted backdrop, more than a stage for our characters to tromp across during the scene. Settings, when used to their full advantage, can characterize the story’s cast, supply mood, steer the plot, provide challenges and conflict, trigger emotions, help us deliver those necessary snippets of backstory, and that’s just scratching the surface. So the question is this: how do we unleash the full power of the setting within our stories?

Well, there’s some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Rural Setting Thesaurus: Ancient Ruins.

And there’s one more thing you might want to know more about….

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of the Writers Helping Writers site is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking…if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Posted in Advice and resources, On Writing Tagged with: , , ,

5 ways writers use Instagram

5 ways writers use Instagram


  1. Photo prompts, these are great fun. Some are one-off like #maythe4thbewithyou and others will run for an entire month like#BooktoberFest
  2. Create your own prompt, it’s allowed. Look at how others are doing it, join in a few and then launch your own. Pick a topic that will bring in people relevant to your interest/theme etc, not something random.
  3. Comment, don’t just like. Likes are great, but comments are better. Again, it’s all about being part of the conversation.
  4. Ask questions when you post a new photo. Get people involved in your images by asking them a question like “have you ever done that, or is it just me?”, “Has anyone else got a similar photo to share?”
  5. Share your life, people want to peak into your windows and see how you live and work, so give them a little to keep them wanting more. This could be photos of your workspace, a blurry photo of your manuscript, the cafe you flee to on Thursday mornings, just make it a little personal without oversharing.

Bonus – If your muse has taken wing and headed out into the big blue room then scour Instagram images for a burst of fresh inspiration.

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