[ETCETERA] Checking In

So, here we are, a couple of months into a new year and the question is: How’s it going so far?

Classically, creatives dream up ambitious plans and resolutions as one year turns to the next. But just as classically, those plans often crumble to dust long before we hit summer.

Airport Check in Sign

This is good time to check in and see what’s working, what’s not, what needs to be focused on, and what needs to be forgot.

Huh. That could be a song lyric. Coming soon to a Spotify playlist near you.

Anyway, if you do your check-in and things are going great, keep on keeping on. Sounds like your goals were well thought out and you’re doing the work to follow through.

Also, how dare you show off in front of the rest of us!

If things aren’t quite so peachy, don’t beat yourself up. A lot of people struggle, and it can be a real drag. But this is the time to figure out how to make things better.

So, what are some of the reasons our plans go off the rails, and what can we do to keep that train a-rolling?


Whether it’s my weekly To Do list or my goals for an entire year, I often fall short. Does this sound familiar?

It’s great to be ambitious, but it’s equally important to be realistic about how much you can reasonably achieve. It’s hard when you want to do so much. But if you’re constantly missing the deadlines you set for yourself, you’re being counter-productive.

Recalibrate. Take some things off your plate. Reschedule other things for further down the line. You don’t want to make it so you’re barely getting anything done, of course, but you need to be honest with yourself.

Rewrite those resolutions so you’ve got a well-paced timeline that’s rewarding, not disappointing.


Another major obstacle between writers and their goals is the sexy brand new idea that just pops into our heads in the shower or while driving to work.

The impulse is to start working on it right away. However, that would mean abandoning or delaying the projects we already have in progress.

Fight that urge! This is exactly the behavior that leads to a cycle of constantly starting work, but never finishing.

Instead, write down that new idea and then put it aside for later. A million brilliant parbaked ideas are never going to have as much real-world value as a finished piece of writing.

Follow through.


Is there anything more useful and yet more of a time suck than the World Wide Web? News, Politics, Pop Culture and Dance Routines? It’s hard to pull yourself away.

Some people even spend days writing a blog when they could be using that time to produce more script pages instead. It’s madness.

Clock your online time one week and see how many hours you’re taking away from your writing. I don’t think you should avoid the web all together (after all, how would you read this?), but you should make sure you’re budgeting your free time in a way that helps you reach your goals.

Everything in moderation.


Take a hard look at the project you’re working on right now. Is it not coming together? Does it feel cliché? Have you lost the passion to see it through?

Maybe it’s time to drop it.

I know this sounds a bit like a contradiction to the “Shiny Things” warning, but I don’t think it is. Rather, it’s another side of the same coin.

It’s one thing to haphazardly jump from new idea to new idea, but it’s another to recognize something that’s not working and no longer worth the effort.

Take a hard look and see if you’re falling behind because the project isn’t what you hoped it would be. Make a measured and thoughtful decision, and see if it’s time to move on.

You can think of it as hitting the pause button and maybe come back to it later. But also maybe not. Either way, it allows you to focus on other projects that still inspire passion.

This is time management. This is good.


Okay, that’s pretty much it for now. A little self-evaluation shouldn’t be a big deal, but it should be part of a normal writer’s routine.

Every few months, check in to see what you want to do versus what you’ve managed to do. And if necessary, modify your goals, your methods, and your time management. Make sure your actions are working for you, not against you.

I know I’ve got some work to do myself.


Cover of the graphic novel, "Blowback" (2021)

Jim Hereth‘s latest project is his debut action/adventure graphic novel, Blowback, nominated for Best Original Graphic Novel and winner of Fan Favorite Villain at the Ringo Awards. Available now in digital and paperback editions at Amazon.

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