When the new year rolls around, I don't make new years resolutions. I feel like they're far too easy to break or forget about and they don't allow for enough personal growth. Instead, I make a yearly theme. While this seems to fly in the face of my argument that it's important to create clear and definable goals, I still believe that this method is best for me personally.
I use my theme as a frame in which to place my goals. Often, these themes are ideas that I already strive to achieve, but when I use it as the framework of my year, it forces me to focus on that one idea as the backbone of that year. I also make sure that each new theme I implement is informed by the last.
This year was my Year of Creation. I'm a creative and every year I spend a lot of time being creative, but this year I wanted to stretch myself creatively as I had never done before.
How did I do? Lets take a look.
Last year (during my Year of Advancement) I declared that I would actually finish a novel idea. This is something that I have wanted to do for years, but never found the time to really commit to it. After all, there is a good chance of being rejected by agents and editors. Why invest so much time in something with a high failure rate?
The advent of Indie Publishing has changed all of this. While having a good book is still the foundation of being a successful author, writers are no longer limited to waiting in submission slush piles in hopes of an agent or editor finding it while they’re receptive to a book of that nature. I put aside my dreams of becoming a published author back in 2005 when I realized that my skills were lacking and that (even if my skills were improved) I still had a small chance of becoming published. I instead focused on what I had more practice doing: music. Meanwhile, the face of publishing changed as Amazon introduced the Kindle and gave authors a platform to publish without big publishing.
During my Year of Advancement, though I didn't really talk to anyone about it (save my wife), I spent a lot of time studying, writing and practicing that craft. I wasn't sure where exactly it would lead me, but my Year of Advancement was about taking who I am mentally, physically & spiritually and pulling it to a whole new level. I really learned a lot in 2013 and I might go out on a limb and say that I'm probably far smarter than I have ever been in my life because of it.
Because of what I learned in 2013, I finally felt prepared to tackle the idea I started writing back when I was in high school. Back then, I enjoyed writing and it's even more fun now that I have a better handle in what I want to do.
What I didn't realize is that pushing myself to learn more about the craft just for one story idea would break down a new creative barrier that I thought was mystical: where do writers get all their ideas? I now generate more story ideas than I can keep track of and it's hard to close the floodgates.
Though I’d seen the eBook revolution take off, I hadn’t noticed that many of the writers on the various eBook stores were actually self-published. I still thought that in order to break into the eBook market, you needed to be with the Bigs or at least a smaller publisher who had a relationship with these distributors.
After learning about Amazon’s KDP program and various Print-On-Demand options, I began researching if Indie Publishing was really the path for me. At every turn, I found neon signs that said ‘yes!’
I'm now 50% complete with the first draft of that original project.
80% complete with a newer project
and 40% complete with yet another project.
I have several other ideas in the cooker and I can't wait to finally get to them.
I've been working towards my musical goals for over 10 years now. I've had ups and downs and times when I wasn't sure I'd ever perform again. This year, I didn't do much performing. My last live performance was early in the year and since then, I've been working on writing and recording music.
At the beginning of the year, I moved into my new home. This is the first time I’ve had a place where I can really stretch my audio engineering skills. I've had the opportunity to do a lot of cool new things with the space and so far it's all looking good. I still have room to expand in the house so the studio can become much larger provided it becomes worth the investment down the line.
Between my band and my own random musings, I've churned out more than 50 songs at various stages of completion. Some of these songs are directly related to my writing, but I'll get to that when I have more to announce.
I've been working on cultivating more clients to record for a while now, but I haven't had much success. This is mainly due to my refusal to charge less than what I know my time is worth. Many artists these days would rather wing it themselves than work with someone and that's fine. I’d rather lose those clients and spend more time working on my other endeavors.
Finding freelance editing and mastering work online has been a nice supplemental. The ease of scheduling it around my other projects have made it a better use of my time than taking on full productions. I still hold the option of recording and producing artists directly, but I’d rather reserve that time for people who I’m personally invested in or those who want to pay for my most valuable possession: my time.
During my Year of Advancement, I also worked on ramping up my programming and electrical engineering skills to move higher in my company (MOTU) and to start a few hobby projects. I’ve learned a lot, but I haven't put much of it to use.
I also learned a lot about app development and programming. I haven't found a project that I'm particularly excited to work on, so that hasn't really gone anywhere either.
In all, the engineering side of my Year of Creation went underserved, but there is room for growth in 2015.
A few years back, I had a website: jimwilbourne.com and I let it die (not that it was very successful at all). This, right here and now, is my attempt at re-launch. I haven't done much with it yet, but I have a lot of plans for next year.
This site will my hub to share my creations with whoever cares to read or listen or watch. What I've done with my writing, music and (to a lesser degree) engineering will be here for those who wish to check it out. Not all of it will be free, but my goal is to use this site to add value to everything I do. jimwilbourne.com plays higher into next year’s theme, but I started it this year because I wanted to get a nice head start.
I set out to be creative in three fields this year: Writing, Music & Engineering.
I think I did very well on the Writing front and I started a lot of projects. I haven't finished any of them, but not because I put it off. I'm chipping away at them everyday.
In music, I accomplished a lot on the side of songwriting. I didn't actually release any new music or play many concerts, but I did a lot of background work. I'm very proud of that, though I know I could have done more.
Engineering? Mostly uneventful. I got a few editing jobs here and there, but I did very little work independently. I did, however, move into a new place where I can actually do engineering projects. My prospects for 2015 have never been better.
I also got a jump start on next year by building the cornerstone of my creative platform: jimwilbourne.com
How was your year?
Did you accomplish what you wanted for the year?
I'd love to know. Leave a comment below so I can see what you've been up to!