So this is going to be another drive-by process post. Today’s topic: meetings.
Insert all the regular caveats here–ie, this isn’t meant to be advice, per se, but rather something more along the lines of, “this is how I do it right now, perhaps it will be helpful for you.” See also, “I’ve been at this a couple of years, but I’m no expert” and “we strive for progress, not perfection.”
Okay. Moving on.
Yesterday Fraction and I had our biannual (twice yearly, not every two years–that’s “biannual,” right?) business meeting, wherein we sat down at our favorite coffee shop and in the same notebook we use for every meeting, we took stock of where we are, and checked in on where we want to be.
Just like it sounds.
At the top of the first page of the meeting notes I write, “Business – Kelly Sue – Status Updates” and then go about listing every work project/pitch/fragment-of-an-idea that is either on my plate or starting to creep near it. (Or very far from my plate, honestly–I write ‘em all down.) We talk as we go about where I’m at and where I’d like to be. If I have an idea or Fraction has a suggestion as we go, I make a note of it as a thing to follow up on.
Once that list is exhausted, I move to the next page and title it “Business – Kelly Sue – Goals” and underneath it, spaced over the page, I write the following headings:
- 6 months
- 1 year
- 5 years
- 10 years
Here comes the hard part: then we flip back to the last meeting and check in on what it was that I had hoped to accomplish over the previous six months. Here’s the thing: it’s never good news. Or rather, it’s never entirely good news. Never once have I accomplished everything I put down for myself. I have, however, made progress every time that I suspect I would not have made without laying down my objectives in writing. We discuss and recalibrate and lay down my new objectives.
Then we repeat the process three more times — once from the top for Fraction, and then once again for each of us with personal projects and goals (family stuff). The whole process takes a few hours and isn’t 100 percent fun, so we reward ourselves with a trip to the comic book store afterwards. Yesterday I got an Eddie Campbell gn I’d never heard of.
Why do we do this? Because writing is our business and we take it seriously. Because we aim to have not just books, but careers. Because we believe in math and the statistics that surround goal-setting are staggering.
“There was a study done at Harvard between 1979 and 1989. Graduates of the MBA program were asked “Have you set clear written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” The results of that question were:
1. Only 3% had written goals and plans
2. 13% had goals but not in writing
3. 84% had no specific goals at all
10 years later Harvard interviewed the members of that class again and found:
1. The 13% who had goals but not in writing were earning on average twice as much as the 84% of those who had no goals at all
2. The 3% who had clear, written goals were earning on average 10 times as much as the other 97% of graduates all together. The only difference between the groups is the clarity of the goals they had for themselves”
Okay, we could argue until the apocalypse about using income as a measure of “success” but I’m going to assume that the ones with the written goals were making more money because they’d accomplished more than the ones without. Can we agree that that’s fair?
And really, with stats like that, where’s the harm? One meeting every six months is surely not going to hurt anything, is it?
You don’t need to be married to your best friend and business partner to have a meeting and set some goals. You could do it alone, but I’d wager that you’d have more fun and more success if you talked a buddy into grabbing coffee and going through the process with you. The most important part is that you put it in writing.
Want to discuss this post or something else? Comment below or join us at Jinxworld.
All right, so… I promised some posts on methodology and whatnot–this’ll be the first of those. I want to offer up a couple of caveats before diving in:
1) I’m still new at this. I’ve been writing professionally for about 10 years now, but my first “Big Two” comic gig was about 2 years ago. I’m still a beginner.
2) It’s not really my intention to give advice. Please don’t interpret anything I say as meaning my way is the Right Way. I’m offering up What I’m Doing and Where I’m At, that’s it. It might work for you, or inspire your to try something different that does. Or it might seem to you utter nonsense. Hell, it might seem to me utter nonsense next week.
3) Look at my desk. I managed to lose most of my work time Monday and Tuesday to having our landlord here and half the electricity in the house go out and whatnot and, well: look at my desk. I am no authority on keeping your shit together for extended periods of time. Follow?
So with all that in mind, the first tool/practice/methodology I want to share is a quick one (as is obvious from the photo above, I have to get back to work): I keep a work journal.
I use a bit of Mac software called DAY ONE, but if you’re not a Mac user, I’m sure that there’s a PC equivalent. If you rock it old school, all you need is a notebook and a digital timer (one that goes at least 2 hours).
My work day runs from roughly 8am to 4pm, and I have set DAY ONE up to prompt me 4 times a day to make a journal entry. What that means is that a window pops up on the right side of my screen 4 times between 8am and 4pm, and 4 times a day I stop what I’m doing for a minute to tell the journal what I’m working on and what I’ve accomplished since the last entry.
That’s it. It takes less than a minute and can be “snoozed” if I’m on a roll and don’t want to pause for even 60 seconds.
What does it do for me? Primarily, it keeps me on task. If it catches me on a tangent, it gets me back on track. If I’ve actually (hey–right on cue there’s my window… BRB) been Getting Things Done, recording my successes puts wind in my sails. (I’m the kind of person for whom wins beget wins. I’m incredibly susceptible to inertia…. I wanted to do some kind of rollover text thing where I could insert this definition of inertia: A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force… but it turns out I don’t know how to code for rollover text.)
Beyond simple policing, having a work journal means that if I need to know what I did when, or to determine how many pages I get done on average over a specified period of time, that information is easily available to me. I need perspective in order to recognize patterns and keeping a work journal affords me better perspective than my baby-brain-addled memory.
While we’re on the topic of auxiliary policing, I feel like I should also mention MacFreedom and Anti-Social. If you’re someone who gets caught up in the endless dopamine feedback loop of checking email/twitter/facebook/pinterest/whatever or is prone to surfing Wiki articles about writing instead of actually writing, these might be the programs for you. I have them and I use them on occasion, but I don’t find them to be quite as vital to my work flow as Day One.
Okay, so that’s it! My first methodology post. Want to discuss it or similar practices that work (or don’t work) for you? Feel free to leave a comment below or join us over at Jinxworld.
Relevant threads at present: