As cheesy as it may sound, it really does help to set goals.
I'm not going to lay out a big program full of acronyms or anything; I hate that, too. I recognized, though, that I had a couple rough years in terms of creative output leading up to 2018, and so I set some goals for what I'd like to produce over the course of that year. I'd like to share those goals and how things went, maybe this will help others think about what you'd like to accomplish in 2019, whether in the comics field or in other endeavors.
2018 Goals - Review
1. Exhibit at 4 cons, including San Diego and/or New York: Check. I exhibited at C2E2, Ann Arbor Comic Art Festival, SDCC, Get Geek'd (Lansing), and the new Michigan Comic Con in Detroit. I was approved for Dragon Con, a show I love, but unfortunately had to back out due to a family wedding that weekend. I am confirmed in 2019 for Michigan State University Comics Forum, Emerald City, C2E2, and SDCC.
2. Publish at least one creator-owned comic: Getting Macbeth: The Red King out into the world proved a pretty monumental effort, consuming a good portion of my creative working time. And now that it's achieved its Final Form, I'm super proud of it. Building off of this work (but not a direct follow-up to Macb), over the course of 2018 I completed a script for another historical fiction project. More on that soon (I hope!).
3. Publish at least two company-owned (i.e. Marvel/DC) or licensed (media properties like Star Wars) comics: Well, that was ambitious! No, I didn't do this, unless one is extraordinarily generous in the definition. Star Wars Adventures #6 came out in January and was collected in Star Wars Adventures vol. 3 in June. That's not nothing! But honestly, I may not have even been counting SWA once when I wrote this goal, since I was hired for and completed the work in late 2017. There's no doubt SWA opened some doors for me, but it didn't roll into a steady flow of work like I'd hoped. I'm working on how to better pitch existing properties in 2019.
4. Contribute to at least one new website: Not in the way I'd meant, but I had a big enough win I'm gonna count it. The intent of this goal was to establish freelance relationships with a pop culture website in addition to CBR, where I had previously been a staff writer and am now a contributor. I didn't do that. But I did do a freelance project for a Fortune 500 company that draws specifically on my nerd skills. Actually, this might fit better as a qualified success under goal #3, but for a few different reasons it "feels" like it goes here.
In short, I didn't accomplish everything I set out to do, but I'm very pleased with the progress I've made.
So where do we go from here?
1. Secure a publisher for History Thing #2. That script I just completed needs an artist and a publisher. It will almost certainly not be published in 2019 (depending how this progresses, it could debut in Fall 2020), but I want to get this moving.
2. Publish at least two issues of creator-owned comics. I have a pretty good idea what those two issues will be, depending on how that rolls out there may be a potential for more.
3. Sell at least one piece of fiction in a medium other than comics. I love comics, but it's time to get back to prose, playwrighting, and radio drama, as well!
4. Create at least one work-for-hire comic. Wording here to account for timing, that the comic may not be published in 2019 but I'll check this off if the work is done during the year. I'm pushing hard to do more than one, but since I have less control over this than some of the others I'm starting with a modest goal.
I think these goals are achievable, but of course anything could happen. Late 2018/early 2019 has already thrown me for a bit of a loop with the unexpected opportunity to buy our first house, which is now in process (fingers crossed!) and which takes up considerable time and effort that could otherwise be used writing, researching, and pitching. And I work full time, which puts a considerable dent in my writing time. ;-)
Having a set of goals helps prioritize the limited time I have for creative work. And even though I fell short in some areas for 2018, I'm confident that I accomplished more than I would have without them. If I can tick off all four goals over the course of 2019, I'll be extraordinarily proud -- and will have some new stories to share with you all.
So what are you working on? Let me know on Twitter @FasterthanShaun!