Well, 2020 has been interesting, to say the least. What’s that saying about ‘may you live in interesting times’?
I reread last year’s ‘life goals’ post, and either I was unusually prescient, or I may be partly responsible for the mess that has been 2020. If so, I apologise.
That said, I’m conscious that I’m a lot luckier than many. None of us have had Covid-19 (as far as I know), we live in a village with plenty of open space for walks, and our house is big enough that we haven’t been crammed on top of one another.
There have been challenges, though. In March the kids’ school switched to remote learning, and while I think they did a great job (and the kids engaged well), there was quite a learning curve and some hiccups along the way. My other half also began working from home in March, and he still is. Plus as schools were closed, my tutoring work stopped in March too. So I went from a nicely balanced workload with time outside the house to being mostly in a full house. Thank heavens for dictation, which possibly saved my sanity.
These were my goals for 2020, which I’d kept from 2019:
- Work smarter, not harder
- Try some new things
- Get fitter
I sort of did some of them, and I’m not going to beat myself up about that.
Work smarter, not harder
I continued with dictation, which I do while walking. At one point we were locked down to the point where you could go out once a day for exercise, which meant choosing between a run, a walk with the other half, or a dictation walk. That was how I ended up writing Past Tense, Pippa Parker Mysteries book 6, pacing up and down our small back garden and side entry.
In all, I managed to write 5 books:
- Gone To Ground
- Past Tense
- Every Trick in the Book
- Brought to Book
- Double Booked
I also co-wrote a Christmas Caster & Fleet novella with Paula Harmon, The Case of the Peculiar Pantomime, and a few long short stories (Fool Me Once, School’s Out, That Old Book Smell). And because I walked through all of it, I was multitasking! Honest! Although in some respects, I ended up working both smarter AND harder (see below).
Try some new things
I said in last year’s post that I wanted to expand my editing work, and that happened. By gosh, it did. I finally plucked up the courage to put up a Facebook page and do a small amount of promotion, and soon found myself with sample edits to do and, shortly afterwards, books to edit. Basically, editing work replaced tutoring work, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
However (there’s always a however), come September I found myself with lots of edits to do and the two schools I work with called me back in (I hadn’t been sure if they would or not, so booked in edits in case they didn’t). Cue me trying to fit a pint in a half-pint pot! With all that going on, my own writing got rather pushed out in the last quarter of the year.
But of course, the new thing that EVERYONE, more or less, has tried this year is Zoom. Our writing group went virtual, and it was wonderful to talk to people I didn’t live with! I also began to have regular chats with a few friends, and it’s been brilliant to keep in touch, sometimes more regularly than we did before. Zoom is something I’d definitely want to keep, going forward.
The other thing I did do, but in the end didn’t, was get involved in more in-person events. I was scheduled to do a couple of book talks, a couple of workshops, and a book fair in 2020, and guess what happened to those… Likewise, those hobbies and CPD-type things just didn’t happen this year – I was too busy keeping my head above water.
I’m not sure I can claim that I got fitter in 2020, even though I’ve taken more steps this year than last. I haven’t weighed myself in ages, I have had a lot of food treats, and while I’m still running, it isn’t quite as regular at the moment (I blame the weather). But I’ve made it through 2020, so far. I’ve taken a day off when I’ve felt work pressure getting to me. I’ve tried to establish a realistic schedule. Perhaps I’m getting sensible in my old age.
So, that’s the summary of my 2020. What are my goals for 2021?
- Here it comes again! Work smarter, not harder. I do try, honest. But something which has changed my mindset a bit this year is passive income – money that continues to come in for stuff you’ve already done. This year, my income from books – sales and page reads – has been much higher (and yes, I’m aware it’s largely due to lockdown, but hey). That, combined with lack of time, has meant I’ve been able to do things like book paid promotions and buy cover graphics without fretting that I’ll never recoup the cost. To a great extent, those investments have paid off. So I would like to develop more passive income streams, and also grow my audience through investigating new tools and networks.
- Take more time out. I’ve put 4 books on my ‘must-do’ list this year. I’d love to write more, but it depends what else is going on with editing, tutoring, and life in general – and also what I feel like writing. My Magical Bookshop series came about because I wanted to write the sort of book that I would find comforting to read in these strange times – and luckily, my readers came with me. I’ve found that taking a day off every so often really helps me and doesn’t affect my productivity, so I intend to keep doing that and taking time to reflect and plan, rather than beavering away. However, I also want to make more time for hobbies and related activity (which is where more passive income would help).
- Stay healthy. I know this one’s a bit nebulous, but once I’ve got through all the sweeties, I’d like to get into some better habits in 2021, e.g. not scrolling on my phone before bed, not rewarding myself with a biscuit or a packet of crisps, not defaulting to a ham sandwich for lunch every day. I plan to keep walking and running, too. Well, I’ll have to walk to get the books written!
So that’s what I’m aiming for in 2021. How about you?