This year seems to have gone both quickly and slowly. Somehow, the whole family has managed to stay Covid-free (I ought to cross my fingers but it’s quite hard to type at the same time). The kids are back in school, I’m back tutoring (in just one school this time), but my husband is still home-based. We’re coping with choosing A-levels and GCSEs and doing college and sixth-form applications (not to mention all the assessments that the boys are doing just in case exams don’t happen again this year). Overall, though, things aren’t bad.
Now, what did I say I was going to do in 2021?
- Work smarter, not harder
- Take more time out
- Stay healthy
I did manage this to a degree – I have no idea how I didn’t catch Covid while working in a primary school – and to be honest, I’m a bit surprised I got as much done as I did.
Work smarter, not harder
At least this year I could go for more than one walk a day if I wanted! I continued with dictation, and wrote 4 full-length books.
- In Plain Sight
- By The Book
- A Spider’s Web (which I think should count as two books because it’s over 80K!)
- Black Books
I also wrote a long Pippa Parker short story for Halloween (Along Came A Spider), and three new Christmas stories (Christmas Eve At The Bookshop, A Christmas to Remember, The Case of the Christmas Pudding), which I put with my existing Pippa Parker Christmas short, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, to make a collection called Christmas Presence.
In addition to this, I also took on a commission to write some short children’s stories to be used as comprehension resources. It turned out to be tremendous fun, and definitely something I would like to do more of.
I’ve continued to edit for existing clients and taken on a few new ones, and I’ve also started doing a bit of coaching, which I really enjoy. I used to do both mentoring and coaching in my former NHS life, and it’s pleasing to take it up again.
But is this smarter not harder? To a degree, yes. My tutoring timetable is easier to manage, most of my work is flexible, and book income is slightly up on last year (which I really didn’t expect). I’ve been able to continue with paid promotions, exploring a few more, and I also took the plunge and got professional covers for a series, which has paid dividends. One of the things I would like to have done is develop an editing course. I sketched out a schema and even recorded a session, but in the end, it was just too much on top of everything else.
Take more time out
Well, I did write 4 books and a few more stories, but even though the last book was a bit of a race against time, I feel better rested than I did this time last year! It’s helped that my editing business has settled down well, and that I often do repeat edits for clients, so there’s less new stuff to deal with all the time.
I have tried my best to have a proper day off from editing and writing once a week, and I also tend to leave a week between edits when I can, to have a bit of breathing space and catch up with everything else. I’ve also finished a series and I’m on the cusp of winding up another. I suspect that both of these will have spinoffs or same-universe offshoots, but it’s a nice feeling to box a series off and make space for the possibility of new ones. I can only spin so many plates at once!
Hmmm… Well, I’ve been double-jabbed and boosted, and I booked myself a flu jab this year, so that’s something. I’ve still been walking, though not as many steps as last year. However, I haven’t run in ages (my shoes wore out and I just haven’t got round to replacing them), and my cholesterol needs work. I’m fairly good about keeping salt and saturated fat down, but a few pounds have definitely sneaked on. I am distinctly calmer, though, so that’s good.
I’d probably give myself a B for this year’s efforts. What are my goals for 2022?
Well, first of all, I’ve just read an interesting book called Atomic Habits, which is all about achieving big changes through incremental improvements. So one of the things I’ll be doing this year is trying to change my approach from outcome-based to identity-based, and work on adopting some better habits. We’ll see how it goes!
- Be more productive and waste less time. It’s not that I’m unproductive, exactly, but I could definitely cut the phone scrolling. This year, therefore, I’m hoping to spend more time reading – on my phone or actual dead-tree books – rather than killing time on Twitter or messing about when I should probably switch tasks.
- Improve my marketing and advertising. If I could break the habit of scrolling etc and save myself 15-30 minutes a day, I could put that towards trying new marketing methods or refining the ones I already use. It’s still a bit scattergun at the moment.
- Get fitter and healthier. This will be the tough one. More exercise, more varied exercise (starting small, mind you), healthier snacks, more veg, more fish, less red meat, less wine, etc, etc. I do actually like veg and fish, but resisting biscuits and crisps will be hard. Wish me luck!
I’ve set myself up a habit tracker, and the plan is to start on Bank Holiday Monday.
Whether you’re setting yourself lots of goals for 2022, or just aiming to get through the year, I hope you have a good one.