2020 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a horrible year what with the pandemic and everything. But among the bad, there were also a lot of good things. I want to focus on the good.
In 2020, my novel The Calm I Seek finally came out! I’ve been working on that novel for four years and it’s such a great feeling that it’s out in the world now. It’s been getting fantastic reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.com, but weirdly, it hasn’t been selling that well in the UK. Maybe because it’s an inspirational romance, which many agents warned me doesn’t sell that well in the UK. I’m not particular about what country it sells well in, I’m just happy that it’s been given a good start in life.
I also started a new job in 2020, which was exciting. Only 2 months after I started my job, the lockdown hit and I’ve been working from home ever since. It’s been fun working from home. My pug Yoda loves that I’m home, as he’s a real velcro-dog and loves to sleep at my feet when I work at my desk, or next to me on the couch if I’m feeling a bit more lazy. The kids also love having me home when they come home from school, although it does make it a bit more challenging focusing on work when the kids are home. I’m also losing writing time, as I used to write both on my lunch break and during my commute, so it’s been a bit of a challenge to find time to write.
I enjoyed being part of the 60th anniversary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, putting together a monthly blog post on writing, with Pia Courtney and Karen King. It’s been fun to read about the writing processes of famous romance writers. Sadly, I’ve decided to give up my RNA membership at the end of this year. I’ve been part of the New Writer’s Scheme of the RNA for two years, but both years, the book report I received from the RNA appointed readers have been crushing and demoralising, so I’ve decided my money is better spent elsewhere. Funnily enough, both books that received such scathing reports received very positive reports from two different editors, so that goes to show. I prefer getting constructive criticism, so I’ve teamed up with a group of other writers and we give each other encouragement and constructive feedback (for free!), so no need to spend money to be put down.
In 2020, I also became a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, which has proven to be very encouraging so far. As my genre has become inspirational fiction, I was hoping to find a group of writers in my genre and found the ACFW. We encourage each other to keep writing or editing, which I always find great.
During it all, I remained a member of Reading Writers. We were forced onto Zoom once the lockdown hit, but that hasn’t tempered our enthusiasm. I like sitting at my dining room table, glass of wine in hand and just chatting with fellow writers. It’s been very encouraging and I’m sure next year will be just as great. I cannot recommend being part of a writing group enough. It’s great to keep you motivated and the feedback you get is invaluable.
I love setting goals for myself at the beginning of the year. At the beginning of last year, I had a LOT of goals. Because I’d been made redundant and had received a generous pay out, I’d planned to take the family on several trips this year. Needless to say, none of those trips happened because of COVID. I also had a lot of other plans, which fell through either because of social distancing rules or because the energy was just not there. Balancing a full time job with a writing career and homeschooling is a LOT, so I didn’t have as much energy as I would have liked. Nevertheless, I did accomplish some goals.
I’ve already set my goals for 2021. For one, I’m planning on reading a lot more. I spent a lot of 2020 writing or just faffing about on the internet and sadly, the amount of books I read were only 26. That’s dismal for me. In 2021, I want to read at least 50 books. In order to be creative, I need to keep refilling the well, which means reading a lot more. I also want to catch up on the book reviews on my blog, so that will force me to read more as well. In fact, I spent the last few days just reading, which was so amazing. I’d forgotten how much I love reading and I want to capture that love again in 2021.
I also want to publish another novel. I wrote a novel during NaNoWriMo, which I’m planning to revise and rewrite in January and February. With any luck, I’ll be able to publish that one either at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. I also have a lovely idea for a third novel, which I’m sure will be written at some point in 2021.
To help me stick to my goals, I’ve purchased the Circle Planner. In 2020 I started a bullet journal which was amazing. I used a blank journal and customised it, drawing in the weeks as I went, which worked great. I’ve been journalling for years, but while I usually start enthusiastically in the New Year, I peter out after a while and the last months of the year I barely even open the thing. In 2020, I journaled right up to the end. The only thing I didn’t like was having to draw each week’s plan.
Enter the Circle Planner. The Circle Planner has everything I want in the format I’m used to with my other planner, only it’s already pre-populated, so I don’t have to draw it in each week. I love that it has a monthly goal overview, along with a review of the month at the end of each month. I’m not much for colouring, but if you are, each month has a colouring page.
I love how each week has its own two-page spread with the dates on one page (to jot down appointments etc.) with a to-do list, a list of points to focus on and a free space for notes on the other page. I love tracking my goals and habits each week as well as jotting down some thoughts and feelings. This planner allows me to do all of that. I’m really looking forward to keeping on track and organised using this planner.
I’m not saying that this planner will make me more productive. I didn’t meet even a quarter of my goals in 2020, but I still was more productive than I was in 2019. I believe in setting goals and I don’t feel particularly like a failure if I don’t meet them all.
I’m hoping that 2021 will be better to all of us than 2020 has been. A vaccine is coming, so hopefully we can go out and live semi-normal lives again. I’m looking forward to hopefully travel to see family in the summer (fingers crossed). Apart from travelling, I’m planning on writing, reading and blogging more, so do come back and check the blog. I’ve been very bad at blogging in 2020, but hopefully I’ll be better next year.
Have a wonderful 2021, everyone!