Reflecting on 2021 and Setting Goals for Next Year

Image from Pixabay

It’s pretty crazy to think that this is the last week of the year and the second year of the pandemic. I had hoped things would be different, but human nature has proved bewildering. 

This time of year I usually reflect on what I’ve accomplished and look ahead to my goals for next year. Unfortunately this is another weird year where that moment of mindfulness seems to fall flat. I spent 2020 adapting to working from home, being socially isolated, spending too much time online, and being angry all the time. I had my partner to help get me through it, and I wrote and submitted short stories and even got a few published. 

Come 2021, I had determined I wanted to write a novel. I got burnt out on the lit mag scene; so many submissions for so many rejections, and when you do finally get a piece published, the lit mag often doesn’t have the kind of exposure you want to get it read widely. But novels take much more stamina and have more extended self-imposed deadlines. I tried three or four different WIPs. I tried NaNoWriMo. I tried Patreon off and on. I still occasionally wrote short stories. I was fighting an attitude of apathy and dread, a spiritual exhaustion, a mental brain fog. I indulged my bad habits again. 

So in short, for accomplishments of 2021, I feel like I’ve left behind a wake of failures. I haven’t finished a first draft of a novella or a novel. I haven’t gotten a short story published other than to my blog, Patreon or similar self-publishing platform. I have very little to show for my efforts. 

But, I’m still proud of myself for continuing to try, for writing through the brain fog, for not giving up. While 2020 was a period of social isolation, 2021 was a year of taking stock, of realizing what was important to me and what made me happy. I socialize safely, doing things like lap swimming and tennis lessons, but I don’t do much around crowds or groups indoors; just not ready yet. I’ll get there, and hopefully the numbers will get there, too. I’ve significantly cut back on my social media screen time. I have goals and plans with my writing for next year. Now just to build consistency and discipline. 

Next year, my goal is to finish my first draft of my horror WIP, edit it and query it to agents. I am also spending next year working on building a fan base for my writing. I plan to work on several serialized fiction novels, first publishing them to Patreon, then to sites like Royal Road and Radish Fiction, or Kindle Vella, where a few chapters or episodes are free, and then readers pay tokens to unlock the rest. I find I’m enjoying the episodic format; it’s similar to short stories so it suits my attention span. If I work on these stories two days a week, it won’t be so intimidating to finish a novel in seven months. 

I also plan to write more short stories, hopefully getting a few published, and to keep up with my Patreon throughout the year. 

To do this, my goal is to write every day, except for maybe taking a day off. I plan to fit my writing into 20-minute sprints or longer if I feel inspired. I also plan to take a lot more notes and do much more planning. And I would like to be more consistent with updating my blog with book reviews and other types of content, like fitness journey posts, marketing advice and photography tips. I think 2022 will also be the year I get over my fear of video. I also hope to do more photography, including portrait and boudoir photography, shooting sets every week. 

So my resolutions, if you can call them that, are what they always are every year. Get healthy and in better physical shape, write more. Publish more. More of what I’ve been doing, but actually finish things for once. I choose to give myself grace for not accomplishing what I set out to do in 2021; life isn’t all about accomplishments. Sometimes it’s about being enough for yourself, to get through the day, to keep writing. The rest will fall into place. 

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