A Writer’s Year in Review and 2020 Goals

Happy New Year, friends! It seems like only yesterday we were partying like it was 1999. How did we get to 2020 already? The holidays are always a good time of year for me to take stock of what I’ve accomplished and what lies ahead. I usually have some nebulous idea of both lists, but the other day when I actually wrote everything down, I was surprised to see exactly how much work I did this past year.

No wonder I cracked in December. (Yes, that’s half in jest…but only half. *wink*) Have you ever noticed how the highs and lows of life seem to balance each other out in the long run? Ah, 2019, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Here are my 2019 writing highlights:

  • January – revised THE INN AT MILL CREEK (contemporary Christian romance) and submitted it to the RWA Golden Heart® contest; submitted a revised version of FLASHBACK (romantic suspense) to Love Inspired Suspense
  • February – received an offer from Harlequin for FLASHBACK; revised KINGDOM OF STARS AND DUST (YA fantasy)
  • March–April – started querying KOSAD (again); edits on FLASHBACK for Harlequin; created author newsletter
  • April–May – wrote 30,000 words to finish the first draft of DUSK FOR DREAMS (fantasy)
  • June–July – signed with a fantastic literary agent and revised KOSAD for submission to publishers
  • July – attended my first national writers’ conference, RWA National in NYC
  • August–October – revised DUSK FOR DREAMS; created marketing materials for FLASHBACK and mailed advance review copies
  • November – wrote 50,000 words of COLD CASE REUNION for NaNoWriMo
  • December – book launch for Fatal Flashback along with multiple interviews; got to wear a heart monitor for two weeks to learn that my occasionally racing heart was caused by stress
  • 2019 STATS: entered 4 contests (1 win + another final, 2 non-finals); received 13 agent and publisher rejections and 2 offers; revised 3 manuscripts; wrote 80,000 words of first draft material; published a book; signed with a literary agent

If you had told me on January 1 last year that I would accomplish even half of these things, I would’ve been ecstatic. Finaling in the Golden Heart, signing with an agent, seeing my first book released into the wild–these were all dreams come true. On the other hand, the rejections and the contest entries that didn’t final were each a source of disappointment. Meeting my goals to finish and advance projects made my high-achieving heart sing, but the stress of deadlines and a book launch and sick kids and real life brought my writing to near burnout by the end of the year.

So what’s my biggest takeaway for the new year? A huge yes to setting goals and working hard, but tempered with the reality that accomplishments come with a price tag. All that effort takes its physical, mental, and emotional toll, and if I want to keep going over the long haul, I need to learn to recognize the warning signs and back off a bit. Not only is it okay to take breaks, it’s critical to maintaining a healthy writing life.

So what about 2020? Besides being more attentive to my need for exercise, rest, and mental breaks, I do have some specific writing goals:

  • Finish the first draft of COLD CASE REUNION; revise and submit to Love Inspired Suspense
  • Revise DUSK FOR DREAMS again (thanks to some excellent feedback from a critique partner) and send to my agent; I’ll probably enter a contest or two also to get reader feedback
  • Enter Fatal Flashback in a couple of contests (because I’m a contest junkie and can’t seem to stop myself)
  • Maintain my blog, newsletter, websites, and social media presence
  • Brainstorm, outline (in my pantsing way), and draft a new YA fantasy or science thriller

What I would love to include on that list is “sell my next book,” but no matter how awesome that would be, it’s something nearly entirely outside of my control. And what’s the use of a goal you can’t achieve by your own efforts?

I’ve had a wonderful break over Christmas, with plenty of time to daydream, read, watch movies, and play with my family. Right now I think this list will be pretty manageable, but you never know what new opportunities the year will bring. Here’s to taking care of ourselves, conquering fears, and tackling goals one new word at a time.

Happy New Year!

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