2019 should not even be here yet, let alone be going already. It barely feels like two minutes ago we were worried about Millennium bugs and following Prince’s party instructions. But it’s been twenty years.
So, 2020 is here next week. A new space-age decade of flying cars and AI mind control to live in. I’m sure it will be more of the same. Here is my personal review of 2019 and some things I’d like to do or achieve in 2020.
What Happened in 2019?
2019 was the year I turned 40. Yup. I have not even mentally reached my twenties yet, but 2020 will mark the start of the sixth decade that I will have lived in (albeit just a few months of the 1970s!). I am still not sure how I feel about hitting 40. They say life begins and 40, and around my birthday I made one of the biggest career changes I’ve ever made.
Ever since graduating from my degree back in 2004, I have worked in retail. It was a bit of a stopgap until I worked out what to do with my life. The stopgap turned into a career as I started to get promoted and progressed from store manager to a regional role within a few years. I guess I got used to earning the same amount each month, and all of the creative roles I ever saw coming up meant moving onto rocky financial ground. The last few years in retail saw me getting more restless, and I moved roles a few times, before spending the final 18 months working as a manager for a major card retailer.
But a few things conspired this year to change that. I was told in the summer that I was very likely going to lose my job as the company was not renewing the lease on the store I ran. I’d been toying with the idea of moving into freelance content writing anyway, and had been doing a small amount in the weeks running up to this news anyway, with the long term aim of finding a way of earning enough money as a content writer, and moving into a work from home job.
The company I was at dithered while they tried to renew their lease, but I immediately set to work securing some regular writing work. Scary prospect. I was going to become a full-time, professional writer. I worked for two months in my old role, while writing part-time in the evenings, and then left in August. The company renewed its lease in the end and stayed open, but since the company hit the headlines more recently over potential looming problems, I am relieved I made the leap. I took on a part-time admin role to get me out of the house and to act as a financial backup, but when it seemed I was over-stretching myself with the writing, I had to give it up. I am now 100% sufficient on the money I get in exchange for words. Crazy for someone who did not even get a C in GCSE English! (I got a merit in my Scriptwriting MA though, so shove that in your pipe, flawed education system)
The other impetus for changing to a work from home job was that in the summer, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog, called Pablo. Part pug, part border terrier, Pabbers is adorable, but unfortunately, separation anxiety means that he cannot be left alone for any length of time. I get company while I write, and he can sleep all-day, knowing I’m not far away. His separation anxiety is something we are working on though so that I can get out more.
The type of writing work I do is not really the type that I get my name next to. I do a lot of ghostwriting for personal and business blogs. I have written and re-written websites. And I have produced countless informative articles on more topics than I ever knew existed. I have gained a bank of random facts and I have had to develop the ability to write faster and be less self-critical. I have always struggled to part with anything that I have written because I never believe that it is any good!
So with all of this ghostwriting meaning I’m earning from my writing, I decided that I wanted to start getting my name next to stuff that I had written. Whether I have written anything of quality is still debatable, but I do need to push myself.
I started this website when I was doing my Master’s degree in Scriptwriting around ten years ago. It was a part of the course, but I kept hold of my domain name ever since, even though I rarely came on here, or updated it. I decided to dust it off this summer after I had started writing for a living. I was averaging about twenty hits a month on it. Within a few weeks of posting on here, I was getting nearly 3,000 hits a month. I was shocked that every time I would post something, people would start interacting with it.
Starting to use this blog this year has given me self-confidence. This is something that I so desperately need, as it’s something that I know I really lack. My lack of confidence has held me back from getting the career that I want for many years. It’s prevented me from trying. Because if you don’t try, you’re not failing. But I always felt like I was failing anyway.
The other thing that I started doing in the summer was to send pieces of my writing off to various websites as submission. I have had a few published now, which feels good and gives me confidence that my words are good enough to go on sites that can pick and choose what they want to use.
What Next in 2020?
So, for 2020, I should set myself some writing goals. I don’t really want to call them new year’s resolutions because I should confess that I am crap at keeping them. But I do want to push myself and my writing this year. Hopefully, I will find more time to do that!
- Write more work for submission!
I’m going to try and write one new piece each week to send out for submission to other sites and contests. It may be an article, or a poem, or a short story. I’m going to keep pushing all of these angles. Maybe I will find my niche, maybe something specific will stick. But I do feel that my writing benefits from writing in lots of different formats.
I have a whole folder full of links to sites that accept submissions. It’s time to start using that database that I have spent the last few months amassing.
- Create A Proper Schedule For My Blog
I’m a bit haphazard with my posts on here. Some days I will post a few things, then it may be a few days until I post again. I’d like to get a better schedule together. I should also review the content that people have responded well to, and also think about the stuff that has been less inspired. It’s time to take stock of what I am posting and look for quality over quantity.
A few things that I am considering for my blog are:
- More articles- potentially writing-based, but possibly branching out to other areas of personal interest such as environmental issues, veganism, and mental health…if they would all go? (Let me know your views on this if you are someone who reads my page regularly)
- Something more like my 30 Day Challenge that relies on more interaction from readers. I still have some posts left of my collaboration challenge to see through which I will get back on with as January rolls on.
- Continuing the story about the bookseller who counts words and developing it into a novel.
I’ll try and re-share the top posts that I have had this year over the next couple of days!