I think we can all agree that 2020 ended up looking a lot different than we probably imagined this time last year. I consider myself very blessed that I ended the year still employed and able to earn extra income because of freelance opportunities. There are plenty of people impacted by the effects of the pandemic that have not been so fortunate.
Because of this, I believe we should all give ourselves grace when it comes to setting goals for the new year. We are not out of the woods yet with COVID-19, so life is not going to miraculously go back to normal in January, as much as we'd like it to. When I looked back on the goals I set for myself in 2020 . . . they were pretty ambitious. There was a young adult novel I had planned to revise/rewrite that I haven’t touched, creative nonfiction essays that I planned to write, another book I wanted to query agents for, etc. In November, in an attempt to give myself some perspective, I went through some files, resulting in this revelation I shared in a Facebook post:
I've had a little FOMO for this year's National Novel Writing Month and not having time to participate, but then I started crunching some numbers. Since this past May, I have written a total of 49,420 words in my various podcast scripts. For those who don't know, I research and write each episode of Missing in the Carolinas, and then carefully type up each script before recording so I'm not rambling all over the place. Each could be the equivalent of a long-form magazine article. The goal for National Novel Writing Month is to complete 60,000 words in 30 days, and as you can imagine, it requires a heck of a lot of discipline! But seeing as how I have almost written that many words for my podcast (actually probably closer to 60,000 if you count the separate true crime posts I write for my blog) I've almost completed a novel this year! And this is all in my "spare time," so I guess I should cut myself a little slack.
I may not have checked off all my “goals,” but I never stopped writing. I also taught myself how to do some things I had never attempted before, such as uploading audio to a media host, creating an RSS feed, using GarageBand, recording interviews with Zoom, recording interviews with an app called Tape A Call, installing a new Wordpress template on my website, and finding new ways to research newspaper archives online. While these are not things I would normally think a writer should know how to do, they’ve proved pretty valuable and I’m proud of teaching myself some new things.
For 2021, I think we should all give ourselves grace. That’s what I plan to do. I want to continue doing the best job I can as a blogger, magazine editor, true crime writer and podcaster. I also want to decompress and read more books than I was able to in 2020. While I have a few small goals in mind, I also want to commit to continuing to teach myself new skills, such as creating an online class as a way to earn passive income. Think about what you could do if you taught yourself how to do one new skill a month, such as a taking an online writing workshop or webinar on how to build an e-mail list? Teaching yourself new skills and finding ways to regroup should be a goal for all of us in 2021. What new skills would you like to learn in the new year?