2015 was my Year of Hard Work. I had quite a simple philosophy, it would be the year I knuckle down and work my arse off. I’d follow up any opportunity and keep my irons in every available fire, so to speak. Having spent the previous year perfecting my organisation I was confident that I could juggle multiple activities without losing track of what needed doing when.
And so it was that I wrote novels, short stories, articles and pitches. Some came very close – ridiculously close in a couple of instances. But my plan was not to let rejection derail me. I would just focus on all the other things I had on the go.
The one thing people don’t seem to understand about this plan was that word count was never a primary goal, it was a by-product. I wasn’t trying to bleed words onto the page, I was just trying to get the mountain of work I’d set for myself done… and as a result, I wrote a LOT of words!
Just short 600,000 by my reckoning. I did keep a spreadsheet.
I could have probably written more if my goal was pure word count, but the plan was always to work on lots of things and then focus down if one of them came to fruition.
One of them did.
2015 saw me land not just an agent but one an editor friend of mine told me was “the best in the business”. I’ve heard similar things from others. 7 months on, I’m still in shock.
2015 was the year I levelled up as a writer. I didn’t feel like I went up just one level, I feel I went up tens of levels. Handling that has been stressful and I’ve not always dealt with it in the best way, but then people who’ve been in a similar situation have told me that you never do.
But I ploughed on with the first lot of rewrites. Whilst the day job stressed me out, the writing never did. It was so much fun and the three weeks I took off in October to get the rewrite finished were the most fun yet the hardest I’ve ever worked.
I end the year finding myself much more challenged as a writer, and as much as I should find such a challenge stressful… I cannot tell you how exciting it is and how much I’m looking forward to it.
I would have liked to have done more. I’ve tailed off a little in December although after 600,000 words written I suppose I can cut myself some slack.
But in thinking of my plans for next year, my relatively relaxed December has been heavily on my mind. 2014 was my Year of Adventure, 2015 is my Year of Hard Work, but 2016? At first I thought to make it my Year of Big Things but I thought that was a little presumptuous.
But then it occurred to me. 2016 is the year I need to work even harder, rather than get lazy. Yes, it’ll be a bit more focused than the first half of 2015 but I don’t want to find myself thinking that the hard work is over and I can relax.
And so 2016 will be my Year of Staying Hungry.
It’ll be a year where I won’t rest on my laurels. With a lot of editing to do I doubt I’ll write quite as much, but that’s fine. It was never purely about word count.
So 2016 will be a year where I remind myself just how much I want this, and no matter how well it goes, know there is always more I can do.
The challenges will be to write at a world class level, pushing my craft and professionalism to unseen heights. And just as importantly, to not burn myself out doing it.
Despite all the hard work, I end the year feeling pretty relaxed. Yes, there have been hectic times, and there will be again, but I’m in this for the long haul.
So 2016 could be VERY interesting. It’ll be an adventure, it’ll be hard work, but most of all it’ll be a year where I stay hungry both in terms of not only success but achievement also.