2021 has been an interesting year for writers. Whether you call it order or chaos, it has had its ups and downs that made it something unique and challenging. One of the greatest challenges, however, is the challenge to overcome procrastination and get as much writing done as possible. It’s a challenge every year, but with these new circumstances we all find ourselves in, did you sink or swim?
Let’s talk about it!
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The Surge in New Writers
If you have been following the writing communities as I have, you have no doubt seen a rise in released books and new writers. It’s safe to say that the past two years have done so much to push people to take up writing. Perhaps it’s due to tough times pushing them to do more, or perhaps it's lockdowns that have encouraged them to take up writing.
Whatever the reason, it’s been a great time to be a writer, as the number of readers has also increased!
The Bad News
While it has been a great time for new writers, experienced writers curiously enough have found the past two years to be lacking in inspiration. I think this underlines the fact that some writers need to have more open and sociable lives to inspire them, while others need to cut these many ‘distractions’ from their life if they are to write consistently.
Of course, we all need to get out and enjoy life as much as possible, if not for our writing, for our health. Yet, it has been an experience that has helped writers understand who they are and what they require to feel inspired.
My Work and Observations on 2021
Now, the past two years haven't done much to affect me or my workflow. I generally have my ups-and-downs no matter the situation. Yet, I also don’t lead the most sociable life, so my lifestyle changes were minimal.
The past year I have taken to doing book reviews, just to add variety to my website and channel. It’s allowed me to approach reading with a writer’s mindset, analyzing a writer’s style and plot, learning a lot more than if I were to simply read a novel as a reader.
I have also taken to writing a lot more in my off-time. I wrote in this last month the rough draft of my next book, pushing myself to write more than I normally do. My goal was to write 3000 words a day until I was done. After I passed the 100K mark, I decided enough is enough, as I felt burnout building quickly.
It was a straining experience, but still an enjoyable one. I challenged myself, but I also got a lot done. The feeling of progress was more than enough to keep me going and I was happy with the results, as ugly as they were in the first draft.
I am happy to say that 2021 was my most productive year as far as work and writing goes!
My Short Story Podcast
In addition to my book reviews, I have also taken to converting my short stories into audio stories, which I post on my podcast channel, as well as on YouTube with handy subtitles for those who like to read along.
It was something that became a part of my daily schedule and I worked to keep the habit. I was most pleased to see that it benefitted my following as well, my subscribers on YouTube doubling since I started!
Of course, once I catch up with my currently posted short stories, I will then tone down my posts to once a week, when I write my Monday Short Stories.
The Return of Dread
For the readers who enjoy my horror/thriller writing, you saw the return of Dread!
Dread is a project of mine where I write higher quality stories of a dark nature. These stories take more time to make, but are ultimately worth it, as I give myself a higher word count and plenty of time to write them. Dread is then edited and improved so their final versions can be put in the next volume of the Dread Book Series.
These stories are also coupled with the amazing artworks my wife, Antonia Dewey, creates for them! A new season of Dread stories is on the way as well.
To keep up with my usual work and create more content for the website and channel, I’ve had to really look into what keeps me from my work.
What it came down to was separating my ‘relax time’ from unnecessary distractions. I found it easy in the past to look at a distraction as a ‘necessary evil’, as I needed to balance out work with play. Otherwise, I would feel crippling burnout, my work would become forced and low quality. Everything would be less, rather than more and it would affect me mentally and emotionally to see such sorry results.
The way I separated the relaxation time from the wasted time was by setting a firm schedule for when I worked and when I didn’t. That meant treating my work like a real business, setting off-days, work times etc.
By doing this, I kept my interest in work high, and my guilt when not working low. I didn’t face any burnout this year, which I found to be an achievement in itself.
Of course, this is a technique that anyone can employ. It means consciously studying how you feel when you work and when you don’t. Deciding what times work best and the length of that time. It is then taking into consideration what really relaxes you and what distracts you from your work. You will always end up working more than relaxing, but you will still feel like the time is well-balanced.
If I was to turn this experience into a metaphor, think of it as a river starting to form. The water cascades down a hill, splitting off in various directions and it looks like chaos in the beginning. Then, with time, the mainstream begins to appear, with a few tributaries, then the real flow is established.
When you constantly find yourself distracted or feeling overworked, it means you are still in that chaotic first stage, but as the balance is found, the river reaches its final form. If done right, you will feel a routine start to develop, good habits are made, the flow is established. From then on, procrastination is easy to avoid, as you float down this river of your own making.
Well, that’s a long winded-metaphor, and as per my usual standard for metaphors, probably a bad one too. Yet, I do feel I got my point across and I hope it helps you in some way.
My Goals for 2022
After Christmas, I took some time to gather my thoughts and aspirations. Looking to the future is something I always do, but it was time to do it more seriously. I made a list of goals, which I feel are attainable with a lot of effort, but leave me with plenty of opportunities to fall short.
In my mind, I think these are good goals, as I still show progress no matter what.
With that said, my writing goals are simple. Write more books, publish more books. I made a list of fiction books to write, edit and publish. I set fair time slots to get them done. By the same token, I’ve done the same thing with my work, my other projects and more personal goals as well.
These are goals that I will look to whenever I find myself in between projects or simply wanting to do something else than the current project I am working on.
I do hope that you have set yourself some goals that emphasize your desire to improve in whatever field interests you. Of course, the writer in me hopes that one of these goals has something to do with writing.
Thank you for reading this short blog post and I wish you a happy new year!
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