Reflect on 2020. Plan 2021

If you’ve been here long, you know I’m a planner. I have a physical planner in my office for my writing and coaching schedule that I’m diligent about keeping current. There’s a separate planner for my family, personal and home appointments and responsibilities sitting on my kitchen counter.

Plans have a way of not working out, but there won’t be any of that “planning to fail by failing to plan” in my life. Over plan? If there’s such a thing, I could be guilty of it.

The first step on forming plans is reflecting on what worked–or didn’t work–before. This post will walk you through my process for setting my goals and intentions for my writing “career.”

Reflections of 2020

Oh, 2020. I wish I could say all the memes calling you a dumpster fire and worse were overstatements.

This has been a difficult year for me and my family, but we haven’t been alone in our struggles. Changes swept our country and our world thanks to COVID-19, racially-charged rioting, and political posturing. I won’t be talking about how those items affected my mindset, but of course they did. No one lives in a vacuum, even if it felt like I was imprisoned in my home for most of the year.

Professionally, my world tilted and crashed off its axis. In February, my publisher handed back rights to my most-reviewed novella ever. I spent the money to have a new cover made and gave it a more appropriate title, but it was devastating to have my contract end prematurely.

I guess I should have expected the next dump from my publisher. But I didn’t. I had been with Sweet Promise Press since it began, and three of my books were among the original titles the company launched. I expected to live out my contracts and was working on another book for the series as well as a proposal for a new series.

Remember what I said about plans not working out?

On August 1, I was no longer published with a company I loved. The only titles that remained for sale on my Amazon author page were from two other indie presses and those were anthologies. Oh, and the five fiction books I’d self-published. But in my mind, I was no longer a published author.

This was supposed to be a year of Rest for me. Boy did I learn how that had more to do with my faith than my fatigued flesh. Yes, I did just use alliteration. And it made me smile, too.

On a positive note, I started writing again. I’ve learned that rest is essential if I want to be creative, so my writing schedule contains half as many hours as it did in previous years. I figure I can ease gently into production mode since I don’t have a contract with deadlines hanging over my head.

One wonderful thing that happened this year was that I was given a small group of writers to connect with daily through my membership with Novel Academy. It’s been great to pray for them, talk story with them and even help them in small ways as they’re each at different places on their path to publishing.

These interactions reminded me that working with other writers energizes me. It’s something that stimulates creativity for my own projects, and that, as well as encouragement from one of my group members, led me to a new path.

Pondering a New Path

I’ve been doing freelance work on Fiverr since the beginning of 2019, but as those leads dried up in March of this year, I began to wonder if I could take some of my regular clients off the platform. So I began transitioning toward that early in the summer.

I was praying about how to make money to help me afford writing conferences, my Novel Academy membership and maybe promote my indie titles. I began applying to corporate copywriting and copyediting jobs. I even considered becoming a barista when a Starbucks opened less than a mile from my house.

As I considered all this, praying for direction, one of the women in my Novel Academy writing huddle started talking about this writing coach she wanted to hire. In passing, she said, “If you were a writing coach, I’d hire you. I already know we work well together.”

That was the seed that sprouted into Sharon Hughson Author Services. You can check out all my offerings here.

And, I knew I was done writing romance. It isn’t a genre I enjoy. I’d written it because those were the calls for submissions I saw when I first started writing full-time. I also sent young adult fantasy and young adult romance submissions out. One of them is published in this anthology.

But the door that swung wide open was for romance. So I wrote it. And it was fun. It was gratifying to get published, but plenty of reviewers complained that my stories were non-traditional. I focused more on character growth than the romance.

When I got an idea for a six-book series in May, and the main character was fully formed in my head, I knew that I was done writing romance. I was going to write women’s fiction in a chick lit vein. I enjoy reading those stories more than I do romances, although fantasy is still my favorite genre. Maybe someday the door will open for me to write that.

And since I’m an author first of all, I backed away from the coaches selling me a way to build a six-figure coaching business or to boost my coaching income to $20,000 per month. Those aren’t the business models I’m looking to follow. I’m founding a “side business” that will fuel my joy for creating while allowing time for me to write one or two books each year.

Plans for 2021

Which brings me to my plans for the next year. It’s right around the corner, only days away now.

I invested in the My Brilliant Writing Planner, and the first step was to consider my core values. The designer of the planner, Susan May Warren, believes our values drive everything we do in life.

Part of that involved choosing a word for the next year that would guide my Bible study time. This is what I’ve chosen.

Because I will persist in following my dream to be a published author. Yes, I am a published author but currently without a publishing contract. I will revise and edit the first draft of Road Tripping Granny Book One into a fun masterpiece. I’ll make a list of the top thirty agents who represent women’s fiction/chick lit and then query them. One of them will sign me, and I’ll be on my way to the new improved dream.

What is your planning method? Do you reflect on the past before setting a course for the future?

3 thoughts on “Reflect on 2020. Plan 2021”

  1. Courage.
    Courage to step out and build a business.
    Courage to step out and get active in our church.
    Courage to take a new job. (Done)
    Courage to get out of my comfort zone.

    Yes I plan and make lists.
    I am going to try and make two planners work for me.
    I am tweaking my goals for the year.
    They can not just be about health or just about building a business.
    I have learned that each part of us needs focus and recovery time: mind, body, spirit and emotions.
    Being single minded is the best way to burn yourself out.
    Being focused about specific goals in each important area can help you succeed and maintain a type of balance.
    I am cheering you on on both your coaching and your writing!

    1. Courage is a great word! I had dauntless as my word a couple years ago and it really helped me stretch myself out of my comfort zone.
      Also, congratulations on the new job! I’m sure you’ll be reaching your other goals, too. Sometimes, all God’s waiting for is us to take the first step, showing we trust him.

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