Friday, January 01, 2021

A Look Back, a Look Forward. What Are Your 2021 Goals?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

It’s a new year, and time to take a look back on what we accomplished, and set new goals for 2021.

Happy New Year, everyone!

And a quick note...Janice Hardy's Critique Connection will open up on Sunday, January 3. So if you're looking for a crit partner or group, keep an eye out for that.

Moving on...

I write these round ups every year, and it’s always interesting to me to see what I did (and didn’t do) over the previous twelve months. This year was quite the year, and despite everything the pandemic brought, it did give me time to reflect on what I wanted from my writing career. After a decade as a professional author, it was time to make some hard decisions, and I did.

It also gave me time to develop my thoughts into goals, and then plans, and then I realized what I wanted to do was a two- or three-year-plan, not a few months of work. But that’s okay, because having that detailed and comprehensive plan is good. I have a much better understanding of what I need to do to accomplished my goals now.

Some things I’d planned to do in 2020 got cut or postponed due to this career restructuring. I re-prioritized my business and my writing goals, and really thought about what every last one of them did for me. 
  • What did I want from my writing career? 
  • Did these goals help me achieve that? 
  • Were they worth the time they’d take to accomplish? 
  • Where was my time and energy really going? 
  • Where was my time and energy best spent?

It was enlightening.

In June, I began an entirely new work flow process that required me to throw out everything on my To-Do List and start over. It was both terrifying and freeing, and while I fought it at times, it worked.

The last three months have been the most productive I’ve been in years, so I'm taking this process into 2021.

So, let’s revisit what I’d hoped to accomplish in 2020 and see how I did:

Revise the science fiction novel based on my agent’s feedback and get it ready for editorial submission. Verdict: Success! I finished my revision and submitted it to my agent. It needs another pass, though. Still a win, because I did do it. This is a very complex novel, so I knew it was going to take multiple revisions to get it right.

Finish the first draft of my middle grade fantasy. Verdict: Success! Not only the first draft, but the revision and even sending it to my agent.

Write another writing book. Verdict: Fail! The pandemic hit right when I was going to start this project, and my motivation vanished.

Write another novel. Verdict: Fail! Ditto here. But I focused on the MG instead, so that’s where the time went.

Increase my guest posting. Verdict: Fail! Blaming the pandemic again on this one. But I did streamline my blogging process and wrote 34 blog posts in three weeks, so I know I can knock out a ton of posts if I decide to guest post more in 2021. I can get them all done ahead of time.

Launch my online workshops. Verdict: Postponed! I was set to launch this in March, but shelved it when the world changed. It just didn’t make sense to do it this year for a variety of reasons.

Update the blog. Verdict: Success-ish! I started it, and have plans to continue this year, but this is a longer project than I’d first thought.

Do NaNo in November. Verdict: Fail! I decided to finish a revision instead. It was a revision kinda year (grin).

Increase my newsletter and marketing efforts. Verdict: Success! Much of my success here is still behind the scenes, but I got back to doing the monthly newsletter, and I know what I want to do with it now. I spent a lot of time educating myself, and a tremendous amount of the last six months was focused on what I needed to do to strengthen my author brand and business.

More consistent exercise. Verdict: Success! My greatest achievement in 2020. I walk two miles a day, and work out afterward (Pilates and free weights). Aside from rest days, of course. This is what kept me sane during lockdown.

Form another critique group with two other writer friends. Verdict: Success-ish! I have my second group, but the third friend couldn’t join until this year (she was moving to our area). She’s here now, and hopefully we’ll get this group up and running soon. But it’s planned, and we all want to do it, so it’s a matter of her getting settled into her new home and having time to write again.

Overall, considering the pandemic, the election, and the sheer stress and uncertainty everyone felt all year, I think I did okay. What isn’t reflected here, are the things I did that weren’t on this list.

What I accomplished in 2020:
  • Revised my science fiction novel
  • Wrote and revised my middle grade novel
  • Developed a series from that middle grade novel
  • Developed a new writing book series
  • Created an entirely new work flow process
  • Educated myself on business, marketing, and branding
  • Created a plan to strengthen my author business
  • Got healthy and fit
  • Read more, both fiction and nonfiction
  • Re-set myself emotionally

The year started off unproductive, but it turned around and put me on the right track to a successful 2021. Which brings me to…

What I hope to accomplish in 2021:

  • Revise the final draft of the science fiction novel
  • Write the first draft of book two of science fiction novel (pie in the sky goal, but it would be nice to do this by end of the year)
  • Write the first draft of a new middle grade novel with crit group one (we do a chapter a week, so this is doable)
  • Write a first draft of my urban fantasy series with crit group two (if we manage to get together. If not, this won't happen)
  • Begin writing my new writing book series (if I get one or two done, great. If not, I’ll at least make steps toward that)
  • Continue working through business development plan (far too many things here to list)

That’s it. It’s a lot, but I know what I need to do to make progress on these goals. I don’t expect to finish all of them, but I feel good about crossing several things off my list.

So those are my 2020 accomplishments and my goals for 2021. It’ll be interesting to see how my new process goes. My three-month experiment worked wonders, but I haven’t tested it with writing new novels, just revising. Until I see how it handles a first draft, I won’t deem it a win. And yes, if it all goes well, I’ll share what I did. I just don’t want to do it until I know it actually works (grin).

How did your 2020 go? What are your goals for 2021?


  1. In 2020 I wanted to write three books, finishing out one series and starting a brand new one. And, refine my process for writing and publishing with each one. Done.

    For 2021... I've got three more books to write.

  2. Although I wasn't nearly as productive as I should have been, I did finish my very first book(at least enough for the editor, who I still have to yet to find) and worked on the sequel. I hope to publish them both in 2021.

    Have a great year, Janice!

    1. Grats! That's an accomplishment you should be proud of.

  3. Here's to us all applying what we learned in 2020 to 2021.

    In a nutshell, I more than doubled my normal productivity. Beginning in May, after adapting to lockdown and taking up yoga (and other paths to self-improvement) I increased my hours spent revising my catalogue of works until I was putting in over 40 hours/week. I'd planned on drafting another novel in November. I accomplished that and drafted three novellas by the end of the year (a fourth is halfway to completion). The year taught me what I could accomplish if I was focused.

    Have a safe and productive 2021!

    1. That's fantastic. What a great year for you.

  4. I want draft 5 of "Blue Cottage" to be the best and last draft. I've spent two years working on it, and I'd like to move on to other projects. I had hoped to revisit a story I started back in 2006 but I really want to finish "Blue Cottage". To make it the best it can be. To make it into something people will say "Did you do this cause it's really good! When I heard you were writing a book it I thought it was something that would die a quick death. But you proved me wrong. This really good!.

    1. Send good writing vibes! You're putting in the work to get there, and that's the hardest hurdle. Good luck on this draft being the final draft :)

  5. Goodbye to 2020, and welcome to 2021; I feel full of hope.

    I am doing well and look forward to recovery from the present chaos. Also, very close to finishing book one of my series. Books two and three are almost finished, but Ayekah The Damned engages me in a lot of research, so it's taking more time. I am eager to share it with all of you.

    ELEMENTALS-The Series:

    1. Same here. That's great you're almost done. Grats! Heavy research books always take longer. Half of that is getting caught up in the research! hehe.

  6. So happy your process worked these past months. Can't wait to see how it adapts to your other projects. For myself, I did a lot of submitting this year. That felt really good—it really cleared up some mental space to keep writing. Also, some positive feedback which encourages and redirects my writing times. I finished submittable drafts of two books, so they'll go out to agents next and I drafted a new novel and made serious progress on a MG which I'm rewriting into a YA. I know there was new craziness in the news everyday, but for me 2020 was a time to center on the important stuff and make the most of the time I have, especially with those I love. Thanks for the peek into your process. Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, me too! Good for you. Sounds like you were super productive. Hope you hear good news on those.

      I did the same thing for my 2020. Good year to focus on what matters.