Queen Elizabeth II called 1992 her “Annus Horribilis”.  She had endured the collapse of three of her children’s marriages (Anne, Andrew and Charles), a fire that burned down part of Windsor Castle, and other extraordinary stresses.

Many people ascribe the invention of the Latin phrase to the Queen, but in fact it was the Roman Catholic Church who first used the term in 1891 to describe 1870, when the Church struggled to define papal infallibility.

“Annus Horribilis” is likely to be 2020 for many of us.  Even I, introvert extraordinaire, with a home-based career that is bringing in revenue to buy groceries for everyone in the household, is starting to feel the strain.  My tolerance for frustration has dropped to an all time low, lately, and I’m trying to bite my tongue 99% of the time, because everyone else is just as stir-crazy as me.

But there are signs of change on the horizon.  The vaccines that are being developed will allow many of us to go back to a semblance of life-as-we-knew-it, although we have all been permanently changed by this year.

However, with the glint of a possible end in sight, or at least a change to relatively stable times, and now that we are at the end of this calendar year, it’s a good time to look forward.  Waiting until January, the traditional month of planning, means you’ll be scrambling right out of the gate.

Why not get your ducks in a row right now?  Then you’ll sail into the new year on placid water…with nary a mixed metaphor in sight.

Productive and prolific writers are always planning, but sometimes we get bogged down in the day-to-day challenges of producing words, and forget to look up and around.  The 20,000 foot view is always educational.

So…have you thought about how you’d like your 2021 to unfold?  What writing goals do you have, or could you figure out?

Determining that this year you’re going to hit #1 on Amazon or die trying is a useless goal, because you have no control over that ambition.   Nothing you do can make it happen.

But there are things you can do that make it possible (along with a hefty dose of luck).  Writing and releasing a book a month, say, will go a long way toward building your audience, especially if those releases are all in one series, or related series.

You could make 2021 your year for consolidating your readership and building your subscriber list to break into five or six figures.  That is absolutely within your control.

You could also set yourself some writing challenges, to help zoom your finished story count.  Say:

  • A book a month, or
  • February will be a two book month (and toss everything else), or
  • Jan/Feb/Mar, I’ll write all Series 1 books.  Apr/May/Jun, all series 2.  Or
  • This year, I’ll write 750,000 words in total.

Dean Wesley Smith is famous for setting himself challenges that make you draw in a sharp breath.  Recently, he set himself the challenge of writing a novel a week, for 10 weeks.  In 2021, to celebrate his age, he’s set himself the challenge of releasing 77 books.  Yep, that’s not a typo.

You can find many ways to gamefy your writing, the way Dean Wesley Smith does:

  • Mondays will be all-day-sprint days.  Or
  • If I finish a novel before my schedule’s deadline, I get the days before the deadline to goof off and do nothing, if I want.  Or
  • I will write and submit/publish a short story a week, all year.  Or
  • Once I’ve finished this series that I’ve grown weary of (but must finish, or fans will burn me in efigy), I get to write a short story in my favourite series, with my favourite characters, as a reward.

Gaming yourself to write more helps you reach stretch goals.

Have a think about your goals for next year before 2021 arrives.

A second one of mine (the first is to write two titles a month for the entire year), is to crack 1 million words next year.  I’ve done this before, but in the last few years my rate has slid backwards.  I will just barely manage 700,000 words this year.  I’d like to get the word count back up to where it used to be.

Time to plan!

Tracy