Finally it ends, what was probably one of the worst years in recent memory. And while it’s not over yet, already I feel like I can breath a little easier with the knowledge that 2020 is behind us.
Happy New Year to everyone, first and foremost! I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that 2021 is less remarkable in a variety of ways. But for now, we’re going to take a look back one more time to see just what kind of year 2020 was for me.
A Life-Changing Year
I know that, compared to a lot of people, I’ve been very lucky in 2020. For one, I live in Canada, and we’ve fared much better than a lot of other countries. I’m financially stable, and though it has become considerably more erratic in terms of hours, I still have a job. My friends and family have, for the most part, avoided the worst, and though we’re more than a little stir crazy from spending so much time at home, everyone is healthy.
2020 was a strange and horrible year, but it was also full of important events. Sadly, many of them came off the backs of tragedy, like the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. There were so many conversations around race and hollow allyship that were incredibly important and necessary and ongoing.
Given the kind of year it was, it’s incredibly easy to want to push 2020 aside and forget all the important things that happened as a result. The world will be a very different place in the wake of this pandemic, and no one said accepting these changes would be easy.
No one could have predicted the year that 2020 would become. I certainly didn’t, and though I knew I wanted to keep my goals simple, there was no way to mentally prepare yourself for the sort of year that lay ahead. I came up with 3 goals for the year, thinking I would keep it low-key and simple. Unfortunately, I didn’t achieve any of them.
My goals were as follows:
- Publish something every quarter
- Grow my email list
- Start a secondary income stream
The first goal has been an enormous flop. Besides writing a short story at the beginning of the year and the near 50k I’ve written in blog posts, I did not get much writing done in 2020, so I certainly didn’t have the material to publish something every quarter. The pandemic really stripped me of my creative motivation, so my writing took a backseat even though I really didn’t want or plan for that to happen.
Now, goal number #2 has technically happened, albeit passively. I’ve yet to send out my first author newsletter (though that will be coming soon – if you want to get my newsletters in your inbox, you can sign up here), but I think that is more to do with my blog traffic growing than any intentional effort on my part. And without a proper lead magnet, I’m not sure I’m growing my list in the right way.
Goal #3, while I technically failed, has kind of been an obscure one. I’ve considered twitch streaming, freelance writing, monetizing aspects of my blog, starting a new blog altogether – all kinds of things. It wasn’t for lack of trying, as I dipped my toes into a variety of things, but what to commit the time and resources was something I continued to be unsure of.
2020 was not a great writing year for me. Despite some Camp NaNoWriMo attempts and an abundance of free time in the spring, the most I managed to get done was a short story that is still in need of heavy edits.
I’ve mentioned in the last few posts that I’ve spent a lot of time world-building and outlining some future books and series, but no actual writing has really taken place.
I did write the first short story in a series I’m hoping to write, following the Inquisitor Damir of the Ministry of Absolution in a sort of high fantasy detective series. I finished the first draft at the end of March with a final word count of 7,008. I have a few snippets and false starts for some other stories, but nothing substantial.
So, my word count total for ALL of 2020 was: 7,008 words. Not great.
I definitely expected to read more this year, especially when my area went into lockdown, but there were times when doing anything was a struggle, and I’m not going to beat myself up over the fact that I didn’t read as much as I could have. I still read the average that I usually read in a year, which I think is saying a lot given what kind of year 2020 was.
Here are all the books I read in 2020:
- Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson
- Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff*
- The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski (And I also have a book chat!)
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance #1) by N.K. Jemisin*
- Through the Woods by Emily Caroll
- Starflight by Melissa Landers*
- 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron
- A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab*
- Fortune’s Pawn (Paradox #1) by Rachel Bach*
- Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
- Truthwitch (Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
- Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits (Zoey Ashe #1) by David Wong*
- Navigate Your Stars by Jesmyn Ward
- The Collapsing Empire (Interdependecy #1) by John Scalzi*
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel*
- An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
- A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin*
- The Diviners by Libba Bray*
- Star Wars The Last Jedi Novelization by Jason Fry
- A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo*
Books marked with * were part of my Twelve Books Challenge
- Most popular genre: a tie between adult science fiction & fantasy (4 books each)
- Total pages read: 7678
- Average book length: 365 pages
- Largest book: A Game of Thrones @ 835 pages
- Smallest book: Navigate Your Stars @ 64 pages
Twelve Books Challenge
At the start of 2020 I created a goal for myself that I called the Twelve Books Challenge, where each month I would read one of the sci-fi and fantasy novels that have been on my bookshelf for far too long. I wanted to motivate myself to read the books I really wanted to read but was to intimidated because of the hype or the sheer size of the book. And I’m happy to say that it worked for the most part. I finished eleven of the books on my list, and I’m currently reading the twelfth.
In 2019, it was a struggle to remember what games I played through the year and whether or not I beat them. Thankfully, I prepared for that this year with a bullet journal spread. Much like the reading and the writing, I didn’t get as much gaming done this year as I’d planned, and I turned back to a lot of old favourites and sunk many hours in Animal Crossing New Horizons to cope with the world burning around us.
That being said, I did manage to clear a few of the games off of my backlog as well as play a few anticipated releases.
Here are all the new games I completed in 2020:
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy
- Virtue’s Last Reward
- Zero Time Dilemma
- The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky
- Minecraft Dungeons
- Super Mario 64 (Nintendo Switch Remaster)
I made a conscious effort in the latter half of 2019 and into 2020 that I needed to play (and complete) more games, and I have definitely improved. Between reading, writing, and blogging, having time left over for video games can be tough. And when I’m exhausted after work, it’s easy to sink into a game I know really well, like Minecraft or Stardew Valley.I probably could have knocked more off my backlog, but overall I’d say I have a good mix of new-to-me games as well as old favourites!
Other games I played in 2020:
- Fire Emblem Three Houses: Golden Deer, Blue Lions and Ashen Wolves DLC (Now 100% complete!)
- Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Finally finished the main storyline!)
- Pokemon Sword and Shield – Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra DLC
- The Sims 4
- Animal Crossing New Horizons
- Minecraft 1.16
- Stardew Valley
- Fall Guys
- The Elder Scrolls Online
Today is the two-year anniversary of this blog, which just feels HUGE. I can’t believe I’ve stuck with it as long as I have – I’m the sort to be easily distracted. But I’ve spent many an hour working on this blog and I’m incredibly proud of it.
If there is one thing I want to continue into 2021, it’s transparency. I learn a lot more from people when they are willing to show me the numbers. I mentioned earlier this year that there is something incredibly motivating about reading a blogger’s backlist and seeing them at their earliest.
I want people to look back at my posts and see where I began. I want to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come. It’s nice to see how much your blog has grown – to see the results of all your hard work.
Here are my blog stats as of December 31st, 2020:
- Number of followers: 194 (+113)
- Total number of posts in 2020: 42
- Total number of words: 48,471
- Average words per post: 1,154
- Average Views per month: 245
- Month with the most posts: April (12 posts)
- Month with the most views: April (398 views)
Top 5 Most Viewed Posts:
- Story Prompts & Plot Generators for Struggling Writers and Newbie Wrimos
- How to Make a Map for Your Fantasy World
- 23 Geeky Ideas to Get You Through Self-Isolation
- The Worldbuilding Blueprint (& Free Worksheet!)
- Archiving an Old Bullet Journal Using Evernote
My Favourite Posts
The most popular posts are not always the ones I’ve worked the hardest on, which is an unfortunate by-product of running a blog – you don’t know what will resonate with readers. So I like to look back and highlight some of the posts that I enjoyed most or that I think are some of my best work.
Here are my favourite posts from 2020:
- Using Randomized Emojis to Create Story Prompts
- 24 Fantasy and Sci-Fi Books by Black Authors to Add to Your TBR
- First Impressions: A Look at the Opening Lines of Popular Fantasy Novels
- 14 Ways to Update Old Blog Posts (& Free Checklist!)
- A Game of Words: Reviewing Books as an Author
- Escaping Into a Virtual Life
3 Things I’ve Learned
This is definitely the portion of the post that I’m resisting the most, maybe because I don’t feel that I’ve made much progress this year. In terms of cold, hard results, I haven’t, but 2020 was a myriad of valuable lessons cloaked in suffering and tragedy.
I’ve had a lot of time to myself this year, and it has been frustrating to see how that time has been squandered. It didn’t feel like it at the time of course, because my brain is very good at tricking itself, but my doubts and my indecision were at their peak in 2020. Or maybe I have more anxiety than I thought.
In a way that leads me to the first thing I learned:
- There is no ‘right’ project. There is only the one you’re working on.
I’m very indecisive. Always have been, and I probably always will be on some level. And I’m fully aware that having any choice at all comes from a place of privilege. But there is that ugly side of indecision that stops any forward movement and makes sticking to a project infinitely harder. I’m plagued with doubts about whether or not I’ve made the right choice, and I can’t make up my mind on what project is the ‘right one’.
The truth of the matter is that there is no ‘right project’. I just have to start and see the work through, and know that the doubts are my own mental health trying to sabotage me.
2. Some choices will inevitably close other doors
You can’t have it all. You can’t do everything. I have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else, and I have to use them wisely. And sometimes deciding to do one thing and committing to it, means I can no longer do another. All the same, I can’t let that stop me from making those choices. Making those decisions will be hard, but you can’t move forward without them.
Accepting the idea that I will have to choose what I spend my time on is daunting, and I think it has paralyzed me too much over the past year. And it’s easier to put it off another day than to take any real action. But in the end, that is also a choice, and it’s not the one I want to continue making. I don’t want to let that be the choice that closes the other doors.
3. Routines are healthy and necessary
Wow, was this something I learned the hard way in 2020. The absolute chaos of the year really revealed how little routine I had to fall back on. I’ve tried to do what I can to implement some sort of routine into my life, but the holidays are a chaotic time in retail, and it has been a lot harder than expected. It’s something I will continue to work on in the future, and I know it is something I need to have if I’m going to be my happiest, most fulfilled, and most motivated self.
Despite spending two-thirds of the year stuck at home, there are still a few things that happened in 2020 that I want to remember.
The first of course is how much this blog has grown! I’m really starting to see a lot more traffic and it’s exciting to think about all the new readers who’ve stumbled upon my little corner of the internet! In the last couple of months, in particular, I’ve seen a lot more activity, and it’s been nice to see all of my hard work pay off. I can only hope I continue to grow into 2021 and beyond!
This was also the year I started streaming! At the end of October, I had my first stream on twitch, and it was really exciting but also a little scary. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and I was so happy I did it. I’m not sure how to grow on that platform yet, but it’s one of my goals going forward in 2021!
What a year 2020 was. What a frustrating, incomprehensible year. I don’t know what the future will bring, but 2020 was one for the history books. And I sincerely hope that it can only go up from here.
Goodbye 2020, and hello 2021!
How did you fare in 2020? Did you achieve any of your goals? What will you change going into 2021? Let me know in the comments below!