A Look Back at 2021

Happy New Year Everyone!

We come to the end of yet another year, so it’s time for me to do my yearly recap of all the things, take a look back at the wins, the struggles, and where I could improve.

It occurs to me this time around that these are some of my favourite posts to write. It’s a nice feeling to put the previous year to bed, reflect on the good and the bad, and go into the next feeling ready to do better.

It’s also a nice opportunity to see all that you did accomplish, because sometimes I think we can be too hard on ourselves. A chance to stop and look back at everything you did manage to do (and not just what you didn’t) is important, especially given the current state of the world.

A Year of Changes

This has been quite a year. Covid is, regrettably, still a factor in our lives, and at this point, it might be something that we just have to deal with in our day-to-day, but I’ve been able to safely visit friends and family this year which is a huge improvement over the last.

It’s also been a big year of changes in my life. Changes in my job, changes in my workflow, even changes in how I understand myself. Next year I will be seeking a assessment for adult ADHD, and knowing that I probably have it has been an interesting re-framing of my life up until this point.

I’ve also become thoroughly addicted to Notion this year, if that wasn’t obvious with all the posts I’ve done the past few months. After finally commiting to the shift at the beginning of the year, I’ve just found myself more organized than I’ve ever been. It has really been a game changer for my productivity.

2021 Goals

Let me begin by stating that this was not a good year for achieving goals. I’ve undergone a lot of change and had a lot to consider over the past twelve months, and the goals that I set at the start of the year were not fitting with where I was as the year progressed.

But I also made it a point to be kinder to myself this year regardless of what I achieve. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot, though none of it has really matched up with the goals I originally set. That doesn’t make those achievements any lesser. It just means I really need to consider what I want going forward.

Here are all of the goals I set for 2021:

Main Goals

  1. Publish My first fantasy novel and sell 100 copies
  2. Earn at least $100 through a secondary income stream
  3. Post high quality content at least once a week

These are weird ones, because progress has been made for them (for the most part), though I haven’t seen any of them through. They are all “in-progress” so to speak. I don’t think I failed them. But, I didn’t achieve them either, so they’re kind of sitting in a goal-limbo.

Writing Goals

  1. Establish a writing routine that works for me
  2. Draft at least three novels
  3. Build a portfolio for freelancing

Ooh, this one hurts. This one hurts a lot. But as I’ve been pivoting this year with what I want to do and how I want to get there, fiction writing has taken a bit of a backseat.

When I begin to see an income from my books, then maybe I can put more focus onto these goals, but I’ve been working on so many other things, so my fiction has had to take something of a backseat, and probably will for at least a little while.

Compared to last year, though, I definitely feel like I’ve got my creative groove back. I’ve had so many ideas and so much more motivation to write fiction than I have in a long time, especially the last four months or so, and it’s been really nice to immerse myself when I can.

Reading Goals

  1. Make time for reading at least 5 times a week
  2. Make a conscious effort to read more diversely
  3. Read more books from indie authors

These were really not challenging goals, but I am a chronic binge reader – I read in small, highly concentrated bursts, and I think that’s just how I prefer to read. I’m not good at making time for things, even things I enjoy. It’s difficult for me to switch my focus to something when I am concentrated, so I tend to focus on only a few things each day, because that just allows me to get the most done.

I do think I did a better job of reading more diversely than I have in previous years. I read a lot of fantasy, and that genre has a tendency to be dominated by straight, white, cis male authors. The first half of the year was definitely better than the second half, so it’s something I’ll need to continue to be mindful of moving forward.

As for the indie stuff – I didn’t do so well there, but I’ve got some plans for 2022!

Gaming Goals

  1. Play more backlogged and new-to-me games
  2. Make time to play games at least 5 times a week
  3. Stream on Twitch at least once a week

Almost every game I played (and finished) this year was one from my backlog so I’m really happy about that! I’ve discovered a new love for puzzle games, too, as I’ve played quite a few this year.

Alas, like the reading goals, it’s hard for me to force myself to do something regularly, even when it’s something I enjoy. I just don’t work like that. I want to work more routine into my life, but the things I do for fun – reading, games, art – these things cannot be regulated in the way that my work is. It takes away some of the joy, and I think a part of me thrives in the uncertainty of my evenings – I can do whatever I want, and it doesn’t have to be on a schedule.

Streaming was a lot of fun, but some audio issues put a stop to that rather quickly. It became rather tedious (and expensive) to resolve, so I didn’t go back to streaming once I did work out the kinks. I’m also not sure that streaming games is really how I want to continue, but I do plan to revisit streaming in the new year.

Blogging Goals

  1. Promote my blog at least once a week on social media
  2. Try guest blogging at least once
  3. Interact more with fellow bloggers in my niche

I went through it with my blog this year. I was in my head a lot of the time, doubting my content and if any of it was actually worth writing. I’ve been re-considering what I want my blog to be, what sort of things I want to write, and how it fits in with my overall platform.

I think it’s important and healthy that you are always considering what you post on your blog – it stops you from getting bored or stale – but this year I was met with a lot of low-confidence and confusion about what I truly wanted from my blog.

I wanted to reach out to other bloggers but it felt like an impossibility as long as I didn’t know where I stood, and what I wanted my content to look like. I think much of that doubt is behind me know, but the dust will still be settling in the next few months as I try writing different types of content.

Lifestyle Goals

  1. Increase my savings
  2. Do yoga at least three times a week
  3. Try meal prep for a month

Number one aside, these goals are a big ol’ fail. To be fair though, I’ve made a lot of steps towards my mental and physical health, including changes to my eating habits, my sleep schedule and my caffeine consumption. Baby steps are still steps in the right direction. I’m not thrilled with the place I am in physically, but mentally? I’m a new freaking woman.

2021 gave me the mental and emotional workout that I desperately needed.

Reading Recap

This was a frustratingly average reading year for me. There were some good books and some bad, but I ended up reading the exact same number of books as I did last year.

My tastes are definitely changing, and I think as I read more and more outside of YA (which was my main genre for years) the more success I am having. I hope to read mostly adult and non-fiction in 2022 and I hope that my reading next year is just more enjoyable overall.

All the Books I Read in 2021

  1. The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson
  2. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon
  3. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  4. Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
  5. The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
  6. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  7. The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu
  8. Scarlet Witch Volumes 1, 2 & 3
  9. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
  10. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
  11. Heir of Night by Helen Lowe
  12. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  13. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
  14. A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova
  15. The 71/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  16. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  17. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
  18. The Aeronaught’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
  19. Network Effect by Martha Wells

My 3 Favourite Reads of 2021

Additional Stats:

  • Total Pages Read: 6678
  • Average Book Length: 318
  • Largest Book: The Aeronaught’s Windlass (630 pages)
  • Smallest Book: Scarlet Witch Volume 3 (110 pages)
  • Most popular genre: Fantasy
  • Most popular publication year: 2020 (6 books)
  • Book Format: 48% ebook, 33% physical book, 19% audiobook

Gaming Recap

Last year was a struggle to remember what I played and when, so this year I began tracking new and subsequent playthroughs in my Notion, much like I do with my reading. This way I can better keep track of when I start new games, how often I play them, and what challenges I’ve done.

Overall, I’d say 2021 was a really good gaming year for me, though I played a lot of older titles. There were a lot of puzzles and rpgs, which I think are just my favourite genres at this point.

All the games I finished in 2021:

  1. Trails in the Sky SC
  2. Dragon Age Inquisition
  3. Fire Emblem Three Houses (Maddening Playthrough – Blue Lions)
  4. New Pokemon Snap
  5. Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
  6. Trails in the Sky the Third
  7. Mass Effect Andromeda
  8. Endless Fables: The Curse of the Minotaur
  9. Scarlett Mysteries
  10. The Room
  11. The Sexy Brutale

Games I started in 2021 but haven’t finished:

  1. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition
  2. Littlewood
  3. Octopath Traveller
  4. Sword of Mana (replay)

My 3 Favourite Games of 2021

Blog Recap

This blog officially turns three in a couple of days, and while I’m disappointed with the content (or lackthereof) I created this year, I’m really excited for 2022. I have big plans, and lots of fun ideas. I was in a weird space with my blog for a lot of 2021, which is strange because my blog has done really well this year.

This just reaffirms that it’s not all about having something new and shiny to publish every week or even every day. A healthy backlog of posts and high quality articles are just as important, if not more so.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – my blog is my baby, a true labour of love, and I’ve loved to watch it grow over the past 12 months.

My blog stats as of December 31st, 2021

  • Followers: 245
  • Number of 2021 Posts: 12
  • Total Number of Words: 28, 232
  • Average Words per post: 2, 353
  • Average views per month: 753
  • Month with the most posts: January, August (3 posts)
  • Month with the most views: December (1,828 views)

Top 5 Most Viewed Posts

  1. How I Use Notion to Organize My Writing
  2. The Fantasy Plot Generator: 11 Websites for Randomly Generated Plots and Prompts
  3. First Impressions: A look at the Opening Lines of Popular Fantasy Novels
  4. How to Make a Map of Your Fantasy World
  5. 67 Ways to Fill Your Empty Notebooks

3 Lessons Learned

1. Some Things You Can’t Control

I’m something of a control freak – I like to know what to expect so I can figure out a way to deal with it or build in some countermeasures, but you can’t control everything, especially during a pandemic.

Change has always been hard for me, and there has been a lot of change this year – some of which was hard to come to terms with. Knowing what I can do, and having the right systems in place can really help to alleviate that stress when things do go out of control. Because they will. They always do. There is no point wasting time trying to control those things that you can’t. Focus on what you can do. Focus on what matters.

2. Prioritize Some Time Away from the Screen

Back in October I had a “detox” weekend, where I avoided using my computer, using social media, watching videos, or playing any games and it was surprisingly cathartic.

By the end of it, I was desperate to play a video or jump into a game, but it forced me to do things I don’t normally make time for, and really slow down. The day feels much longer when you don’t have music or videos playing in the background marking the passage of time.

It’s something I want to take the time to do more often, because it was nice for my mental health to just step away for a while and give my brain something to do that wasn’t just mindless content consumption.

3. The Best Way to Learn is to Do

It’s cliche, I know, but it’s so painfully true. And it’s not just about learning how to do something, but learning if it’s something you want to do. There’s just no way to know if you’ll enjoy something until you decide to try it yourself. Talking and planning are nice, but meaningless until you actually do the thing.

Memorable Moments

Despite it being another year spent mostly solitary, it was nice to get back out in the world and see friends and family again.

The biggest moment of this year was when I quit my job. Like many other millennials in this Great Resignation, my mental health said it could do this no more, and I had other passions I wanted to pursue, so I left my job at the end of April. It has been something of a wild adventure, since then, but I’m still working hard towards a life that I love.

This summer I want to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Toronto, and it was incredible. It’s hard to truly describe the experience, but it was vivid and imaginative but also incredibly lonely and sorrowful. It was such a beautiful celebration of a famed artist’s work hundreds of years later.

Knowing the effect that one man’s art could leave on the world so many years later was a beautiful yet painful reminder of what it takes to create, adn the type of impact you can leave on the world.

This year was also the first time I went to see Toronto’s distillery district during the holiday season. From mid-November to the end of December, Toronto’s historic distillery district gets a full Christmas makeover and becomes the Distillery Winter Market – a beautifully decorated outdoor shopping experience with lots of fun and interesting niche shops as well as food.

We weren’t there for very long, and while it was quite expensive, it was also very pretty and really did invigorate my holiday spirit.

While not necessarily a moment, I did spent a lot of time this year playing games with my sister and it’s been really fun. My sister and I have always been good at bouncing ideas off of each other so we’ve been playing a lot of puzzle games and it’s been a fun, low-key way to end a day.

We just finished The Sexy Brutale a few weeks ago, and it was such an interesting but strange experience. I’m looking forward to playing more puzzle games together in 2022!

2021 was certainly a year. In many ways a reverse of 2020, though not without its own challenges. We just have to keep moving forward, one step at a time. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Goodbye 2021, and hello 2022!

How was your 2021? Did you achieve any of your goals? What were some of your favourite books or games? What were some of your wins? What will you change going into 2022? Let me know in the comments!

2 responses to “A Look Back at 2021”

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