2020: My Best Year Yet

This year I had a success rate of 14% and it’s my best year yet.

I realise that sounds embarrassing/pathetic/suspicious (pick one) but bear with me, because those numbers are something I am really proud of.

I have written about my ‘Submissions Database’ before; an otherwise unremarkable Excel spreadsheet where I list every story I send out into the world, every competition I enter, every residency or job I apply for.

Dating back to 2009 there are a total of 115 entries. Some years I only entered one competition or sent a single story off for consideration. Those were the years I was blogging prolifically, spending most of my energy on my blogs such as Relentless, the now abandoned but rather amusing Meat, Three Veg and a Bottle of Wine (an idea I blatantly stole from Julie and Julia where I blog about cooking my way through a recipe book) and of course Fundraising Mums which I sold earlier this year.

In the outcome column, some of the cells have been highlighted in a washed-out shade of red, my colour of success, indicating the story got published, I placed in a competition or some other marker of accomplishment.

There’s not a lot of red in 2020.

But there are 36 entries this year – almost 1/3 of my lifetime’s writing efforts this year alone.

I entered 10 short story competitions (I was highly commended/published in two).

I entered 5 full-length manuscript competitions (two different books, no luck here. Time for a rewrite).

I applied for 4 writing residencies or mentorships (bit bummed to miss out on some of these).

I pitched 5 articles to magazines/websites (no joy. Goal for next year).

I entered 2 flash fiction competitions (fun but no luck).

I did 3 virtual pitches to publishers (2 asked to see the full manuscript. Hugely exciting).

I submitted my books to 6 publishers or agents (the agent wasn’t interested, still waiting to hear back from the publishers. Fingers crossed).

I was asked to write one guest blog post.

I also found an editor for my children’s book, joined a local writing group of like-minded history-lovers, completed three writing courses, found an awesome mentor, wrote 41 42 blog posts, sent my novel to 10 beta readers while book-keeping/admin-ing for my husband’s company and mothering three daughters and a fur-baby.

My goal at the start of the year was simply to put myself and my writing out into the world. This meant in 2020 I was entering or applying for something three times every month.

Luckily for me and my 14%, being successful wasn’t my ultimate goal (something I shall have to reconsider for 2021). Perhaps at times I was a little over-zealous, but I have learned a lot from those rejections, from the near-misses and will go into the new year with a fresh and more finely-tuned approach.

What are your writing goals for 2021?

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