First of all, a very Happy New Year to you all and wishing all readers of this blog a happy, healthy, and creative 2012!
What is the Annual Review?
Last year, for the first time, I embarked on the ‘Annual Review’ process suggested by Chris Guillebeau here. This worked really well for me and by the end of the year, I realised that I’d met nine of the goals I set for myself in January 2011, so naturally, I’m doing the same for 2012. If you read Chris’s post, you’ll see that the review is quite a lengthy process, but for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll simply give a few edited highlights of my review.
The intention is not to brag about any of my own achievements (some of them might seem quite meagre and others will be irrelevant to the reader) but rather to look at what did work, what didn’t (where I failed) and to think about what I can learn from this and what is next. I also hope that by blogging about the process I can inspire you to think clearly about what you want from 2012 – in relation to your writing work and indeed beyond. I’ve been quite amazed by how well the goal-setting process has worked this year for me. This is Part One (what went well – you have to come back for the next post to find out my failures…)
What went well in 2011?
The first question Guillebeau asks in the annual review process is ‘What went well?’. He invites you to look at individual categories in your life, so here are a few from mine:
This year, I completed the final edit on my fourth novel, a comedy about the literary world and sent it to my agent; it is currently under submission to publishers. I’ve been working on this novel for a few years, so I was delighted to finally call it ‘complete’. From a writing perspective, the second half of 2011 was a little more nebulous for me as I wanted to have time to experiment with new ideas and ways of writing. I wrote 10,000 words of a memoir and began a Young Adult novel. Recently I also began experimenting with poetry for the first time in years.
Attending drama classes at City Lit was a real highlight for me in 2011. Acting was my original passion and it has been fantastic to return to classes and to begin to consider writing for theatre too. In addition, my interest in photography continued. In the summer I attended Unshaken Photography’s ‘Introduction to Digital Photography’ and also started a photography blog here. In addition, I enjoyed learning about iphone photography via Bindu Wiles’ ‘The Photoessay Project’, the result of which is here.
In 2011, I began to think seriously about career change. I have been running ‘The Writing Coach’ for six years now and whilst I really enjoy working with my clients, in recent months I have become aware of the need for a change, wanting to engage more in the outside world rather than working mainly from home and also seeking a new direction and fresh inspiration.
For some years I have been a School Governor and in mid 2011, I took a decision to consider a career teaching English and Drama in secondary schools (whilst continuing to write when I get a spare minute…) In November, I applied for a PGCE in English with Drama at the Institute of Education in London and I learned yesterday that I have been accepted on the course, beginning in September 2012. (Getting that ‘yes’ was in fact my first goal for 2012!) I’m really excited at the prospect of moving in this new direction.
Naturally many readers will have questions about how this affects my work at the Writing Coach and the answer is that I will continue to run the website, blog and newsletter but I will no longer be coaching (apart from a very few exceptions agreed in advance) after July 2012. However, I will continue to offer products (ebooks, ecourses and possibly a membership option) via the site. As yet I have not taken a decision on whether to employ a manager to run the services but as soon as that decision is taken, I will let you all know. If anyone has any questions about this, please do get in touch with me via the Contact page.
In so many ways, I see this new direction as an extension of my work at The Writing Coach. I’ll still be teaching writing and literature, simply in a new form and to a new audience and I’m immensely excited about the future.
Family and Friends:
My family and close friends are always my central priority and when I look back at the year, what I think of, most of all, is my relationships with those close to me and the many good times we’ve shared. I’m a pretty private person at heart, so I won’t say much here beyond the fact that I’m immensely proud of all those close to me who have achieved some incredible things this year. You know who you are – and thank-you. (Of course, it goes without saying that David kept drawing great cartoons!)
This year saw the launch of the new Writing Coach website. Goburo were fantastic to work with and I highly recommend Nick and Hayley’s work. I so enjoyed launching the new-style Completion Club, our online club and a brilliant community for all writers looking to complete a work – and membership remains open until the end of January (allowing for sign-ups for a six month membership). In addition I launched my ebook with a brand look: ‘Get Black on White: 30 Days to Productivity and Confidence for Writers’.
I worked with around sixty-five clients in 2011 (including those working with other consultants and as part of Completion Club) I was also delighted to appear in the acknowledgements of Julia Crouch’s novel Cuckoo and Voula Grand’s novel Honor’s Shadow. Several other clients and former students got agents and publication deals or self-published. Huge congratulations to you all.
This year I also began fundraising for the charity African Revival and raised in the region of £700 for the charity (figure to be confirmed).
At the beginning of this post I mentioned nine goals that I set at the beginning of 2011 and met. In case you’re interested, they were:
- Complete my fourth novel and have it accepted by my agent
- Write the copy for the new Writing Coach website and launch it
- Edit and revise ‘Get Black on White’ and launch the ebook.
- Enrol in and attend a regular drama course
- Take the children to Paris
- Take a photography course
- Raise my consultancy fees :)
- Get our front garden and driveway professionally landscaped
- Visit ten art exhibitions
If you’re wondering what goals I didn’t reach and where I failed miserably, please do subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss the next post… And/or you can sign up to the newsletter here.