Despite “unprecedented times”, 2020 kept me busy. Between my dayjob, my own projects, and helping with conventions, I was, as always, completely overbooked.
Yet again, I may not have ended my year with a signed agent, but I didn’t just sit around. Okay, I literally sat around, but there’s a lot one can do in front of one’s computer these days!
I attended 3-5 writing conventions, wrote 1 short story, finally finished a very long revision, and edited my fourth novel.
Between Balticon, WorldCon, Imaginarium, and couple of Authortube Virtual Retreats, I attended 25 panels, 1 shows, 2 readings, and was ON 11 panels. Not counting all the training sessions and tech orientations I ran for the staff, participants, attendees, and my own local NaNoWriMo group. Outside of cons, I attended 3 different writing groups, participated the #authortube community, and attended my local open mic nights for writers.
This year, I did a lot more interacting in real-time virtual spaces. I love comparing numbers, so let’s look at them.
My Writing Goals Last Year
I made sure to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) goals.
- Revising – Finish the mentor-led YA rewrite. Edit my middle-grade fantasy. Prep some shorts and poetry for submission.
- PARTIAL CREDIT (70%): Got the YA and MG done and wrote/posted a short on my blog, but didn’t edit anything else new.
- Querying & Submitting – Prep 5 short stories for submission, and submit to at least 10 markets — half before July.
- PARTIAL CREDIT (90%): Submitted 9 stories, 4 before July! But, only had 4 pieces prepped.
- Blogging and Vlogging – Don’t lose my posting streak. Maybe add a weekly Authortube check-in.
- WIN: Kept up with the blog/vlog, and started a podcast. I tried a few zoom checkins, and ended up with a weekly livestream write-in that’s relatively popular. And did Vlogmas!
- Reading – Read 26 books (at least 2 a month) with at least 10 of them physical and ALREADY on my bookshelf
- WIN: Like WHOA win. I read 45 books (4 more than last year) and a mind-boggling 35 of them were physical, with only 2 of those not from my to-read bookcase.
- Writing – OctPoWriMo and NaNoWriMo
- PARTIAL CREDIT (50%): I skipped OctPoWriMo this year. But I did a lot more prep and ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. And drafted a short for Christmas.
- Beta Readers – Reach out for my middle-grade novel, don’t commit to more than 3 fulls yourself.
- WIN: Got feedback from my alpha and 3 beta-readers on the MG. Only beta’d 3 shorts (including chapter 1 of a graphic novel). Working on one longer beta right now.
- Conventions/Writing Groups – Hit 6 open mic nights, 4 monthly writer meetings, try a critique group, and attend 3 NaNoWriMo events. Plus, be a panelist at 2 conventions and staff Balticon.
- PARTIAL CREDIT (110%/70%): 5/6 open mic nights, 3/4 monthly writer meetings (but I hit 4 meetings for a different group!), tried a critique group, 2/3 NaNo events (but with it all being virtual, maybe I get full credit?), and I definitely paneled 5/2 conventions and staffed 4/1 cons.
- And give myself a pass if I don’t get anything accomplished in December.
- What was that whole Vlogmas thing, Morgan? And read 4 more books? And wrote a short story?
- EXTRA CREDIT!!
Things outside this list I achieved, though?
- Started a podcast
- Staffed 3?4? conventions and became a Zoom and Discord trainer/operator.
- Started a weekly livestream
- Hit 10k views in one year here on the blog.
Top Lifetime Post
My Query Corner — where I rewrite queries with authors preparing to enter the query trenches, and my Author Spotlight — to help promote friends’ works — are sticking around, even if they’re not my most popular posts. I’m not hustling for entries, but will share them when I have content for them. (If you’d like to participate, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
My Top 10 Blog Posts of 2020!
- How One Writer Uses Trello To Track Her Creative Process
- They Want What? The Difference Between Blurbs, Queries, and Synopses!
- Querying and Agents: Now I’m Confused
- Everything You Need To Know About Convention Panels
- How to Self-Edit That Lousy First Draft
- What’s In A Name? Characters in Fiction
- Top 11 Ways NOT To Respond When Getting Feedback
- What Cons Are Looking For In Panelists
- Choices To Make With Beta-Readers
- Black Lives Matter
My Top 5 YouTube Videos! in 2020
Unlike last year, most of this year’s top 5 are actually from this year! Not sure why Youtube likes to push my Mythology post, but I’m not sad.
- Querying & Agents: Now I’m Confused
- Better Beta-Reading – A Virtual AuthorTube Retreat Panel
- Morgan’s Lazy Sunday Afternoon Write-in (Dec 27th edition)
- How To Create A New Mythology (old – a perpetual favorite)
- Novel, Novella, or Short Story?
My Top 3 Posts of 2019
- Morgan’s Complete Guide For Attending A Convention
- So You’ve Decided to Write A Novel – 7 Tips To Get Started
- Making the Asexual Textual
My Top 3 Posts of 2018
- When you Ask For Someone To Read Your First Chapter
- Agents and Editors Share–Pitches They’re Sick Of!
- When Querying a Novel — Hope Can Be The Scariest Thing
My Top 3 Posts of 2017
- PitchWars is Coming! #PimpMyBio
- Top 10 Tricks For a Better Query Letter
- Confession: I’ve Been Struggling
My Top 3 Posts of 2016
My Top 3 Posts of 2015
Social Media Stats
While this isn’t really writing related, I know I like to see how other people do it, and I like stats and tracking progress, so, probably more for me than you, here are my numbers for 2020. I tried to be both engaged and engaging, while still invested in upping my content creation in all mediums. As always, some weeks were better than others. Honestly? Some MONTHS were better than others.
First off, I really dove into the #AuthorTube community on Youtube. Most of the other stuff was automated though, so far less engagement on my part.
Between all my social media accounts, I added 3,068 followers, about in line with 2018, and about half of 2019! This year? My Facebook Author Page grew the most, followed by twitter. Percentage-wise, though, my Youtube channel did the best — and has the most interaction — I no longer feel like I’m shouting into the void there.
This year I maintained my streak of blogging once a week, and almost hit twice a week, plus I kept up with the vlogging and started turning the vlog into a podcast. (My Goodreads stats are books added to my library, the last 3 years are the books I’ve read.) (My FB page wouldn’t give my year stats and stopped letting me scroll in mid-2016, so, those stats are incomplete, but I can compare to the last 3 years.)
As targeted the past two years, I maintained my average of posting on Instagram twice a week. And started posting at twice a week to Pinterest – mostly automated from my blog and youtube channels. Tumblr content is just Instagram and blog reshares, and LinkedIn is just blog reshares.
Account Break Down
- WordPress – I started this blog in April of 2015.
- This was my best year yet on the blog! For the first time ever, I hit 10,000 views in under a year! I grew at a steady pace.
- Some of it was consistent content and regular Author Spotlights. But? When I look at my source referrals, this was the year that Google search results were my number one, rather than links from my own social media. While my search results referrals have been steadily growing, the bump 100% corresponds to a link from prowritingaid.com referencing my perennial favorite “10 Questions to Ask Your Beta Readers”. So, yeah, the importance of bigger sites referencing you actually do matter a lot for SEO (search engine optimization).
- Twitter – MorganHzlwood – I joined in March of 2016.
- I could be more engaged. But, I think I’m comfortable with my level of engagement. I’ll ramp it up if needed. I’m still just posting and responding to my notifications. It’s a good way to avoid the drama that twitter can be prone to.
- Youtube – MorganHazelwood – I joined in April of 2017
- I definitely stepped it up this year and my stats show. I got 7,677 views, added 154 followers (for 352 total), and hit 689.7 watch hours. (Yay! They started giving annual stats!)
- Tumblr – MorganHazelwood – I joined in June of 2016
- I basically stopped using except for resharing my blog and pinterest.
- Instagram – MorganHazelwood – I joined in 2015.
- I continue to attempt to be more intentional in my posts. Making 1 text post for every 2 image posts. (or reversed in OctPoWriMo). And making sure to vary the types of images.
- Pinterest – MorganHazelwoo – I joined in 2015.
- I’m sharing my video post weekly, and my blog post but not much else. I should join some group boards? Or something like that. I did make that inspiration-board for my space fantasy NaNoWriMo project, though.
- Facebook Pages – MorganHazelwoodPage – I joined in 2015.
- “Writing About Writing” continues to reshare my alt-text added reshared memes — bringing me MASSIVE readership for those posts. Otherwise, though FB still often shows my posts to fewer than 10% of my followers. It’s annoying, but I’m not paying. I’ll just keep reposting on my personal page as well.
- Facebook – MorganSHazelwood – I joined in 2013.
- I think most of my growth was from the conventions I worked this summer and facebook suggestions.
- Google+ – Morgan S Hazelwood – I joined in 2013
- GoodReads – Morgan Hazelwood – I joined in January 2016
- I read 46 books this year, beating my target of 2 books a month significantly! Again!
- I rated all of them, but only reviewed 1. I try to review indie books more, because they don’t have a following.
- Reddit – Morgan Hazelwood – I joined in January of 2017.
- I got 5 karma all year.
- I had 1 post, and commented on a 6 discussions. If I want to be active here, I need to be more active
- Discord – morganHazelwood#1975 –
- I’m on like 5 convention discords, 4 active writing discords, my voice acting group’s discord… Not really tracked here for any good social media use, but it is somewhere I spend in chat rooms. And writing sprints.
I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped.
Some of that was external. I don’t think anyone expected 2020 to look like it did. When other people are helping with your revisions, you can be limited to their pace and availability. I was wary of the conditions into which I was considering querying.
Some of the issues were the consequences of decisions.
- I’m still running 3 Facebook PitchWars support groups and administering another SFF writer’s group. Plus, stepping up as part of the #authorTube community. Helping out with Concellation AMAs. That takes time, energy, and spoons.
- I helped run two conventions and helped staff another 3. I paneled at 3 virtual cons and 2 authortube events.
- I decided to do my best to keep up with at least 5 different types of social media.
- I really like 9 hours of sleep a night, even if 7 is more standard.
- I still have scheduled social time with friends on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Add in my blog post writing and uploading Wednesday nights and con meetings…
I’ve been prioritizing keeping up with my self-imposed schedule over actually writing. I’m still a bit burnt out, but I have goals. Last year’s intentional breaks turned into working conventions — except December. This year, I’m going to take intentional breaks. At least two weeks off of everything TWICE but the blog/vlog/podcast (not including December).
I DID get some writing done, finished revisions on 2 books, grew my vlog, created a podcast, helped make virtual 3 conventions happen in a year unlike no other, staffed 3 others, was on 12 panels outside of my own vlog, and read an average of 3.8 books a month.
I may have fallen short, but… as I quote Les Brown every year: “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
How well did you do on your goals?
Did quarantine side-track you or free up your time?