2020 has come to an end, and like everybody, it was not a pleasant year. Yet, the severe isolation we have experienced offers perks to dive deep into our craft. 2021 will hopefully be promising, but we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet. Now, in the nature of the Unprocessed Thoughts blog posts, I’ll share a reflection on the month. I’ll also elaborate on what worked and what didn’t in 2020 with the writing career.
Welcome to Another Edition of Unprocessed Thoughts
Before the pandemic, we all expected 2020 to be like previous years. I was prepared for more conventions and promoting a couple of new releases – Fire, Pain, & Ruin and Mortal: Part 4 of Mental Damnation. Instead, we were thrown into lockdown, and everyone started the surf the web aggressively. Despite a fallback, there are opportunities with the writing craft and marketing.
Thankfully, some things I’ve done turned out okay this year. Other things didn’t work out. We’ll look at that shortly. First, let’s dive into what did pan out and maybe they can be applied to your own creative endeavours.
Adapting to The Moment
Don’t get stuck in your ways. I certainly did with conventions for the past eight years. Now, they’re gone.
E-books! Digital books are a given in this industry, and we saw the boom about a decade ago with Kindle. I have been exceptionally late to the game and have finally got on board with distributing and promoting e-books. Previously, I focused entirely on print and local conventions. It built personal connections, networking, and gained a loyal following, which I am super grateful for all of you. You rock, and are an inspiration to keep sharing new stories.
On a global market, e-books are an entirely different ballgame.
So, I learned effective ways to format e-books, build reader magnets, and promote these works to people worldwide. Slowly but surely, the reader base is growing. Promotional sites like Book Cave and Fussy Librarian work quite well, and I plan to explore them further. Personally, I’ve had little luck with Facebook ads.
Isolation – The Perfect Writing Environment
I like to write in pubs, but too bad. The time in lockdown has forged the perfect opportunity for us to focus on our crafts. We’re all at home and can lock ourselves away in a room – forcing us to face the art. No one is knocking on our door, and we don’t have any events to go to. The pandemic is the perfect playing ground to dive deep into your craft.
With this time, I was able to finish up two manuscripts that were previously semi-complete. I have a short story collection titled Into the Macrocosm and a horror/thriller titled Rave set for release in 2021.
The time inside also provided me with the chance to learn how to engineer audiobooks. I’ve done plenty of readings with the monthly short stories and book launches, yet I wasn’t aware of properly EQing and mixing. In 2021 I will continue to convert more of my previous works into episodic versions until the full audiobook versions are complete. Again, there is lots of time in isolation. Especially here in Alberta.
The EQing and Mixing I learned from the YouTube channel of Ken Marshall. He gives excellent tutorials and in-depth case studies of his previous work with Skinny Puppy and Front Line Assembly. His teachings have given me the chance to amp up my audio quality with the podcast and music I make. Expect to see that with the Rave and Into the Macrocosm scores.
What Didn’t Work
We’ve reviewed all the dandy stuff that happened this year about pivoting, learning new things, and having all sorts of success. Now, let’s get to the dirty juicy stuff about what didn’t work!
A Healthy Balance
Just because we are in isolation doesn’t mean we aren’t busy. Some of you have kids and have had to do homeschooling, others have demanding jobs like the booming IT world, and others are struggling to make ends meet. I’m in the graphic design and web development industries. There has certainly been a high demand now that everyone surfing on the tides of the web.
Throughout the year, there have been several occasions where I’ve taken on more work than I can handle. This resulted in tight deadlines, mutating scopes, and long workdays bleeding into each other. I’ve mentioned the struggle of balance in previous Unprocessed Thoughts – it leads to project burnout and a mental breakdown. 2020 brought a new spin on the old ramblings because we are working from home. The desk is there, and every client is staring at their screen. The task list is long – making the temptation to work that much more intense.
The isolation isn’t healthy for social creatures. We’re meant to interact and connect with one another. When you’re stuck at home, working all the time without interaction from friends and co-workers, it wears down the mind. I am no exception and have felt the effects of social isolation.
Stop Saying Yes
Okay, this is contrary to what you commonly hear from entrepreneurs. You’re supposed to say yes to get more work, build strong personal foundations and blah, blah, blah. You can’t say yes to everything. As I mentioned about the healthy balance, you can bite off more than you can chew. You’ll keep saying yes until there’s so much on your plate you’re going to pay one way or another. You might slip up, and your work quality goes down, or you have a panic attack. Maybe a mix of both! Saying no is a bold statement when you’re thirsty for work – especially if you’re contract-based. Contractors must take the food while it’s hot; otherwise, they are going to starve. Knowing the balance is difficult, and I certainly struggle with it from time to time.
We are in a damn pandemic. If we’re not essential, we can pump the breaks a bit.
Onwards and Upwards
There’s a summary of 2020 for you. Looking back and reflecting on your life, year, week, or day is a healthy mechanism of improving yourself. Nobody is perfect, and there are always new things to learn that will make us smarter and wiser. Take the time to get familiar with yourself and build long-term healthy habits. Some of the examples above are useful pointers for that.
- Take time to slow down
- Always learn something new
- Don’t get stuck in your ways
- Understand when to say yes and don’t be afraid to say no
That’s all I have to share. I’m excited for 2021 as I have many new things in the works for you. Into the Macrocosm and Rave aren’t the only things . . .
Keep pursuing your writing career by learning and growing. Always work smarter – onwards and upwards! If you get stuck in the past, it’ll make you jaded, and that’s a one-way ticket to a short writing career. Have a wonderful New Year’s, stay safe, and catch you all in 2021.
A new Unprocessed Thoughts is up! It sums up 2020 about what worked and what didn't for writing.— Konn Lavery (@konnl) December 31, 2020
Also here's my face. Happy New Year's and see you in 2021.https://t.co/8mR6skvBzQ#authorLife #yegWrites #author #GoodBye2020 pic.twitter.com/24T1VvUBKR
Beer note: Fahr Pils
The beer describes itself as a traditional German beer strictly brewed in Alberta. It’s exactly as advertised: Clean. Balanced. Golden. The flavour is light, as you expect, and makes for easy sipping. I’d recommend having it if you aren’t looking for any crazy flavours commonly seen in microbreweries. Of course, I enjoy pale ales the most, but it is good to change things up a bit, just not like what 2020 did to us.