January 1st 2018

Today, New Year’s Day, is the day where I review my resolutions from last year, and set myself new ones for the following year.

Last New Year’s Day, I set myself these targets for the year:

  1. Run a marathon.
  2. Earn a secondary living from writing. 
  3. Write a new story.

How did I do? Let’s find out…

  • Run a marathon.

I set myself the ambitious task of running a marathon this year (2017), based on the fact that my goal for last year (2016) was to run a half marathon. So it seemed like natural progression to double up and go for the full distance this year (2017).

I didn’t run a marathon in 2017. If ‘running a marathon’ was the kind of task that you could just go out and do on a spare weekend, then I’d probably have done it. But running a marathon takes like six months of organised training, as well as the commitment to a certain event, and I never found an event to do.

That being said, I did run double the distance in 2017 that I did in 2016, including three individual half-marathons and a personal best time of 1:49:49 at Swansea Half. So I guess that’s something on which to hang my hat, at least.

In all honesty, through the fourth quarter of the year I kind of fell out with running. I stopped enjoying it, so I stopped doing it. (SPOILER ALERT: that was a common theme throughout my year). In classic fashion, I set myself a load of running goals and then began to feel frustrated and overwhelmed when I wasn’t achieving them. (SPOILER ALERT: that was also a common theme throughout my year)

  • Earn a secondary living from writing. 

I kind of did this. I didn’t really set myself a standard by which this resolution must be met, so it’s hard to tell whether or not I did achieve it. Alongside my full-time job as a copywriter, there have been other ways in which I have earned money from writing this year, but I don’t know whether it counts as a secondary living.

This blog, for instance… the one currently called fillingmyblanks.com. If you’re a repeat visitor to this blog you may have noticed recently that there are little adverts appearing here and there. Apparently I reached some kind of threshold in terms of readership wherein WordPress allowed me to have adverts on my blog, in exchange for me getting money, I guess. There is a minimum earnings threshold that you have to meet before you can withdraw the money, and I have not yet met that threshold, so I haven’t actually got that money, but it’s there… I don’t know whether that counts towards this resolution, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Other than that, this year I’ve sold every single copy of the first print run of my novel. It was a print run of 10, that I organised and paid for myself, and sold copies were sold to my family members for profit. Again, I don’t know if that counts. One of those family members lives in North Carolina, U.S.A, so technically I can say that I am an internationally selling published author. That’s cool, if not somewhat of a stretch.

  • Write a new story.

This one is tricky. Originally, I planned for this resolution to mean ‘Write a new novel’, but after my unsuccessful attempt at NaNoWriMo in November, I leave this year only having written 11,000 more words (of a novelised story) than I started it with.

But, my success on this resolution depends on your definition of the (intentionally ambiguous) word ‘story’. No, I didn’t write a novel this year. Nor did I write a screenplay, or even a short story. But I did start a magazine.

This year, with the help of my graphic designer and 19 other writers that I know, I put out nine editions of my digital magazine, www.feedthemag.co.uk. You could, of course, argue that each one of those magazines is a story in and of itself. They are all built around one particular theme, and then content is written, edited and curated to fit that theme. Then my designer does some ridiculously clever stuff and it comes out looking more like a magazine than a traditional story, but is it still a story?

Well, I don’t really have to convince you, because it’s my resolution, not yors. Personally, it’s probably a stretch to call it a story, but I at least thought that it was worth mentioning in the same breath. Just to prove to myself that I did at least do some good work this year.

As my motivation and inspiration took a bit of a nosedive towards the end of the year, so did the magazine, unfortunately. At one point we were on the verge of selling advertising space, and getting hundreds of copies printed and distributed into local universities. But that’s sidelined whilst I am.

And that, handily, kind of leads me on to my resolutions for 2018.

Throughout this blog you may have noticed that I have a pretty scattered approach to goalsetting. I try to do a load of stuff, and then get annoyed at myself when I inevitably get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing. It happened with running. It happened with the combination of novel writing/magazine editing/video making/this blog. I set probably unattainable goals and end up, like I did towards the last quarter of 2017, completely demotivated and stressed.

As such, I’m dialling back for 2018, but still continuing with the same two themes. One resolution is about my physical fitness, and one is about my creativity.

  1. Run a sub-20 minute 5km race.
  2. Align my focus.

That’s it. I’m done with long-distance running. It bores me. It takes too long. I like short-middle distance. I like my runs to be quick and painful.22:07 is my current personal best. So a sub-20 5km is a perfectly reasonable, hard, yet achievable goal.

And then I have to decide what I want to do with my life. What is going to be the primary thing that occupies my evenings? What will be my side-passion? I’ll be 25 this year. I need to stop messing around with lots of different eggs in multiple baskets, and start looking after one egg. Will that be the magazine? Will that be a novel? At this point I’m really not sure.

Until tomorrow, but I have a whole year to decide.



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