A Year In A Writer’s Life: Count It Up

Sep 8, 2021 | Blog

September has always felt like a second New Year to me. Probably from all those years teaching, where the whole year is skewed by the end of the summer holidays.

After thirteen years in the classroom, this is only the second year in a row that I haven’t walked in to a school hall, clutching my substandard coffee and pastry, full of (reasonable) optimism for the year ahead, only to be slowly crushed under the weight of a 75-slide powerpoint from the management team.

The end of summer has always felt like a time to reflect

Now, the sense of newness persists. Eight weeks of a three-year-old and no childcare has severely limited work (managed to keep up the workshops and mentoring!), despite the most helpful of grandparents. So I still have a sense of starting again, of picking things up and examining them.

This September also marks the first year of going it alone. I took the vertiginous step of doing writing and coaching full time (well, as full time as is possible) almost exactly a year ago. Sometimes it’s hard to get a sense of achievement without all those spreadsheets and pivot tables (thanks, SLT) showing the achievements of my students, so I wanted to reflect on how the first year went.

Just me tapping away at my tiny desk for a year…

I’ve decided to summarise this in numerical form, as I recently did my tax return and am still in the land of spreadsheets.

Here it is, my countdown in the first year of being completely a writer:

2,365: Hours spent thinking I should get a real job, comparing myself to other writers, wondering why I am so unsuccessful (approx.)

99,565: Words written (since January). Get a free word counter here to count yours!

55: Number of days I’ve done Morning Pages (this is fairly poor. Even on a good week I only do four days. Kids, huh?)

3: Number of Artist Dates I’ve gone on (yeah, I know. It’s hard, ok?)

79: Submissions sent (books, stories and articles)

69: Rejections or those that never replied (special mention to Dear Damsels for being so constructive and positive, even when they say no)

10: Publications or listings (most proud of Litro, Mslexia and the Bristol Short Story Prize)

5: Number of times a week I aimed to exercise in between working

1: Average number of times I actually exercised in between working

Words written? Yes. Zen/toned body? Not so much.

6: Number of days I got into the ’30 days of yoga challenge’ before giving up

38: Hours spent having imaginary conversations with all the people who will want to interview me about my fabulous writing career once it takes off (approx)

38: Hours spent having imaginary conversations with people when I tell them how I tried writing and it didn’t work out (approx)

55: Number of cups of tea (in the morning while I do my pages)

186: Number of cups of coffee (in the afternoon while I battle with marketing/self-promotion/pitching/all the other nonsense

24: Number of Scribbles workshops run (and what lovely people I’ve met doing them)

21: Authors I’ve interviewed about their experience writing (have really enjoyed this)

Since I started counting how many I read, I started reading more…

33: Books I started reading (only been counting this since January)

29: Books I finished reading

85: Blog posts I’ve written (woo!)

1: Hand-painted calendars I made (random December creative project)

3: Number of e-books on the writing process I planned to write

0: Actual number of e-books on the writing process I wrote

8: Beta readers I sent my most recent book to

2: Websites I’ve redesigned (with the help of the wonderful Jo Emmerson)

365: Days I had unreasonable expectations about what was possible in the time I had

1: Number of publishing contracts signed (woohoo!)

Altogether, not a bad year.

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