Facebook Timehop has helpfully informed me that on this day, three years ago, my first women’s fiction novel, The Last Word, was published. At the time, it felt like a huge deal, and something different for me. I kind of fell into being a chick lit writer – I’d planned to write terribly important literary fiction, in the tradition of UEA grads. That was the thing to do- write something gritty about the working class/drug abuse/quirks of rich people, and then I ended up writing something just for fun, for myself, and it launched a whole career for me.
I am currently in ‘Achieve’ mode – I have a three year plan, a ton of different projects I’m working on, and I’m expanding my scope. I’m learning as much as I can so that in 3 years I can (financially and creatively) say that I feel like a success, and that my life has balance.
What I didn’t think to do was to look back at the three years that got me here.Even in thinking how different my life was in 2014 has given me an appreciation for the hard work I’ve put in, how much I’ve achieved and how much writing can change your life. Before The Last Word, I didn’t have my writing buddies, I had no idea what a blog tour was, or Netgalley or how to market a book. I didn’t know anything about publishing and I in no way thought that I would have so many books in me. Looking back to see what got you here is invigorating – look how much I changed and how much I did when I was just muddling through! I didn’t have a plan, beyond ‘keep writing books, hopefully make more money.’ Now I have a plan! Who knows what life will look like in another three years time.I encourage you, whatever business you’re in, to look back at how your life was three years ago. What have you achieved, what have you changed, what is closer to making you happier, and what steps have taken you further from that? What have you been putting off, that you kept meaning to do in those three years? Travel somewhere, learn something? What is that goal that’s niggling in the back of your mind? Why didn’t you do it?Now, time to plan for the next three years. I was listening to a TED talk by Laura Vanderkam about time management (which you can watch here) and she said that most jobs will have a review period at the end of the year, or some families will send out a newsletter about what’s going on with them at the end of the year. She says to write that review, that newsletter now. Write those things you’ve achieved down before you’ve achieved them, and then put the steps to achieving them in the diary first.Looking back lets you prioritise – if you didn’t do that thing you wanted, then light a fire and get going. If you did more than expected – go you! Look how much you can achieve! Now, what are you going to do next, with this precious time you have?Be proud, make plans, reflect, and adjust your flight path if necessary. We’ve come a long way, baby. And we have so many places yet to go.