2020 has been an awful year for so many people and for so many reasons. I had so many plans for the year, as I’m sure did so many others, and very few of them came to pass. All the shows I hoped to see. All the writing I hoped to do. All the life I hoped to live… It’s been distinctly unpleasant and a year I think we’ll all be glad to see the back of.

But it’d be remiss of me if I couldn’t find any bright sparks for me this year. 2020 saw me finally find love, and while I’ve not got to spend as much time as I’d like to with my girlfriend, I’ve loved every minute I’ve got to spend with her. 2020 also saw me freed from the gigantic backlog of Blu-rays and DVDs I had that I’d not watched and nearly freed from my long-standing gaming backlog. It may be a small thing, but it really feels like an accomplishment to have watched every Blu-ray and DVD I own and to have nearly beaten every game I own. There’s still the small mountain that is my book backlog, but that’ll come in time.

So, with 2020 in the rear-view mirror, I wanted to try to force myself out of the rut the pandemic has forced me into. I’ve done no writing since March or April and my second book has just been festering on my laptop’s hard-drive for far too long. I’ve put on a lot more weight than I would have liked (I was slightly horrified by a half-length picture of myself taken on Christmas Day). And I haven’t read nearly as much as I would have liked to.

Rather than resolutions which are always far too easy to break, I thought I’d set myself a series of goals for 2021 which I can reflect on when the year is over and see whether I achieved them or not. These are those goals:

1. Write at least one blog post every month

The infrequency of my blog writing is quite clear to see. Excuses used to include my focus on my YouTube channel which I retired in 2019, being too tired from work, lacking the inspiration and so on. I’m very aware that they were all just excuses.

While I don’t want to put a huge amount of pressure on myself to blog, I do want to do more blogging as I do enjoy this sort of free form writing. With that said, I’m not going to limit myself to just blogging about one thing. One of the things which I think I struggled with previously was focusing too much on trying to blog about writing and the process of my novel writing, but there’s so much else that interests me that I know I was limiting myself and thereby stifling any chance at inspiration.

So, I have no idea what my blogs will be. I know I want to write at least one a month for 2021 (excluding this one), but what form they will take, I have no idea. They might be about writing, they might be about theatre, they might be just general think-pieces, they might be short stories, they might be anything. Hopefully that freedom of expression and the only plan being ‘write’ should lead to that revival of my love of writing.

2. Lose weight (if possible 22 pounds or about a stone and a half)

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve put on more weight than I would’ve liked this year. I’m not quite sure how much, but at last check I was nearly two stone heavier than is a healthy weight for my height. I’ll put it down to depression and the lack of exercise caused by working from home, but either way, I’m not happy with what the extra weight has done to the way I look.

So, as usually happens with New Year’s Resolutions, I want to be healthier and fitter this year. But because this isn’t a resolution, it’s a goal, I’m putting a target on it.

I want to get down to that healthy weight which should hopefully get rid of the excess fat in my face and shrink the jolly belly that has only gotten bigger over the last six years. At present, that difference looks to be around 22 pounds or just over a stone and a half. A year to lose that is definitely reasonable, and that’s what I hope to do.

3. Finish clearing my Gaming Backlog

I managed to beat some games in 2020 that had been sitting in my backlog for well over a decade (specifically Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2) and it felt amazing. I’m now left with 5 games, three of which I’ve already played on older systems, and two of which I’ve been given by my Dad. There’s an argument for including a few other titles but I no longer have physical copies of them, so they’re not going to be officially counted in my backlog.

It’d be amazing if in 2021 I can finally have no old unbeaten games and can just enjoy all the new experiences that await (whether they be brand new games or older classics). So, that’s the goal, this year I’m going to clear this backlog once and for all.

4. Read at least 12 books

In 2020, I believe I spent the majority of the year slowly making my way through David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I really enjoyed it, but my reading speed has been ridiculously slow. With my ever-growing collection of books, I want to try to at least make a strong push to making sure I’ve read every book I own.

Being realistic, I think that aiming for an average of a book a month is achievable. I’d love to be able to read even more than that, but with everything else I want to do, I need to be realistic.

5. Finish a first draft of A Place Where We Belong

When I finished The Burning Ash, I promised myself it wouldn’t be another decade before I finished my next book. Nearly two years later, it would appear that that’s exactly what’s going to happen if I keep going at the same rate. I don’t want that.

So, I’m going to make a much more concerted effort this year to get that first draft written. If I write at a pace of about 1600 words per week, I should be well over the 80,000 words required for a novel. Considering I’ve already written over 20,000 words, it’s easily possible. If I could get the book written and edited before The Burning Ash’s third birthday that’d be perfect.

Onward to 2021

The start of 2021 looks to be very similar to what we’ve all experienced since March 2020, but there is hope on the horizon. Everything is still scary and worrying, and for me I never know quite when or how my depression is going to decide to give me a hard time, but I have hope that things will get better. As long as there is hope, we can keep moving forward. As long as I can see a bright future coming, I can keep putting one foot in front of the other until I get there.

Selfishly, I can’t wait for the day that the theatres re-open. I can’t wait to sit in an audience and experience those wonderful performances. I can’t wait to go back to the cinema. I can’t wait to just go out and about and not have to worry about anything. I can’t wait to hug my friends and see people I haven’t been able to all year. I can’t wait to potentially get back to performing in musical theatre after years away from amateur dramatics.

I can’t wait. But while I must, I’ll focus on the things that I can do. I’ll start working on my goals. I’ll enjoy the time I’ve got with my family and loved ones.

2021 is going to be a better year. There’s nowhere to go but up.