In 2020, we’ve all had euphoric highs and devastating lows. I’ve experienced some of the darkest moments of my life in this strange chapter I’m eager to close, but I can’t deny that it has been full of lessons. Across the year, there have been five major take aways, and I wanted to share them with you.
Don’t Hide Behind Allegory
In my own writing, I have often taken very serious themes that relate to some kind of trauma I experienced, and have hidden it behind several layers of allegory and symbolism. What I have learned this year is to be honest. In the past, what people have thought of me or the way people see me has stopped me from being open about how autobiographical my work is, but from here on in, that stops. My writing and my work are authentic because I am honest, and I’m no longer willing to hide behind metaphor, and neither should you. The world we live in is becoming less and less conservative. We are having open and honest conversations about all sorts of things. Writing can be an extremely therapeutic process, especially if you are still healing, but you don’t have to endure your baggage alone anymore.
I feel like I have blinked and lost six months, and yet, I can’t quite shake the feeling I’ve been living this year for A VERY LONG TIME. A huge lesson this year is that time is relative, and though there have often been moments of feeling like a failure, I know now that patience is my friend. My time isn’t right now, but it’s coming. The time in between (the waiting) is excruciating, but that period is our friend and it’s there to let us rest and take stock.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
I can’t be the only one feeling left behind this year. I’ve watched lots of friends and peers get further move forwards in their careers and personal lives while I’ve sometimes felt frozen. I am so beyond proud of them, but there have been moments where I have felt incredibly lost and stuck. The grass is always greener, but the truth is that everyone has their own shortcomings and disappointments. Similarly to the latter, I’ve learned that just because right now it isn’t my time, it doesn’t mean there isn’t space for my success in the future. Believe that there is greatness lying ahead and believe that you can bask in it later – because you can. I know you can.
Work in Stints
Please, future-Lucy, keep working in stints. Working in short stints has made reaching goals possible. It has given me healthy work flows. It has given me rest time when I’ve needed it. Working in stints is such a brilliant way to work, both in a micro sense and a larger one. If I’m working on a creative project, I now work on that project for a set stretch of time (say two weeks), and during my creative days, I work in 25 minute stints with 5 minute breaks in between to stretch my legs or have a cup of tea. This is a small but incredibly brilliant change if you want to have ultimate productivity. It enabled me to write the first draft of a novel in less than two short weeks, and then a two months later (when I was afforded the time) I could redraft. It’s the end of the year now and I have draft 3, and I credit that mostly to working in stints.
Work Hard, but be Healthy
Okay. This is the hard one, because while I have learned a lot, I have also developed some pretty unhealthy habits that I plan to squash come 2021. This year I’ve sent off over 120 queries, and of them, only 11 were successful. Some are still out for query, but my tallied up rejections as of Saturday 12th of December are standing at 52. That’s one rejection every week – though I received three in one morning, which prompted a pretty ugly meltdown and an impulse buy of the entire biscuit aisle of my local ASDA. I kept each rejection letter, and I mused over the growing collection every Saturday, hoping to urge myself to do better. That, as it turns out, is pretty unhealthy. The Takeaway? These rejections are just numbers, and they can’t hurt you. Focus on the good. The creative industries have never been more competitive, and rejection is just part of the game. Make healthy choices, mourn over a rejection, but then pick yourself up and move on.
When I think back to 2020, I will remember the good, the bad, and the ugly, but most of all, I will remember the friends that were firm at my side when I needed them. I will remember those who picked me up during my lows and those who championed me during my highs. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.