From Productive to Painful: Reflections on 2017

I’ve been trying to write a post about everything that happened in 2017 all month.

Truth is, I don’t really know where to start.

It’s been a tumultuous year. Not just politically, but for me personally, too. (I’m not going down the rabbit hole of this year’s politics. That’s a whole book right there.)

If I’d known just how things were going to pan out in the latter half of the year, I never would’ve scheduled Productivity for Writers to be published in September.

However, despite everything else going on, I managed to publish two books this year 🙂

I’d still like to publish three books within a year, but I have to put my own health first. My books won’t be up to much if I’m not in great physical or mental shape myself.

Unfortunately, I’ve been suffering more and more with chronic pain and lethargy over the last few months. It’s not as simple as sleeping or exercising more. I wish it were. But when this pain takes hold, it’s crippling. It’s excruciating. It courses through my veins like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I’ve had three blood tests in four months, and we’re still no closer to a diagnosis. A couple of doctors have suggested that it could be fibromyalgia. They’ve referred me to a rheumatologist to look into my symptoms more before they officially diagnose me because of my age. I get to see said rheumatologist in March, right before my 28th birthday.

Because of the pain—and the brain fog that comes with it—it’s not been as easy to write as it used to be. Writing is still my therapy, as is reading, but when the lethargy takes over, there really is only one thing I can do: sleep.

Running on caffeine and sugar will only get you so far.

Reflections on 2017: from productive to painful

2017 hasn’t been all bad, though.

Like I said, I published What Happens in London and Productivity for Writers this year.

I’ve also had guest posts in The Writing Cooperative, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global, and The Startup. Publishing my writing on these sites has increased readership to The Writer’s Cookbook, as well as to my books. I hope to continue this strategy in the new year. (I’m using Janet Murray‘s Media Diary to keep me organised and track what I have/haven’t done for each week and platform.)

Lessons that have been learnt

In 2015 and 2016, I learnt about writing and publishing.

In 2017, I worked on my marketing.

I’ve experimented with different marketing tactics, done various online courses, and read about psychological theory. All of this has increased my marketing knowledge, and I want to continue this in the new year.

Just because the year is over and it’s a time for reflection, that doesn’t mean it’s the only time that we can or should make changes. We can change things we’re unhappy with or don’t feel are working any time we like. Doing it for a greater reason than a New Year’s Resolution makes us more likely to stick to it, too.

I committed to writing and publishing What Happens in New York in April 2015, and, while that was the biggest challenge I’d ever set myself, I pulled it off.

Don’t ever think you can’t or shouldn’t do something because of timing. There will never be a right or wrong time to achieve something.

What really drives us (and I apologise here if I sound a bit like Simon Sinek, although his book is great), is our WHY. Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you want to write a book? Why do you do what you do?

The more you can get to the bottom of your why, the more motivated you’ll be.

And if you haven’t found your why yet, don’t worry—keep doing what you love, and you’ll figure it out.

It’s keeping my WHY in the back of my mind that keeps me writing when I’m in pain. I know that writing and reading distracts from the pain, but when the pain sets in, it’s all too easy to curl up with Netflix and mooch about. Being productive is a great pain reliever, though, as it gives our minds something else to focus on.

When today first started, it hurt me to stand or walk. As the day has gone on and I’ve worked on my social media strategy, and a few blog posts, it’s eased.

There’s no doubt that the pain and lethargy will slow me down, but I refuse to let it stop me.

A quick breakdown of everything that happened in 2017:

  • January – Boyfriend started a new job.
  • February – I started a new job.
  • March – My birthday. First quiet birthday I’ve ever had. For once, I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.
  • April – I conduct an experiment to see if exercise affects my productivity.
  • May – What Happens in London published. I almost completely stop exercising because my asthma/pain is so bad I can barely stand on my cross trainer.
  • June – I separate my fiction and poetry from The Writer’s Cookbook, and this website is born. Mum admitted to hospital.
  • August – Mum has surgery for endometriosis. I start guest posting on other sites/blogs, and it increases preorders for Productivity for Writers.
  • September – Productivity for Writers published.
  • October – I go to the Festival of Marketing for work and get to see Stephen Fry (he was awesome). Exhaustion starts to take over. I discover Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. There’s no going back.
  • November – Still exhausted. Boyfriend and I have a quiet anniversary as we’re both busy at work.
  • December – Mum and Nan get food poisoning. Nan in hospital for a few days. A nice, long, Christmas break to recover and plan for 2018. I start yoga. And sleep. Sleep lots.

There are things I would’ve liked to have achieved in 2017 that I didn’t. I don’t want to dwell on those, though. They didn’t happen, but they will in the future.

I hope you had a great festive period and have a wonderful new year. Here’s to making 2018 the best year yet!

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