Core Lessons Writer Life & Lessons

How 2023 Shaped The Essence of 2024

2023, I bid you farewell.

This was a year of massive change. I began 2023 living in a friend’s spare room as her lodger, and ended it in my own flat with 2 pet house rabbits.

Writing was almost non-existent, although I don’t want to completely ignore that I edited a short story that’s being published and I did track some of my nonfiction writing.

I didn’t publish any podcast episodes in 2023, but I have plans for the next season to return in 2024!

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Reflecting on 2023:

i. Read 10 books (& Take Notes): 3/10 – I read 3 books last year. One of which I began reading in 2022!

If you were here for last year’s reflection, I can share that  I am *still* working my way through Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés and The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck. I did, however, finish Existential Kink by Carolyn Elliott, PhD.

I also began reading Unmasking Autism on December 22nd 2023, and am around 60% through at December’s end. So there’s hope for me completing that one in 2024 at least!! I’ve begun a habit of reading at least three evenings a week at the moment, and I managed to get to January 17th on “The Daily Stoic” quick-reads so I think I’ll just roll that one over to 2024!

ii. Write Weekly (& Track Wordcount): I did review some edits to a short story that’s due to be published in 2024, so it’s not like I did *nothing* from a writing perspective, but — I’m starting to face the realities of my long term conditions and the level of energy I have during such high levels of stress. I did track fiction, but as that was about 2,500 words across September editing that short story, and I only logged some of the nonfiction writing, I don’t quite know how to class this goal.

iii. Rekindle my Spirit: Reading about that ‘daily doodle’ I was doing back in January made me both smile and feel like I’d lost something in stopping it. However, I feel I’ve definitely been rekindling my fire through social events, therapy, travelling, and journaling this year.  

iv. Mental and Physical Health: I did move home, but “getting back to a baseline of being stable on a health front” was definitely not how 2023 worked. I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in October, and I did explore some different movement practises (as of December 2023, this is playing BeatSaber 3x a week), journaling regularly, and review my relationship with gaming and creativity too.

v. Connect and Shine: I failed at ‘monthly Medium posts’, but I did experiment with fortnightly newsletters, and have been sharing a lot more of my existence (difficulties too) with my friends. I did also finish two workbooks and re-vamp my projects ecourse – all of which can be found in my online store.

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The Year’s TA-DA List:

– My partner and I visited each other in March, June and October
– Through those trips, I visited Newport, Cardiff, Durdle Door, Oceanarium, Woking, Guildford Spectrum, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (Nebraska), Monet Garden in Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (Kansas), and the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge (Iowa/Nebraska)
– Saw ‘Across the Spiderverse’ in an American cinema
– Attended PhaseFest 2023 seeing The Ataris, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Plain White T’s, Story of the Year, Dashboard Confessional & the All-American Rejects
– Attended Kansas City PrideFest (June) and Southampton Pride (August)
– Left my friend’s spare room and began renting a flat
– Had weekly therapy
– Saw the Barbie movie with friends
– Gained another dose of the COVID vaccine (& flu shot at the same time!)
– Co-hosted a panel for the October World Wide Writeathon 2023.
– Adopted 2 bunnies, Bramble & Hawthorn
– Got a second-hand VR system and discovered BeatSaber
– Began the official divorce process
– Was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
– Applied for a DClinPsych programme again
– Began learning Welsh language through Duolingo in July (still going as of December!)

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What Went Well:

I adopted 2 rescue house rabbits called Bramble and Hawthorn. Bramble (M) is a lionhead lop and has the long-looking mottled fur, while Hawthorn (F) is a dwarf-lop in a more-consistent brown colour. They are either siblings from different litters or have been bonded as essentially “hus-bun and bun-wife” – the rescue was uncertain. They will turn 3 in March and May of 2024.

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Publications This Year:

  • I published 5 Medium articles in 2023, although I have a lot more drafts to finish editing and post.
  • Although I did not have any fiction published in 2023, I have signed a contract for one of my short stories to be included in an anthology in 2024 — and I’ll keep you posted.

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I Bid You, Welcome, 2024.

My word for 2024 is “integrate” and focuses specifically on applying all the lessons of the past couple of years together into my life. I have a more in-depth post coming about this, but I’ll share my goals briefly below.

This year, I’ve split them into the four elements, and picked a word for each – all with the theme of Integration as my (spirit) word, so-to-speak. This is my reminder to pull everything together.
Intuition is Water – my mental health and intellectual side.
Creation is Fire – my creative spark.
Stabilisation is Earth – my physical body and environment.
Connection is about connecting (oddly) including getting outside, seeing friends, and being more ‘in my community’ as it were.

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Key Intentions for 2024:

Intuition:

i. Read 6 books (& Take Notes): – One book in 60 days should be doable despite my health conditions. I have been reading multiple nights a week with my partner for a while now, so this is at least a habit that I’m mid-way through building.
ii. Continue Weekly Therapy:I began weekly therapy in June 2022 and it’s really helping me identify things I was told to ignore for so many years. I have two new medical diagnoses now I’m not taking my ex’s “nothing’s wrong with you, why are you like this” beliefs as truth (he worked in healthcare at the time), and as we are mid-divorce, the manipulation has ramped up again so this is a non-negotiable to keep me well. 
iii. Return to Daily Journaling :I got into this habit for a few months and then fell off it by October-ish, so it’s back on my list for 2024 because it really helps. Again, with a divorce and other changes planned for 2024, this is something to support me through the uncertainty.

Creation:

iv. Track Fiction Wordcount: – I fell right off this one as I pretty much stopped writing fiction in 2023 – that’s something I feel I want to rebuild, but also not putting too much pressure to hit a specific wordcount. I have 2 fiction projects I want to reflect on in 2024: TFG and the Planes Series.
v. Weekly Integration: – Learning is crucial for me but I have so many notes I want to talk about on the podcast, in articles, or concepts I want to explore more – and they’re in a bunch of random documents I never find time to look through and build on, so weekly reviewing which things I want to create is on my list for this year. 

Stabilisation:

vi. Build on my Healthy Habits: – I began intermittent fasting for 16 hours a day in January 2022, so this is a long-standing habit I intend to continue. I have a tweaks to make such as cutting sugar, looking for patterns in my health based on my diet, and a sub-goal of getting regular medical appointments in place now I’ve got this one “pretty solid”.
vii. Movement 3x a Week: – This is a minimum goal to keep me well despite my Fibromyalgia, with flexibility on what I do that ‘counts’, and a sub-goal of getting back to my staff-spinning lessons.
viii. Create a Cleaning Routine: – This one happens on and off but with my health deteriorating so much the last few months, I’ve had to pull back on what I expect my body to do when I am unwell. I’d like to get clear on what the minimum I can do is, while still having a nice environment.

Connection:

ix. Socialise Monthly With Friends: – I got pretty good with this in 2023, and even tried out a couple of Twitch streams. I’m hoping to keep this up in 2024.
x. About Reinvention and Creativity: – Connect online via my business: sending fortnightly newsletters, writing Medium posts, and restart the Podcast.
xi. Access Nature: – My rental lease is up this year and I’m considering where I might move (even if it’s just 3 streets over but is closer to a woodland.) In the Summer, I’d like to get outside in nature at least once a month. 

Integration:

xii. Build on Skills: – I have two courses I really want to prioritise finishing in 2024 and thus have carved out weekly time to work on these: my OBOD Bardic Grade and my RMT Coaching qualification. I’m also aiming to hit 365 days of Daily Duolingo in July, just to keep my brain growing around something not related to books or my business. I may also go back to daily doodling, or incorporate it into my journals – so we’ll see how that pans out, but this is my reminder to just focus on pulling everything together. 

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Do you have set goals for the next few months?

How are you feeling about 2024? How has your first week gone? 

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