End Of Year Reflection: Celebrate What You Have Achieved And Understand What Didn’t Quite Make It

We are all on the writer’s journey, and each year marks another way-point.
I think it’s important to stop and reflect on the goals we set for the year, celebrating what we achieved and also being accountable for what didn’t quite happen.

I also love being honest with you here, as [The Creative Penn] site keeps me accountable. I hope it also helps you. Here’s my goal-setting post from Jan 2012 [and my updates for each goal].


  • Write 2 novels and a novella. I did publish Exodus (ARKANE Book 3) and I have 28,000 words of a new book which I started during NaNoWriMo. I also have 2 novellas under another pen-name. But I didn’t quite make my fiction goals and this is something I need to fix next year.


  • Sell 50,000 copies of my fiction books by September. I tipped over 50,000 copies a little later than Sept but I made it by December, so that’s not too bad.

J.F.Penn with Lee Child Thriller authors

^ J.F.Penn with Lee Child at Thrillerfest

Go on a writing course/ invest in expanding my fiction skills. I did the Guardian Fiction weekend but primarily I went to Thrillerfest in July 2012, so that was definitely the best investment in my skills. Plus I met some amazing authors!

The Creative Penn, my business

  • Change the site focus to more on the business and less on free (since I pay my bills with this site now). I have focused on more copywriting skills. I did rewrite the Author 2.0 Blueprint. I changed the Home page to reflect what is on offer. I will be doing more of this in 2013.

  • The other course was “Turn Your Ideas Into Cash”, a course on how to create multimedia courses (very meta!) which I did as a joint venture with Women Unlimited, a site for entrepreneurs. If you write non-fiction and want to expand beyond the book, you might be interested in joining this when we next open the doors. You can register your interest here.
  • Go on a silent retreat. Hmm, didn’t manage this. But I have taken up archery which is a kind of meditation :)

Other Celebrations

  • I signed with a NY literary agent. This wasn’t a goal and I still change my mind every day as to whether I want a publishing deal or not, but I definitely want to sell foreign rights, so this is a start, and I would like to explore the hybrid option of having some books with traditional publishing and others as indie. Here’s the reasons why I signed.

  • Non-fiction: I re-wrote and re-released “How to love your job or find a new one”, the book I used to change my own life. I love this book and I hope it helps loads more people. I will have a print version out in the next few months to make it even more accessible.
  • Health. Writing is a sedentary life and I have 13 years of being a miserable cubicle worker/sugar junkie behind me. I’m also heading towards 38. Something had to change this year!

Joanna Penn
I had a specific weight-loss goal and I didn’t quite make it but I did lose 10% of my body weight, which I celebrated by eating lots of chocolate :) I will take the rest off in 2013 as I am finally on a sustainable diet. This isn’t a weight-loss blog but if you’re interested in this type of life change, I put this down to:

(a) Weightwatchers app on the iPhone which acts as a food diary so you accurately understand portion size. This changed how much I ate every meal. Any type of food diary works.

(b) Tim Ferriss’ slow carb diet recommendation of eating protein for breakfast. I have 2 boiled eggs most days and it’s amazing how you don’t get hungry when you start the day with protein. Read this article for more, or get The Four Hour Body

(c) Going Gluten-Free and not replacing the wheat stuff at all e.g. no bread – read ‘Wheat Belly’ if you need convincing.

OK, your turn :)

Quite a number of you shared your goals at the beginning of the year, so I’d love to hear how they have gone.

Or please do share what you’ve achieved as well as what you haven’t in the comments below.

Let’s celebrate and also kick each other in the butts with encouragement to achieve more in 2013! I’ll be back in a few days with my goals for 2013.


This is a reprint from Joanna Penn‘s The Creative Penn.

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