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My 2020 Wins and Fails

My Wins and Fails of 2020

Every year between Christmas and the new year, I take an hour or two to review the year. I jot down what I accomplished professionally and if I met my goals or missed them. I also review my personal goals and think about any milestones that happened.

I’m assuming 2020 was a weird year for everyone on the planet. I know it was for me! But I was blessed in many ways, too. Life is like that.

I hope 2021 feels more normal. I miss the routine things that have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

Me on a “just went to the salon” day! Yes, that’s a win.

2020 WINS


I wrote 218,000+ words: 2 full Love Inspired novels, the first 3 chapters of another Love Inspired novel, a short novella, and a full length novel. This doesn’t include other writing I do such as this newsletter, blogs, etc…

I edited over 218,000 words. For every word I write, I read through it, revising and editing 4-5 times.

I plotted 9 novels. Most years I don’t plot 9 novels. Most years I plot 3, maybe 4. But this year was different. I don’t expect to do this again anytime soon!

I studied 6 marketing videos from an online conference. This is something I don’t usually make the time to do, but since the in-person writing conference I planned on attending went virtual, I decided to try a different online conference. I’m happy I did.

My writing investments were minimal this year. Thankfully, my laptop, printer, office furniture, and such are all working fine. I did invest in the Plottr software. I really like it. At $25/year, it’s worth it to me. I also bought a new mouse. Wild, I know.

I signed a six-book contract with Love Inspired. I am thankful for this EVERY day. I love writing for Harlequin Love Inspired. And I love writing Christian romances. And cowboys! I feel incredibly blessed to live my dream.


Both of my children graduated!  Our son graduated from high school in May. It was a virtual graduation, and I am very thankful to our school district for making it as special as possible. Our daughter graduated from college in August. Again, virtual graduation. But we ordered takeout and had cakes for both kids.

I read 74 books: I always read a lot, but this year I challenged myself to read a novel for at least 20 minutes every weekday. I’m so glad I did. I read 45 novels, many by authors I’d never heard of. I tried different genres, too. I also read 29 nonfiction books. In years past, the ratio was opposite with me reading more nonfiction than fiction. I’m keeping my 20 minute fiction reading challenge this year!

I cleaned out my linen closet. I know this seems small, but it felt like a big win!

I completed reading the Bible chronologically in a year. This was the second year I read the entire Bible. I loved it. I scheduled my readings for weekdays only. 

My weight stayed steady. As I write this, I’m about 1.5 pounds heavier than I was last year at this time. Since my weight fluctuates by 3-4 pounds at all times, I’m thrilled it’s basically what it was last year.

I made time once a week to take care of myself. Every Sunday afternoon I plan my week, make a meal plan for the next seven days, write a grocery list, give myself a mani-pedi and clean up my eyebrows. For me, planning and grooming are essentials.

2020 FAILS


Rejections.  Before I was published, I assumed getting one contract was kind of like landing a job–you were on your way up! No more rejections! Yeah, no. I still get rejections. But I’m okay with it. It means I’m still pushing myself, still believing in myself. Not every book of mine resonates with editors. And not every idea is a winner.

0 for 4 on Woman’s World short romances: One of my goals for the past few years was to have my short romance stories regularly featured in Woman’s World magazine. I submitted 4 early this year, and zero were published. Since summer and fall were busy with graduations and books I was writing, I took a break from the short stories. I might start trying again this year. I might not. It depends on what else I have on my plate.

Implementing my marketing goals. I was in a marketing/social media rut this year. Don’t get me wrong, I promoted my books and posted to social media on a regular basis, but I had several goals I failed to implement. One was regularly posting videos on Instagram. Another was creating a theme for the year’s blog posts. I always have ideas–I don’t always have follow through.

My get out of the house every Thursday morning to brainstorm routine got tossed in March and never found its way back. Yeah, the pandemic. Enough said.


Fear.  I lurched into anxiety-city for a while this spring. It’s terribly easy for me to slip into fearful mode. Like nothing will ever be good again. Thankfully, the Lord always reminds me through my Bible readings that I don’t need to fear. I just wish I had stronger faith at all times!

No graduation parties. I’m really bummed about this. It’s our tradition to throw a big graduation party when a kid graduates from high school. We decided not to risk it this year. This isn’t technically a fail, but it kind of feels like one.

Hidden clutter: I have stuff I don’t use on the top shelves in my kitchen. I have stuff in boxes in the basement. I need to go through it all and donate.

Neglecting my hobbies. I spent too much time in the evenings scrolling on my phone or sitting on the couch doing nothing. Don’t get me wrong, we all need to decompress, but I was bored. I have hobbies. I just need to do them!

2020 was a DOOZY.

I hope you’ll take the time to review your year and jot down your wins. Honestly, just learning how to place an online grocery order and picking it up was a big win for me!

I don’t know what 2021 will bring, but we are resilient. We’ve learned some new coping skills and sharpened our old ones. Here’s to another year of wins and fails. Don’t worry–we’ve got this!

Off the top of your head, what was a win for you in 2020?

Thanks for joining me today!

Jill Kemerer is a Publishers Weekly bestselling author of heartwarming, emotional, small-town romance novels often featuring cowboys. She hopes to encourage readers through her books the way so many books have encouraged her. Jill's essentials include coffee, caramels, a stack of books, her mini-doxie, and long walks outdoors. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two almost-grown children. For more information, visit her website,

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. It was a doozy, and a couple of other things besides. It was a pretty good year for me professionally. I met my writing goal of finishing the third book in my Western Dreams series, writing a novella for Pelican’s “Christmas Extravaganza,” and finishing the nonfiction history book I’m doing with my daughter for Arcadia Publishing. Those were my writing goals and I had more time to write because of COVID, what’s not to love? (Plenty.) I also had a release in July and was able to promote it on several blogs.
    I met some but not all of my goals for my cleaning/organizing. We’ve lived in this house for 40 years and we’re pack rats (cleaner than hoarders, not as many pets), so there is Work To Be Done. But I made the proverbial dent in it.
    For health I held my own. I gained 8 pounds during the worst of the COVID lockdown and have managed to lose 2 of those. I kept up my walking and my diabetes is still under control, no insulin for the forseeable future, yay.
    Spiritually, I got into a new Bible study and it’s one I’ve been looking for for a while, a real iron-sharpening-iron group. My husband leads it and it is thrilling to see God use him.
    Fails? No epic fails. I did not establish a regular schedule for my writing, I let other things get in the way and fit it around the edges. I need to be ironclad about that.
    I watched too much TV.
    I didn’t get on top of technology, which probably hurt my career. I relied on my adult daughter too much.
    Ah but the nice thing is we have all those blank calendar pages — and another chance.
    Kathy Bailey

    1. Kathy, you rocked those writing goals!! Way to go!!
      Haha on the “There is work to be done.” I hear you!
      I’m impressed that you’ve kept your weight pretty steady this year. 6 pounds is not much. And I know you work on your diabetes.
      LOVE that you had a great Bible study AND that your husband leads it! God is amazing.

      I try not to fret about my fails. My wins were more important to me, and I’m thankful I had them.

  2. I’d rather not think about my fails. 🙈 I imagine they are as far from me as west is from east.
    But among many wins, receiving The Cowboy’s Christmas Blessings was a win, going low-carb was a win, getting back into my reading groove was a definite win. I think, there were so many blessings in 2020, and that is how I would like to remember that year. ❤️

    1. I’m laughing at the monkey emoji, Kati! I’m so glad you won my book! And low-carb is a great way to lose weight! Congrats on getting back into your reading groove. I did, too, and it’s such a life saver. I have always needed books!!

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