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My year in review (spoiler: drama inside)

Today, I wanted to get raw & real with you about my business by sharing a “year-in-review” recap of 2019. This post will be more diary-style as I’m basically just vomiting out all my thoughts in true behind-the-scenes fashion. 😉

In this review, I’ll be sharing what worked, what didn’t work, and all the rollercoaster of feels I experienced last year, plus a little sneak peek of things I’m cooking up for 2020.

I planned to write this by breaking it up by successes and challenges, but all of my successes had healthy doses of challenges—so… away we go!

Energy Crash & Burn

Up until last year, I ran my business mostly online, teaching classes & workshops. I’m also a screenwriter (more on that in a bit), so I spend a lot of time alone—hunched over my laptop. When 2019 rolled around, I was really craving human, in-person connection.

I launched a few different offers, one being in-person VIP days in New York, Vancouver and Los Angeles. I looooooved doing these, and had so much fun hanging with clients in-person, drinking lots of lattes, and helping them create awesome content & offers.

The thing I didn’t take into consideration is that I’m a complete introvert. That means, I need lots of rest & relaxation time when I do anything in-person. This would have been fine if I’d headed back to my hotel room after a work day, ordered room service, and binged Netflix—but… I didn’t do that. Instead, I plowed through writing deadlines, or hit the gym for a hard workout, or went out for long dinners. Not good.

I was in such an exhausted state by March—completely burnt out—that I remember sitting in a beautiful hotel room, looking out at the Manhattan skyline, and sobbing into my night coffee.

I realized that I was telling everyone else to take breaks, but I wasn’t listening to my own damn advice. So, I took a hard look at my commitments for the year and the things I wanted to make happen. I built rest time into my schedule after in-person work. I backed off some business projects. I even put off a launch for my program, OBSESSED, until 2020 because I knew I couldn’t give it the time & energy.

Screenwriting Career High… and Low

I hit a major high in my writing career last year—getting hired to write three movies and see them all the way through production, which just wrapped in December. This was an enormous opportunity that I am so grateful for (still pinching myself)… and I severely underestimated the time it would take to accomplish.

Screenwriting is collaborative, which means there a lot of people you have to make happy in order to get something from script to screen. Unlike writing a newsletter and pressing publish, you have to have a whole lot of people sign off on your work, and you spend a lot of time trying to please everyone while also trying to preserve your voice, story, and characters. That also means you spend a lot of time fighting for your work, making adjustments, rewriting, and rewriting again, and trying to figure out what people really want and how you can make that happen within all of these confines.

This process is not easy for me. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think it’s necessarily easy for any writer, but I’m still so new to all of this that it constantly feels like an uphill battle that I will never, ever even come close to winning. I spent a lot of time last year questioning my decision to do this at all.

And I don’t really have a spirited, uplifting conclusion to this. I still don’t feel confident in my writing. I still get a lot of negative feedback and pushback—some of which I believe is normal, and some of which indicates I have a whole lot to learn.

For now, I’m still enjoying the journey enough to keep going, even though there are a lot of hard moments.

A Creative High

During my writing funk last year, I decided that I had to write something that was just for me. No rigid goals. No expectations. No one else giving me feedback. Just me, and my fingers flying across the keyboard.

Once I gave myself permission to do something just for me, I had a serious lightbulb moment. It was an idea for a paranormal teen romance novel. It’s full-on ridiculous, and a total guilty pleasure.

This novel may never, ever get a publishing deal. I’m okay with that because it was so much freaking fun writing all 90,000 words.

Therapy, Therapy, Therapy

Sometime during 2019, I stopped sleeping. I’ve suffered from anxiety my entire life, but this was a whole new high. I’d maybe squeeze in an hour or two of choppy, broken sleep per night. Obviously this started affecting everything—my mood, my health, my productivity, my relationships, my work.

I was in therapy, but didn’t seem to be getting anywhere—so I switched therapists. This was maybe one of the best decisions I made all year.

I started online therapy, which means I can message my therapist using a secure service instead of going to an office each week. As a writer, I have a much easier time pouring out the truth in words vs. telling it to a stranger’s face. Suddenly, I was getting really REAL about things, and slowly… things started to get better. I began sleeping more. My mood improved. I was observing my anxious thoughts vs. judging them or reacting to them.

I realized that I could have all of these success markers—writing 3 movies, writing a novel, running a profitable business—and none of that really matters if my mental health is a dumpster fire.

Easing into 2020

Melissa of last decade would have hit 2020 at full speed, with about 200 different goals, and sacrificed everything to make them happen.

I took most of December off, choosing to spend time with my husband and pups, lounging on the couch, binge-watching TV, taking long leisurely walks, cooking, and just.not.working.

By the time January 1st rolled around, I still wasn’t feeling 100% motivated to forge ahead with full steam. Instead, I spent an entire weekend just planning. Jotting down things I want to do, don’t want to do, things I want to make space for and create. Lots and lots of words.

Then, I read everything over from a more mindful space and began plucking things off the list one-by-one, leaving just the few things I felt excited to make space for in 2020.

These include:

My 2020 OBSESSED launch. This program is my very favorite thing I’ve ever created, and I’m so excited that I get to focus on it once again. Enrollment opens in February!

Pitching my novel. I’m polishing up some edits and I’m so excited to start pitching this baby to agents and publishers! And if no one likes it? I’ll just self-publish it and hand it off to my friends & followers who are obsessed with teen paranormal romance. 😉

Writing a New Script. Continuing my plan to write things just for me, I’ve had a script idea in my head for a few years now but didn’t have the brain space to do anything about it. Today, I have my first meeting with my writing mentor to start working on the concept. I’m so excited!

: Creating a Physical Product. I love trying new things, and I’ve been dreaming of creating a product for several years now. What that product actually IS has varied over the years (hint: it will have something to do with writing & content creation). I have a clearer idea now, and I’m starting to do the dirty work and figure out the numbers. Eeeek!

. . .

There you have it, my year in review! If you made it this far, thanks for reading my ramblings. It was refreshing just to pour this out without worrying if it was “good enough” to share.

In next week’s newsletter, I’m diving into some of the inner-workings of my business if you’re interested in how I structure things and [mostly] minimize meltdowns.

Stay tuned!