2019 Writing Year in Review

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A lot of writing happened this past year, and a lot of good work toward my writing goals both generally and on specific projects.

I made a Get Your Words Out habit tracking pledge of 240 days for 2019, and missed it by 17.  Considering I’ve gone months without writing in previous years, I think that’s pretty fantastic.  I’ve made the same pledge for 2020, and have confidence I can push through and make it this time.

I spent a good deal of time working on the second book in my series as well.  I spent almost as much time on revisions for that as I did on my November novel draft, which is pretty impressive since I spend most of my free time working on the novel in November.  I also spent almost as much time on book three.  That leaves book 2 very close to ready for final copy-edits and book three ready for a major revision similar to what book 2 has been through.  I’d like to release them fairly close together and if I’m able to really focus on the project during the first few months of the year, I’m confident I can get things much closer to publish ready sometime this year.

I experimented with planning before drafting this year, both with the major revision (basically full rewrite) of book 2 and my attempt during NaNo to have a plan and outline before writing my first draft.  These had varying levels of success.  Book 2 is so much better for it (and all the wonderful feedback I got from beta readers).  The NaNo project is a bit meh at the moment, but it’s also not finished, and I didn’t manage to stay with the outline the entire month.  But the two attempts left me feeling confident enough that planning can work for me that I’m trying to develop an outline for book 3 so it will come out better than book 2 did pre-outline-driven-rewrite.

I worked on 19 different projects over the course of the year (with smaller things like the blog’s image prompt responses counting collectively as a single project).  Most of these were novel drafts of some form or another.  Many were in the same world as Strong Fort Spathí.  I spent over 200 hours on my writing over the course of the year (at least as far as rough tracking goes).  I’m willing to bet that’s more time than I’ve spent on writing in a single year since before I got a full-time job.  I’ll be curious to see if my total will be significantly different for this coming year, especially if I make the 240 days of writing goal.

Overall, I’m proud of the work I’ve done in 2019.  But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to rest on my laurels and not keep working.  My priority goal for 2020 is book 3, so that I can polish up books 2 and 3 and get them published sooner than later.  I’d also like to continue trying out planning and outlining before I write or shortly after I start to see if that improves the quality of my first drafts.  I’m sure you’ll be hearing bits and pieces about both of those goals as the year unfolds.

Do you have any writing goals for 2020 you’d like to share?

Camp NaNoWriMo Success

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April was a very successful writing month.  My goal for Camp NaNoWriMo was 30 minutes a day of work on some writing project, whether it was new words, editing, rewriting, or planning and world building.  I ended up doing a little bit of everything too.  A secondary goal was to at least do five minutes of work every single day, and I accomplished both goals.  My final count for the month was 1415, 515 above my 900-minute goal, and I didn’t miss a single day.

I worked on a variety of projects.  I did a little bit of drafting new ideas, worked on the edits for book two, and came back to some older fanfic stories to try to finish them off.  I decided to repost some of my fanfic since the original site it was posted to went down a couple years ago.  I think it will be good for my emotional wellbeing to see the reviews that come in, or even just see the view counts going up over time.  Writing is primarily about its value to me personally, but sharing it with others and seeing them enjoy my work is a very close second.

I’m proud of myself for keeping to my goals, even on days when it was hard to force that five minutes of work into my schedule or make my brain do it.  I think it’s been a productive month as well.  Instead of waiting to feel ready to write, I’ve just been doing it.  If one project wasn’t working, I moved on to another one, and most of the time I was able to move forward again on the original project when I came back to it.

I’m going to try to keep my streak going (I’m at 35 days now) for May and the rest of the summer if I can manage it.  My Habit Tracking goal requires 20 minutes of work, but I’d like to keep the consistency going even if I’m only getting 5 minutes in.

I’d been so focused on getting book two revised during the first few months of the year that I’d lost sight of the fun parts of writing, like drafting and fanfic, and I think I need to find a balance between the three.  And I definitely need to be reading more.  Reading always helps increase my creative energy and output.  April’s Camp NaNoWriMo session helped me get back to my roots as it were, and hopefully that will help me move into the summer with a better work ethic and more energy to dedicate to my writing.

2019 Writing Goals: January Progress

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So, today’s blog post is late (but still on Friday!) and I don’t have any good excuses.  I have lots of excuses.  I’ve had a cold, my husband has had a worse cold, I was the Dungeon Master (DM) for my first session of a co-DMed Adventure Guild campaign of Dungeons and Dragons last night, and I’m sure I can think of more.  But none of those are good excuses.  I had time.  I just spent it doing other things.

Most of my January didn’t look like this week has.

I’m doing a challenge this year where I am trying to spend at least 240 of the 365 days of 2019 doing at minimum 20 minutes of creative work, be it writing fiction, editing fiction, world building, character creation, or other related items.  This averages out to 20 days each month.  There are months (like November) when I’ll be hitting a higher number.  So some other months (like December) I can safely work on 10 or fewer days in the month.

January has been a good start for the year.  I worked on 24 of the 31 days, which is 77% of the month.  Shout out to all the NaNo folks who have continued to join me for a 20-minute sprint at 6:50am weekday mornings.  That’s been helping me get my minimum in a lot more often that I might have otherwise.

I have not been working on book two of Swords & Shields as much as I’d intended.  I have written several prompt exercises, started a few random story ideas, and generally explored characters and scenes.  February will be a dive back into book two.  I will report back to let you know how successful that declaration is.  I have partial feedback from one beta reader, and another who will be able to look at it later in the year.  My goal is to make all the edits needed based on reader one so that reader two can have the updated version.

If I did a good job during the last major revision of book two (which wouldn’t have been the same without my beta readers), then I’m hopeful that this round won’t need as much work.  I did basically rewrite from scratch though, so I might have introduced more issues than I solved.  We’ll see.

I hope all of you are doing as well on your 2019 writing goals as I’ve managed to.  If not?  February is a brand new month, don’t worry about January and just push forward to meet your February goals.

NaNoWriMo, Process, and December Writing Goals

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I’m very proud of my efforts during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year.  I talked about that last week.  This week, I want to talk about NaNoWriMo in the greater context of my writing process.

Writing is a process.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.  That process also looks different for each and every author.  Some do more planning up front.  Some are like me and Terry Pratchett who said “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  Some struggle over drafts and relish the chance to edit.  Others (like me) love the drafting process and get bogged down during revisions and edits.

My writing process is cyclical.  I’ll draft for a while, edit for a while, draft for a while, then edit some more.  I’ll also cycle between projects.  I draft project 3, then work on editing and revising project 2, then draft project 4 and then move on to another round of edits for project 1 or 2 or perhaps jump into editing project 3.  It’s not nearly as consistent as that, and the time period for each part varies greatly.  I might draft for a few weeks then edit for a few months or vice versa. Continue reading

New Year, Same Goals

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In January, there’s always a lot of talk about New Year’s Resolutions.  The perennial weight loss goal being one that gets a lot of play in commercials and the media.  I’ve never been big on New Year’s Resolutions, and don’t think I’ve made more than one or two in the past thirty years.

At the beginning of the year, I focus more on what I’m going to continue doing.  What goal that I’m already working on, am I going to focus on this month?  And it’s much more of a monthly check in than it is a New Year’s habit. Continue reading

2017 Writing Year in Review

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2017 has been a rollercoaster year.  In my wider world, the political landscape has been oversaturated with scandal, controversy, and fear.  In my financial world there have been a lot of ups and down, but we’ve managed to keep our heads above water.  In the world of my little two-person family, there have been a few very major lows as well as a few major highs, the top of which has been my husband’s graduation.  I’m not going to get into details on any of that.  I’m just going to look at the rollercoaster my writing has been on this year. Continue reading

NaNoWriMo Day Seventeen

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It’s been a good week.  I crossed the 50k mark on November 13, which ties my record for fastest finish from 2012.  Though my record high word count was from 2010 and the site doesn’t have my graph, so I can’t be sure it’s a real record.  My jury duty got postponed and then canceled, so I didn’t lose valuable writing time to that.  And I’m staying at or above my goal of 3,766 words per day on average.

Stats so far:

Highest word count day was yesterday, November 16 with 7,538.

Average words per day is 3,889.

Total word count at the end of November 16 was 62,229.

And I’m looking forward to an amazing weekend full of writing.  We do a big all day writing event in my region on one of the middle Saturdays (usually the same weekend as the Night of Writing Dangerously HQ fundraising event).  It’s tomorrow this year and it’s going to be a blast.  We have write-ins planned all day, a spreadsheet to track competition over sprints and total word count, and great prizes for winners.  It’s going to be a long day full of fun, writing, and lots of great food.  I’ll be exhausted by the end, but it will have been totally worth it.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this year, how’s your project going?  Are you keeping up with par and/or your personal goals?