Writing is a tedious, lonely enterprise. Much of the time, I love this aspect of the craft. But because all the work is behind the scenes, I’m starting to get asked by some people “So how’s that writing stuff going? Are you still doing that?”
The short answer? Definitely.
I thought it’d be a nice accountability exercise to check in periodically and share a few ways I’ve been flexing my creative muscles. If you’re a fellow creative who wants to do the same (accountability in goal-setting is huge!), share your updates/goals in the “Comments” section below.
NAILING MY NOVELING APPROACH
With this second book, I’m in love with the story but not the process I’ve gone about getting it out of my head. My first book sort of fell out of my brain. This second has been harder to draw out because basically, it’s the book teaching me how to write a book. How to get a messy first draft completed, how to flesh out characters, how to outline so that I have a solid framework in place for the revisions I need to make.
Once I nail down an approach that works for me, I can apply it to future books I plan to write. I’ve been working my way through Sarah Domet’s 90 Days To Your Novel and appreciating the lessons I’m gleaning because they’ll make the hard work ahead of me that much easier as I buckle down and attempt to get this book done. Goal: To nail down a “structure-plus” outline and finish a second draft before year’s end, preferably by Dec. 1.
MAKING WRITER CONNECTIONS
It’s wonderful to have beta readers—friends, family, and colleagues cheering you on as they offer their take on what you’ve written. Finding good critique partners is a whole other definition of valuable and I’m grateful this spring to have found another with a local librarian, Marissa, who is a fabulous YA writer. We swapped manuscripts in recent weeks and she’s given me critical feedback about the first draft of my second book—calling me out in a constructive way for my bad writerly habits (chiefly, I’m a Back Story Lover—as in, I’m prone to front loading the story with wayyy too much of it …) Goal (for coming months/year): To collect a few more critique partners (2-3). It’s a labor intensive relationship (you are closely editing your CP’s work while also revising yours) but CRUCIAL to seeing your work objectively while working out plot kinks.
GETTING MY FEET WET WITH CONTESTS
In May, I submitted the first 500 words of my WIP to YA writer Rachel Stevenson‘s awesome blog What She Wrote. The #YayYA contest was a great way to put myself out there online as a writer. I made solid connections with a few other participants (especially on Twitter) and my hope is to do more of these contests, continuing to build a network of fellow writers in the coming year. Goal: To pitch my second book in 1-2 Twitter-related pitching contests in 2016; to enter a first draft of a third book in a similar contest in 2016.
LEARNING AS I GO
I’m an autodidact, one who’s taught herself how to become a photographer, how to become a businesswoman, and now, how to become a fiction writer. A key step to this: Educating myself. In recent months, I’ve plowed through the following books on writing: Creating Fiction, KM Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel, and James Scott Bell’s How to Writing Amazing Dialogue. Every page I turn is teaching me something new, making me thinking about the craft in new ways. Goal: To read 3 more books on craft before end of 2015 and half-dozen more in 2016.
REMINDING MYSELF TO APPROACH THIS CREATIVE ENDEAVOR WITH GRACE
I’m often way too hard on myself because I’m not where I’d like to be as a writer–not in progress on this second book, not in having an agent, not in having a book deal … And that’s okay. Because that is the ebb and flow to being a creative. No matter what your medium (paint, camera, words, clay), battling self doubt is part of the game and the only way you can conquer those demons is by giving yourself grace as you approach your art. Goal: To spend less time comparing myself to other creatives online and focus on buckling down to do what only I can do as an artist: Write my own unique stories.