Happy New Year, again! So it’s January 10th and I’m a bit late in waxing poetic about reflections and resolutions. As an overly analytical introvert I needed the extra time.
Overall in 2014 I believe my writing continued to get stronger and I learned a lot about my overall writing process. I had some more successes which always is good to keep myself motivated. Being around a group of highly motivated and successful writers also does wonder for motivation. Below are just a few of the highlights for me in 2014.
Number of Stories Accepted for Publication: In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be published for not only the first time but a second time, too. I didn’t have a set goal for 2014 other than I hoped to have at least one story accepted for publication. It was quite a delight to have three stories, one of which is actually coming out in an anthology on February 1st, be accepted. It helped that I submitted to more places both print and online so in theory that upped my chances someone, somewhere would find one of my stories worthy.
Writing Process: Late in the year I realized something quite monumental. It was in regards to my writing process. Instead of trying to write a novel the same way I write a short story, from point A to point B in a linear fashion, it works better for me, and makes more sense, to write it out of order. When a story enters my mind I don’t think of it in order; sometimes it’s the end I think of first, or loads of scenes for the beginning and middle dance around in my brain. Why shouldn’t I write the rough draft like that? If I feel like working on the ending for a day or two or however long it takes me, then I should do that. If tomorrow I want to work on the beginning, then I should.
Another component of my writing process I’ve worked on is utilizing index cards. For my current WIP (work in progress), I brainstormed scene ideas, anything that came to mind. I then put those onto index cards, and as noted in the previous paragraph, whatever I feel like working on a particular day I use those index cards to guide that process. This prevents me from getting stuck as I have those quick reminders of what plans I had for the story. This doesn’t mean I always follow what’s on the index card. There have been quite a few instances where I’ve deviated quite a bit from the so-called plan. The index cards also give me a flexibility to chuck ideas or to add ideas.
During 2014 I discovered that it is the rough draft part of writing that I enjoy the least. Trying to get that jumbled rubber band ball of ideas down onto paper is what frustrates me the most. I can see it all so clearly in my head but when I try to translate that onto paper, it comes out like crap. It’s this stage where the evil writing gremlins come out and cause me to second guess everything. If I can get pass that stage, I feel much, much better. I truly enjoy revising as it gives me an opportunity to clean the crap up.
Getting to Know Scrivener: I took advantage of the discount offered for ‘winning’ 2013 NaNoWriMo to purchase Scrivener which is software that allows a writer of anything to keep track of their projects. You can store virtually anything using the software: your manuscript, research, notes, pictures, videos, audio, whatever. At first I didn’t like it. It is more robust then I had anticipated and their tutorial, which they said would take about two to three hours to go through, just overwhelmed me.
Then I found a link to a free webinar which went over in an hour a lot of the basics I struggled with. I became excited to use the software and began transferring all the various files I had stored in multiple areas into Scrivener which made it easier for me to access. I’ve also started creating folders for future projects and any research or pictures that seem appropriate.
One thing I haven’t quite used Scrivener for is its word processing capabilities. I’m still using Word but one of my goals for 2015 is to use Scrivener’s work processing function for my novel.
Overall Quality of Work: While I find myself not as productive as I think I should be, most likely a highly unrealistic expectation, at this stage I nevertheless have seen a real improvement in quality of my work. That doesn’t mean everything I wrote or tried to write worked, some pieces just flat out failed, but that I believe I’m getting more comfortable with my writing.
I’m still not sure what my author’s voice is but it’s not something I’m actively working on trying to figure out. I truly believe it is way more important to be honest to the voice of the characters and story rather than determining my style. I’m also still struggling with figuring out what the right balance is. By that I mean the balance between descriptions of setting, showing not telling (although at times telling is acceptable), and feeling like I hold back at time. Being in a critique group has helped because as I read other writer’s pieces to determine what works or doesn’t work for me as a reader, it draws awareness to what I’d like to do or steer clear of in my own work.
Now for a few of my writing goals I want to work on in 2015. I refuse to use the term resolution just because that to me just always has such a temporary feel. Each year it is always my goal to continue to educate myself in all aspects of writing to the craft portion to the business side. I try to achieve this through a variety of avenues including articles, attending conferences and workshops, talking with other writers informally, and watching videos. Below are the goals I have in addition to the standard goal of keep improving and learning.
Work in Progress: I want to finish the rough draft of my WIP that I started in November. I’m targeting the end of January then letting it sit for about three months before starting the first revision process. I don’t have a target set yet for when I wish to complete that first revision process but it wouldn’t surprise me if it took me at least six months or more.
Increasing Efficiency: For Christmas I asked for and received an electronic pen. It is my hope that with this specially designed pen, which writes in ink on special paper, I’ll be able to save myself a step in my writing process. Instead of me typing up my handwritten work, this pen and special software are designed to automatically convert my handwriting into text. This would save me several hours each week and I’m gleefully keeping my fingers cross it is just what I need.
Submitting Work: It is my hope for 2015 that I will have four or more stories accepted for publication. This means I need to continue to seek out more opportunities as well as compose new short stories. I’ve been feverishly searching the internet for the most appropriate avenues for my work. Hopefully I’ll be able to get paid a bit more often for my work as well.
Increase Focus on Historical Fiction: I want to focus more on this since it is the genre I love the most yet it seems to almost be the red-headed stepchild or something of publishing. It’s not one talked a lot about in writing circles. It’s difficult to find places that publish historical fiction short stories which is why I haven’t written too many. It’s hard to find writing advice geared specifically toward some of the unique challenges in historical fiction. It’s also a genre that doesn’t get much love eBook wise. Maybe because quite a few historical fiction novels tend to be quite lengthy and longer tends to not translate too well to people’s e-readers, tablets, and phones.
I’m going to read more historical fiction novels, gotta get over that jealousy and fear of not being good enough to write in it someday, and really focus in on what is going within the genre.
Conferences, workshops, and book festivals: One of the most pleasant revelations to me this past year was learning about, after the fact of course, all the different book festivals close to where I live. I want to attend at least a couple of these this year as well as keeping my eyes out for conferences and workshops, hopefully local, which will help further my education.
In conclusion, I hope 2015 is as good year for me professionally as the previous couple of years. And I hope that everyone has a wonderful 2015 and you achieve as many of your goals as you can.