Welcome to the last post of 2018! Hard to believe, isn’t it? And you know what the end of the year means. Recaps and reviews of 2018. Resolutions and predictions for 2019. Here at 8LW, it also means discussing our writing plans for the new year. Today, I’m keeping up that tradition, and expanding it to other important areas of life.
You might have noticed over the past year that I’ve set lots of writing goals, accomplished several of them, and missed the mark on others. Overall, I made good progress, but in the coming year I hope to do better. But I also burned out when we reached December, and next year, I’d like to avoid that end-of-year collapse. You’ll be shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to learn I have a plan to do better in 2019. And it all begins with balance in a few key areas of my life. Continue reading
Happy New Year!
Do you play the watchword game? That is, choose a single word to epitomize your approach to the coming year? It’s not as restrictive as a goal or resolution. More like a theme, defined as ‘an idea that recurs and pervades.’
Elizabeth told us on Wednesday that her word for 2018 is FINISH, to be applied to one project per month, not necessarily writing-related.
Last year I wanted a call to action. I settled on PUBLISH, and here’s how I explained my choice:
That doesn’t mean I expect Alexis to be published by the end of 2017, though that would be thrilling. It means that everything writing-related that I do this year should be directed towards that end. By next New Year’s Eve, at the very least I should know the specifics of how and when that book, and that series, will get published.
I think I did pretty well with that.
- I finished Alexis Book 1 and, with Jeanne’s help, tidied up the ms well enough to win a contest and get some nice comments from the judges.
- I made a final decision to pursue indie publishing, joined Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101 course and worked through the lectures.
- I signed up with Jeanne’s editor, Karen Dale Harris, and sent Alexis to her. I received my report just before Christmas and I’m now working my way through Karen’s comprehensive and challenging feedback.
- I decided to write two more stories from Alexis’s past, one to be given away on my mailing list and the other as a prequel to kick off Alexis’s series. I resolved to get both of these finished before I release the first Alexis book, even if that means I have to let the ‘go live’ date slip a few months.
- I spent a lot of time thinking about my titles, covers, and all kinds of other useful indie-publishing need-to-know decisions I learned about from the Mark Dawson classes. I now have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to handle most of them.
This year I’m going for a different approach, because although I keep inching forward, I’m feeling a kind of mounting frustration that I still have so much to do and it’s taking me so damn long to hatch a book.
Patience is a virtue, or so I’m told. I have to admit, I don’t have as much first-hand knowledge of this as perhaps I should. But like writing, life is a process, and as I continue pondering and acting upon my plans for 2017, I’ve decided to see how the other half (or whatever the percentage of patient people is) lives.
I should be clear: in my experience, impatience is not always a sin. It can be a driver and a motivator. It can ensure All the Things get done in a timely manner, something which was of the utmost importance in the strict deadline-driven professional world I used to inhabit. In fact, it is probably my impatience with my own work pace and quality, and (sometimes) that of others, that pushed me toward efficiency and higher-quality output. It made me really, really good at what I did.
And then I burned out. Continue reading
January, that post-holiday start of a new year, is a natural time to reassess, reprioritize, and reorganize our lives and our writing. Yesterday, Jilly shared her watchword for 2017: publish. Last year I made up my own word (phrase): joie d’ecriture. This year, my watchword/mantra/true north for 2017 is intention.
Intention. It’s not just paving material for the road to hell. It’s having a purpose. Setting goals and focusing on achieving them. Living each day as though it could be your last and knowing you won’t regret having misspent it. That’s all fine and good, you might be saying, but what the hell does it mean? How does one work toward intention? Continue reading
Is it just me, or was 2016 a terrible horrible no good very bad year? We had Brexit and the US election; ’nuff said. Then there were the deaths of icons: David Bowie, Prince, Keith Emerson, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder. Things felt strange on the good days, bleak on the not-so-good-days. On the personal front, I fought through the day job from hell and dealt with a minor but weird medical issue that culminated in surgery.
But in good times or in bad – perhaps especially in bad – writers need to write. We do it to save our sanity and maybe even to save the world. As Donald Maass told the group gathered at the UnConference I attended in early November, the world needs our stories now more than ever. So if 2016 is our inciting incident and writing is our call to action, where are you in your story quest?
Looking back at January 2016 (was it really just a year ago? really???), I was facing months of a crazy day job with impossible deadlines and terrible hours. I anticipated that would mean less time for writing, and unfortunately I was so, so right. But this year I set different goals than in previous years, goals that were not about word counts and finishing multiple stories, but about joie d’ecriture. Now almost 12 months later, it’s time to analyze the results and fess up to how well I did or didn’t fare. Continue reading
So I’ve been in judging hell this week. Last week, I’d spent a bunch of time totaling scores for the contest I’ve been managing…this past week, I’ve been reading paranormal entries for the 2015 Golden Heart (the “Oscars” for unpublished romance writers).
Elizabeth wrote in this post about some recurring items that pulled her out of the story (poor grammar/misspellings, not following rules, starting at the right place, etc.).
For me, there was one BIG issue that hit me over and over again on the poorly written entries. It’s something I admittedly didn’t know much about (at a conscious level, anyway) before I started writing, but I’m glad I learned about it. Those of you just jumping onto this writing wagon would do well to learn it yourself: Continue reading
You’ve probably noticed that we here at 8LW are not big on resolutions. We’d rather talk about the new year as a chance to assess where we’ve been, decide where we’re going, and set some new goals to help us get there. In that spirit, I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to work on pacing.
Yesterday, Jilly discussed her writing journey and plans in terms of tennis, which was apropos, as she was (and probably would still be) a very good player. I’m going to discuss my plans for the upcoming years in terms of running, not because I am a very good runner. Au contraire! I am a terrible runner. Continue reading
Last January, the other Ladies and I started the year with a ‘new year, new writer’ series where we discussed our goals and plans for the upcoming year. In addition to the concrete writing goals, which included FTDB (finish the damn book!), I had a much bigger picture goal in mind. I wanted to spend 2014 writing courageously, facing up to fears and writing right on through them. Now, all too fast, that year is drawing to a close and it’s time to assess how I’ve done with conquering each of my own writing fears I identified a year ago. Continue reading
When I started the McDaniel program over a year ago, I came in without any formal (or informal, for that matter) instruction about writing fiction. I’d neither taken a creative writing class, nor studied the basic elements of good fiction. In other words, I was a blank slate, which is great in some respects because there weren’t any bad habits/knowledge I had to purge from my brain. But it’s bad when my instructor tells me to identify the goal, motivation, and conflict for my protag and antag…I was left saying, “Huh?”
Of all the things we covered at McDaniel, conflict was one of the topics that tripped me up the most. (Well, okay, so did goals and motivation, which go hand-in-hand with conflict.) I thought I knew what conflict was. I mean, I read romance novels, right? Those books are chock-a-block full of men and women arguing about something or other. So okay, identify the arguments between my characters and I’m set.
Oy. Continue reading