2014 in Review: Statistics, Fave Books, Lessons Learned

It’s that time of year again! Here’s what my 2014 as a reader/writer looked like:

 

Reading/Writing Stats

# projects worked on: 4

projects abandoned: 1

projects shelved to come back to: 2

projects currently on worktable: 1

 

# books read: 54+

books purchased: 27? (Holy Schmoe.)

given as gifts: 7?

 

# readings attended: 5? (Lauren Oliver, David Sedaris, David Mitchell, BJ Novak, Gretchen Rubin)

 

Favorite Books Read This Year

Accomplishments

  1. I got an agent. — plus all the work that led up to it.
  2. I wrote the entire first draft of a MG project (separate from the YA book I queried and signed with an agent).
  3. I read 54 books, + several beta reads and nonfiction.
  4. I finished the rough draft of an illustrated project – very rough, because writing is my strong suit and art is secondary. I’m not convinced I should count this one because I’ve flagged so much of it for redoing it makes my head spin, and right now that just isn’t a high priority. But I would like to come back to it.

Lessons Learned

  1. It’s okay to abandon/retire a project. It’s important to finish things you start, but it’s also important to recognize when something isn’t working, won’t work, or when you’ve lost enthusiasm and your efforts would be better spent elsewhere.
  2. It’s okay to shelve a project indefinitely. I had a few ideas this year I was super jazzed about, only to start seeing fundamental problems with them in early development (e.g., reminded me too much of another book, or wanted to be a trilogy when what I want to write right now is standalone). So I put those projects, along with all of my notes and planning for them, carefully aside in folders that can be easily filed back to when the time is right.
  3. Beta readers are absolute gold. In theory I knew this already, but in practice I appreciated it even more. Love your readers: They will help you find the weak spots.
  4. Is it good? An obvious question, but when evaluating my own work, I’ve found it to be the ultimate measuring stick. Time may be the best aide for seeing a manuscript objectively, but asking yourself whether passages move/compel you is a close second.
  5. Is it necessary? The other essential question that’s helped me through my many revisions this year. This one is great 1) for reducing your word count and 2) consequently tightening your story, which will result in a swifter, stronger read.

 

How was your 2014 in books? Any pieces I’m missing?

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6 thoughts on “2014 in Review: Statistics, Fave Books, Lessons Learned

  1. Do you write book reviews Julie? On Amazon or elsewhere. I know you draw lessons from what you read and it might be good to read some such reviews, positive or negative.
    I tend to read and review indie authors and it isn’t always great fun, but the process suggests lots of things to avoid in my own efforts.

    • I would if they didn’t take me so long (I’m such a terribly slow writer). Sometimes I leave one-two sentence reaction reviews on Goodreads, but usually I save my creative energy for my own writing. You’ve definitely got a point about reflecting on what you’ve read and learning from it though!

  2. In one word, just super; specially the clearing out of 54 books, which means more than a book a week. How do you manage this feat, Julie? Any tips you can share would be welcome, as I am a slow reader taking several weeks to finish a book due to distractions and diversions into too many things; result is a frustrating fragmentation of reading forcing the need to go over the already finished part to reconnect. For the same reason, I hardly read any fiction as it requires greater focus and longer sittings… Thanks to you in advance…Raj

    • It is perhaps easier for me to prioritize reading than the average person, seeing as my aim is to be a professional author. But I find there are many ways to fit more reading in: always having a book with you. Reading in line, on the train, while you’re waiting for someone. Audiobooks, which you can listen to while doing other things. Sometimes just turning off the TV (or switching out a different activity every now and then) and picking up a book instead.

      Apparently there is a national reading day coming up in the US, so I think I just might do a post on this.

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