- Read 52+ books.
- Attend 3-5 readings.
- Beta read for at least two new people.
- Read at least one new book on the craft of writing.
- Freewrite and do more exercises when not actively novel writing.
- Revise Project A until next stage.
- Revise Project B until next stage.
- Plot, research for, and begin writing new book. Ideally finish first draft this year (though that may depend on how/where things go with A and B).
- Pursue new experiences (which feed the pen).
- Volunteer at local book festival.
It’s that time of year again! Here’s what my 2014 as a reader/writer looked like:
# 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
- I got an agent. — plus all the work that led up to it.
- I wrote the entire first draft of a MG project (separate from the YA book I queried and signed with an agent).
- I read 54 books, + several beta reads and nonfiction.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
Ok, I admit it: It’s become more about the art than crossing off the days. Which is great for getting in a minimum of one art project a month, but not for observing the date. I think next year I’ll go with a more practical calendar.
December is always a variable time of year– lots going on, people visiting, normal processes interrupted. I can say with certainty there will be reading, revising, guitar, and French for me, though it is difficult to say how much. I also recently bought a deck of tarot cards (I’ve been interested in learning more about them ever since some research I did for a story) and hope to start acquainting myself with reading basics in the coming weeks.
In other news: as of last month I completed one of my biggest goals for the year, which was to read 52 books, or roughly one a week! And there’s still several weeks to go…(Here I come, Landline and Thieves of Manhattan.)
What will your end of year activities look like?
Here is October!
November will include more revising, more planning the next project, and a couple little side things for fun. Also, though I’m not doing Nanowrimo myself this year, I plan to attend some write-ins and keep posting #nanowritetips each day on Twitter and Tumblr.
What will you be doing this month?
And now on to July, in which I will continue the first draft of a project and have plans for several short term art works. Stay tuned for details!
In the meantime, if you’re a fellow writer or book lover on tumblr, I am finally starting to get the hang of that young person’s jungle gym. You can find me on tumblr here.
Hope your summers are off to a good start!
Here is the finished page I made for May, this month using nail polish, soft pastel chalks, and oil pastels to mark off the days. Originally I intended to use nail polish all the way through, but the polish wasn’t having any of it. In fact, I thought I’d ruined the month by the third square– the paint came out sticky and uneven and looked like crayon! But I kept going, tried some other things, and in the end I rather liked the mix of smooth and painterly-looking strokes. And the colors, even the weaker ones, turned out like shades of ice cream and cake! Appropriate for Marie Antoinette.
Looking ahead to June, my main focus will be on writing the first draft of my new book: a MG project involving a girl who gets trapped in a world through the cupboard, and must use her wits and its wonders to get home. What about you?
Materials for April’s homemade calendar page include colored Sharpies, one silver Galaxy marker, and a blue poster paint Sharpie.
I swear I entered a timewarp this month– I can’t believe April is over already! My WIP went through another 2-3 drafts, with material added, cut, rearranged, and tightened and the word count fluctuated from 87 to 94 back to 89k. Queries are just around the corner and I can’t wait!
Still mapping my goals and focuses for May. I do know the month will include starting to write a new book I have been planning for some time, and which I am fiendishly excited about!
What are your plans for the month?
Last month I shared the first page of my homemade 2014 calendar. This week I bring you the completed March:
Materials this time included paint pens and permanent markers. I’m IN LOVE with Craftsmart’s gold foil!
Looking ahead to April, my month’s goals include but are not limited to:
- Completing Draft 3 of my WIP
- Query research
- Continued French review (units 3 and 4 in my textbook at a minimum)
- My extracurricular: reading up on how to read facial expressions, body language, and items within that vicinity (Liespotting, anyone?)
How about you?
Today’s Forum Friday question is simple:
What are you doing for your writing?
Writing is a long-term journey. Since I started striking out on the path I’ve realized just how much work is ahead of me: finding an agent. Making myself appealing to an agent (writing short stories, getting short stories published, building a platform, etc.). Finding a publisher. If all else fails, self-publishing and promoting like the dickens.
Since almost all of these steps are long-term processes, I’ve tried to arrange my writing efforts into more tangible, short-term goals that I can use as stepping-increments. For example, to improve my short story writing (with the long-term goal of getting short stories published, with the longer-term goal of having publication credits) last month I read a well-known short story every day.
As always, of course, there is probably more I could be doing for my writing or more creative ways in which to do it.
So I wonder: what specific, short-term writing goals do you have, and what are you doing to achieve them?
Good-bye, you namby-pamby, half-assed studies!
Farewell, ye sporadic notes and vocab lists!
Adieu, Monsieur All-I-Know-Is-Present-Tense, And-Even-Then-Only-Seven-Verbs!
Hellooooooo structure, you beautiful fox, you.
Thank you, thank you. Merci, if you will.
So, I just signed up for my first ever French class.
To most people, this is probably not the most exciting news. In fact, most people would probably equate “I just signed up for a class” with “Good-bye, free time,” “#hasnosociallife,” or “Why is my checking account two-hundred bucks lighter?” But for me French 101 means direction, growth, and leads. French 101 means change. For all of my uncertainties in life right now– where I’m going, what I’m doing, how to progress, how to best pursue writing, and whether my novel-in-progress will hold its own or pancake– I am certain, for once, that this is what I need to be doing.
Some of the reasons I look forward to it:
- It will be my first experience as a student again since I taught English in Japan. I will definitely appreciate the structure and work the teacher puts into the course, and I know I will make the most of it.
- The class is downtown, which means I get to go into the city more and see and do loads of trendy, hipster, Portlandian things!
- I get to meet new people! Yay!
- Some of those people will probably want to practice French with me! Yay!
- Homework and tests mean I will actually be accountable for learning. Yay!
Yowza. Never thought I’d see the day I was excited for homework or tests. Or being accountable, for that matter. I remember once, in high school, my best friend and I were having a contest. The contest was to see who could say “I’m responsible,” and go the longest without cracking up.
The times, they are a-changin’.
P.S. A brief writing-related note: today, for the first time since I set my 1,000 words-a-day goal, I actually made it. And that is NOT counting this incredibly rambly, un-edited blog post. Am I not fantastic???