Well, I do it every year as December draws to a close. I review what I’ve done for that year in my writing, and then I make goals for the new year. I do this so I know what I have done throughout the year. It’s hard to know where you are going until you understand how far you have come. I then create a list of things I would like to accomplish or work on throughout the new year. This gives me guidelines to work in, but I also allow myself the flexibility to change those goals as needed. So this is my post on looking back to 2013 and the things I have done to better my writing.
I try my best to always be reading a book, but there are times when I will go weeks without picking up a book. My excuse for not picking up a book is usually that I’m too busy, or I don’t want the distraction from my writing. But they are bad excuses. I have found from experience that I am a better writer when I read. Even if it’s just a chapter a day, that is enough. It’s hard to be a good writer without studying how to write. The best way I have found to do this is by picking up a book and reading. I can’t remember all the books I read in 2013, but some of the ones that stick out in my mind are: The Stand by Steven King, Dune by Frank Herbert, Cold Days by Jim Butcher, and Ender’s Game by Olson Scott Card.
One of the first things I wanted to work on this past year was beefing up my editing abilities. I already had a decent ability of finding plot holes, character flaws, and inconsistencies in stories, but felt I needed a refresher in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. By June, I was ready to star offering my services as a regular Story Consultant (which I’m still offering 4,000 free words until the end of January for those who are interested).
Blood Feud Novel
In 2013, I finished the (almost completed) first draft of Blood Feud, write the full second draft, and then managed to work through a large chunk of the third draft. Whew! It was exhausting work with a lot of time spent rewriting scenes over and over, but with EVERY rewrite, I felt the story get better and my writing become richer. I have found myself a big fan of the rewriting process, and look forward to it more so than writing from scratch. It’s fun to discover what works and what doesn’t, and end up with a piece that is just right.
Work on Short Stories
In the last year, I managed to find time (in between my long weeks of Blood Feud rewrites) to write other short stories. I worked on a sexy monster story called Dragonfly. A room full of crazy strangers, figuring out the the mystery of how they all ended in a locked room together called Abyss. I also wrote on a prequel story to Blood Feud called Ulave and began a prequel novella called Savage Planet. In attention to that, I worked on rewrites on several stories, including Stolen Youth that won an Honorable Mention for the Writers of the Future Contest in the 2013 4th quarter. And wrote from scratch two recent stories for Christmas called The Fourth Wise Man and How the Zombies Stole Christmas (which won 4th place in a contest). So yeah, it’s been a busy year.
This has been a big improvement compared to the previous year (2012). The biggest help for regular blogging for me was switching to WordPress. I had a blog on Blogger, but found it just wasn’t as user friendly. I also found WordPress to be better with tracking traffic coming to my blog. Mostly, I think the switch was the mental change I needed to keep better track of how often I posted on my blog. Since June (when I made the switch), I’ve managed to regularly post at least once a week (usually on Mondays). The exception would be November when I was busy with NaNoWriMo challenge, but I made up for it in December by averaging three posts a week.
The Writing Journey
All in all, I think 2013 was a great year for my writing journey. I managed to get a lot accomplished in my writing as well with my learning more about writing. I did take some online classes, read some writing self-help books, and took workshops at Context and with Johnathan Maberry, but the biggest help came from all the actual writing I did in Blood Feud and my other short stories. And so I end with a quote dear to my heart…
“Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters.” -Harry Callahan
So how did you do in 2013? Feel free to share below. Check out my goals for 2014.