Posts Tagged ‘goals’

Re-Evaluating Writing Goals

Well, guys, I’m back from camp, and, in theory, I can rev up my engines, or some metaphor that makes sense.

Last week we talked about my writing journal and also how it’s July and my word for the year, Polish, just has not been happening. The idea being that I would use said writing journal to look at my goals for the year and either figure out how to re-focus on Polish or change the focus for the year to be something that fit in better with what I’m actually working on.

However, it turns out it’s kind of hard to get going on re-evaluating your goals. So, eventually I decided to ask myself a pointed, direct question:

What do I want, more than anything else?

If I can only accomplish one thing, what do I want it to be?

And the answer was that I want to get my fantasy trilogy published.

Which led me to the revelation that maybe the reason that I have my fingers in so many pots is because I am avoiding working toward this particular goal.

Hold on, let me see if I can clarify.

I have been working on the Trilogy for SO LONG. It’s been 17 years since I wrote the first draft, 22 since I first came up with the idea. I have written the first book, in its entirety, three times. It holds a special place in my heart as the first book I ever finished, and at this point I know the characters like I know my family. It’s near and dear to my heart.

BUT when something is so important to you, it’s hard to put it out there, to be rejected. So I think I write other things, work on other projects, because if they fail, oh well. Or maybe I’m putting other things out there because if they work, then it shows that I’m good enough, my stories are good enough, and I can risk putting out the Trilogy.

But the fact of the matter is that I’m all over the place–other novels, trying out new genres, working on the nonfiction stuff–because I’m avoiding fully committing to the Trilogy and potentially getting hurt.

Oof. It was a realization, I tell you what.

It seems logical what I should do now. If the Trilogy is what really matters to me, I should switch over to it. “Get the Trilogy published” isn’t a good goal, because as we’ve talked about before, any goals that rely on other people are frustrating and leave you without control, but “Polish the Trilogy and get it ready for submission” is a perfectly good goal.

But I’ve got to tell you, dropping the defensive behavior is not easy. When I even thought the idea it made me wildly anxious. Landsquid knows how long I’ve been doing this. Years, at least.

So I’m going to compromise with myself. I’m going to take steps toward the main goal. There’s two weeks left of the summer critiquing marathon over in one of my writing groups, so I can at least get feedback on the first and maybe the second chapter. I have beta comments from previous critiques that I’ve already put into my document. So, in theory, I should have enough feedback to get going on the next step after the end of the marathon.

Meanwhile, I’m still going to work on finishing this draft of World’s Edge. It’s the same world as the Trilogy, so it’s arguably related. I’ve got a couple of commitments that need fulfilling as well–the next part of a serial for TDP, and a novella that needs to be written over the next few months. Those need to be done.

But I’ve got to finally commit to the Trilogy–really commit–or it’s never going to go anywhere.

Blah. Scary. Stupid journal, revealing all my deepest secrets to myself.

Anyway, how are you?

Out of the Woods

Hey, so it’s May! Oh man, it’s already the 5th. I feel like April flew by and May’s going to same. Time needs to slow down. I can’t believe it’s almost summer.

So, let’s talk about Camp Nano and how it went.

I did not connect with anyone, at all. They got rid of the cabins and now just have groups, which are the same groups from Nano, so all my online writing groups have one, and I think I looked in, oh, twice? And no one else seemed to be talking either. It autoposts any badges you have earned, so that was really about it. I also posted in my local Nano region’s discord twice or so as well.

I mean, there is some argument to make that the social aspect of writing challenges takes away from writing time, and that keeping it to a minimum might be better in the long run, but why do a social writing challenge at all then? The idea is to have accountability and all that jazz.

I haven’t been connecting very well to any of my writing groups lately. People don’t seem active when I’m active, or they’re not working on similar things, or not working at all. Also, all my social energy has been going to my Among Us group, some of who I get along with really well, so I don’t necessarily have the energy for my writing groups, especially when it feels harder to connect to them.

(Some of that may also be lingering confidence issues, like we talked about last week.)

As for Camp itself, I got 17,000 words on World’s Edge, which is less than the 25K I hoped for, but still better than I’ve done the rest of the year.

It feels a little unfocused, but not to where it’s not fixable in revision. I’m at 73K, so we’re only a little ways out from The End, and I’m not 100% sure how the end needs to go, so that’ll be fun moving forward.

I also realized that I set my word for the year as Polish, and I’ve done almost nothing for that. I mean, I poked at the beginning of Book One for a month or so, but I didn’t really get anywhere. I also submitted Book One to #RevPit last month and heard nothing back, so yay. Not sure what to do there. Going to leave it alone for the moment.

I think, after I finish World’s Edge’s draft, I’ll edit the scifi novella I finished last year. It’s shorter, so it should go a bit faster, and maybe I can get back into my groove. Maybe go into editing Ex-1 (the space dinosaur novel) after that, or maybe poke at some novella ideas.

I just want things getting finished, you know?

I just want my mojo, and my confidence, back.

Oof.

Anyway, Camp was a success, I think. It was nice to be moving on something, and I hope to finish the draft this month, though I’ve set a more modest goal of 15K for the month. Extra is good, but I’m not going to stress out about it.

How have you been, squider? How are your goals doing?

WriYe and 2021

This kind of goes over stuff we’ve already talked about, but here we are anyway!

What’s your WriYe Word Count goal for 2021? Why did you chose it?

I picked a goal of 120,000 words for this year. Last year I wrote 150K, and that’s on top of wasting a LOT of time, so I could conceivably write more if so inclined, but since most of my time this year is going to be spent on revision, I didn’t want to go that high again.

I’m still waffling about counting revision words. I do tend to retype everything during a revision, especially if it needs a lot of work, because it allows me to tweak word choice, and I haven’t decided if I should count that or not. Things to worry about later!

What are your writing/editing plans for the year?

I’m not going to do this in great detail, since we did talk about it last week, but essentially I intend to focus on revising several (six) longer projects with the hopes that they’ll be ready for publication of some sort. They need various amounts of work so I’m going to start with the easiest ones first.

Bonus:

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Uh…hopefully being able to go places again? I know that’s not writing related, but I am so stir crazy I can’t stand it. I’d even love just to be able to go work at the coffee shop instead of my house.

(Speaking of which, I got a new laptop! It’s one of those 2-in-1s that turns into a tablet, though I haven’t thought of a need for tablet mode yet.)

Writing wise, I’d like to be able to focus better and get more done with my time. And actually finish some projects.

What are your goals for 2021, squiders?

Obligatory New Year’s Post 2021

Okay, I’ve gotten my act together and made goals for the year. I don’t really feel like going back over 2020 as a whole–I certainly made a lot of progress posts through the year, but it wasn’t all bad. I wrote a little over 150,000 words for the year, had a few stories published, completed two drafts and had one critiqued, and wrote most of another draft. I read lots of writing books and took a few writing classes, and I read some drawing books and took a lot more drawing classes.

I also spent a lot of time wasting time. I have a coloring game on my phone that I have spent a lot of time on, just saying. I think a lot of that came from having everyone around all the time, and trying to manage all their stuff too. It’s been hard to focus around all that, and when I have managed to squeeze out some alone time, I’m often too tired to give a story the attention it needs.

The small, mobile ones are back in school, though, so maybe I can turn that around. That being said, I do have a client edit that must be finished soon, so that takes priority. And who knows how long school will happen this time.

But, hey, I got my goals together. As I mentioned last week, my word for the year is polish.

As such, my main focus for the year is going to be revision, with the hopes that I can finalize some projects so my to-do list isn’t quite so long and overwhelming.

For drafting new words, my goals include:

  • Finish the first draft of the Changeling story (at about 55K) or decide if it’s a lost cause
  • Finish the first draft of World’s Edge (also at 55K)
  • Perhaps poke the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin (which continues to be stuck in the mire)

I’m going to continue to do my drabbles related to larger stories, but I think I’m going to drop my Pinterest prompts for now. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that something new will come along.

For revision, I’ve got six projects:

  • Boughs of Fate (Book One of the Ri’shan Trilogy, high fantasy)
  • Rings Among the Stars (scifi horror novella)
  • What Lurks Beneath the Bleachers (YA horror)
  • Excalibur-1 (science fiction) (aka the space dinosaur story)
  • Broken Mirrors (YA or MG fantasy)
  • The cozy mystery I wrote in November

These are all in varying states. Book 1 is on its third complete draft, and I suspect just needs some finetuning in the beginning. I have feedback on the scifi horror novella, Bleachers, and Ex-1, but I haven’t gone through them yet. (Bleachers is on its second complete draft. You may remember me doing a fairly massive overhaul on it a few years back.) Broken Mirrors is the first story I ever edited, and I actually queried it for a bit, but when I read through it last year, it needed quite a bit of work. Also I need to make it solidly either YA or MG. Right now it’s kind of in the middle. And the cozy, being a different genre, well, I’ll have to figure how to handle that.

Other than that, I still need to query that picture book (has been ready since, like, March, I’m mostly avoiding it), work on my shorts, make some new SkillShare classes (any requests?), and look at making additional materials to go with the Writers’ Motivation series books and workbooks.

So! That’s my plan for the year, kind of in the order I’m going to work on them.

Planning anything big for the year, squiders?

Fizzling Out of 2020

Hey, squiders, can you believe this hellscape of a year ends tomorrow? Me either! I really mean it. I’m finding it really hard to process that, come Friday, we’ll be in 2021.

All my writing groups are starting new challenges for the new year, talking about their new goals and their new plans. And I…am not feeling it.

Last year, I had so many plans. I was so optimistic about the year to come, full of hopes and dreams. I recently went back and re-read my posts from December and January. I really had no idea. I mean, I suspected my husband’s health problems (he’s doing much better now!) but I still thought I’d have time. Both small, mobile ones would be in school full time for the first time after all. I was going to get so much done.

But then everything fell apart. I’ve had less time than I’ve had in years. Everyone was home all the time, and always seemingly in need of something.

I got things done, sure. I did manage a whole Nano, despite everything. I’ll do a formal wrap-up/goals next week sometime, or maybe the week after. But I didn’t get what I wanted to done. . A lot less than I wanted to.

Part of me wonders if it’s worth it, to give in to hope and plans and all that jazz. Maybe I should just pick the next project and go, and not worry about planning a bigger picture, at least not until things even out.

I did pick a word for 2021. It’s Polish. My education year went well–I’m pleased with what I did, and I learned a lot. But now I’d like to take what I learned and finish some things off, focus more on making projects the best they can be. Get some projects done and out the door. Revision and editing do take me more time than drafting, but I hope if I practice, I can streamline my process and be able to get more done faster.

Anyway, we’ll have to see how it goes. And I suspect that, after I do sit down and make some goals, I’ll feel it a little more. But, for now, well, we’ll have to see.

I hope you have a happy new year’s, squiders, and I’ll see you next week and next year.

Nano Aftermath

Happy December, everybody. It’s miserably cold here and snowed for approximately five seconds before it got bored, which, well, boo, I guess.

December is here, and so Nano is over. I had 4,000 words to write yesterday, but they didn’t end up being an issue at all–in fact, it was some of the most relaxed I’ve ever been on a Nov 30 in a Nano year.

I also, for the first time ever, have a complete first draft after Nano. Now, most of the time, I’m writing fantasy or science fiction, which trend longer than mysteries in general, so I guess that’s not that big of a surprise. I think the closest I got before was a YA fantasy story (I may revise that one next year, we shall see) whose first draft ended up being around 60,000 words.

Nano was weird this year. Almost…dreamlike, in some ways. It had none of its usual trappings. The loss of the in-person write-ins made it so I didn’t connect with anyone locally, and even my online groups weren’t terribly active. Normally they perk back up for Nano, but I barely saw a bump this year.

So, did that make it worse…or better?

While I spent a lot of the month behind, at no point was I stressed. Heck, for the last two weeks, I was routinely writing 2K to 3K without breaking a sweat. Despite not doing my normal accountability things, such as posting excerpts and daily word count checks in one of my writing groups, I had no issues keeping myself motivated.

That makes me wonder how much of the accountability things are really working, and how much of them are just extra work on top of the writing.

50K is a little short for a mystery–my research says they tend to be in the 60-70K range, but I suspect I didn’t provide enough misdirection in the middle. That’s fixable. For now, though, I have written a complete draft of a mystery, and if you recall, I wasn’t sure that was doable.

Nano was fine. Barely broke a sweat. Felt weird about how not stressful it was.

Now we’re on to December! The education goals are back on, though I’m a bit tired out on writing books, so I’m doing a nonfiction book about Christmas folklore instead, and I intend to do my monthly prompts again. I shall have to think about whether or not I’d like to keep doing them, come the new year. The practice is good, and it’s nice to write something new each month, but they do sometimes detract from larger projects.

And I don’t know about returning to the Changeling story. It was going so poorly. My mystery went great. I don’t know if that’s because I had to plan the mystery more, or if there’s fundamentally something wrong with the Changeling story. Not all stories are salvageable, and I need to decide if it’s worth it to push forward still or give up.

2020’s almost over. This year has both been so long and too short. I was so enthusiastic at the beginning, looking out over a whole year of possibility. It’s hard to get up the energy to hope 2021 is going to be better. But we’re still a few weeks off on that, so we’ll have to see how everything goes.

How are you, squider? Plans for December? Looking forward to 2021?

2020 is Lasting Forever and Yet…

…and yet, nothing is getting done.

Well, not nothing. But I think it feels like nothing, for a lot of people, because of the distortion in how time is passing. Since it feels like a hugely long time period, it feels like we should have been able to do a bunch, but it’s all an illusion.

That being said, April went pretty well for me. I set a goal of 10,000 words on my changeling story for camp, which I managed (as well as my two prompt responses for the month, and several pages on my handwritten story).

Speaking on the handwritten story, I’m running into an issue I didn’t consider, which is that I’m having issues figuring out my pacing. As you know, pacing is not something that comes naturally to me, and I’ve started building my pacing into my outlining to help me not have to add it in during revision.

Now, I haven’t outlined the handwritten story that completely (I did major plot points and plot/character arcs), but even if I had, word count is hard to tell, so it’s a little hard to tell where I am in the great scheme of my story. That’s a little problematic, but it’s probably not the end of the world if I just let the story go and fix it later. I have experience with that, at least.

The changeling story is going pretty well, actually! This is my third start on the story (the previous two starts add up to about 6K total) and I’m about 12K right now out of what I think will be about 75K in the end. I haven’t actually re-outlined or changed anything (except character names keep changing between drafts–the MC’s name has changed each iteration, and the love interest and sister have both also gone through a name change) but I did add in another point of view. We’ll see how that goes in the long run–I’d originally planned on setting it up like a romance (so female main character and male main character points of view) but my inclination is that this will work better for the story overall.

Well, we’ll see.

It feels weird not to be working on the nonfiction books after working on them for so long, but also nice to be done with the project. And there’s the SkillShare classes too, so it’s not like I’m abandoning the idea completely.

My goals for May are to write 20K on the changeling story, another 5 pages on the handwritten story, and do my two monthly prompt responses. I’ve also picked another drawing class to take and will be doing a story arc class as part of my year of education.

May kind of feels like it’s going to go the way March did–taking a million years because everything changes from day to day–but I guess we’ll have to see.

How are you doing, squiders? Any major plans for the month?

How Goes the Education?

If you guys remember, my word for the year is education.

We’re three months in, now, so how’s it going?

Ha. Haha.

No, actually, it’s going decently. It may be the only thing making any real progress, thanks to the medical issues with my husband and other issues going on around these parts.

Except the programming. I have more or less given up on the programming. I don’t have time, it frustrates me, and the more I poke at it, the more I think that it’s not a good fit. (Which isn’t a huge surprise–it’s never really been my forte. In college, I’d write a program, it wouldn’t work, I’d borrow a classmate’s program, compare, and they would be identical, except theirs would work and mine wouldn’t.) I am good at adjusting programs–I can make changes in a test environment, or modify Fortran to do what’s necessary–but writing code from scratch sucks.

And to be honest, I don’t want to program so much as it feels like I should know how to program, if that makes sense. I need to take a closer look at the jobs I’m considering and see if that’s actually a necessary skill or not.

(Also, part of it is that programming classes are very open-ended. This skill here, this skill there, with no clear indication how some of it would be used in a practical manner. I’m quite good at picking up specifics for a particular task, but the open-endedness here is throwing me off.)

I may look more at other types of classes–software test, or UX/UI–later in the year, when/if things stabilize a bit.

The writing books…go. I was a little afraid this would happen when I set the goal of one of month. They’re hard to get through quickly, since I’m trying to focus and absorb. I’m still working on February’s. To off-set that, I’ve watched one of the tutorial videos I purchased from Writer’s Digest whenever they had that big sale. It was a good course, about the foundations of a good plot. It was short, so I’ve watched it twice to try and absorb the information as much as possible.

Not sure that worked, but eeeehhh.

The art classes are going great. I’ve really enjoyed the three classes I’ve done so far (art journaling, figure drawing, and I’m working on faces this month) though I don’t know if I’m actually getting any better. But practice makes perfect, right?

(I’m certainly accumulating art supplies, whoops.)

The prompts are going well too. It’s freeing, to write without trying to do anything with it (which is probably good, because I suspect none of them thus far are any good). I don’t think I actually explained the concept to you guys.

I’ve been accumulating pins on Pinterest for years: characters, scenery, prompts, etc. But I hardly ever do anything with them (especially these boards, since I tend to draw off my Inspiration board or my separate Writing Prompts board when looking for story ideas). So each month I’m taking the oldest pin from each board (character, scenery, prompt) and writing a short story on them. There have been some…odd combinations.

This month’s are:
Character: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328795863331/
Setting: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328796303296/
Prompt: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/331718328795821985/

The cozy mystery idea isn’t going anywhere, since I’d like to finish up some drafts before I start new ones.

Those were my main areas of focus, so yay, I guess? Things are going, I’m enjoying myself mostly (except for programming), and there’s still plenty of year to go.

How are you doing on your goals?

Picking a Theme Going Forward

It’s that time of year when everyone gives up on the current year and starts looking at the next one. (Which I totally get. I’ve got four days til Winter Break and then all Hell breaks loose.) So, of course, there’s been emails and blog posts and whatnot, all about how best to select your goals and make 2020 your best year, and all sorts of niceties.

But I did read one that I found interesting. It was over at Writer Unboxed, and the idea was that, instead of making resolutions and whatnot, you choose a one-word theme for the year, and have your goals stem off of that.

It’s an interesting idea, certainly. And while I hesitate to start doing my year-end wrap-up and move onto 2020 (though I will admit that I have made my active project list for 2020 already), I found that a theme popped into my head almost immediately.

Education.

Admittedly, I am often taking classes and trying to expand my skills, but there’s a lot I want to focus on in that direction in the near future.

  • I plan to read the writing books I’ve been accumulating and take a few online courses in areas I feel less confident in.
  • There’s the programming and, if it feels like that’s not going to work in the long run, UX/UI classes. (Or both, I suppose, to see which is a better fit.)
  • I’d like to focus on improving my art skills, especially if the picture book thing gets rolling for real. I’ve been accumulating new supplies that I need to learn how to and practice using.
  • I would really love to write some cozy mysteries. Outside of scifi/fantasy, they’re my favorite thing to read. Mysteries have always felt so…out of reach, but I would like to give them a try.

There’s probably other things that I’m not remembering right now. But those are the main ones, anyway.

I guess, now that I’ve identified my theme, the idea is that goals will kind of automatically flow from it, once I get there. (I am not there yet. I feel like, if I make my goals for January or 2020 as a whole now, I’m going to mentally write off the rest of December, which I’m not prepared to do yet. We’ll see how we feel come Friday and Winter Break.)

What do you think about identifying a yearly theme, squiders? Do you have one you’ve selected for 2020?

Looking Back at 2018 and Ahead at 2019

For the last few years, I’ve had a spreadsheet with a general idea of what I want to get done for the year and the general time frame in which I think it’s going to get done.

There’s a lot of overlap from year to year–the same projects not really getting done–so I may want to rethink this moving forward.

But, hey! Things got done in 2018, and they were generally useful:

  • I wrote 20K to get to The End on my space dinosaur story first draft (started in 2014)
  • I wrote approximately 10K on the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin
  • I had a story published in an anthology (The Necro-Om-Nom-Nom-Icon) and wrote another one for an anthology that will be released this March
  • I finished the revision on Book 1 of my trilogy (two years in the making, argh)
  • I had a short story published in a magazine in April (Bards and Sages Quarterly) and also had two more published online (here and here)
  • I went through a critique cycle with the beginning of my YA paranormal novel, which will help me streamline it for submission
  • I continued my monthly scifi serial (which should be complete within a few months)
  • I worked on the nonfiction books here on the blog (and we’re on our last one now!)

Plus other, littler things. But it’s not too shabby. I’ve laid a lot of new projects out, so I should be good to go to work on them when I get there.

Of course, getting there is always the issue.

It’s hard to plan out a whole year of projects. Things take longer than you expect them to, or new things pop up, or priorities change, but here’s generally what I’m thinking for 2019.

  • CoHaR II MUST get done. Hopefully by March. That may be a little optimistic. This is a hard one since Siri and I have to work together on it, so I don’t have full control of the time frame, and it’s hard to work on other things around it, because then I have to re-center myself on it every time it’s my turn again.
  • I have a bunch of projects that are in this weird state between revision and publication. There’s Book 1, which I finished a major revision on last year and could, in theory, be submission ready, though I would like some betas to read through it before I act on that. There’s the YA paranormal, which I was submitting, but probably needs some work before I send it out again (the critique process I put it through pointed out that the tone is inconsistent in the beginning). And there’s the space dinosaurs draft, which is pretty good but does need some tweaking. Again, betas will be necessary. All my normal betas are too busy for writing lately so I need to find some new ones.
  • The nonfiction books are almost ready. The outlining one we’re doing right now is the last one. Then I’ve got to consolidate, write the new sections, get betas (Lord), and get them out into the world.
  • I could, in theory, start a new draft of something. Hooray! I have no outstanding unfinished drafts, and it helps to write something new occasionally instead of revising all the time. But then the options, and which to choose.
  • I spent some time in Nov/Dec poking at ideas for children’s books of various levels. While the chapter book ideas need some fleshing out (right now they’re mixes of premise and character without anything really solidifying), I do have three picture books completely outlined that I could get going on.

My thought is that until CoHaR II is out of the way, I’m going to be fairly useless on revision, so I may focus on new things at the beginning of the year (and finding betas) and then do the more brain intensive bits later on. But hey! Plans change. We’ll see.

How did 2018 go for you, squiders? Anything major and awesome planned for 2019?