My Word for 2015

At the beginning of the last couple of years, I chose a word to focus on all year long, rather than a list of concrete resolutions. In 2013–the year I queried for the very first time–that word was bravery. Last year, having shelved that first manuscript, I chose the word focus to remind myself to focus on the things I can control in my writing life, like writing another book. It was a good choice. I ended up putting a much bigger focus on my writing in 2014, which resulted in less reading than I was honestly comfortable with, and less blogging. But some pretty awesome things happened, including completing my second manuscript and writing half of my third.

I went back and forth about what word to choose for 2015, and landed on…

FUN

See, while I got a lot of writing done in 2014, I also spent a lot of time struggling with anxiety and general unhappiness. It was mostly due to personal stuff I won’t get into, but it definitely affected my writing life as well.

In 2015, I want to have more fun. Fun at home or outside with the people I love. Fun writing manuscripts. Fun reading books. Fun connecting with other writers online and at conferences. Fun blogging (when I can!).

I also plan to finish that third manuscript, write my fourth, query agents again, and read lots of books. But in the midst of all of that, I want to keep having fun. I want to enjoy this wild and precious life that so I’m lucky to have.

Happy 2015, friends! I hope it’s both productive AND fun. :)

Lessons Learned in 2014

Oh, hi! I didn’t expect to take such a long break from blogging after my last post. Life and writing got in the way, which turned out to be a good thing.

Somehow, we’ve reached the end of another year, and as one does, I’ve been thinking about everything I learned about myself as a writer in 2014. Here are the main lessons:

1. I’m capable of more than I think. I wrote 25K words in April alone, the most I’d ever written in a month. I wrote over 50K this year, which is HUGE for me. I’d always told myself that I’m a slow writer, but I’m getting faster. It’s a great feeling!

2. I can’t do it all. I wrote more this year than in past years, but I also read a lot less. I found it difficult to read fiction while drafting, and since I spent so much time drafting this year, my reading plummeted. I hope to find a better balance in 2015, but I also think the reading break had its benefits.

3. I need the writing community. Though I took a step back from social media this fall, I still made sure to stay connected to other writers offline. In November, I went on a local writing retreat with a few friends. We had a blast AND I added over 7K words to my WIP. I couldn’t have written as much as I did this year without my writer buds (and let’s be honest, my husband) keeping me motivated and inspired.

By the end of the weekend, I'd written 7600 words and hit 30K in my manuscript. Success!

Writing retreat weekend: I wrote 7600 words and hit 30K in my manuscript. Success!

4. I don’t miss blogging. I don’t want to quit blogging altogether, but during this hiatus, I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would. I honestly don’t have the time to keep up with it! And while I like to share my goals with fellow writers to hold myself accountable, I find talking about my writing projects online less appealing. At least, for now. (To my fellow blog friends: I’ve still kept up with your posts, even if I haven’t been commenting!)

My word for 2014 was focus and I can say that I accomplished that this year. I know I can push myself even harder next year. I’ll be back soon with some general goals (and perhaps a new word) for 2015.

Until then, Happy New Year!

Hello, September!

Hi, friends! Happy September!

I had a really fun summer, but life has gotten incredibly busy lately, and I feel behind on so many things. I’ve barely had time to read, and while I’ve been writing/revising consistently, I really want to ramp it up this fall.

fall writing bootcampThe YA Buccaneers are hosting another bootcamp – the Fall Writing Bootcamp (<–click for more details and to join in) – but I’ve decided not to participate in this round. The spring bootcamp was incredible, and helped me finish the first draft of my contemporary YA novel STARTING FROM SCRATCH, but after doing that and this summer’s Ready. Set. Write!, I need a break from writing challenges. This fall, I’m going to spend more time offline so I can stay focused on my goals. (FOCUS is my word of the year, after all!) If you’re a bootcamper this fall, I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines! I’m going to host a few word sprints on YAB’s twitter account over the next few months, so stay tuned for those.

I also plan to pop in and blog here when I can (I still need to do a final Thirty Before 30 recap!) but writing and reading will take priority. Forgive me if I’m a little quiet around here over the next few months. The good news is that my future posts will be much more thoughtful, because I’ll be able to give myself more time to put them together.

So, happy fall, y’all! I hope’s it’s super productive and fun!

Ready. Set. Write! Final Update

We’ve come to the end of Ready. Set. Write! I know it’s cliche, but it feels like summer went by so fast. For many reasons, it was one of the best summers I’ve had in years.

Writing-wise, while I didn’t fully complete my main RSW goals, I made a lot of progress. At the start of the summer, I set out to:

  • Finish (at least) one round of revisions for my latest work-in-progress, and send to my CPs/beta readers.
  • Come up with a working title for this manuscript.

I didn’t finish a complete round of revisions but I did get a lot done, and overall, I’m feeling so much better about this book now than when I started. I also finally came up with a title – STARTING FROM SCRATCH. At first I thought it might just be a working title, but I’m liking it more and more!

If you’re at all curious about this book, you can check out my query and opening pages on the WriteOnCon forums (you can search for STARTING FROM SCRATCH). I’ve already received some amazing feedback. Plus, it’s been wonderful to hear that people like the premise and are interested in reading more. It’s the perfect motivation to keep revising this fall!

Thank you all for your encouraging comments throughout RSW. They made all the difference! Also, a huge thanks to our hosts this summer: Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. :)

Ready. Set. Write! Update #10

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. For more info, click here! Each week, we give short updates on our goal progress.

RSWStripe2

How I did on last week’s goals

It was sort of a tough week because I had a few other things to take care of during the week, and then we had house guests over the weekend. But I squeezed in a little time to revise, and I also accomplished one of my main RSW goals – naming my WIP! More on that below.

My goal(s) for this week

More of the same – revise as much as I can.

One word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

My WIP finally has a working title! It is tentatively called STARTING FROM SCRATCH. It’ll probably end up changing but I’m happy with it for now. It relates to my story in several ways.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Time, once again. I have a lot of things on my plate but I’m determined to prioritize my WIP this week.

Something I love about my WIP

I’m excited to have finally decided on a working title!

Have a good week!

Ready. Set. Write! Update #9

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. For more info, click here! Each week, we give short updates on our goal progress.

RSWcloud

How I did on last week’s goals

I had another productive week! I finally made it through revising my first 50 pages. Once I got the first 3 chapters to a state I was happy with, it took much less time to fix the rest. I’m glad I took the time to focus on the beginning, since I’m now feeling more confident about the book as a whole.

My goal(s) for this week

Keep making progress! There are still a few more changes I want to make to the first 50 pages – mainly strengthen some of the characters – so I’d like to accomplish that this week, and then start working on the next chunk of pages.

A favorite line from my story

Here’s a short section:

Tilly reached out and put a hand on my shoulder. “Hey, how’s your mom doing?”

“She’s good,” I said. It felt like a lie, since it didn’t seem like she was good. Not when she was acting so out of character. But she was healthy and thriving, and I knew that’s what Tilly wanted to hear. It’s what everyone wanted to hear when they asked about my mother. Nobody really wanted to hear sordid details about her recovery. No, they just wanted a quick reassurance that she was doing better. That the terrible things that happen to people can have a positive outcome. If I’d say anything else, try to open up about what it was really like, I could see the discomfort that would follow. Faces darting away from mine, no longer able to make eye-contact.

People don’t like hearing the truth about bad things, I’d discovered. I missed being able to live blissfully unaware of them.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Time. I got a lot done, but always wish I had time to do more.

Something I love about my WIP

The emotions. I had a conversation with a writing friend this weekend about how in contemporary YA, emotions are so important. I never get tired of writing about them.

Have a good week!

Ready. Set. Write! Update #8

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. For more info, click here! Each week, we give short updates on our goal progress.

RSWCoffee

How I did on last week’s goals

I had a really productive week! I took advantage of the rainy start to the weekend and revised for a good part of Saturday. I’m still not finished revising my first 50 pages, but I made a lot of progress. I’m finally back in the groove of revising this manuscript.

My goal(s) for this week

Revise. Revise. Revise.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Perfectionism. I didn’t finish revising all of my first 50 pages last week because I kept going back and rewriting my first page. I know how important the first page/chapter is and I’m still not completely happy with mine. But I also know that this is just my second draft, so it doesn’t need to be perfect right now. Still, I’m hoping to settle on an opening that I feel good about, even if it still ends up needing work. Hopefully this week I’ll get there!

Have a good week!

Ready. Set. Write! Update #7

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. For more info, click here! Each week, we give short updates on our goal progress.

RSWStripe2

How I did on last week’s goals

Sooo, last week’s goals were a total bust. But I turned 30 and had an amazing weekend celebrating with family and friends, so I don’t feel bad about it at all. I’m starting this week feeling recharged and excited to dive back into revising.

My goal(s) for this week

Finish tackling my first 50 pages once and for all.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Time, plus a motivational slump. But a week off from revising has me feeling much better. It seems like a break was just what I needed.

Have a good week!

Ready. Set. Write! Update #6

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. For more info, click here! Each week, we give short updates on our goal progress.

RSWCoffee

How I did on last week’s goals

I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped but I did make some progress on revising my first 50 pages. Honestly, I hit a motivation slump that I need to get out of ASAP.

My goal(s) for this week

Keep working on those first 50! It’s my birthday on Thursday and I know this weekend will be busy with festivities and what-not, so I’m not sure how much I’ll get done. I’ll be happy with whatever progress I make.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Feeling meh about revising. I’m not sure what it was, since I usually love revising, but I just wasn’t feeling it last week. I think a love list is in order! *Adds to list of goals*

Something I love about my WiP

I really do love this story, and feel good about the query I worked on last week. I just need to get excited again about revising! Hopefully this will be the week…

Have a good week!

Ready. Set. Write! Update #5

Ready. Set. Write! is a summer writing challenge hosted by Jamie MorrowErin FunkKaty Upperman, and Alison Miller. For more info, click here! Each week, we give short updates on our goal progress.

RSWStripe2

How I did on last week’s goals

I made good progress on my WIP but shifted my weekly goals a little. As I incorporated changes to my first 3 chapters based on CP feedback, I realized it might be helpful to write a query for this book now, so I can refer back to it when I get stuck. I struggled with it at first, but ended up with something I’m happy with. Then I decided to focus on the first 50 pages of this MS, so I put those chapters in their own folder within my Scrivener file and got to work.

My goal(s) for this week

Keep on keeping on. My overall Ready. Set. Write! goal is to have a draft ready to send to beta readers by the end of the summer, so I want to keep making progress on that front.

One word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

This week was all about my query and beginning.

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Query writing is hard! At one point, I started doubting my book altogether because I couldn’t come up with a pitch that sounded remotely good. But I pushed through and now I’m happy with what I have, though I’m sure I’ll keep tweaking it as I get more feedback.

Something I love about my WiP

It’s different. I’ve yet to see a YA book with this premise so I hope it will stand out when it comes time to actually query!

Have a good week!

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