Friday, January 1, 2016

How Good was My 2015 (In Regard to Writing)?

It was a good year. Any year where you're breathing and talking and walking? It's a good year.

Any year where your children give you snuggles and try to be good people? It's a good year.

Do I wish that it had been a better year?

Don't we all. ;o)

What I Need to Improve On (In Regard to Writing)

-My over-optimism. I am such a over-optimist when it comes to books to write and put out in a form that I'm 99.5% happy with. If I was writing stuff in its first draft form and sending it out, sure, I could hit my schedule. But as it is, I can pragmatically write 4 books a year. IF I realize that what I'm churning out for NY doesn't have to be perfect...and IF I keep to schedule.

The plan: Stick to a three-month rough draft/middle draft/final draft plan.

-My schedule. I am really bad about getting inertia when I think I'm sucking. I suddenly pull back on the gung-ho attitude and want to snuggle in with Gilmore Girls and a big bowl of Rice Crispies. I have to get past the fear and just realize everyone has it. Including the awesome Lisa Yee:

The plan: Keep going. Hit my daily goal, written out the night before, no matter what. I've been known to stand at my bureau and type my daily words so I don't accidentally fall asleep. I now have a treadmill desk and plan to use it to help with The Daily Goal.

-My belief that I'm the suckiest in the land. But then I go and read geniuses like Kate DiCamillo and her first draft of Because of Winn Dixie vs. her final draft, and I feel less sucky. By no shot a genius, but that's okay.

Click here and you can download all five drafts of her First Page, complete with her thoughts on them.

The plan: Print out this draft process. Put it into my planner. Refer to it when I feel sucky. Realize many revisions come with the birth of a book--as do editor suggestions. I am not an island. I am not an island!

What I Did Right in 2015 (in Regard to Writing)

-I allowed myself some breathing room. It was a hard year in terms of personal stuff. A family member is terminally ill and is now on hospice. There is discord amongst family members regarding this person's care. It wears on my soul and, yes, immunity. There were days where I felt exhausted mentally and physically, as if the effects of this situation were making me ill in some respects. For weeks, it felt like the flu had hit me with a Mack truck--but there was no actual flu.

-I improved myself during that breathing time. I wrote a children's story and roughly illustrated it. I read a book about making a story even better (Wired for Story). I allowed myself to read fiction books without feeling guilty. I spent quality time proofreading a critique partner's stories.

-I learned from my mistakes and conquered at least one fear. I wrote a short story that took too long--FIVE MONTHS. Because I felt like I was sucking, and also because of the family stuff invading my head. So I wrote Bad Mom: Snowed In over five months. Then, in November, I wrote another short story (Her Favorite Obligation) in THREE WEEKS. Because I wanted to see if I could. And yes, I could. ;o)

-I rethought what I'm putting out there about who I am. It's less about perfection and more about being real. If you don't know what I mean, take a look at Instagram Husband:

I have some pimples. And some wrinkles. I will never Photoshop my pictures, but I do believe in a nice filter that gives me better lighting. (It's ALL about the lighting.) But most of my pictures are taken on my couch at around midnight in the middle of writing. Most times with no make-up and with my hair in its usual three-brush-strokes-and-a-ponytail self. Of course, I'll take about 30 pictures until I find the right one that doesn't give me a double-chin or crazy eyes. :o)

-I started to intentionally plan on paper. I had always been a planner and kept my checklists on the computer as well as my yearly goals. But they would get lost on my hard drive because I never saved them correctly. So now, after a lot of trial and error, I have a Bullet Journal. Kate Messner is another writer who is "out" as a bullet journal-er, too. It's a good way to live, and I have a new link on this site that will be about how I plan. That's found here: Plan To Write. (And you can find me on Instagram under @plan_to_write!)

So there you go: the good and the bad in terms of me and my writing in 2015.

Here's to more good than bad in 2016.

Sydney Strand is a writer and mom who has published two stories through New York and another seven via self-publishing. She writes funny little romances-slash-women's fiction, but not of the Red Room of Pain variety. More like the Dan and Roseanne Connor variety--humor is sexy, dontcha know. You can follow Sydney on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and/or you can sign up for her All Things Awesome Newsletter.

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