View Full Version : Topic Tuesday #5: 2016 End of Year Wrap-Up

Ari Meermans
12-13-2016, 09:28 AM
Thank you all for a great start to Topic Tuesdays. We've started some really good conversations on our writing woes and breakout moments in those threads. I'm working on indexing those and other great conversations we've had over the years, including links to similar great conversations in rooms other than Roundtable, too. I hope to get at least a good start on that index set up here for you before year end.

As we approach the new year, many of us begin to think of New Year's Resolutions for those goals we hope to accomplish in the new year. The year's end is also a good time for reflection. Even when we don’t make our goals, we learn and learning is vital to our growth as writers. So let's pause for this our final Topic Tuesday for 2016 and reflect on what we accomplished and what we learned this year.

The following list of questions is not meant to be exhaustive; it is meant only to stimulate reflection and discussion. Let's discuss what we each learned in 2016.

What did I learn about myself and my writing this year?
Which processes did I try that worked well or didn’t work at all well?
What did I do that sabotaged my goals? How will I avoid doing that in the new year?

This is not a thread to beat ourselves up; I think we already do that enough as people and as writers. It is a thread for reflecting on those things that might better our chances for writing success in the new year.

Topic Tuesday #6 will be on Tuesday, January 3, 2017, when our topic will be How I Find the Best Beta Readers for My Story.

12-13-2016, 11:25 AM
My writing has been woefully slow going this past year. I went for days without writing, too many times than should be acceptable. And when I did write, the words dripped out at an agonizing rate. As an already slow writer, this just couldn't do.

So one day I decided to take a break from writing and read. It had been a while since I'd done any reading. And lo and behold, the tap turned on and ideas overflowed.

So now I'm making it a goal for 2016 to read more, even if it's just to fill the well of inspiration.

12-13-2016, 03:15 PM
In a year that has seen a remarkable amount of change--a reconciliation with my parents and siblings after not seeing them for years and years, the death of my mother, some incredible life-changing travel moments, and much much more--I feel both excited and meh about my writing life. I certainly wrote one of the best novels I have ever written in the last half of the year. I wrote and had a play produced in the first half of the year. And a novel that has been in my agent's hands since September 2015--a novel she was so excited about she KNEW it would sell in a week--has received full requests from every single big publisher and middle of the road publisher there is, AND rejections from all of them. This alone has shaken me deeply...each rejection is a beautiful glowing review of a novel the editors loved, rejections with praise worthy of framing. I have learned more than ever that loving a book isn't enough to get behind it. That sometimes we write something that would have been gobbled up two years ago, but has sadly missed the curve. Sometimes we have to let it go.

I used a process this year where I involved my partner in my writing process. He coached me to the finish line and we worked so well together I know I found MY WAY. I sabotage my goals every day. Because most days of the year I didn't write at all. The novel I mentioned that I wrote this year? I wrote the first half in a weekend...and I wrote the second half over the course of a week and a half when I found out the judges in the Muskoka Novel Marathon panel picked the first half as Best Adult Novel Award worthy and I had a deadline to get the finished novel in an agent's hands. The space between that weekend and the announcement of the winner (two months) is usually when all the entrants work at completing their novels in case they win the award. I didn't touch mine in that space of time. So, once I won I raced to finish the novel to hand in a finished work. The play I had produced? I wrote it in 3 hours. Other than these times of writing, I virtually wrote nothing all year. I frittered away my time on stupid things and I gave writing no time. Again. It's what I do.

Next year? I hope to gain a writing practice, but I've aligned myself to take part in another novel marathon so I can at least say I have that writing time. Yep...72hours is probably the extent of my writing time for 2017. We'll see.

Carrie in PA
12-13-2016, 08:18 PM
The following list of questions is not meant to be exhaustive; it is meant only to stimulate reflection and discussion. Let's discuss what we each learned in 2016.

What did I learn about myself and my writing this year?
Which processes did I try that worked well or didnít work at all well?
What did I do that sabotaged my goals? How will I avoid doing that in the new year?

For 2017, I need to take some of my NaNo habits and turn them into All Year habits. Word Sprints, timed writing, dedication to writing every day with excitement and purpose.

I put myself out there much more in 2016. I went to a conference and met with agents and learned to pitch my work succinctly and confidently. I received great feedback, but ultimately no forward progress.

I won a contest with my novel, so I'm very proud of that. I also have a short story published in an anthology, and I'm proud of that as well.

I've sabotaged my goals the same way I've sabotaged every other aspect of my life. Avoidance, denial, procrastination and neglect. I get into a good groove and then a bad day throws me off and I let that turn into a bad two days, a bad week, a bad month, etc. I'm not sure how to get off that track, I've been on it my entire life. Maybe an accountability partner.

I need to am going to set up a schedule with solid goals.

I'm going to spend more time with other writers, to help keep myself motivated. (Both IRL and online)

I'm going to read more. I did pretty well for 2016, I'd like to do better in 2017.

I'm going to get my workspace more organized. It's far better than it was, but still has a ways to go.

12-13-2016, 11:47 PM
I learned that, being externally motivated rather than internally motivated, I need companionship in my writing to keep moving forward (like a writing partner or group).

I also learned that when I get stuck, I need to brainstorm for new ideas, not endlessly cycle through pointless editing of old stuff, in order to move forward again. :tongue

And I learned that writing backwards is the bomb.

Next year I will be going back to school as well as working, hopefully, so there will be new challenges. Primarily, I will have to learn how to be more efficient and directed with my writing time so that I can finish Teh Novel before school starts.

Jade Rothwell
12-15-2016, 01:03 AM
What did I learn about myself and my writing this year?
Which processes did I try that worked well or didn’t work at all well?
What did I do that sabotaged my goals? How will I avoid doing that in the new year?

- I learned that I can't write light stories. All of my stories are incredibly heavy. I had a script planned that was going to be about the concept of fame; a light-ish story about two kids who want to be bounty hunters. It turned out to be a story about homelessness, slums, and identity issues. Whoops. But maybe that's okay. I read a lot of heavy stuff, anyway. It's just my niche.
- Writing everyday, during NaNo, was amazing, but not totally realistic, especially now that I'm working. I don't think I could keep it up for a whole year. But I do want to write more often. Every 2 days, is sort of what I'm shooting for right now. So far, that's going well for me.
- My biggest sabotage was getting hung up on the idea that if I can't make a living off of writing, I'm a hack. And that if I'm a hack, there's no point in writing at all. This really hurt my motivation. I'm trying to shift my life-image to writing part time, working part time. This has taken a lot of the pressure off (although not all of it, because I don't know how to not pressure myself). I think this'll help me avoid long slumps in the new year.

New Year's Writing Resolution: Finish writing False Miracles! (Or whatever I end up titling it.)

12-21-2016, 10:49 AM
In no particular order, I learned:

*Novel chapters and short stories have far more in common than I realized,

*I've gotten better at opening hooks,

*And comma usage.

*My writing has greatly improved over the past year, which makes it okay that I was only in a couple anthologies this year, and I didn't do all the self-publishing I'd planned. I'm glad I didn't publish yet because my novels are really much better for a year's distance and growth before my last editing pass. Unfortunately, this also puts me in the slightly schizophrenic territory of whether or not I publish this coming year, or if I'd be glad I waited still another. So I'm querying, as a sort of productive non-productivity while I dither. And I'm still writing short stories.

*I can publish a lot less on my blog, and the thing still hums along. Although I'm planning to get back to at least a post a week next year.

*For some reason, rejections were really no problem for me this year. It'd be nice to think that's a sign of writerly emotional security. *shrugs*

My biggest self-sabotage was only tangentially related to writing. I just recently hired a new part-time secretary to help me in our office. I needed that to get caught up with the paperwork and really claim that space as mine. And the relief from the feeling of powerlessness, of looking at all that paper knowing that I should file it and unable to force myself to do it alone, has been a net feeling of empowerment. Sort of like how you feel relieved when dropping a heavy weight.

Anyway, the resulting confidence has carried over to writing somewhat. So I want to continue getting everything in order and keeping it there. It should take less time to maintain an orderly office than a chaotic one, so I'm hoping for a net benefit in terms of writing time.

*sighs* Of course in the short term, it means I have less time to write. But I'm closing down the office and setting aside the week between Christmas and New Year's for writing and editing, so I have that to look forward to. I'll even be without internet for most of it, which is a great way for me to focus.

I suppose overall what I've learned is that I'm still not utterly certain my novels are ready, and I'm still finding my way. But I'm making some small publishing progress, so I'm hopeful that I'm on the right track.

12-21-2016, 11:51 PM
Thank you all for a great start to Topic Tuesdays.

Thanks for starting it! I think it was a great idea and I hope to see it continue.

What did I learn about myself and my writing this year?
Which processes did I try that worked well or didnít work at all well?
What did I do that sabotaged my goals? How will I avoid doing that in the new year?

It was tricky for me to answer these questions because I don't feel like I've had any huge accomplishments or developments.

But generally, I've realized that it's time for me to be much more narrowly focused on finishing stuff and prioritizing things. For a while now, I've been in a pattern where I'd get distracted by various writing opportunities that seemed fun or smart at the time. I'd sign up for fanfiction exchanges, let a friend talk me into doing NaNo, take on small freelance jobs, etc. It was worth it to me for a while, but this year I started to get really frustrated by how these distractions were getting in the way of dedicating time to writing a novel. So I cut back considerably, and I think I'm a lot more realistic about what I can take on.

I also started my first full-time job last year, so that really forced me to be more judicious about how I spend my time.

I joined a writing group, which has been a great motivator. I like being able to report that I've made progress, and I like coming across as consistent and not like someone who's always flitting from project to project. Peer pressure for the win! I was hesitant to join a group because I'm a much more casual writer than a lot of people who are heavily involved in writing communities are (this isn't really a career for me), but it's been a good fit.

I'm also trying to be a little flexible about revisiting methods that didn't work for me in the past. For example, I'm a linear writer and hate skipping over stuff, but with my current WIP, I'm trying to be a little more flexible. I've always been big on revising as I go, but I realized with this novel that there's a risk of getting bogged down with the details and trying to get everything just right, so I've allowed myself to move on and plan on approaching the earlier chapters with a fresh set of eyes later on.

I haven't had a lot of tangible progress, but it's been a good year for getting out of a rut.