2016 Writing Review

Most folks were doing “year in review” posts a couple of weeks ago, but my blog was on my hiatus, so I decided to make up for it by posting some “year end” stuff early in January.

Last week’s post was more general, an overview of 2016’s suckage and triumphs.

Today’s is a look at my writing projects and what I set out to do versus what ended up happening.

My big project for the year was to put all of my notes, ideas, and rough draft material for the Foxes of Synn into a real order and flesh out the direction that the series is going.

I was able to complete all the rough draft material that I need. My rough drafts tend to be less detailed, more like a script treatment than a full-fledged prose narrative, but doing successive drafts for each part of the serial made it quite long. I’ve never managed to put something like that together before. So I am really proud of that accomplishment!

I also put together story maps, which are the first phase of my revision process, and I’ll be posting some of those this year.

My original plan was to blog through that process, but I became too consumed in the process to blog about it. This is something I do quite a lot when I write or become absorbed in a writing project. In past years, I’ve tried to fight it and maintain the same level of active involvement with the blogosphere and online life. This year, I chose to accept that this is how my creative process works best. So, I’ll be sorting through the material for the Foxes and a few other projects that I worked on during the year and sharing tips and insights from them over on EGC.

I feel a lot better about this, even though it flies in the face of a lot of the advice I see for author bloggers (or bloggers in general.) My writing and other creative projects are my priority, and there’s always going to be an element of unpredictability in the creative process. Rather than trying to fight that by imposing a more strict blogging routine, my new goal for 2017 is to find ways to become more flexible so that I can create when I need to while still maintaining my blogs and other online commitments.

Other projects I worked on this year:

  • Mike’s Memoir (Not the title) an experiment in epistolary fiction that started as my 2015 Nano project. I’ve got a LOT of rough draft material but haven’t figured out how to shape it into a cohesive story yet. #Pantserproblems.
  • Noah’s blog (Not the title) A related project along the same vein. This one has a solid outline and a bunch of blog posts written by my character. It’s in good shape for a revision, but hasn’t been high on the priority list.
  • Star Covenant/Out of the Arc–A Space opera series related to the Foxes of Synn. This has an outline and some rough draft material for a couple of the installments. I needed to work out some timeline problems and decided to let it rest for a while.
  • Bloodkin: Crystal Dragon, Crystal Shard and Bloodkin: Mina Harker-Linwood. Bloodkin is a project I’ve come back to in various iterations since my teens. It started with a short story that I wrote when I was 16. The idea fascinated me. and I came back to it time and again, developed it into a concept long-running novel series, and put more time and energy into its creation than anything I had ever done before. But for years and years of trying, I could never get the storyline to work the way I wanted it to. Either plot tension unraveled or continuity was screwed up or something else was just off, and I didn’t know what it was. After a while, that story which I loved so much became a chain around my neck. I felt like I couldn’t finish it and I couldn’t move on or give up after all of the work I had put into it. Moving on would be to admit that I had wasted all that time, and I am anything but a quitter.

The real problem was that I expected it to be hard. I expected it to be a pain in the ass, and so it was. I didn’t listen to my instincts but allowed myself to be “talked out” of taking actions and exploring plotlines that I felt would be the best for the story because the person I went to for advice was someone I admired and trusted. Then, the more difficult the story became, the more I expected difficulty.

That’s not to say that writing is ever easy, but when you expect a problem, you get a problem 100% of the time. And seeking feedback from others is not a bad thing. But when you seek feedback, you need to be discerning about the people you’re asking, understand their perspectives and their areas of strength and weakness.

It’s also important to check yourself by engaging with people who are less invested in the project. Before I could continue, I had to talk to someone who was less invested in the whole thing and could help me see what my thought patterns were creating. Once I changed my expectation, I had a four book series in a matter of four days.


Nonfiction goals were less lofty:

  • Publish 1 guest post per month, for a total of twelve. I almost made it, but a few of my guest slots didn’t pan out. I’m grateful to my friends over at Comparative Geeks for a few weekly spots that made up the difference.
  • Blog once a week on each of my blogs. Eh. Yeah, not so much. But I’m going to do better about that this year. I am back to blogging in full force now.
  • Overall, writing went pretty well in 2016. I accomplished the most important goals I set for myself and found a way to work around the problems that came up with guest content.

For 2017, I’ll be looking for opportunities to syndicate content rather than guest post, and maintaining that weekly blog schedule.

My takeaway this year is to keep going. Whatever happens, whatever obstacles present themselves, keep going–even if you have to take baby steps for 8 whole months. Even if you need to rest for 3 months and it doesn’t look like you’re making progress. Just continue, every day, and don’t allow yourself to give up. You will eventually reach the finish line with more to show for it than you realized.

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