We’re officially six months into the New Year and I wanted to check in with your writing aspirations. You know, way back in January, when you were ready to make this year different.
Maybe you called them goals, objectives or intentions and prioritized them in order on a laminated sheet of paper. Maybe you didn’t call them anything special at all, or even bother to write them down. Regardless, here it is June, and…
What have you done for your writing lately?
Warning! This is Not an Exercise in Shame
I’ve heard from hundreds of you about your writing struggles. I see firsthand that writers are too hard on ourselves. I didn’t publish this post to sanction you to criticize yourself for being too…lazy, untalented, stupid, or whatever derogatory term you use to chastise yourself.
If you’re not where you want to be with your writing — no worries. We’ll talk about how to begin again. You don’t have to wait for a new month to roll around, the next January 1st, or even tomorrow.
3 Ways to Get Back on Track
Yes, this year is halfway over. There’s nothing we can do about that, it’s gone forever, but there’s still six more months of promise ahead. Let’s make the most of it. Remember, this isn’t a contest to see who publishes first. Especially, if you’re tackling something BIG like writing a novel, building an author platform, making a living from your writing (whether it’s fiction or nonfiction), it takes t-i-m-e.
If your writing isn’t where you want it to be, try something different:
1. Assess your writing obstacles – No blaming or shaming, just appraise what’s holding you back. If you’re procrastinating instead of writing, that’s one thing. But, if your mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and you can barely function, then that’s another. Maybe you are writing everyday (like me), but you’re also goofing off on the Internet 15-20 minutes each time (like me). That’s 7.5 hours I’m wasting each month and that matters.
Maybe you’re avoiding your computer because you’re scared to death everything you write will suck and nobody would ever want to read it. Join the club. Doubt seems to be the #1 qualification to be a writer. So, doubt yourself and write anyway. You’re certainly not going to improve if you don’t practice, so go for it. Not everyone will like your work, but you will find your audience if you keep trying.
2. Take smallER steps – Stop thinking so all, or nothing. If you told yourself you’d write a full 60 minutes or 1,000 words each writing session, then lower your expectations. Cut way back. Make it 15 minutes or 250 words per session. Life moves fast, people. With writing, some is better than none. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Make small steps your new, best friend.
3. Get an attitude adjustment – Negativity does nothing to improve your writing. It’s a bad habit many of you need to break. Practice praising yourself for whatever writing you do accomplish, then try to improve your weak points. Nobody likes a bully.
Marcy’s Midyear Writing Review
This entire post came about because I wanted to check in on what I’d written down to accomplish this year. Sort of a midyear review. Yes, it would’ve been great if I’d done this back in April at the first of the quarter, rather than the end, but guess what? I didn’t think of it then.
In my 20 years of writing, I’ve had times where I had very specific goals:
Write 1,000 words EVERYDAY!
Find a literary agent!
Those were too narrow for me and felt abusive when I didn’t accomplish them, even though I wrote everyday and tried my very, very best.
This year, I decided to keep my writing intentions both broad and simple:
√ 1. Make a decision regarding publishing Pennies from Burger Heaven (continue traditional route, or self-publish).
STATUS: Done! I’m gong indie, but I want to complete book #2 in the series before I publish #1.
2. Read at least 24 books.
STATUS: Doing it. I’ve only read 6 books to date, so I should get on this one.
3. Possibly publish Creative Monsters – Unmask Your Fears to Slay Them and Win the Battle to Write.
STATUS: Tabled. I still want to publish my book for writers, but publishing my novels is more important. Creative Monsters will have to wait.
√ 4. Continue to be nicer to myself on the journey to publication.
STATUS: Doing! Starting Mudpie Writing and connecting with all of you has shown me that belittling, berating and ridiculing ourselves serves no positive purpose.
That’s two out of four intentions already accomplished. Since I’ve tabled #3, it’s two out three, done so I’m already at 75%. I’m a happy girl! My plan is to stop whining I don’t have more time to write, and to better utilize what time I do have (and stay off the Internet!).
How about you?
Q: How’s your midyear writing review? What’s going well and where do you need to improve?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to chat.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
I actually just posted my project list update to my blog right before I got this post, lol. I have been in a writing funk and struggling with my novel. The side projects have taken over so I’ve tried to schedule one day a week, barring family issues, to hit a local cafe and work on the book for a few hours with a decaf coffee or fizzy water drink I rarely get to indulge in. I got several thousand words in last Sunday so it seems to be helping 😉
Good for you for trying something different! Sounds like life is crowding in on you, but you’re still keeping your novel a novel a priority. Sometimes, writer funks are truly funks. Other times, it’s fear trying to shut you down. Only you know what the cause is but, KUDOS to you for trying to work your way out of it. Thanks for the comment.
After two years of working on it I finally got my chapter book out to five or six publishers, but now the waiting begins and the negative thoughts like: it isn’t good enough, it will never get it published, no one will want it, etc. I want to start another project, but I’m blocked on what to write about. I think I used up all my energy on that other project. I also have to share an office and computer with my husband who is retired, and that’s causing me to not have the time I used to have to work on something creative. I have to think positively about the book that’s out. I haven’t heard anything yet, but it’s only been out there for two months now.
I also hate the policy of many publishers that won’t let you know if they don’t want your manuscript. You just wait and wait until you finally figure that they didn’t want it. I liked the SASE instead, because then you knew where you stood within 4-6 months instead of waiting and waiting and getting nothing.
First off, MAJOR congratulations on completing your chapter book. You’ve accomplished something most writers only dream of. And you’re right, the waiting is horrible, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Last summer, I received an email from an agent in June saying my manuscript was next on his reading list and he was excited to read it. His website said his response time was 2-8 weeks. After 10 weeks, I emailed him.
No response. Six months later, I received a one-liner, “Thanks. Not right for me.”
But, at least it was response. As you pointed out, silence is the new rejection.
Here are my suggestions:
1. I’m not sure you’ve properly celebrated your accomplishment. Give yourself the month off. Read books you’ve been wanting to catch up. You need time to properly acknowledge this success, as well as give your brain a break.
2. Is there a chance this chapter book could be turned into a series? Are there are stories to be told by either the main character, or other minor ones?
3. Are there other writer things you could be doing? Building an author website (you don’t have to make it live until your ready), working on your platform, etc.
4. With your retired husband, could you ask to have the office computer during a certain period each day, or however often you write? Just a thought….
Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Amos Gideon Buba
Wow big sister am happy for you having come thus far with your goals. Like you mine are simple and broad and I can say I’ve got almost 47% of it done although I have added a few more to the list recently, I’m still very much optimistic that I shall end the year on the winning side by God’s grace. This is an awesome post it so much relates to many writers, stop whinning it sucks time just get to work!
I’m so happy to see you here. I’ve been wondering about you. Sounds like your writing is going well. Fantastic. We all get down sometimes. It’s human nature, but we must keep persevering, or our dreams will never come true. Thanks for your insights.
I too had writing goals back in January. I thought things were good I had a loving husband home and three stories I wanted to have out by now, spending at least 2 months a story x3 stories would have landed me in June. or 3 months x 2 stories depending on how much fuss I needed to make to get them ready. But unfortunately by the end of January I was hit with cancer ( in my family not me) divorce (me) and all that went with that…moving depression, changing addresses unpacking reinventing myself depression, but with some great friends and patience I am learning who I am both as a person and writer. So the stories that are ready to be published sit on my desk top screaming for attention.
But I’m taking time for me, and by doing this it almost seems my writing focus is different. Genres that didn’t interest me before are interesting me – like inspirational, children’s and romance. Before it was ghost mystery and crime stories, which are the stories that are waiting to be published.
I even treated myself to a new computer using one for my online life and one protected yet off line with just word pad so nothing else distracts me. So the next 6 months are going to be interesting.
Wow, Debra. Sounds like life really double-whammied you this year. I’m impressed how strong you sound. Even though this isn’t what you planned for you writing or your world, I hope this is a new beginning.
I think it’s fascinating how these changes are showing up in your reading tastes, as well as your writing. The key to your success is what you’re already doing — making your self-care a priority. Good for you. Best of luck in what the future holds, professionally, as well as personally. Thanks for your heartfelt comment.
Marcy, you mention taking smaller steps to get where you want to be. That’s exactly what I’m doing. I tried the 1000 words per day thing, and I noticed myself becoming depressed on the days I couldn’t get there. So I decided to just write something, anything, no matter how small everyday and that’s working. My tiny brain relaxed and is moving forward with it’s new found art. Writing is art, just in a different form.
I stopped being afraid of people reading what I write, and it’s a pretty cool feeling. Also, I now have a writing partner.
I still spend way too much time on the internet, but I have cut it down a bit. I have disconnected myself from some websites that were for distraction purposes only. Probably still need to lose a few more though.
That’s AWESOME, Susan. Isn’t it amazing what happens when you get rid of the guilt monster? Some is absolutely better than none. I’m also impressed you’re letting others read your work AND have a writing partner. I’ve never had a writing partner, keep me posted on how it goes. I would imagine communication is the key to avoid hurt feelings and resentment. I read a great post somewhere about that relationship…I think it was on Writer Unboxed. (she suggests as you just said you’re trying to lose more websites). Good luck!
Congratulations Marcy on your accomplishments!
As writers our inner editors can be brutal, but only if we let them. I say kick ’em to the curb and write for yourself. Don’t worry what anyone else might think about your work – write to entertain yourself.
This is how you let your creative brain take control!
Thanks, Anita. I need to hear that. I just keep telling myself that I’m being true to this character and this story. Some readers will connect with it. Others won’t, but that’s true no matter what. I appreciate your insights.
I just got plain lazy and we’ve had some family issues (nothing major) to deal with, although I can say my laziness was more the reason and I was using that family stuff as an excuse. I keep bouncing between thinking 3 – 4 hours per day is a decent amount to write but lately realized with everything I want to accomplish, that simply won’t get it done and it will leave me frustrated. I’m happy to say the first two days of the week, I’ve “logged” over 15 hours toward writing, reading, and writing-related tasks . . . pretty good start. Now I have to battle that all-powerful demon that shows its ugly face – can I keep this up long-term? Only time will tell.
Congrats on getting yourself back on track, Jack. How’s that for plenty o’ rhyming?! My suggestion, don’t get too caught up in thinking long-term. Don’t worry about July Fourth, or going on that vacation, or whatever. Focus on SMALL STEPS…about a week’s worth of work at a time. Smaller is less scary.
Keep up the good work!
I agree, Marcy – thanks for the advice.
My pleasure, Jack. ALWAYS a delight to see you here @ MPW. Thanks and good luck!
I love this ❤️
Here’s my review:
1-I’ve been challenged by my new writer friend (Maram, I think I mentioned her to you) to write two love/intimate scenes between Jade and James, Status: working on number one, currently.
2- getting less than 100 words written a week but trying my best to jot ideas down everyday
3- working with Maram on launching a writer’s experience site and program to help people express themselves through writing and encourage them to show their colors and love succulently. Status: I’m going to host a workshop next month that’s three parts: first: we play a round or two of Disruptus, second we take the resulting ideas from disruputs and they become the prompts for part two The notebook swap where each person writes rapidly for 5 minutes swaps the notepad with his/her neighbor them continue with a different prompt also from the first game. And so on until 20 minutes pass. Then the passages are read aloud. Discussion for another 5 minutes. Then an exercise in how to create/write an outline whether it’s a novel or a short story, etc.
I’ve done the mind mapping for it. Now I have to work on the workshop plan and fine tune it.
4- I’m still waiting for the PR company I’ve translated over 6k words for to officially hire me as their translator so I can get paid and have an official job and feel independent. They’re stalling/forgetful and I’m trying not to let that bother me.
Anyway. That’s me. Thank you so much for this. It’s always wonderful reading your words. And now that I’ve gotten to know you I can hear your voice as I’m reading these posts
I wish you an awesome week ❤️
Wow, Lujain. Such aspirations, six months into this year. I’m impressed and think ALL these goals sound awesome! Good luck and go get ’em!
Thank you! ❤️❤️❤️
Live* not love
Good piece. You have me questioning my goals and priorities – as I should.
An agent told me to build an author platform and increase my name recognition, so I jumped in head first without questioning the costs. I’ve had some success in this, now I can honestly say that, “Everyday someone reads something I have written.” That is a good feeling, but the cost is steep and my stories are paying for it. Social media is not only taking large chunks of my time, it is consuming vast amounts of creative energy. My stories are starving. I need to reevaluate how much is enough.
I feel I have a solid business plan for selling my stories. Now I have to get back to building my product.
Thank you. And let me say, that is an effective headshot you have, good job.
A Hui Hou (until next time),
Glad you enjoyed this post, Wayne. You’re so right! Although it’s wonderful to connect with others through building a platform, the time and energy it takes away from our stories is quite real.
It sounds like it’s time to get back to your fiction. Good luck in finding that new balance and let me know if you need help.