A review of the first year of My Writing Life

As the end of 2013 approaches, it seems like a good time to review what I have achieved this year and to set some writing goals for the coming year.

I started writing my first draft of my first novel in April 2013. I finally finished it in October and by this time, I had learnt that first drafts are usually not that good so I would have to spend the next several months editing what I had written. At first, I felt only despair at the mammoth task this would be but then, after a lot of research, I knuckled down and got on with it. Unfortunately, I had thought that I would be able to do this at the same time as taking part in NaNoWriMo 2013! Mad fool, I hear you cry. Well, I came to my senses pretty quickly and decided that I would just use November to read my WIP aloud and make editing notes as I went along. This became my first round of edits and I will have completed this by the end of the year. Yep, by tomorrow. I feel very proud of that, as well as the fact that I was a NaNoWriMo winner, writing just over 50,000 words of my second novel. I have also managed to find two critique partners to accompany me on my editing journey and I know their help is going to be invaluable next year.

In June 2013, I started to blog about my writing life. I wanted to write about my experience on this journey, sharing what I learnt along the way and I am amazed to see that I have managed to blog every week since then. Not only that, I have found new things to say and have made a few good friends along the way. I really enjoy writing the blog as well and I enjoy reading other people’s.

I also joined Twitter and started to build a following by following other writers and people dedicated to helping writers. I have found this much more fun than I expected, although it has also become a bit of an obsession!

It has been a year in which I have learnt so much and most of it from other writers, for which I am very grateful. I am looking forward to the new writing year immensely.

So my goals for 2014:

  • To finish editing my first draft of ‘From Here to Nashville’, hopefully by April which would be a year since I started writing it. I would like to have it professionally edited ultimately and I have a couple of ideas about how to manage this.
  • I plan to work hard with my critique partners to make my work as good as it can possibly be.
  • I would like to finish the first draft of my second novel too. I don’t have a deadline on this but it would be good to have finished it by the time NaNoWriMo 2014 comes round!
  • I would like to attend a writing course or two this year to help me progress my learning.
  • I am thinking of taking a proofreading course as a way of supplementing my income now that I work part-time. It would be great if longer term, the proofreading could pay for some of my other goals 😉 I am realistic about this though (honest!)

A good year then, all in all. I hope your writing year has been good and that you have set yourself some sensible goals for next year. Best wishes to you all for 2014 and thank you for reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I’m a NaNoWriMo 2013 winner and it feels great!

I finally finished NaNoWriMo 2013 last Friday, having written a grand total of 50,007 words of the first draft of my second novel, provisionally titled ‘Seeking Approval’. It felt so good to meet the goal I had set myself of writing a minimum of 1,667 words every day during November. I think there was only one day when I didn’t write and so I was able to catch up again quite quickly. I worked really hard to follow the advice and keep my ‘inner editor’ at bay, only changing what I absolutely had to in order to keep writing. Some mornings I would wake up, knowing there was a massive plot-hole and that I wouldn’t be able to write any more until I had fixed it so I did that but nothing else in terms of editing. The final story is pretty solid so far and I think that’s partly because I wrote an outline, this time. I haven’t stuck rigidly to it but it certainly helped me when I found I was getting stuck and gave me the push I needed to keep going on several occasions. I suppose that I had a certain clarity of vision when I wrote the outline and that helped me when things got a bit ‘blurry’ further down the line.

I took the weekend off from writing to recover a bit, and to put up Christmas trees, you know, essential stuff like that. 😉 We have a family tradition of putting the tree up on the first Sunday in December (lucky for my kids this year!) and so I had an obligation. It was fun though and allowed my brain time to think about what I needed to do next in my writing life.

So, today, I have gone back to editing my first novel, ‘From Here to Nashville’. I am still in the first phase of self-editing, which I have designated the ‘reading aloud’ phase, following all the advice I’ve read. This has flagged up lots of little things that I will tidy up afterwards. I’m still only about halfway through though – it really takes a long time to read aloud, which I’d forgotten. I reckon it will take me to the end of the year to finish this phase and then I’m going to have a go at all the editing levels suggested by the other writers I follow on Twitter. I will post links to these as I go through, in case it’s of help to anyone else.

In the meantime, I thought I might try my hand at a Christmas short story, taking inspiration from many other writers out there who seem to be doing the same. I’ve never written a short story so I think it would be a good discipline. It will also take my mind off the two things I’m waiting to hear back about: a first chapter critique for ‘Nashville’ and also, whether it has been accepted for a free manuscript assessment. Busy, busy, busy.

What’s your writing life like post-NaNo? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Bye for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A week of incredible generosity from other writers :)

It has been a great week, this week and it really has all been down to the generosity of other writers. So I wanted to share that with everyone who’s writing this week but especially, with new writers like myself.

Firstly, I made contact with the lovely people at WriteStars and Rachel in particular. Rachel read the first chapter of my first draft and gave me some very useful and constructive feedback on it. She told me all about the courses run by WriteStars and advised me about the next steps I could choose to take from here. She did all this out of a generosity of spirit that was quite amazing to me and I really appreciated it. If I could have sent her a bunch of flowers, I would have done 🙂

http://writestars.co.uk

Then, when my NaNoWriMo got off to a bit of a slow start, my new found buddies picked me up, dusted me off and gave me the confidence to carry on. Thanks to their kind words, I am now past 20,000 words and feeling much happier. I have set time aside every day to write, following the advice of pretty much everyone out there who’s done it before and I have put the editing of my first novel on the back-burner for a bit. However, I have found time to keep reading chapters aloud and making editing notes on the hard copy to see to in December, along with all the other comments I have received through one means or another.

Finally, this Saturday, I spent the day in Bedford (UK) at the annual Festival of Romance. This was my first time but it definitely won’t be my last 🙂 What a great day! I listened to authors reading extracts from their novels, chatted with them at the Romance Fair afterwards, asked questions of a panel of authors and received very positive advice from them and attended a workshop called ‘Getting Published’. What amazed me was how upbeat and open they all were about their journeys and how encouraging they were about mine. They were all so generous with their time and their advice and it was so heartening and gratifying to be helped in that way.

Since then, I have followed many of those authors on Twitter and received even more help and advice, when I would have honestly expected them to be too busy. The moral of this post then seems to be that writers like to help each other, wherever they are along their path because they remember how it feels to be starting out and they’re glad to give back to others.

So a heart-felt thank you to everyone who has helped me this week with my writing. I hope that this post gives you an extra boost to keep going through week two of NaNo or whatever writing project you’re currently engaged in and if there’s anyone you’d like to thank for helping you with your writing this past week or a website you’ve found useful, why not share it with us below? Have a good week 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My NaNoWriMo nightmare – aargh! Lessons 1 and 2.

This week brought with it the start of NaNoWriMo 2013 on November 1st, of course. Having taken part in Camp NaNoWriMo in July this year and committed to writing 10,000 words for my first novel, I really wanted to do the real thing this November. Twitter went mad in the run-up to last Friday and little by little, I started to feel a bit daunted by the prospect of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. What had I been thinking?

Well, I got off to a good start. Firstly, I prepared a pretty good outline for my second novel, using all the fantastic advice about how to do it via Twitter. Then, on Friday, I concentrated on writing 1,667 words (the minimum daily word count needed to meet the 50,000 total by the end of November). I couldn’t believe it though when one of my NaNo buddies tweeted that she’d already written 5,000 words on the first day! I felt so inadequate and I told her so. She’s an experienced NaNo participant though and she knew she couldn’t write at all the next day so she had planned in advance to write twice as much on the first day. Lesson number 1 for me. However, I was in the same boat because I didn’t think I’d be able to write on Saturday either but I didn’t have time to write twice as much on Friday.

So, I am now one day behind and earlier today, I was feeling stressed and a bit miserable to be honest. Then, along came another NaNo buddy who couldn’t believe it when I said I was trying to edit my first novel at the same time as doing NaNo. She convinced me to let this one slide a little and to concentrate on getting the words down for NaNo this month instead and I realised I could give myself permission for this. I don’t have a deadline. The only person putting me under pressure is myself and I am working part-time as well as dealing with all the other stresses and strains of ‘normal’ family life.

So, lesson number 2 is to do what I can and to try and enjoy it. If it makes me feel miserable, it won’t be worth doing and I do so want to do it 🙂 My word count to date is 5,071 words which I’m pleased with and I will be back next Monday to let you know what progress I have made since then.

If you’re doing NaNo this year for the first time or the umpteenth, why not get in touch and share your ‘nightmare’ first week? I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Julie Stock and My Writing Life, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Julie Stock and My Writing Life with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.