2019 in Review

I tend to write these posts for myself, to take the time and put down in writing what I have achieved and to assess what I can do for next year. That is, what I can do better and what I can do less of to fit in more writing. Sharing that information helps me and I hope in some ways it will help you too.

I reminded my daughter just recently of a great quote by Dwayne Johnson (yes, that Dwayne Johnson) – “Be the hardest working person in the room”.

I love this quote, it doesn’t mean you have to be the best, but it does mean that you have to put your all into what you do. So that if you don’t win the prize or someone gets a better mark, makes more money etc, you can’t say that you didn’t try. That if you had put some extra effort in, it might have been you. They might be better on the day, but if you continue to do all you can, then next time, it might be you that wins.

I have been trying harder this year to be that person. Even though I usually write on my own, alone in my room, or in a café, or even with my office door shut of a lunch time. I set myself some crazy goals this year and I managed to meet most of them. There were some other things that came up, some of which I decided to step away from and others I have tried to add in. And some things didn’t quite come to plan – Iski Flare being one of them.

Here is a reminder of my goals for the year:

  • I will finalise the Iski Flare Series by publishing ep 8-10
  • I will draft new HP Series and publish all 3 by Christmas 2019
  • I will draft Oldra sequel
  • I will continue to produce a monthly newsletter and blog occasionally
  • I will grow my readership
  • I will consider next series and start planning and outlining those stories

When I started the Iski Flare Series I had the idea of publishing all ten episodes over two years. Yet in the last couple of years I have only published two episodes, bringing the series to a total of seven episodes. There were lots of reasons for this, partly because I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. I have a good idea of where it is going, but Iski and I have fought a bit over the years, and I was worried he might go and do something unexpected.

Most of my characters do that. For my last series, The Magics of Rei-Een, I had a very clear idea of the series and where it was going. Unfortunately, early in book 1 it was clear that neither Lis or Remi or anyone else for that matter, were going to do what I wanted them to. But that said, during 2019 I managed to write and publish all three books. Along with finishing the Raven Crown Series, that meant 2019 was the year of 4 published novels!

I have learnt a lot this year, including I don’t need to watch so much Korean tv (as much as I love it) but a weekend lost to binge watching a series, could have been a complete read-through of one of my own novels, or a good chunk of editing, or even 10,000 or more new words written.

I have recently turned to short sprints to try and increase my output, and this has worked well. I average anywhere from 1500-3000 words an hour, with my average around 2400 words an hour. Which means when I put the time in, I am getting the stories out.

In terms of drafting, I started life as a pantser (writing by the seat of your pants), and everyone told me that was a bad idea. I have tried outlining, but the characters don’t stick to the plan (see above). Now, I am trying something in between and so far it is working well. I watched a talk on “writing into the dark” which is a bit like reading a book, you don’t know what is going to happen next (pantsing really).

I am not strictly sticking to this. I have an idea of the world, the characters, an idea of what I might like to happen, or what I think the major conflict is and then I just start writing.

Using this method I have written The Mark of Oldra Sequel – The Heart of Oldra – which will be available early next year. And as I work through the editing it needs a little work, but overall, I’m happy with the story.

I have also started drafting a whole new series. This is a bigger world and I’m part way through book 1 and so far so good. I will draft the first three books before I start editing and I plan five or six books for the series, but that of course is dependent on the characters and where they want to go.

In anticipation of another great year I have booked the editor for the first few projects for 2020 and the covers for the whole year. If I can do it once, I’m hoping to do it again. The plan for next year involves publishing four novels and finishing the Iski Flare Series. I have a plan already mapped out and the work I’m doing now will feed into those plans.

And of course my mind is already looking further out into other new worlds and more characters and so there are a lot more stories to come.

I usually try to take a break over the Christmas/New Year period, but I’m writing through this year and my newsletter will continue to go out on the 14th and 28th of each month. I’ll let you know just what I have planned for 2020 in the New Year.

Happy Holidays

If you would like to leave a Christmas gift for an author – give the gift of a review.

15 Minutes to Meet Your Writing Goals

Clock

I am often asked how I find the time to write. The question is usually followed by a comment about how they would love to write but they don’t have the time.

For most of us there are a plethora of competing factors for our time: family, partners, day jobs, pets, hobbies, sports and study just to name a few.

Finding time to meet your writing goals can seem like an impossible task.

You have set the goal, you want to write. The only way to reach it is to make the time to take action on it. This was something I learnt the hard way. I was never going to reach my goal of becoming a writer if I did not take the time to sit down and write. For writers write, don’t they?

What if you started with a little writing time? Just 15 minutes a day?

But that isn’t long enough to do anything, I hear you whine.

Not true.

And you may find that once you have established your 15 minutes it can grow into more and more time.

 

Find 15 minutes in your day:

Firstly you need to determine how you spend your time and see if you can find just 15 minutes.

This could be as simple as getting up 15 minutes earlier, or staying up 15 minutes later. While you commute to work on the tram/train/bus, during lunch time, while you wait for the washing machine to finish, or the kids’ footy game to get underway.

Could you negotiate some time? Perhaps while the kids are doing their homework, or your partner takes them to the park. What about when the house is quiet, while your husband is at his yoga class or by simply turning off the TV?

Look at how you are spending your time now and find a 15 minute gap in your day.

 

Book that time for writing:

By making an appointment with yourself you are more likely to follow through. I suggest booking the same time every day for the coming week. Write it into your diary or on the fridge. Somewhere you will see it.

 

Plan:

You have planned the time, now plan what you will write in that time. Having a plan makes it easier to start and means that you will better utilise your writing time.

It does not have to be detailed, a line or sentence is a great place to start. It could be a note in your diary next to your writing time, or a couple of dot points on a scrap page or notebook.

 

Create a space to spend your booked writing time in:

Find somewhere comfortable and distraction free for your writing. Surround yourself with inspiration and all you need to write. If you write in a café or at the library then ensure you have all you need with you (book and pen and notes, or laptop or the like).

 

Do it.

On day one at your booked 15 minutes take your plan and sit down and write for the full 15 minutes. It does not have to be perfect. It does not even have to be good. When you reach the end or your writing time, take thirty seconds to make a note about what you would like to write in your 15 minutes tomorrow. Next day you are ready to go.

 

Go out there and try it.

Give it a go every day for a week.

Then review. Think about what you did and how it worked for you.

It wasn’t so hard, was it?

If it didn’t work so well, why not? Did you need a better plan, did you just stress that it wasn’t long enough? Do you need to find a different place to write?

Make your appointment times for the next week – would you make the same time, try another or do you think you could do a little longer.

Experiment to find what works best for you.

I am a strong believer in tracking the time spent writing, the time of day, where etc to help you work out the best writing for you (which I picked up from 2000-10000).

I started by writing when I could. Now I block out periods of my day for writing (around everything else). I have targets but I find I am meeting them quicker than I use to and so I upped the target. Push yourself a little because you might be surprised by just how much you can achieve.

Everyone is different. Progress is better than perfection.

Start with 15 minutes and find out just how much that progresses your writing goals.

Using “To Do” Lists to Reach Your Goals

To Do List

This week I have continued with my editing, but I’m not utilising my time as well as I could. Part of this is due to fear. I can feel it creeping in as I try to rework the ending wondering if it will be any good.

On the days when I have been editing I have been working for longer than I planned…so it is moving along at a reasonable pace, not that I’m rushing. I am currently working on the last five chapters and so it needs a bit of focus.

In trying to keep my focus and ensure I continue to write and work towards my goal, I have been researching lists, in particular to do lists.

I do love a list and I’ve used various types before. I want to ensure that I don’t just make these lists but work through them and mark things off.

One suggestion I came across was to create one big list with everything you want to get done, but can’t get done today. This list is to include ideas, projects, plans, and should cover all aspects of your life.

I don’t want this revision of my processes to take up time that could be spent doing things. Once I sat down to make up the big list it didn’t take very long at all, and I’m carrying it with me and adding to it when I think of things. It is a rough, single page, working document as any list should be.

Nearly every post or article I reviewed mentioned using a weekly and daily list. I have been using these for a while, but I am making sure that I now capture everything I need to do on those lists, including investigations I would like to make and even shopping reminders.

The aim of this review and small change in my practice will hopefully lead to working more efficiently and reduce any chance for procrastination to creep in because I know where I’m going. Although the road is a bit steep or rocky at times I know this is that path I want to take.