Beautiful Books – 2017 Writing Goals

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Hey peeps and welcome to Beautiful Books, hosted by the lovely Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up & Further In. What is Beautiful Books? It’s very similar to the monthly link up of Beautiful People, but this month it focuses on NaNoWriMo writing projects rather than specific characters in the novels. You obviously don’t have to be participating in NaNo in order to join; it can be any writing project. Click here or the picture to be taken back to the most recent Beautiful Books linkup page!

Today’s post is focused on our writing goals for 2017. Now I already talked briefly about some of the goals I hope to achieve this year, but this one goes a little more in depth in a few places where I feel I didn’t touch upon. So here we go!

1. What were your writing achievements last year?

I think just writing the story that had been on my mind for so long was the biggest achievement I accomplished. I had wanted to write about these two characters, Nara and Mikail, for so long and finally doing it was such a release. I loved it!

I also successfully outlined for the first time in years and I actually liked it? I’ve griped about outlining before and how pointless I found it but OH MY GOD I LOVED IT. I need to outline with every single story I do in the future. Seriously, it helped to keep my story focused on the goal I was trying to achieve with it, and even if I didn’t use every plot point that I had written, I was still hitting the major ones and it felt so incredible to be able to see that happen and how the story changed and morphed as I went as a result.

2. What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

  • Finish writing not only the draft from NaNo 2016, but also the draft from Camp NaNo 2015. I haven’t finished either story yet, but I’m getting so close to the end for both! (I have a problem writing endings, so that’s probably why I’ve avoided it for so long.)
  • Then edit said drafts. I might just focus on one story for this year even though I love both of them (and the draft from Camp NaNo is a hot mess… I have NO IDEA how I got to where I am in the story from the beginning of what I was writing…). So I think that I’ll just focus on the NaNo 2016 draft for now and edit that one.
  • But here’s my main “to-do list” when it comes to writing this year:
    • Finish drafts.
    • Edit them.
    • Find beta readers.
    • Edit some more.
    • Query some agents and hope to find a great agent.
    • Proceed with publication process. Hopefully.

I’M GOING BIG OR GOING HOME THIS YEAR, GUYS. IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.

3. Tell us about your top-priority writing projects this year!

“The Thief and the Magician” is my top priority this year. I really loved what I was writing for this story, but I just have a few kinks to work out and obviously some major editing, but otherwise, this story is going to be my primary focus. I feel like it’ll be the story that I want to surface to the world.

I also want to finish writing “Crossing Boundaries,” the story I was working on in 2015. I LOVE my two main characters, but as I’ve stated: it’s a hot mess. I don’t know if I’m going to let it see the light of day any time soon, but maybe one day in the future.

Also, I feel like I have ideas brewing in my mind that I should probably write down. Maybe I’ll work on something new? Or maybe a sequel? Who knows? Not me, clearly.

4. How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

I want to improve in all ways as a writer, honestly. I want to listen to people about what makes a problematic book and how to defeat that beast. I want to do more outlining and just work on editing. At the end of 2017, I want to be able to feel like I’ve accomplished something rather than just letting these projects sit and feeling sorry for myself that I’m not actually doing any writing.

By the end of this year, I want to be able to follow my passions and dreams and write and create and be happy.

5. Describe your general editing process.

After my first NaNoWriMo that I actually wrote 50k words (which was 2014), what I had done was printed out my story (and used up all of my ink) and began to read through it with a critical eye, using a red pen (yes, the dreaded red pen) to mark changes, grammar fixes, etc. For me, personally, I feel like I need to write with pen on paper in order for changes to really stick out in my mind. I could do it all on the computer and save trees and ink and whatnot, but I’m old school and love the feel of writing out what I want to see changed in my story by hand.

At this beginning stage, I already know a LOT of things that want changed because I think of them as I write the first draft, but I rarely go back to fix those things. But once I know I’ve successfully completed writing my first draft, that’s when I can move on and actually put those changes in. Like even now I know there are several things I want to add and change and remove from my draft of “The Thief and the Magician,” but I’m not ready to make those changes just yet.

After that, I’ll go back in, apply those changes to my documents on my computer, and at that stage I’m thinking of letting my husband be my first reader. I want a second set of eyes from someone I trust (who’s also a fast reader) to give me feedback. I know if I tell him to be honest and not sugar coat it that he’ll let me know if things sounds weird, if the flow is wonky, whatever the case may be.

After that, I’ll do another round of edits. I’ve never gotten past the first stage that I talked about, though, and even then I never finished my first round of edits, so this is going to be interesting for sure. But I’m going to take my time with it, doing small chunks at a time until I’ve completed it, then I’ll go from there.

6. On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

Well, considering I’m not finished… With what I have actually written, I think that this draft is turning out around a 5 or a 6. I’m happy with parts of it for sure, like personalities, certain scenes I know I want to keep, certain emotions that I want to keep, but there’s a lot that needs to be fixed. So yeah. 5/10.

7. What aspect of the draft needs the most work?

If Nara’s supposed to be extremely afraid of Magicians, or just wary around them, WHY DID I NOT MAKE HER MORE AFRAID AND WARY AROUND MIKAIL? UGH. This is currently my biggest gripe of the whole draft and I need to add chapters or change some scenes around to fit this in. Just. UGHHHHHHH. I’m mad at myself, honestly, haha! And I knew I was doing it as I was writing, but I didn’t want to stop and fix it. It’s fine, EVERYTHING’S FINE.

And then there are obviously kinks and stuff I need to elaborate more on, and there’s definitely one chapter that I KNOW was just a filler chapter and needs to be replaced, like, ten years ago, and… yeah. Okay. The draft in general just needs some work.

8. What do you like most about your draft?

I love my characters. I grow very attached to a lot of characters I write, particularly the main characters because, well, duh, and this story, “The Thief and the Magician,” is one I feel so passionate about that I’m so glad that I decided to give it another shot because I struggled HARD during Camp NaNo 2016 when I first started working on it. The chapters weren’t coming out right AT ALL. In fact, I rewrote several chapters during this time because they just didn’t work and they weren’t how my characters were supposed to be, and I was writing it in the wrong tense, so that was frustrating. But yeah. The characters are really what make my draft feel alive to me.

9. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

I kind of already glossed over it in a couple questions already, but here’s more:

  • Finish the draft, do a round of edits, let husband read it, do another round of edits.
  • Hopefully find two beta readers to give feedback, then do another round of edits.
  • THEN I’ll start querying. I want to go the traditional publishing route because that’s just what I personally want to do.
  • Then I’ll just go from there.

10. What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Let it sit for a little while.

I literally haven’t looked at my draft or thought about it or touched it since the end of NaNoWriMo 2016, and I haven’t even finished it yet. Writing over 50k words in 30 days really taxes the brain, and even if you didn’t do NaNo but you still have a completed first draft (or mostly completed): let it sit.

Don’t think about it, don’t open the file, don’t let yourself worry about it for now. Obviously, don’t take too much time away from it or you might never go back to it until you’re filled with guilt, but give it a month or two. Or give it a week or two. Either way, just let it sit so your brain can recuperate from the hard work it just put in with you writing this first draft. You worked extremely hard on this draft, so now take a break, do something for yourself that isn’t writing, and then go back to your draft. You’ll have refreshed eyes and quite possibly a new outlook on what you want your draft to look like once you start edits. Taking that step back could be very beneficial to you.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

How are you doing on your writing project? What are your plans for this year? Is your novel ever going to see the light of day, or is it going to be buried under mounds of debris, never to be seen again? What do you like most about your draft? Tell me all the things!

Writing Goals for 2017

So as I won NaNoWriMo 2016, and still have yet to finish that novel I was working on, I wanted to talk about my writing goals for 2017. As a writer I think I can relate to a lot of people when I say I start a lot of projects but never finish them. On top of that I continue to get more ideas for stories I’d like to write, it’s just a matter of time when it comes down to writing them.

I have a few goals that I 100% want to attain in the upcoming year, though, because I want to see myself progress and accomplish something so awesome that I never thought I’d be able to before: potentially be published.

Now that’s not my only goal (it’s a primary goal, but not my only one), so let me talk about the goals that I have for the upcoming year:

1. Finish writing a story and EDIT IT. Seriously. I have yet to go through a first round of edits in anything I’ve written lately, so I want to be able to finish writing a story then go back through and edit the heck out of it.

2. Start a new story idea (and finish it), but also don’t give up on it. I have a bunch of ideas running through my head (that I should write down because I keep forgetting what they are, hahaha) and I don’t want to give up on them. Life can become so… easy. I can be so complacent with how things are, and I don’t want that. I want to challenge myself, to finish writing, to not give up on a story just because of how it’s going. I know it’s going to suck in the first draft. I just have to keep pushing through to the end.

3. Do more outlining! I know I’ve said before that I hate outlining, but since discovering this past NaNoWriMo how helpful it actually was for my story I discovered that it’s soooo beneficial for it! It’s more of a guideline rather than something strict that I need to follow, but I want to do more of it.

4. Start to seek out agents. Yup, I’m going to actually do this this year. I’m going to challenge myself to do so. If I don’t, I’m just going to keep pushing it off, over and over, and I don’t want to do that to myself. I would love to be a traditional published author, and I’m not going to get there without seeking out an agent first.

5. Have fun with it. Writing isn’t easy, folks. Some people think it’s a breeze, but honestly, it’s hard work. Coming up with multiple characters with different personalities, lifestyles, families, ethnicities, orientations, emotions, etc, is very complex in and of itself, let alone creating a world or a plot. But you know, despite dragging my feet a lot of the time, I really do have fun writing. I love seeing where my characters take me and where I can bring the story. It’s so amazing to see the progress over time.

6. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo again! I have so much fun participating in both events with other people around the world and I think it’s just a great way to really cheer on others going down the same path as you.

So there we have it, some simple goals that I think will really benefit me in the long run and will definitely be achievable in the upcoming year.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

What are some of your writing goals for 2017? Have you already finished a novel and you’re in the searching for an agent process? Any tips? Tell me all the things!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week 5 – The Homestretch & Winning NaNoWriMo

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I WON! I mean, if you couldn’t tell by the banner and the title of this post. But yeah! I won! I’m so incredibly proud and happy with myself. I was honestly going to give up before I reached 40,000 words. But then I was like, “No. I need to do this.” And I pushed through it and I managed to win. It was a long month full of patterns of writing A LOT one day, a little bit other days, and then weeks without writing. It was crazy and exhausting, and I’m so tired, but so happy. Oh man.

To anyone out there who thought they couldn’t do it, but did: CONGRATULATIONS!

To anyone out there who tried but didn’t make it: YOU’RE AWESOME! You still wrote, you still tried, and that’s really all that matters. 50,000 is just a goal. The real goal is writing.

Goal

50,000 words total by the end of November 30th.

My average daily goal is to write 1,667 words.

Stats for Week 5

Day 27: 0 words
Day 28: 0 words
Day 29: 6,905 words
Day 30: 6,246 words

Total Words: 50,234 words

Chart

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That purple bar makes me so happy. But as you can see: I plateaued A LOT this month. See those huge gaps in the bars where they just suddenly shot up? Yeah. That was sheer determination. I don’t know how I managed to do it, but I did, and I still can’t believe it.

What I’ve Learned & What I Look Forward To

Oh man, where do I begin? What I’ve learned this month is that I am so a writer. I love to create, to tell stories, to see where my imagination takes me. I want to be able to one day share these creations with the world, but first I need to finish them. But I’ve also learned that I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, who cheered me on all month which I’m super grateful for, as well as some of my lovely friends on Twitter who cheered me on as well.

I’ve also learned that I really like outlining! I hated it before. Loathed it, even. But man, I found that following an outline actually really helps! I tried doing the pantsing thing multiple times and I don’t think it helps me to stick to the story that I originally set out to do. This time I feel like I followed it very closely, took out the parts that I didn’t need, and formed my story around the ones I definitely wanted to hit.

I’ve also discovered that I like to write in bursts. I like to write 10k+ words in one day because I’m too tired throughout the week to do it, so why not do it on that one day? I find that if I’m really into the story that the words come easily for me.

I’ve also learned that wearing magical writing gear helps, too.

So what do I have to look forward to now that NaNoWriMo is officially over? Well, let me tell you: my story isn’t even close to being done. I just got to the part in my outline where it’s the beginning of the end, so I still have all of the ending of the story to write. I don’t know how much more that’ll be, but I will finish it soon! I am going to take a break, though, because my brain is so tired from pushing so much creativity out in one month. But damn, I missed it.

Once I’ve finished writing my first draft I plan to edit and revise it all before I let anyone beta read it or critique it or anything. I have someone in mind who I’d like to critique it, I just need to ask her if she’d be willing to. And of course let my husband read it (aka make him read it, lol).

I hope you all had a wonderful writing month and that no matter how much you wrote you are still proud of yourself for what you did accomplish.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

Did you win at NaNoWriMo? What was your final word count? I hope you had as fun a time as I did this past month because man, what a ride it was! Tell me the ups and downs you faced this month as well as what you’re looking forward to for your project. Congrats to everyone!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week 4 – Take a Break

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I’m sensing a pattern here… I seem to be able to write nonstop every other week and then just not write for a week straight. This past week was particularly difficult what with the holiday and I’ve just been so incredibly tired. I just want to sleep constantly and I don’t know why. So I didn’t write any words this week, but I’m okay with that. I mean, I’m not, but I’ve accepted that life happens and it’s going to happen. If you’re stuck in a rut too, I hear ya. But we’ve got a few days left, so let’s make it count, yeah?

Goal

50,000 words total by the end of November 30th.

My average daily goal is to write 1,667 words.

Stats for Week 4

Day 20: 0 words
Day 21: 0 words
Day 22: 0 words
Day 23: 0 words
Day 24: 0 words
Day 25: 0 words
Day 26: 0 words

Total Words: 37,083 words

*I’m not including today, November 27th, as the day is not over yet. Today’s word count will be in next week’s recap.

This Week’s Advice: Take a Break

It’s probably not what you wanted or were expecting to hear this week. I don’t mean do what I do and take a week off in between writing; I mean give yourself a break. A few hours, a couple minutes, or a whole day. Your brain needs to rest if it’s going to keep giving you words to write, so you need to give it the rest it deserves and needs.

Sometimes it’s more beneficial than just chugging along to reach the word count or to reach your own personal goals. We all can’t chug out a crap ton of words in a single day. That’s fine! You have to do what you can and accept it and go with it. Don’t get discouraged if you fall behind as a result. Even if you don’t win, look at the progress you’ve made. Look at it! You’ve done that all on your own. So give yourself a much needed break and relax for a little while.

That being said, though, don’t just drop writing completely. I mean, look at my progress above: NOTHING written this week. Zero. Zilch. It happens. I’m not going to let it get me down. I’ll power through if I have to, but even if I don’t, I’m still very happy with the progress I’ve made this month and I’m so glad I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

Keep going! But take the breaks you need. Read a book, go for a walk, play with your dog/kid/guinea pig, play a video game, watch movies (Moana was amazing, go see it), but above all: don’t stress. R E L A X. I know it can be hard, but you can’t strain yourself over it.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

How has this week gone for you? We’re in the home stretch! Are you excited? Did you already reach 50k? How much more do you have to go? What are you doing to take a break during this time? Let me know!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Week 3 – Your Writing Is Worth It

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This week was MUCH better in terms of how much I wrote and meeting goals and all of that. I’m kicking butt and having a blast doing it, that’s for sure! I plan to shut myself off from the world again today, so I’m hoping that I can write another 10k words. Even I only get another 5k I’ll be happy, but my goal is to just write until I can’t anymore. Of course, now that I have Pokemon Sun, I’m very distracted (hence not writing the past three days). At least I gave myself a buffer.

Goal

50,000 words total by the end of November 30th.

My average daily goal is to write 1,667 words.

Stats for Week 3

Day 13: 11,551 words
Day 14: 2,135 words
Day 15: 2,441 words
Day 16: 4,795 words
Day 17: 0 words
Day 18: 0 words
Day 19: 1,777 words

Total Words: 37,083 words

*I’m not including today, November 20th, as the day is not over yet. Today’s word count will be in next week’s recap.

This Week’s Advice: Your Writing Is Worth It

At this point in NaNo you may be feeling like your writing sucks. Not just your writing, though, but the story itself. Maybe you veered off course from what you wanted to write in the first place, or maybe you just can’t seem to bring the right words to the page. I just want you to know: it’s okay. Your first draft is supposed to suck. Remember: you’re not in school. This isn’t going to be graded. It doesn’t need to be perfect right off the bat. This is for fun, for YOU, so keep that in mind as you write.

What I also want you to keep in mind is that your writing is worth it. Every word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter that you write is a step closer to your ultimate goal: a completed manuscript. Or maybe your goal isn’t a completed manuscript, but it’s to reach 50k words. Or maybe it’s to see how many fight scenes you can put in before you ask how much is too much. Whatever your goal might be, it’s worth it. Keep taking those steps, writing those words and paragraphs, and keep writing. Strive for the highest that you can achieve – then strive higher than that.

But I want you to remember the most important of all of these things: do this for YOU. No one else. Just you.

Let’s Chat! ≧◡≦

We’ve survived the first three weeks of NaNoWriMo! It’s a weird time because there’s still a week and a half left, so it’s like we’ve got five weeks of writing, but hey! We’re over the hump! Take the time to celebrate and to reward yourself for each milestone that you pass. Little rewards can add up, and you need to keep your morale up. Tell me all of the things! How’s your progress? How are your characters getting along? Are you finding the words to tell everything you need to tell? Let me know!