Monthly Archives: December 2011
I managed to finish my novel last week, at around 120, 000 words. Once Nanowrimo was over and I stopped padding the word count, everything went along pretty quickly. To be honest, I kind of hurried through the last two battles because I wanted to be done with that monster draft. But I finished it, which means I get to spend my Christmas break creating a plan of attack for the next edit of Moonshadow’s Guardian.
For those of you still finishing your novels, keep going. Take advantage of whatever time you have off to squeeze in an extra half hour of writing in. No matter how much or how little time you have off, you can still take advantage of a slice of it to finish your novel.
And for those of you who, like me, have finished novels, I have a challenge for you. I’m planning to completely restart a very twisted paranormal romance-ish short story I wrote during the summer, aiming this time to make it a bit longer to include the main characters’ trek through the country they’re in. It’s the first short story I’ve written in a very long time that takes place in this world, and it happens to take place a very long time ago in Scotland, so this will be research intensive. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to do a lot of historical research.
I am, however, asking you to challenge yourself to write either one fairly long short story–I’m thinking somewhere between 10-15K for mine–or a couple of shorter short stories between now and January ninth. That may seem like a completely arbitrary date for you, but that’s when my break ends and it also gives everyone two weeks to create something they enjoy. I’m not asking you to edit this right now, and in fact, in the new year I’ll be writing a couple posts about editing short stories before I break into novels.
So over the next two weeks, set aside some time for yourself to write. Don’t let anyone interrupt you. Right now we’re going to write some stories together, and in the New Year, we’re going to turn them into publishable stories.
What are you working on this holiday season?
As promised, today I have a prompt for you that will hopefully inspire you to write some awesome short fiction. I won’t be doing this one today because I’m really focused on finishing my novel right now, but it’s on my list to write next year.
So, here goes:
The day I died
Take that however you want, make it into whatever you want, and please share with me what angle you’ve taken on this prompt.
It’s that time of year again. Everyone’s after your money, the houses are all lit up with half a dozen colours, and people are singing in the streets. The new year is right around the corner and it’s time to start re-evaluating our lives and deciding what changes we want to make next year.
For us writers, it’s important to look carefully at what we want to achieve in the next year. For those of you who are hobby writers and plan to keep it that way, you need to pick a goal that’s reasonable and that fulfils your creative needs. For those of us who are aiming to become professional authors, we need to look even more carefully at our goals to make sure that they’re really moving us in that direction.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that we should really make four sets of goals: one set of long term goals, one set of goals for the next five years, one set of goals for the next three years, and finally a set of goals for the next year. Today I’d like to walk you through the process of creating these sets of goals.
First, look at the goals you’ve made for this year. Cross off whatever you’ve achieved, make notes of the ones that you’re still working on, and make note of which ones you won’t be able to accomplish before January first. Then look at any sets of longer term goals that you’ve had and take note of whether or not you’ve made progress towards these goals in the last year.
Your first set of goals should really be a statement about what you want to achieve long term. Think of this as something like a ten or twenty year list. Mine would be to have published several short stories and three or four novels in ten years, and to be making enough money to live solely off of my writing. Include all the major things that you want to accomplish in the next ten to twenty years.
From there, we’re going to work backwards. Now create a goal list for the next five years. This goal list should include how many novels you want to write during that time period, how many you want to edit, whether you want to try a different kind of fiction each year, and an idea of how many short stories you’d like to write–say, between 20-30. My list currently includes goals relating to novels, short fiction, and non-fiction. Make sure that all of your goals will lead you in the direction of your long term goals.
It’s time to create a list of goals for the next three years. Once again, this includes any novels you want to write or edit, any grants or competitions you specifically want to enter, or whatever other writing goals will lead you to your final destination. If you want to be a famous novelist, make goals relating to writing, editing and submitting novels. Do the same for short stories if that’s where your interest lies. Aim to have a certain number of subscribers to your blog or hits on your website. My three year plan hopes to see Moonshadow’s Guardian either on submission or happily at a new home and the same for the novel I’m currently finishing.
Once you’ve got those plans, it’s pretty simple to figure out what you need to do next year. My goals for next year involve editing Moonshadow’s Guardian once, sending it to beta readers, editing it again and then hopefully submitting it for publication by August of next year. It also includes one full rewrite of the novel I’m currently finishing. Another goal is to write and submit one short story each month next year. These goals are designed to help me reach my long term goals of sustaining myself and being a well known name. Your goals should be designed to do the same thing.
Remember that these goals are probably going to change somewhat, and that’s okay. In fact, you should closely examine your goals every six months to see if they’re working for you. It’s important not to push yourself towards things you’ve realized you don’t really want to do. I’m not going to look hard for non-fiction work because I don’t want to. But I am going to write more this year and submit more. That’s my passion.
It’s all up to you to decide what you want to do. I hope this has helped you work on your goals for next year. I’ll be posting my complete list, with the specific reason for each goal, closer to the end of the year.
What kinds of goals do you think you’ll be making for 2012?
December is a busy month for most people. People who work in retail are almost always working long hours of overtime. People have holiday dinners with family, in laws, groups of friends, their companies. They’re buying Christmas gifts for their relatives. And of course, the regular workload doesn’t just disappear either.
Personally, I’ve taken over more duties for Musa Publishing and I spend most of my time after school working on Penumbra, whether it be for marketing the eMagazine or for the blog. It’s a lot to handle.
But we can’t let our busy lives stop us from finishing our novels. So what we need to do is carve out small chunks of time from our busy schedules to write. Try to get ahead in our other work so that we have more time to write. Cut out one of the TV shows we watch.
Only you can make writing a priority. We all have twenty four hours in a day, and it’s up to you to find the time to write. Even if you can only write for fifteen minutes a day, and even if you only write a couple hundred words that day, at least you’ve written something. As long as you keep hacking away at it, that novel will eventually get done.
Me? I’m making good progress on my novel. I’ve stopped using word padding techniques and it’s really cut down the time it’s taking to get through my plot. My characters are almost ready to storm the castle. It’s hard to find the time to write between school and all my duties for Musa, but it’s what I’ve got to do. It’s what I love to do, too.
Where are you in your novel? How do you find the time to write?
If you’re one of those lucky people who finished their novel in the month of November, you’re probably wondering what to do next. Before you go back to spending all of your hours at the television, consider doing one–or all–of these more productive things.
1. Write a Short Story You’ve spent your whole November in the brutal process of novel creation, which is in some ways just as painful as giving birth. Your novel probably isn’t as cute as most babies either. Anyway, now is a really good time to sit down and write a short story. No commitment, no lofty word goals, and no need to sit down and hack away at it every day for a month. Have some fun. Pick a prompt and work with it, or do something all your own.
2. Read a Good Book Give your wrists a break. I’m sure they’re not feeling to healthy, and your eyes are probably strained too from all that extra computer time. Read a good book to replenish your heart, mind and soul and hopefully inspire you to write more. Pick up an old favourite or try something new. If you haven’t read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I highly suggest you do.
3. Try your hand at a couple Non-Fiction articles We all love fiction. If you didn’t love fiction, you wouldn’t be here. But it’s always good to diversify your income as a writer and to try new things. Give non-fiction a shot. Write up an article about something you already know all about–your favourite sport, your favourite kind of craft, working in the field you work in–and then let it sit. You don’t have to do anything with it; just trying non-fiction is worth the experience.
4. Learn about Editing You’ve got a first draft of a novel. It’s sitting there, on your hard drive, and it sucks. So what should you do? Spend the next month reading books about editing and start figuring out how you’re going to approach that monster. I highly recommend Self Editing for the Fiction Writer by Renni Browne and Dave King.
5. Plan your Next Novel You are going to write one eventually, right? Might as well start brainstorming it now, even if you’re going to wait until next November to write it. After all, if you start now, by the time we get to November, you’ll be more than prepared.
Don’t forget to check out the I Finished a Novel, Now What page on the Nanowrimo site. Have some fun, try something new, and enjoy your December.
What are you working on right now?