Reflections on 2015

With 2015 drawing to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reassess. Even though it felt like things were moving at a snail's pace at times, a lot actually did happen.

I finished my YA Gothic Horror. Revised it. Thought I was finished. Entered it into PitchWars. Got accepted and did yet another revision. I certainly learned how important it is to get feedback from others! This was also the year I took to social media. I'm the type of person who feels awkward sharing random details about my life... with the exception of a few dog photos here and there. Nonetheless, I opened a twitter account and befriended fellow writers who are going through very similar struggles as we all try to improve and ultimately get our work out there. Although I was a little hesitant at first, overall it's been great. I'm so happy to have found these new writer friends and to be part of the writing community.

With the year winding down and with my YA Gothic Horror drifting somewhere in the query trenches, I'm getting excited to start something new. I've been researching and brainstorming. I've even been plotting a bit. But I won't officially start drafting until January. With that in mind, I've been thinking about my writing goals for 2016. These will probably change, but as of right now, this is what I came up with:

  • I want to write with more purpose. Basically, this means I want to start with a rough outline--anything that will keep me focused so I don't rewrite half the book over and over when I realize the plot isn't going anywhere. I've always been a pantser, but this year I want to try something different. This leads to my next point.
  • I want to write faster. I don't want to churn out pages of junk just to get my word count allotment for the day. I want to make each writing session count so it won't take me over a year to finish a first draft. I'm setting the lofty goal of finishing my next book COMPLETELY by next summer (including revisions, feedback etc.) so that I can start querying in the fall. Gulp! I'm not sure if I can hold myself to this, but I'm going to try!

One of my fellow PitchWars mentees recently shared this blog post with us from YA author, Robin LaFevers. It resonated with me on many levels, especially this point:

"Instead of starting a manuscript with the intention to create a marketable, salable story, start it with the intent of mastering certain aspects of craft: compelling description, evocative subtext, nuanced language, layered characters."

Above all else, I want to keep challenging myself as a writer. When I started my YA Gothic Horror, I focused intensely on voice and somewhere along the way--after numerous drafts and thousands of cut words--I settled comfortably into a style that felt inherently me. For my next project, I want to make sure I don't keep writing the exact same way just because it's easy. I want to push myself. That leads me to my next goal.

  • I want to write more meticulously. This has less to do with scheduling and my overall approach to writing like my previous two goals. With this goal, I want to make every word count. This may end up crippling me in the end--I guess we'll just have to wait and see--but I want to focus more on description and my overall use of language. My style tends to be wordy and while I don't to lose what I feel is authentically me, I want to distill everything down even more in my next project. With that in mind, I already signed up for an online class starting in January that focuses purely on description. I'm excited to see what it's all about!
  • And finally, I want to take some risks in my writing. I already have some ideas I want to explore in my next WIP... some things I want to play around with, which may or may not work, but I want to give it a try. Hopefully, it will turn out pretty cool. Or I may have to scrap it. I guess my overall goal is to just go for it! 

So that's it. It's pretty simple, actually, if you look at it as a whole: my goal is to improve. Anyway, it helps me to lay things out as bullet points. :)

Happy holidays and happy writing!!


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