Saturday, January 7, 2017

Beautiful Books - Writing Goals

I love goals. LOVE 'em. I make big goals and mini goals, crazy goals and easily achievable goals. I put things on to-do lists for the sheer satisfaction of crossing them off. Great pumpernickel, I even write down things I've already done so that I can cross them off.


And once I make a goal, I get so excited about it that I start telling everyone I know what I'm aiming to do. This is met with one of two reactions: a) they get excited along with me, or b) they back away slowly with the wide-eyed expression of someone avoiding a rabid skunk.*


*Technically, I suppose one would run away from a rabid skunk as fast as possible. I never said my metaphors were 100% accurate.
 
Last January, I posted about my writing goals for the year. I thought it would be interesting to look back and see which ones I reached, and then look forward and make new goals for 2017. (You can see the 2016 post HERE.)


I had this post all tidily drafted and ready to publish, and then lo and behold, the Beautiful People/Beautiful Books link-up returned with a set of questions that halfway meshed with what I already had. So I compromised by tweaking some of my material and tweaking some of Sky and Cait's material, in order to offer you this conglomeration that may or may not be comprehensible. Read at your own risk.





1. What were your writing achievements last year?



Allow me to examine each goal and whether or not I reached it. Analysis is such fun.
  • January: Finish editing book 1. Well, I mostly finished. I thought I was finished at the time, but since then I've decided to cut out a couple of characters, and just haven't gone back and done it yet. It shouldn't take too long once I get to it, though.
  • February: Begin querying agents for book 1. (Yipes!) Review the outline of book 2 and do some research. I researched a fair number of literary agents, but . . . did not begin querying. I did, however, review the outline and research.
  • March-May: Draft book 2. I certainly started!
  • June: Draft Rooglewood entry. July: Edit Rooglewood entry and send it off. (I'd like to be much more on the ball this year, so I'm going to try finishing it in two months. Two and a half, tops.) Seeing as the Rooglewood contest was postponed because of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's pregnancy, this did not happen. Which I am okay with, because there was so much else to concentrate on instead.
  • August-December: Finish drafting book 2, and if I've actually managed to meet my monthly goals, I'd like to do a round or two of edits on it as well. Ahahaha . . . ha . . . ha. I am approximately 63% through the first draft. Not exactly finished, and definitely nowhere near a pass or two of edits!
  • I didn't make a specific monthly goal for this, but a big thing last year was taking a step to grow my craft by starting a writing course, something I plan to finish in 2017.

 
Considering school and life and the unforeseen complexities of The Prophet's Key, I think I did pretty well. I know if I hadn't made these goals, I wouldn't have accomplished nearly as much. So I consider 2016 to be a successful writing year!

2. What's on your writerly "to-do list" for 2017?




Uh oh. Prepare to run from the rabid skunk.

January to mid-May: Finish the first draft of The Prophet's Key. Given my estimated word counts, this will amount to 60k words or more over the course of four and a half months.

Mid-May to July: Begin expanding The Brightest Thread into a novel, and hopefully have the first draft at or very near completion by July 27th, because . . .

July 27th to 29th: Attend Realm Makers! It's not going to be cheap, but I feel it's worth the investment.

Somewhere within the summer: Maybe write, edit, and send off an entry in the next Rooglewood fairy tale retelling contest. This will depend on how the progress on my two main projects is coming along, and whether the chosen fairy tale sparks a great idea or not.

August to December: Continue working on The Brightest Thread. Complete the first draft and do a round or two of edits so that it's poised to move forward (aka maybe get published) in 2018.

Throughout the year: Finish The Creative Way writing course. Possibly begin querying agents for TBT, depending on progress.

It's a lot of writing, I know, especially for a fulltime student. But if you don't aim high, how are you going to get anywhere? Even if I don't meet all these goals, the main thing is still to make the most of the time and resources I do have.

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


Pretty sure the above list gives a clear indication. There's The Prophet's Key, book 2 of my long-time WIP high fantasy YA series. And after finishing that first draft, there's expanding The Brightest Thread, a Sleeping Beauty novella I wrote in 2015. I am a pretty single-minded writer, so two main projects is plenty for me! But who knows, there might be that new fairy tell retelling thrown in there too. If that happens, I hope to plot so extensively beforehand that I can draft it within a month, tops. #optimisticallyhighacheiver

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


I hope to keep growing in all areas of my writing life--perseverance, creativity, skill, and also the whole career side of it. I see myself with a couple more stories under my belt by the end of the year. I see myself more knowledgeable, more confident, and with a clearer sense of where this path will lead. Most importantly, I see myself involving God in my writing process more and more.

5. Describe your general editing process.


Let the story stew on its own for an indefinite period of time.

Reread the story and make notes on whatever problems I spot (and simultaneously bemoan the horridness of it all, and occasionally smile when I come across a bit I still love).

Begin editing. This will include: cutting out fluff and unnecessary scenes, adding new scenes if needed, adding in foreshadowing, smoothing out the pacing, bringing the right details to life, working on consistency, tightening dialogue, keeping an eye out for pet words, paying attention to the arc of the story and of individual characters, drawing out the themes I didn't realize were there, etc. But not all at once! I try to work on the big stuff first, and then work my way down to the little things, but I usually end up polishing the little things as I work on the big things, which is not the most efficient method.

In between editing passes, I may let it stew a bit more. I may have to take some time out to research, re-examine my outline, or brainstorm my way out of a particularly knotted problem.

In the final stages, I'm just brushing up the wording and catching stray plot holes.

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


If we're talking about The Prophet's Key, then it hasn't finished "turning out" just yet. But so far . . . eh. The bones of the story have a lot of potential. I think the story is a little lost in the clutter of people and places, but I sense a good tale underneath that just needs to be hammered into shape.

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


Oh, it's a hodgepodge. So the biggest thing is streamlining everything, which will include patching up the places where my research had holes in it, and trimming down events that took too much page-time to happen. My main characters, Josiah and Aileen, will also need to become more assertive. With everything happening in this book, I'm worried they've become too passive while all the adult characters run around making things happen.


8. What do you like the most about your draft?


I like how unusual it is. I don't think I've ever read a book that combined the exotic flavors of a globetrotting, riddle-solving quest with a high fantasy world boasting dragons and portals and impending doom. (Mind you, this conceptual stuff is also what is most scary about this book. I have to keep telling myself that I'll find a way to make it all work, and that way will not be found during the drafting stage!)


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 shall hide it in a dark hole, but not forever. Just until The Brightest Thread is completed, or until I'm between editing passes and need another project at which to poke. But The Prophet's Key will probably wait until it can once again take first priority. I have a feeling I'll need every ounce of my creative energy to tackle the job of editing it into something readable. After all that . . . well, perhaps by then TBT will be out in the big wide world, in which case, my next publication would be this series. I'd like to get the whole series written by then, however, so it could be a while, folks.

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


LET IT REST. It's nigh impossible to edit that book objectively when you've just finished drafting it. You're still in creation mode, and you need to gain some distance and perspective to get into critique mode. I've tried editing things I've just written, and guess what? I don't make many changes. But when I leave a piece alone for a while, then return to it with a fresh eye, I see so many things to improve.

In the meanwhile, work on another project, or focus on filling your creative tank: soak in other people's stories, draw, paint, listen to music, spend some time outdoors, live life, try new things. When it comes time to get back to that first draft, you'll be refreshed and ready to tackle its problems head-on.

~*~


Looking at 2017 writing plans overall, I am ecstatic about seeing where my TPK characters end up (hint: bad places. like cliffhanger bad); building my craft and career by going to Realm Makers; and returning to TBT, which is probably one of my favorite stories I've ever written!


Let's do this thing! Or several things! All the things! What about you, noble questers? What are your goals for the year, writing or otherwise? (And please tell me I'm not insane. Even if you must lie, false assurance might keep me calm enough to reach all these goals. #kidding)

31 comments :

  1. Oh I loved reading this Tracey!! And you sound like you have a marvellously busy writerly year ahead. ^-^ GOOD LUCK!! I also totally agree with your advice in #10. Distance is absolutely key. And it helps you not to be so sick of the manuscript when you come back to start editing it haha.

    And extra good luck with the querying, eeep! That's a huge thing! *sends encouraging cake*

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    1. Thanks muchly, Cait!!! I hope to keep the writing muscles limber this year. Haha, verrrry true. I usually like my stories more if I leave them alone for a while!

      Aww, thank you! Appreciate that cake. ;D

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  2. So enjoyed reading this! I too am a great goal-maker, but when I don't actually succeed at the goals I get super depressed... aaaand I always make the goals way too large. So. Eheh. I'm currently taking a break from making goal lists and hoping I'll survive that way. :P But I love reading other's goals! You certainly did a lot of writing stuff last year, and it looks like your plate is very full for this one! I wish you the best of luck on your writing of The Prophet's Key and rewriting The Brightest Thread and perhaps a new Rooglewood tale... and on your conference (EEP!) and querying and ALL THE THINGS!!! I know you can do it! Or at least, a lot of it. :D Because you're an amazing and driven person and I'm always blown away at your accomplishments in writing and life. ^_^ Here's hoping you have a productive and blessed year of 2017, writing notwithstanding! *sprinkles writerly fairy dust on you* Good luck! Go out there and WRITE THE STORIES!! <3

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    1. Why thanks, Deb! Ugh, true...it's not fun when you don't reach those goals. But I'm learning to forgive myself when that happens--to try to find a different perspective. Hahaaaaa...I'm kind of thinking this year's goals in particular are a wee bit on the large side. XP SO WE WILL SEE. I hope your break from goal-making ends up being relaxing and productive at the same time. ^_^

      Awww, thanks for all the encouragement, dear! "A lot of it" may be a more realistic expectation to have, rather than "all of it," but it's something to shoot for, right? (I also just found out my next few months of school are going to be busier than expected, so. Eheh.) *twirls in the writerly fairy dust*

      YOU ARE SO SWEET, THANK YOU. <333 I hope you have a splendiferous writing year as well, with all the inspiration and determination and whatever else you may need.

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  3. Goals = LIFE. YESSSS. I'd literally get NOTHING done without goals. They keep me motivated and going. Otherwise I just don't...do...anything... Heh. GOALS ARE AMAZING. And speaking of amazing...

    You got sooo much done in 2016! WHILE working and going to college. I mean, TRACEY. I so admire your productivity skills!

    Your goals for this year are perfect and exciting and I'm getting all jittery just thinking about them! Finishing TPK and The Brightest Thread novel coming into being (!!!) and another fairytale novella from you (:D :D :D) and you getting the chance to go to Realm Makers! *FLAILS* I do so hope it'll all work out for you!

    Sooo much yes to your advice for #10! I'd probably die if I tried to edit a book right after finishing writing it. That just...wouldn't work. Giving it a break is key, yes! You put it wonderfully. "Still in creation mode." I LOVE how you worded that. It's do true!

    You can TOTALLY make these goals, Tracey. I've seen how productive and passionate you are with your writing, and am 100% positive you can achieve absolutely anything once you set your mind to it. But on those days you're feeling drained, you know you can always rant to me! *hugs*

    I hope your 2017 is a year full of met goals and dreams taking wing. Happy writing, my dear Tracey! <3

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    1. Exactly! Without a goal in mind, I meander. (Or do I? I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't have some kind of writing goal. XD I don't even know how I behave without one anymore!)

      THANK YOU! I have a loooong way to go with productivity, but I'm glad you think so. ^_^

      Eek, I feel all jittery too! And slightly nervous. Thanks for all the support and encouragement! Your excitement means so much. <3

      Heh. I remember I tried to edit The Brightest Thread RIGHT after I drafted it. And I didn't even reread it before starting. Mistake number one. XD

      *hugs* Thank you SO very much. I found out yesterday that the next few months are going to be a bit more busy than I realized, so that encouragement--and offer to be on the receiving end of a rant or two--means a lot. <3

      I hope the same for you, Christine! I can't wait to see where Burning Thorns and all your other stories go in the future!

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  4. That's a lot of things planned! I sometimes try to be organised like that- but things usually turn out a little more...fluid.
    I'm pleased to see that you're still working on TBT!
    And I'll also be looking forward to hearing your experiences at Realm Makers!

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    1. Perhaps too much, but we'll see where the year goes! Fluid is good. *nods* I should learn to be more flexible, honestly.

      Yes! I've not given up on TBT! I'm super excited to get back to it in a few months.

      I look forward to sharing about that on the blog, too. ^_^ I hope your 2017 writing goes marvellously well, Blue!

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  5. Looks like you've got a busy year ahead, good luck with everything! A sleeping beauty retelling sounds marvellous - I'll definitely keep an eye out for that! :)

    Astrid
    http://www.astridkaniele.com/

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    1. Thank you, Astrid! I hope there'll be more news on the Sleeping Beauty front later on in the year. If anything, I'll be talking more about it once I start working on it again.

      Have an awesome 2017!

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  6. Great goals, I need to make some of my own.

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    1. Thanks, Skye! I hope your year--writing and otherwise--is a really good one. <3

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  7. AHHH I AM SO EXCITED THAT YOU ARE COMING TO REALM MAKERS. I cannot wait to meet you in person! ^.^

    Wow. Lots of goals. o.o Good luck with all of them -- especially the querying. Do you think you'll be planning to pitch at Realm Makers?

    katie grace
    a writer's faith

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    1. THAT'S THE PLAN, STAN. I can't wait, either--that'll be so much fun! :D

      Thank you! Even though I have it all laid out like that, I'm trying to take it one thing at a time. XD I would really, really like to have something to pitch at Realm Makers. Probably The Brightest Thread, if I'm far enough along in my expansion that I can put together a pitch. o.o What about you??

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  8. Querying? Realm Makers? (With the hope of pitching something, right?) Eeep. I forget my name when I'm introducing myself; remembering a whole pitch for a story would be really risky.

    I'm looking forward to the Rooglewood announcement too.

    Goals for this year are still up in the clouds. I have some general ideas of what I'd like to get done, but I hesitate to make them official, just because when I do that they often end up not coming to be. I'm the kind that likes to see where things go, so it doesn't bother me that much.

    ofdreamsandswords.wordpress.com

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    1. Yep! That's my hope--I'd love to have a good enough grasp on The Brightest Thread to be able to pitch it. It would be nice if I'd have the whole first draft written by then, but we'll see how it goes. Oh goodness, yes, I hope I remember everything I want to say! XD

      I wonder which fairy tale it will be this year... Do you have any guesses?

      I know that feeling! For a long time, I told myself that my book (at the time, The Prophet's Quest) was going to be published by Christmas. When it wasn't, I'd say next Christmas... and so on. By now I've stopped putting timelines on that sort of thing.

      May you have a productive and enjoyable year of writing, Sophia!

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  9. These are some great goals! :) And I agree, letting first drafts rest is really the best thing you can do. Otherwise it can become a bit of a creative mess. XD

    I wish you luck in querying this year! ^_^ I'm thinking about taking the plunge myself, but I don't know how ready my draft is yet. And have fun at Realm Makers too! <3

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    1. It definitely can! I've jumped straight into editing before, and it winds up being a pretty unproductive decision. XD

      Thank you! What story are you working on and hoping to query? All the best with that! ^_^

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    2. It's actually a trilogy I've been working on called Imprint. I've had my family read the first few chapters of the first book and they've liked it so far. I don't know if it's ready for querying and/or publishing. But I'm working at it! :)

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    3. Ooh, that's an intriguing title. :) Keep writing and editing! It takes time, but I know you'll get there!

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  10. You are not insane.

    Maybe a bit... ambitious?

    hee hee

    In all seriousness, this looks like a great list of goal! I am excited to see where your authoring journey continues to take you.

    In spite of myself, I have set some rather big goals for myself as well... we shall see what happens. There are some big life events definitely and potentially coming this year, and that may throw a wrench into my writing plans... but right now my biggest effort is being thrown into writing at least 100 words a day on my WIP. Usually I do more than that, but the point is to cut down on the days that start to pile up with no work or progress being made on that rough draft.

    Best wishes with your querying and writing and editing, oh my! :)

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    1. Also, I'm super jealous of everyone going to Realm Makers. Wish I could, too... but with a 3-month old, I doubt that would be very fun. Also, we've decided we're not traveling this year... so... yeah. Maybe 2018....

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    2. AMBITIOUS. Very true. XD It's hard to know how much ambition is too much, and how much is enough to push myself.

      Thank you, Jenelle! Your encouragement as an author further down the road than myself means a lot. ^_^

      Your goals sound exciting! I hope you manage to achieve them in and around those big events. Ah, writing consistently can be a big challenge. All the best with that!

      I have been jealous of all the Realmies for quite some time myself... I hope you can make it out sometime--and hopefully I'll make it the same year so we can meet! :D

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  11. I always write stuff down just for the sake of crossing it off, too! :D (Of course, actually doing the stuff that needs to get done is another matter, entirely...) :P

    Realm Makers!!!! I am SO excited for it!!!! (*jumps up and down*)

    It's so exciting that we might be seeing The Brightest Thread out, soon! Sleeping Beauty is one of my favourite fairytales, and your retelling sounds AMAZING!!

    Hope you have a great year and accomplish all your goals! <3

    ~Liv
    oliviakfisher.blogspot.com

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    1. True, true... Sometimes it helps to break up those need-to-get-done things into smaller steps that you can cross off. ;)

      Me too!!!

      I'm excited for the process myself. Your enthusiasm just adds to it, so thank you!

      I hope 2017 is a wonderful year for you too! <3

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  12. Wow, Tracey! I am so excited for the huge stuff you are doing! Sounds like your story is really coming along nicely and gosh, you are so organized and have it all figured out! I admire that. :)

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    1. Awww, thank you, Kayla! I have moments of inner panic, not gonna lie. XD But coverall I'm really excited about everything I'll be working on this year. What are you writing these days?

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    2. You're welcome! It must be so exciting!!!

      Ah... Beauty and the Beast retelling, brainstorming other stuff, editing my NaNo novel...

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    3. Sounds like fun! I love retellings, if you couldn't already tell. XD

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  13. Lots of great goals! Funny that we're both doing our goals by month as well. XD I got the idea from Stephanie's post on GTW a while back. Best wishes to your writing endeavors!

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks! By splitting them up by month, it's easier to make mini deadlines to help me reach those goals, which I like. Not sure if I've read that GTW post, but that's cool! Thank you, and all the best with your writing this year too! ^_^

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