New year, new goals

For various reasons, I didn’t write very much last year at all. At the beginning of the year I was busy with university work, and I got out of the habit of setting my laptop up except to write an essay. When I had a couple of rejections, I went through a spell of wondering whether my writing is up to scratch and berating myself for not being better at it, while not doing the one thing which is essential – Actual Writing.

That’s not to say I didn’t produce some decent work in 2016. I edited my memoir a bit, I wrote a handful of short stories, and I started a new fiction project. But really, I think I spent most of the year pottering about, not doing a huge amount, and certainly not committing myself to finishing a project properly. All of it to avoid taking any risks, to avoid another rejection.

Well. Here’s a thing for me to learn: rejection is essential for a writer. Not giving up is essential to a writer. Not worrying about what everybody else is doing or thinking is essential for a writer. But what a writer really needs to do above all else, and for better or worse, is to Just Write. (I think I may even have written a whole blog post about it earlier a few months ago?!)

And that’s where I’m starting this year. Here’s the plan which I Must Stick To:

1. Finish sending the memoir out to agents. I came to a standstill with this last year, because I was putting off getting to the end of the list and then being at a loss as to what to do. The reality is that I probably will get to the end of the list without finding an agent (although there’s always a small chance of success). So what do I need to do? Keep sending stuff out. I can’t stay at a standstill forever. Surely at some point I’ll come up with a plan? I need to deal with that possibility, not keep putting it off.

2. Look into the WoMentoring Project and pick out a writer/editor/agent who may be willing to help me with editing etc. Then apply.

3. I also think I need some more beta readers for the memoir, so if anybody reading this can help, or know anybody who might be interested, please let me know (obviously happy to return the favour).

4. Write a proper outline for The Library Letters. Now that I’ve finished reading the K.M. Weiland book, I know exactly what I need to do. However, because I started writing the novel before I had a detailed idea of the plot, it’s turned into a big editing job, which I really need to untangle before I start writing again. So, back to the drawing board with characters and plot for this.

5. On the plus side, reading the book on outlining has given me an idea for a YA novel. I’ve spent some time working on this over Christmas and I have a plot, some characters and an outline – and I’ve nearly finished writing the first chapter. I want to finish the first draft of this as soon as I can and then see what I’m left with.

6. Read, read, read. This is key to everything, I think. I must read more novels – both modern and classic, plus more books about creative writing. I will also start logging all my reading on goodreads.

So that’s that: my writing year in a nutshell. I have other plans too, like applying to do my Diploma in counselling again (but part-time, this time). I also want to gain some more experience for this by doing some volunteering, and I have an interview with my local Victim Support branch next week. And I really want to explore some other areas too – like spirituality. I want to get to grips with mindfulness properly this year (I know, I know, I said this last year too), because I’ve been reading some stuff by Thich Nhat Hanh which really resonates, and I want to find out more about Zen Buddhism.

I think 2017 is going to be a good year.

And here’s my rather ambitious reading pile!

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