7 things done, 7 things to do

If you believe the multiple motivational posts flooding the social media feeds in the early days of the year, one only has to dream big and fantastic success will come forth. Neat, eh? But it’s not all that easy. Even good intentions derived from the Big Dream won’t take you anywhere soon if you only dream them up but fail to follow up.

So, before I go ahead and think about what to strive for in 2018, let’s see what I did in 2017, concerning my journey as a writer. What did I do that I am proud of? Here’s a short list of my favourite personal achievements in 2017.

  1. I’ve routinely joined the #5amwritersclub. Getting up early, about 4:30am, yielded me a sizeable amount of time to write; time I was lacking the years ago. I developed the habit back in late 2016, but in the last year I was more often successful in banishing my “inneren Schweinehund” and conquer my sleep-deprived-weaker self. Not every day, but consistently enough.
  2. I wrote, finished and submitted a short story to a contest. That was a first for me. Nothing came off it, but it was an interesting experience. I also wrote my first poem in English, and for good measure, I submitted it to three contests.
  3. I’ve attended eight meetings of the Germany/Austria chapter of SCBWI – a group of fellow writers who never cease to motivate me, went to Frankfurt Book Fair and the book launch of fabulous Melinda Salisbury.
  4. I put down the WIP I was working on all through 2016/2017. A hard decision at the time, but the right one. I’m glad I set the story aside (for the time being). This left me free to launch my current WIP, a story I’m much more comfortable with, given my skill level. I’ve worked on this new project for about 8 months now, and the manuscript is already further developed than the old WIP ever was.
  5. I wrote ten blogposts (meh, too few), with the post about my take on DC’s Wonder Woman story structure and character arch being the most read.
  6. I attended 6 webinars (4 via SCBWI, 2 via other hosts/websites). Not all were equally helpful. I posted about the take-away-points of one already and a recap for a “A place in fiction” is scheduled for the end of the month.
  7. I won NaNoWriMo, though I worked with my current WIP instead of a new project.

This being said, let me see what I’d like to do in 2018, besides reaching for the stars, that is.

  1. I want to finish the first draft of my current WIP. Déjà-vu, eh? Well, I guess it’s a never-ending story. After the story is before the story or rather the main character is dead! Long live the main character.
  2. I want to read and write more poetry. I want to read more in general, especially books and texts that don’t belong in the “on the craft” category.
  3. My website needs some work. I want to update and/or change the about-me page and increase the number of blogposts.
  4. #3 will work fine with the plan to keep attending webinars and share my take-away-points afterwards. Same goes for blog posts on structure and character arch found in movies and from books.
  5. I started submitting smaller works in 2017 and want to keep that up. While I’m not ready to start submitting the book, I want to do so with poems and possibly short stories.
  6. I’ve decided to reduce the hours at my daily job to further increase my time writing. To use the won time effectively, I plan to hold myself accountable for the time spent actually writing. For that, I’ll keep using my bullet journal, tracking not only word count, but hours spent on the project, too.
  7. Last but not least: minimise procrastination. Ha! Yeah, right…. Twitter, Insta, Facebook… the lot keeps stealing my time. I’m still not sure how to tackle this, but I’ve got another year ahead to figure something out.

The most important item on the list is without a doubt #6. On multiple occasions I’ve read the sentence: If you want to be a successful author, you need to treat it like a proper job. Writing is work; hard one day and fun the next. I want to make the hours I got count.

What about you out there? What did you achieve last year, and where do you want to go in 2018? Whatever, wherever that is – I hope it’s going to be a fun ride.


New year, new goals.

Happy New Year to you, dear reader!
I hope you spent the last moments of 2017 and the first moments of 2018 with your loved ones and friends and had the most amazing time. I certainly did. Now, I am looking forward to 2018 for there are some changes ahead.

As the beginning of a new year usually prompts some resolutions and for me one of those for 2018 is to get my blogging routine up to a new level, here I am, posting the first of hopefully many entries on the very first day of the new year.
Fear not, however, I won’t bore you with a list of good intentions (just now). Instead, I’ll review the last “bucket list” I wrote – amazingly, this post dates back to December 2015 and was targeting my plans for 2016. Oops.

Back then, I came up with 8 points for me to strive for and I didn’t do so bad. Here’s the list again:

  1. Get a critique buddy.
  2. Check for German chapter of SCBWI – if there is one, sign up.
  3. Decide on the basic structural frame for WIP
  4. Find something else than MS word for a writing environment.
  5. Stop or at least minimise procrastination.
  6. Find a way to carve out daily writing hours.
  7. Write some more blog posts.
  8. Review this list at least once a month. Maybe the … 14th each month would be an idea and add all things that came up eventually.

So, I did quite well with items 1, 2, 4, and 6.
Yes, there is a SCBWI chapter here in Germany (it’s the Germany/Austria chapter, to be precise) and I’m lucky to have a group of ladies who meet up once a month in the Stadtbibliothek Stuttgart, just an hour from home. They basically are my critique buddies now and the group has grown considerably during 2017. This is truly amazing and I very lucky to be part of it.
Yes, I did find something else than MS Word – I chose Scrivener in early 2016 and never looked back.
Yes, I did carve out writing hours, even if this turned out to be the hardest part of the game. Hello there, #5amwritersclub. If you are unfamiliar with the hashtag, I recommend you head over to twitter and see for yourself. Or better yet, join us!

For the other four items on the list however – it’s not so easily determined if I succeeded – in the best case, I’m still on it.
I obviously did not live up to item 8, given that I only just now review this list again…
I did not write as many blog posts as I was aiming for. If I reflect on it, I was probably buried in craft books and stepping up my game in the art of writing and did not feel I had much to say.
I did not stop procrastination. Not entirely. But, I am proud of the progress I made and I’m still working on avoiding distractions and better organisation. Some days that works better than other days – I’m sure it’s not only me who feels that way.

And the decision on the structure of my WIP? Ha Ha Ha … yeah, no. I’ve since moved on from the manuscript I was working on in early 2016. I had to admit to myself that I did (and still do) lack the skill level to manage such a huge project. It’s not dead – but it’s sitting, resting, simmering in *the drawer* for now. I still love the world and the characters and the ideas about it but it’ll have to wait. I will come back to this particular story when I got some more experience under my belt.

I’m going to draw up a new bucket list for 2018 in the next days – just to write down some task and goals I want to achieve in the upcoming year.

Without a goal, there’s no direction for your efforts, right?