For the first time, here is a list of writing highlights for me this past year. I am not sure if this will be an annual thing, but here it is!
As I quickly and briefly look back upon the year, I see a few “firsts”, which are below.
Writing Conferences. This past year (in October 2017), I attended my first writing conference. Then, I attended another writing conference in April 2018.
Writing Workshops. In November of 2017, I attended a four-day writing workshop focusing on memoir and nonfiction.
Writing Groups. Attending one of the writing workshops led to meeting a few people in a writing guild. They were kind enough to accept me in their guild, though some of the members are published and have a wide following. One of the other bonuses of this group is that a few of the members live close by and we have met in person a few times. Furthermore, a year ago, attending a spontaneous lunch after church one Sunday last year led to meeting someone who is writing a book and who had just started a writing accountability group. So, I have met with that group a few times as well, and this group has shared their various writing projects for feedback at our meetings. One member of the group helped another member of the group write a memoir and then took the memoir to a publisher at a writing conference. Another member of the group has a couple of self-published titles and continues to write. Everyone has different goals and projects, but share a common love of writing.
Coaching writing. This actually began in 2017. I am coaching another person (and editing their writing) who has writing goals they are trying to achieve! I have gained valuable insight into this process of trying to help someone else with their own writing plans. A friend who has a writing coaching/editing business referred this person to me. Though I had considered doing this kind of work, I was not looking to start doing something like this yet, but once the opportunity availed itself, and this client was a very good fit for me, everything came together, and it is going well. Another first!
Another goal of mine was to get articles and poetry published. Below, updates in those two areas.
Poetry publications. I submitted to a few journals and was mostly rejected, but I did receive a few acceptances. In all, I had 12 poems published in print and online journals, including three poems published in a print journal for the first time.
First pitch. I also talked to an editor of a publishing house and pitched my poetry chapbook (my first pitch ever in my life). The conversation went well but did not result in anything, which is ok (at least, I have not heard anything back yet, which means “no” I am fairly sure :). As I look back on my material, I do think much of it was mediocre, some was downright crappy and not ready for publication, but a few pieces were decent ones (which were published on their own!)
Nonfiction/articles. In 2018, I had 4 articles published (well, one is a poem/article).
The output of this past year, 2018, was certainly much, much higher than previous years. It is fun to see that, and that did not happen by accident. I worked intentionally and submitted material to make that happen. I have to say it is rewarding to see some results and fruit of the labor in terms of some work out there. (My publications, along with links, are listed on the Publications page, in case you are interested.)
As I reflect on the past year, I came up with a few takeaways. Here are a few things I learned:
- Submit. None of this would have been possible had I not been sending some work out there.
- Set Goals. Setting a few goals was immensely helpful
- Maintain accountability. Having some accountability was also very helpful.
- Don’t compare. Don’t compare my results with others. This is a step in the right direction for me and my writing goals, but if I stop and compare with others who have book deals and are publishing at much larger outlets, I can start to feel quite small and inadequate. This is indeed small compared to all that, but it is a step forward for me. Someone else remarked they saw me as being published and doing more than they were doing and saw me in the angle I was viewing others. There is always someone behind you and in front of you. This journey is such an individual one and it is not going to look like anyone else’s. I can’t go down the path comparing myself to others.
- Learn from rejections. A few pieces were published, yes, but I also learned a great deal. I learned something from the pieces that were rejected. Some of the poetry was just bad and I don’t blame them. Some of it still isn’t clear to me. But, there are some lessons to be learned by what gets accepted and what does not. Don’t take the rejections personally.
- Write more. Setting intentional goals meant I was writing more than ever before overall. This past year, I wrote more than before, especially pieces I was writing for possible publication or public reading. Writing more translates into more practice in the craft and art of writing, whether it ends up published somewhere or not.
- Plan for the future. Taking stock after a year (or some other specified timeframe) is helpful for setting the next set of goals for the year and for the next five years. I am thinking about five years from now, what I would like to be doing, which means the plans and goals and projects I choose should align to that vision.
- Blog (or post somewhere) regularly. I decided I would blog at the minimum once per week, or twice per week if I could. The goal I had was to keep this blog active. I did achieve that goal. To make sure I was still posting regularly, I even began posting photos once a week for a while. This enabled me to post something I enjoyed, especially on busy weeks. Another benefit to posting photos is that the time freed me up to write for other venues, as opposed to writing new material for the blog always. When it comes to blogging, I read various opinions on the subject of blogging and if blogs are dying and worth the trouble. Ultimately, it is up to you, the writer, how to use the blog as a tool to help you. Some writers choose not to focus on their blogs, and that is ok. I think the main thing is to set goals that work for you and stick to those.
How wonderful it is to look back and see this list. It is certainly helpful to see some progress and to see several firsts! This helps me with revising and updating some goals, plus I can identify areas I would like to improve, areas I would like to do more, and where I would like to do less. I can identify gaps. Even just writing this simple blog post is extremely helpful. I encourage you to do the same. Celebrate each step forward, no matter how small!
photo credits: unsplash