children of the sun · fog · never forget

2019 Writing Achievements & Lessons Learned

Hello everyone!

Happy new year! How was 2019 for you? Did it pass by as quickly as it did for me?

One of my favourite parts of the New Year is to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and lessons that I’ve learned. I don’t believe in new year resolutions per se… if we want to make a change, why can’t we do this any other day of the year?

However, I do want to give credit to the new year. Life is so busy for many of us. I find myself settling into a routine on many days of the year. It is at the end of the year when I spend a lot more time reflecting on what I did the previous year, and what can be done better. I don’t believe new year resolutions can make a change overnight, but I do believe in setting realistic, achievable and slightly challenging goals.

So that’s what I will be doing in this post! I’ll be reflecting on my writing achievements this year, the lessons learned, and what my goals next year will be. (Bear with me, this is a long-ish post!)

Writing Achievements of 2019

On January 22, I finished draft 1 of Never Forget, which is an adult science fiction novel about a man who aims to reconnect the Internet during the Digital Dark Ages of 2050.

A few facts:

  • I started this novel in November 2018 as a part of NaNoWriMo
  • It was the first adult (rather than young adult or new adult) book that I’ve written
  • It was plotted using the Snowflake Method
  • The total word count was 110K, of which 10K was written in January

On July 6, I finished draft 3 of Children of the Sun, which is a YA science fiction / mystery novel about a homeschooled girl who investigates the disappearance of three women. A bit more about this novel:

  • The first draft of this novel was written in 2007 during my second-ever NaNoWriMo. Yes… this means that this story has been bouncing around my head, consciously or subconsciously, for over a decade
  • I worked on this novel during both Camp NaNoWriMos in April and July this year
  • Draft 3 was a 100% rewrite of draft 2
  • The total word count was 101K

On September 25, I submitted draft 4 of Children of the Sun to Pitch Wars.

  • This was the fastest edit I ever had to do. It was also the first time I had to polish my work, combing through it for everything from developmental edits to line edits to spelling and grammar (thank you to my wonderful beta-readers!!!)
  • I rewrote about 20% of draft 3
  • I did not win Pitch Wars
  • The total word count (rewritten) would be a guesstimate at best… about 20K

On November 1, I started draft 1 of my new NaNoWriMo novel, Fog, which is a YA fantasy about a girl who hunts for her twin sister by travelling through the mysterious fog that takes people away.

  • It was my first time using the 15-Beat Method for outlining
  • I spent the most time I ever had in world-building and creating character sheets in preparation to write this novel… but after starting to write it, I felt like I could have done even more in advance
  • I wrote 60K in November and 20K in December

The grand total word count in 2019 is 201K which is great!!

Lessons Learned in 2019

To be honest a lot of these “lessons” I find myself re-learning again and again. Here are some of the thoughts that I would like to keep in mind in the future.

4. It’s about the journey, not the destination.

Sometimes I am so focused on getting in my words for the day or month, on getting to the next plot point, on finishing the novel, on attaining the prized achievement of becoming agented and published, that I forget to just enjoy writing.

But the truth is that writing a good novel takes a long time, and the road to publication is not straight-forward. Writing is a marathon and not a sprint, so we should enjoy each step of the way.

3. Rest. It’ll make you write better.

I was exhausted in November. It was a busy month at work, and in addition to that because of NaNoWriMo I had to force myself to write 1667 words a day. It was tough.

What I realized was that if I am feeling emotionally drained, my writing suffers. If I am feeling physically drained, then… I will probably fall asleep while trying to write lol. Replenishing our emotional and physical energy is important for us to feel ready to write.

2. Read lots.

I didn’t read much this year. In 2018 and 2017, I had read about 50 books each year. But in 2019, I only read 36 books. However I think that reading is an essential habit for a good writer, so this is one of my goals for next year.

1. Keep on writing.

Writing is hard. It takes a lot of work, and the work doesn’t immediately pay off. One thing I discovered about writing is that I don’t get a lot of positive reinforcement for it compared to other hobbies. I used to play the piano and people always complimented me when they heard me play. I didn’t have to be a musical genius, and they didn’t have to understand music to appreciate my songs.

With writing, it’s different. It takes several months or even longer to finish one draft of a novel, and years to get a polished draft. The publishing industry, whether it’s traditional or self-publishing, is brutal. I was disappointed when I wasn’t selected for Pitch Wars, because I had worked so hard on Children of the Sun and I was so sure that it would have a fighting chance.

But Pitch Wars taught me something, and it’s that being a writer isn’t easy. The only sure way to lose is to give up. And the only chance at succeeding is to keep going.

Whatever you are working towards, keep going at it.

What’s Next in 2020?

I definitely want to keep writing next year, at the same time November was very tough and I don’t ever want to experience that level of stress again. Here are my goals so far!

  • By February 15, finish Fog
  • By February 29, submit Children of the Sun to Author Mentor Match
  • By March 1, send Never Forget or Shapeshifter to beta-readers (not sure which novel yet!)
  • In April and July, participate in Camp Nanowrimo
  • In September, participate in Pitch Wars in September
  • In November, participate in NaNoWriMo with new novel idea
  • Do some querying?!??!

It looks like a pretty tight timeline haha, however life-wise I am expecting fewer commitments compared in 2019, so hopefully this will mean more time for writing? We’ll see how everything goes.

How was your 2019? Are you a believer in New Year Resolutions? Tell me about some of your goals for next year?

23 thoughts on “2019 Writing Achievements & Lessons Learned

  1. Happy New Year Sophie! You wrote so much this past year and have so much to be proud of! πŸ˜€ And yessss writing is so hard. So, so hard. At the end though when our stories are out in the world it will all be worth it ❀ One of my goals for 2020 is to finally get down that first draft of my WIP which keeps playing mind games with me. Here's to both of us and sending you good vibes in the new year!! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Jai Lynn! Yes writing is hard, but it will definitely be worth the effort when we are able to show the world our stories. That’s awesome that you’re aiming to finish your first draft this year! Let’s both work hard towards our writing goals πŸ™‚ Wishing you the best in 2020!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy New Year (: you did amazingly with the amount that you wrote last year. Just one of those projects would be fantastic but all of them is incredible!! Also, if you ever feel bad about not getting chosen, just remember that Harry Potter was rejected at first and that’s done amazingly well since (I still can’t get over the fact that anybody could turn it down). Good luck with your writing goals this year. It looks like you’ll be very busy again but I’m sure that you can do it. Just remember to reward yourself sometimes too, especially when meeting your goals (:

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the encouraging tidbit about Harry Potter! It’s always a good reminder that even successful writer face rejections at some point πŸ™‚
      Happy new year to you too! Wishing you all the best for the new year!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Sophie,

    About the point on not getting as many compliments on writing vs your other hobbies, this was interesting to me. I actually get the most compliments for my writing, but mostly for my nonfiction writing, because I rarely show people my stories anymore, as I take so long and am beginning to write stuff I don’t want other people to see, lol. By nonfiction, I mean things like blog posts, book reviews, research papers, essays, even social media comments!!

    A friend once said he was impressed and envious of my writing skills; he was referring to this longish comment I wrote to another friend on Facebook. Basically, there was a skirmish on a discussion thread, and my friend was on the opposite side of the argument to me. As I really like this friend but also wanted to make my voice heard, I labored to craft a comment that respects his point of view, while also highlighting my own arguments. It felt so flattering to hear my other friend (not the one I was writing to) compliment my writing skills. This Facebook comment brought me and the friend I wrote to closer together, lol, as we could disagree with each other in a respectful manner.

    And remember my “My Words as a Gay Transgender Christian” post? A friend actually read the whole post, and told me he was impressed by how civilized and logical my writing was, even while he could feel my passion for this topic. Wow, that is so flattering to hear. Another notable blog post, was the one on psychological maturity in books. Two friends who read it praised me for being able to tackle multiple viewpoints, where I keep anticipating counter-arguments and addressing them. One of these two friends who praised me, also happens to be more critical in his standards, so that made me extra happy. XD

    The compliments I got from professors (especially the tough ones) on my papers, was also immensely pleasing and encouraging.

    About what we are writing for, I really enjoy writing for the sake of self-expression and self-discovery. Wow, it’s so freeing to realise that I’m allowed to write things that I don’t have to show anybody, lol. So now I feel free to write about all sorts of stuff that I would be too scared to show other people. πŸ‘€ Heehee my secret sides are all coming to life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Sieran! I do agree with your friend that your blog posts and comments have been very thorough and well-thought out.
      I think when I mentioned that I do not receive as many compliments about my writing, I mean specifically the novels that I write haha. I think it is because when I show my novels to people, it is typically when I am asking for feedback, and when I hear from beta-readers, I get a mix of positives and constructive criticisms at the same time. And of course I focus on the constructive criticisms haha.
      But in any case I think that it strengthens my resolve to be internally rather than externally motivated to continue writing which is good πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this wrap up, Sophie and I admire you for getting so much writing done last year, you’re INCREDIBLE. I also adore your small synopsis of FOG, I am SO intrigued. I wish you all the best for your 2020 writing goals and will always be rooting for you!! ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved reading about your progress with your writing projects this year!! πŸ₯° I definitely wish you all the best luck for your writing in 2020 and I hope you manage to accomplish your dreams 😊 I also need to remind myself to take some rest, as I’m often bad at taking care of myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I definitely love the lessons you mention. They are indeed things that just we just keep on re-learning every year, trying to do better each time. I also love how much writing went on in your life and that you accomplished so much! I hope 2020 proves to be an even better year for you, Sophie! Happy New Year! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish you a wondeful 2020 and yes 2019 went by at an alarming rate and I won’t shut up about it πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
    I completely agree with your opinions on New Year resolutions, it is not a magic everything will change button but more the opportunity to set attainable goals for things you want to change!!

    You did so well with your writing this year and achieved so many things, that is amazing!! πŸŽ‰ so big well done !!
    I loved reading about your lessons learned over this year. I do think reading is a great tip as it inspires me as a writer so much and actually provides a lot of motivation!!
    Also to keep on writing and savour the moments. I love writing and I need to remember that when panicking about not writing enough or that I haven’t achieved everything as it is not just about hitting goals but so much more. And you do need to perservere with writing as it a very hard hobby I find.
    My writing had highs and lows this year, I did hit my goal of 40K words this year but most of that was in the last two months of the year in a panic. I definitely need to work on motivating myself to do it. It also was a different project than I expected as I’ve temporarily dropped my old one. I think my new goals are to finish the 40K one and get back into my old one!!
    Best of luck with your writing and hitting your goals, you’ve got this!! πŸ’›

    Like

  8. Thank you for saying that my blog posts and comments have been very thorough and well-thought out!! That’s very validating to hear. I feel bad that I haven’t written anything for my blog for about half a year. πŸ˜… Idk how you manage to be so consistent! It’s amazing! My life is such a tornado compared to yours. Even when your life gets hectic, it still looks more stable and orderly than mine, lol.

    Ah interesting that you don’t show your stories just for readers to enjoy, and only show them to beta readers for feedback. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was just surprised, haha. (I’m not showing my stories to anybody right now, lol. Sometimes I miss getting others’ feedback, both the positive and the negative. But it’s also nice to have a place to stow away all my secrets. I’ve thought of publishing secret stuff under an obscure pen name. But hackers and personal investigators are so shrewd, that I would be too scared to post any of that stuff in public, even under a different pen name. I know this sounds overly cautious, but I’m in the psychotherapy field, so we need to be aware of our online presence, since some clients will actually Google us. :/ )

    Intrinsic motivation is the best!! I also enjoy scribbling down my current thoughts, feelings, and concerns sometimes. It’s really unstructured writing, but it’s still a process of turning your thoughts into words. Plus, you almost always discover new things about yourself when you do such writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha the downside of my lifestyle is that I really force myself to get a lot of stuff done. Because I’ve committed to the tight writing/blogging schedule, I continue to do it even with lots of other stuff going on, so I tend to stress myself out XD
      Before I used to send my stuff out to friends to read for fun BUT……. few people read my stuff haha. Also it is probably because most of my friends are not readers lol.

      Liked by 1 person

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