Sunday, December 31, 2017

Why You Should Do a Year-End Wrap Up

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy 

It's that time of year again--when bloggers do their year-end wrap up and reflect on how things went over the past 365 days. But this year, I'm not making it all about me. This year, I'm inviting you to do your own wrap ups, too.

I've found these posts to be a good tool to examine where I've been, what I've succeeded at, remind myself what I wanted to do and what was important to my career, and refocus my writing energy. I think every writer can benefit from writing down and looking at how their year went. Feel free to share your wrap up and goals in the comments.

The first thing I do for these posts is read last year's post to see what goals I had and what I accomplished. For 2017, I only had one goal--create a productive working schedule. I started out well, and my new work schedule was very effective for the first six months of 2017. Then things slid off the rails and my schedule fell apart.

I don't blame the schedule, because it did work when I followed it and I accomplished a lot at first. I blame life and its unpredictability for knocking me off my game. So I'm going to try again for 2018, but make a few changes based on the things I learned this year and try to be more disciplined.

Things I accomplished in 2017:
  • I released Understanding Conflict, my fifth writing book, and it's doing very well. 
  • I finished my urban fantasy, Blood Ties, and that will release in February.
  • I made some fun changes to my revision book that I'll be sharing in the next few weeks.
  • I competed a lot of marketing tasks that I'd put off doing for ages that needed to be done
  • I started my newsletter.
  • I presented at a slew of conferences and festivals for the first time, meeting new writers and industry folks in the Florida area (such as SleuthFest, the Orlando Book Festival, the Florida Heritage Book Festival, Florida Writers Association Conference).
I also reworked the outline of a YA fantasy that had been back burnered for years, wrote a prologue for it (I know, but this book actually does need one) and realized it's a pretty decent book after all and deserves to be finished, and outlined a good chunk of a middle grade fantasy. Not too shabby.

Your Turn: What writing-related tasks did you accomplish this year?

They don't have to be huge "got a six-book pub deal" successes, just things that you did that you're proud of or happy to have completed. Find the things that worked and the things that made you happy or satisfied with your writing journey.

What I didn't accomplish in 2017:

I also like to take stock of what I didn't do so well, so I can see what needs improvement and how I might do things differently. With my "one goal" for the year, this one was easy--I need to cut out the distractions that knocked me off my schedule made me lose focus. Losing my focus meant:
  • I did not get my middle grade fantasy written 
  • I did not get my next writing book written
  • I did not get my urban fantasy ready to publish this year (just a few months late, not so bad, but still not what I had planned) 
  • I did not stick to my schedule as well as I'd hoped
  • I did not do all the marketing tasks I'd hoped to do
While some of these were delayed by things I could not have avoided, a lot of it was on me. I let my discipline wan and my productivity paid for it. I still accomplished a lot, and I'm proud of that, but I know I can do better. Had I stayed focused, I would have had three or four books written in 2017 instead of two.

Your Turn: What didn't go the way you'd hoped?

Not everything we try works, but it's by trying that we find the way that works best for us. What are some things you did that didn't work? What kinda worked and just needs some re-vamping this year? Think about the things you'd try again vs. the things you won't. Where can you improve and how?

Things I'd like to accomplish in 2018:

Another new year, another chance to succeed. I'm excited about it, because I did do very well this year, despite some setbacks. I might not keep my schedule all year, but I can aim for nine months this time instead of six and see what happens. What I hope to do in this coming year:
  • Stick to my schedule (which includes the marketing, promotion, and social media stuff I'm terrible at maintaining)  
  • Release the new revision book project (this I know I'll do, since it's basically done)
  • Write and release book two of my urban fantasy series
  • Write the next writing book
And a few "pie in the sky" goals that probably won't get done, but it would be nice:
  • Finish that YA fantasy and get it off to my agent
  • Write the first draft of a sci fi idea my muse of a husband gave me that I'm dying to play with
It's an ambitious year, but not inconceivable if I stay focused. If I can find a way to cut out the distractions, I have a decent shot at doing it all.

Your Turn: What are your 2018 goals? What do you want to accomplish? 

Make a list of what you want to do this year. Heck, it can be something you jot down on a post-it and stick to your monitor if you want. If you're feeling ambitious, create a schedule or plan to accomplish those tasks. Whatever you think will best motivate you.

I like new years and new starts, because I get to wipe the slate clean and begin again. It's refreshing to leave the to-do list behind and start over. Last year doesn't matter, it's all about this year. And this year is going to be great.

Let's hear about your year!

If you're looking to improve your craft, check out one of my books on writing: 

In-depth studies in my Skill Builders series include Understanding Conflict (And What It Really Means), and Understanding Show Don't Tell (And Really Getting It). My Foundations of Fiction series includes Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft, your step-by-step guide to revising a novel. 

A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her novels include The Shifter, Blue Fire, and Darkfall from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. The Shifter, was chosen for the 2014 list of "Ten Books All Young Georgians Should Read" from the Georgia Center for the Book. It was also shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize, and The Truman Award in 2011.

Janice is also the founder of Fiction University, a site dedicated to helping writers improve their craft. Her popular Foundations of Fiction series includes Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft, your step-by-step guide to revising a novel, and her Skill Builders Series, Understanding Show Don't Tell (And Really Getting It), and Understanding Conflict (And What It Really Means).   
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  1. My word for the year is ‘simplicity’ . . .eliminating all those things that distract me from my writing. Whether it’s stuff or my schedule (or even disjointed thoughts), I’m looking forward to a cleaner slate this year!

  2. I accomplished a lot in 2017, including two book deals! (One of them is still a secret) What I am most proud of, though, is that I managed to find a way to get and stay more organized (thank you, bullet journal). I also revised a verse novel and wrote more than 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo!

    I didn't do as many author events as I would have liked in 2017, so I'm hoping to do more this year. And I need to get back into my regular exercise routine. My schedule's been a little wonky the past few months, so I got out of the groove.

    Happy New Year!

  3. I finished my first draft and gave it to my beta readers who inspired me to keep going as well as offering constructive feedback. I completed a 3 month writing course and improved my writing significantly. I have a revision plan for the second draft. I was shortlisted (but ultimately unsuccessful) for a mentor scholarship.

    What I didn't do... complete the second draft, stick to my writing goals of rewriting 2 chapters a week, fiercely guard my writing time and use it! (Too many excuses... housework, holiday planning etc etc)

    Goals for 2018
    Complete a second draft: 2 chapters per week, give to beta readers
    Complete a third draft and final draft
    Have manuscript ready for submission late 2018/ early 2019