Friends! It’s been a while, no? While it’s been fabulous (and sanity-saving!) to keep up with many of you through Twitter, I figured it was about time I updated my lovely little blog again.
I’ve spent most of my unclaimed-by-baby-or-meal-making time doing one of four things: reading published novels, critiquing unpublished novels, working on my own projects, and investing in friendships with other writers. I highly recommend all of these, especially if you are trying to become a stronger writer—I’ve learned so many things over the past year!
Reading published novels sometimes feels like you’re just relaxing, especially if you’ve created lofty goals and deadlines for yourself. It’s such a valuable use of time, though! For one, there’s bound to be at LEAST one book that totally floors you by its ability to stir your emotions, for the way the writing looks so effortless. (Deceptively so, of course.) That book, for me, was R.J. Palacio’s WONDER. There are also bound to be books you don’t have as strong a connection with; this is also valuable, because it shows just how subjective this industry is. What works well for you doesn’t always work for someone else, and vice versa.
Critiquing unpublished works, for me, is an invaluable experience. It is SO MUCH FUN for me to work my way through projects and take an objective look at what’s on the page. It’s like a puzzle for my brain to figure out what works, what doesn’t, and what would make the story even stronger—even if it’s already super strong. Then, there’s communicating all of that in a tactful, succinct way, all while walking the fine line of my-opinion-is-valid-but-it’s-not-the-only-opinion-out-there. Critiquing the work of others not only helps me come back to my own projects with fresh eyes, but also with the ability to more quickly spot problems of all sorts (and their solutions).
Working on my own projects: my progress has been steady, but slow. Creating something of my own takes a different sort of energy than analyzing something created by someone else—I find it’s sometimes hard to focus in a way that’s conducive to creating when my writing time is limited to 45 or 60 minutes at a time (thanks to Jamesbaby’s not-so-long naps). I’m learning, though. I think the key is to use whatever limited time I have to its fullest, and then to think specifically, when I do. If I try to attack my entire to-do list all at once, it’s daunting and overwhelming. Instead, I bite off exactly what I think I can chew in 45 minutes, chew it, and then pick up in the same way whenever I next get the chance. Nothing too revolutionary in that approach, but it can be surprisingly difficult to implement. As for the projects themselves, two (out of the many in my head) are coming together quite nicely. I’ve updated my PROJECTS page to reflect what they’re about, if you are curious.
Investing in friendships with other writers: oh, man. This is another one that might, on the surface, seem like just a fun thing to do that gets in the way of actual writing. But…no. I’ve found some other writers who are committed to their goals—writers who are consistently working toward those goals—and the energy is contagious. Someone is bound to be feeling super motivated, which comes in handy because someone is also bound to be feeling completely overwhelmed. I’ve learned so much, and have felt abundant motivation and encouragement, from the girls I’ve come to know through Twitter (collectively known as #twitterbloc—it takes up less space in a tweet than tagging everyone).
So! That, in a nutshell, is where I’ve been all year. I haven’t abandoned my writing goals, not even close—it’s just that those things have taken all my creative energy, and all my free time. It’d be nice to start blogging more regularly again, but I’ll probably have to ease back into it since my free time is still pretty limited (and since I’m still doing all the things I mentioned in this post). Thanks for sticking with me, sweet friends! *hugs*