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A (Little More Than) Mid-Year Review: Finding the Joy Again

My critique group met last week, and we paused our regularly-scheduled reviews of one another’s work to take stock of how we were doing with our writing goals and plans for 2021.

I’ve set out some ambitious goals for this year, after not writing much at all during 2020.

I set out to indie publish BAD CHOICES MAKE GOOD STORIES, my essay collection about writing. I wanted to draft a middle grade to submit to my agent, and begin working on an adult mystery series that will be another self-publishing venture. I also wanted to play with some picture books and work on the second book in a chapter book series.

I’ve actually been able to do all of the things on my list. BAD CHOICES is out now (get it here), I’m 12k words into that new middle grade, I’ve written a novella and am 8K in on that adult mystery novel, and I have a new picture book that’s on subs. Not much action on that chapter book, but that’s okay.

Additionally, I’ve refreshed my website, published some flash fiction, had new author photos taken, taught classes and workshops via Highlights and The Writers’ Loft, took on a few editorial clients, and even went on a writing retreat in June!

When I look at that list, I’m pretty blown away. I have definitely worked steadily this summer, but I got BAD CHOICES out, drafted that new picture book, and developed the adult series while I was wrapping up the spring semester.

Like many creatives, 2020 was a scary struggle. I didn’t want to repeat that in 2021. So I changed a few things. Namely, I’ve taken the pressure off for publishing. I want my books in the world, I love my traditional publishing career—but I also know that every editor and agent is also struggling with the weirdness of the pandemic and life and their work. So, I made a conscious mental effort to stay in my lane, run my own race, focus on my own work. Remembering that I’m a writer when I’m writing, not only when I’m publishing, helped. Feeling satisfied when I do my work, and finding happiness in the writing itself, has been a game-changer. When stuff sells, it sells. Exhale.

Additionally, I’m not working all day, every day. For the first time ever, I’ve set goals for how many days per quarter I want to spend writing (third quarter: 55 days). I’ve never been a write every day writer—my life just doesn’t allow for that. But for the past few years I found myself settling in for long writing sessions once or twice a week, and that didn’t work during the pandemic. So this year, if I write 500 words or for 15 minutes, I “count” it towards my quarterly goal. And oddly, I’ve been able to produce more! I think this is somewhat due to the fact that once I took that “I must achieve a certain word count in this session” off the table, I worried less about how much and was able to enjoy the straight writing…and I wrote more. Or for longer. Or something.

Ultimately, I’m having fun. I really love the projects I’m working on. I love the variety and scope of the work I’m doing. And I love being a writer again.


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