What I Learned in 2014

I wanted to share with you guys some of the things I learned about writing this past year. So, sit back, have a cookie, and read on.

 

I cannot type a first draft.

I don’t know why, but typing a first draft sucks away my creativity and the life of the story. And this lesson took a painfully long time for me to figure out. So, I’ve decided to write my first drafts in notebooks, as I’ve always done. I’d rather have a good story finished that I have to type up than a bland story I could easily send to alpha-readers if I ever finished it.

I cannot tell people what I’m working on.

I wish this were not true. I would love to talk about my writing more often, but telling you about it… I might as well just hand you the outline. Because that’s about as interesting as a talked-about story becomes to me.

I would rather write at my own pace than go insane trying to make a self-imposed deadline.

I can write a good story (possibly even a better one) if I go slowly instead of trying to finish by a certain time. Goals are great, but if I start to panic and writing just makes me miserable, I need to slow down.

I don’t have to be afraid of alpha-reader feedback. They expect bugs in the story– that’s why I asked them to help me catch them.

Thank you, Amanda, for helping me realize this.

I have an opportunity to edit before the story is passed on to alphas, but I’m only going to use it a bit.

I have a few things I can easily fix just by changing some words or adding an extra sentence. Everything else can wait until after I get feedback.

I discovered my own boundaries for YA content.

I understand that everything in the story must have a purpose. If it’s useless, it gets cut or not written at all.

I know how to query an agent.

Did this back on May 31st. It was scary, and especially more so after I realized I left a sentence unfinished at the end of the first chapter. (Oops.)

I cannot work on more than one project at once, even if one of those is just typing up a first draft.

One project will get preference over the other. In other words, my novella is going to have to wait while I get LASER typed up.

I know (I think, I hope) how to write a short story.

Back in March, I was so sick and tired of editing that I chased a plot bunny about giant butterflies. From that plot bunny, I wrote a short horror story of about 3k. I completed it in one day, making it the most words I’ve ever written in one day. I learned what must go into a short story for it to not be a memoir/abstract/very internal conflict thing (I hope. I haven’t actually tried this yet, but plan to).

I really enjoy scaring my alpha-readers.

See above. (Sorry, Liam.)

I enjoy intentionally provoking any emotional reaction, for that matter.

I suppose that’s something I’ve always enjoyed, considering how long I’ve cackled secretly about plot twist-reactions.

So, what awesome writing things have you learned about writing in 2014? Did you learn any of the same things I did? Let me know in the comments!

(SHIM! THE GIF THING WORKS!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!)

Happy New Year to Everyone! DFTBA!

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25 thoughts on “What I Learned in 2014

  1. Out of so many things I learned this year, two things that stood out the most are that I can’t outline, and I can’t work on one project at the same time. I used to be able to do a rough plan, but I think I much prefer to dive into the first draft and then just write. The outlining part always makes me procrastinate and then I never get to writing. Now that I think about it though, the latter might not actually be true. I only worked on my fairytale retelling throughout November… Gah, now I need to figure out why I managed that, and not throughout the rest of the year!

    But yes, I love intentionally provoking any emotional reactions for readers, although the only reader for a long time will be me. It’ll be a while before I face to handing over a draft to any alpha-readers!

    Yay for gifs! 😀

  2. Yay the GIF worked! I’m so glad I could help with that.

    I learned that I still have no clue what my writing process is. I honestly don’t even know if I’m a planner or a pantser. I also learned that writing really fast, while rather exhilarating and fun in it’s own sort of way, really isn’t necessarily a good thing, and it’s sometimes better to take things slowly.

  3. I learned this year that just because one book is easy to write, doesn’t mean that I’ve conquered all writer’s block and all of that mess. Yeah. Writing the Ankulen was a breeze last year. Kingdom this year? Not so much.

    But I like writing fast, and I find that my story flows better when I am, because when I’m writing fast, it means I’m inspired. When I’m writing slow, my characters tend to meander here and there and it doesn’t make much sense. I’m also an edit-as-I-go writer, so I usually check back at the beginning of each writing day to see if there’s anything I can fix to get me back into the story.

    And as for typing vs. handwriting, it actually makes little difference to me. I love both, and it really depends on my book, what notebooks I have on hand, and the condition of my computer for which I choose. And I’m more inspired about a book if I am talking about it. So … yeah. Good work, and good luck on next year!

    • That is a good thing to learn. 🙂

      I know what you mean about inspiration = speed. I can knock out a lot of words when I’m inspired. But most of the time, though I am excited about my story, I’m not excited enough to write like mad. I am a vicious procrastinator. You’re so prolific, Kendra!

      Thank you and good luck to you as well! 🙂

      • Oh, shish-kabobs, I procrastinate way more than I should, too. However, since I’m now a “professional” writer, procrastination just doesn’t cut it. I’ve got to get the words written that I’ve promised to write. There are other writers that I consider far more prolific than I am.

  4. Ah writing! Man I really need to figure out if I like typing better than handwriting – I’ve tried both and they’re equally awesome…but I think I need a few more tries to figure this one out. Just started writing again in November (after a two year break) and my skills are looking a bit rusty. OH MY GOSH you queried an agent? Kudos to you my friend – just the word “query” has me hiding behind the sofa. 😀

  5. I remember that story about giant butterflies. That was a fun story. I seem to recall that plot bunny had something to do with a conversation we had on Chatzy, but I don’t remember what it was.

    Great post. Let’s see, what are some things I learned…
    Describing just the right details can make descriptions magical (The Raven Boys taught me this)
    It’s okay if my characters are wrong about things and of they don’t have all the answers. In fact it’s often better of they’re wrong and don’t have all the answers.
    Going slow and spending time thinking about things and fleshing out things is really great for planning revisions.
    Worldbuilding is hard.
    Storyboards are fun.

    I know there was probably more, but those are what’s coming to mind at the moment.

    And I must say, being able to hang out with you and learn things with you made 2014 way more awesome than it would have been without you. ❤

    • I think we were talking about plot bunnies, maybe…

      Oh, yes! I learned about descriptions from The Raven Boys, too. 🙂

      Aww! Thank you! Being able to learn things and hang out with you made 2014 awesome for me, too. ❤

  6. These are exceptionally awesome things to learn. *nods* I am terrified of alpha readers. I JUST CAN’T DO IT. I have to have edited it…ergh, I can’t imagine my sloppy writing going in front of people’s eyes. >.> The biggest thing I learnt, well, really kind of just reinforced, was that it’s okay if I want to write fast and have long breaks. I guess consistency in writing IS good but it’s just not how I roll. *shrugs* I’ve spent a lot of time trying to have the “right” process…but that’s rubbish. The RIGHT process is whatever process that works for me, eh?! XD

    • Thanks!

      Alpha feedback can be terrifying. But 1, you don’t have to actually watch them read it and 2, I’m learning to suppress my thoughts that the story is too flawed for alphas. Yes, they will see the mistakes and yes, they will probably find the same ones you did. But there’s a good chance that they’ll find stuff that you didn’t even think of. And that’s what alphas are for. 🙂

      Yes, the right process is whatever works best for you. 😀

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