This blog was on and off for about a year and half, then a few months ago I started taking it seriously and it’s been one of my favorite things of 2010. This blog has allowed me the space to explore my writing, my goals, my reading and to connect with people with similar interests. I’ve stumbled across books that I would otherwise never have heard of and been encouraged by stories of others in the trenches working on their novels and querying agents. The time and space I’ve spent reflecting in this blog on what I’ve read–books for fun, books for craft, other people’s work–and what I’ve written–both screenplays and novels–has allowed me to grow more than anything else, because I am being intentional with my reading and my writing. So, here is to 2011 and all my hopes for my reading, writing, and blogging.
First, I want to look back at 2010.
Favorite reads of 2010: Heist Society, Clockwork Angel, Geektastic, Wicked Lovely, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book of Bunny Suicides, When You Are Engulfed In Flames, Airhead
Most surprising favorites read in 2010: Schooling, One for the Money
Favorite Writing Books read in 2010: The First Five Pages, On Writing
I wrote a list of goals back in January (not on the blog) and then revisited a few months ago here. Now, I want to look to see what goals I actually met this year.
1. Finish a specific Family Comedy Screenplay (COMPLETED) — It is probably the best first draft I’ve ever written and I’m currently working on the rewrite. I need to be finished with it by the middle of January.
2. Finish a specific teen comedy screenplay (NOT COMPLETED) — This project took a lot of time and effort and the first draft is rubbish. Trying to figure out how to fix it took a lot more time and effort until it got to the point where I was just spinning my wheels. Deciding to leave it be with the knowledge that I may never come back to it… difficult, but necessary.
3. Finish a third screenplay that I hadn’t yet come up with when I wrote the list (COMPLETED) — wrote the first draft and the rewrite.
4. Finish the draft of my YA novel (COMPLETED) — AND I rewrote thing in October.
5. Finish the draft of my MG/YA fantasy novel (NOT COMPLETED) — But it’s in the running for being finished in 2011. I ran into some problems while I was writing it. Usually I know the character arcs and a few key plot points and pants the rest. But in a fantasy I realized I couldn’t do that. I had to decide whether it was MG or YA (probably young YA), and I had to world-build better. I wasn’t ready for this project, so I had to put it on the back burner. And in the back of my mind I kept coming up with solutions. I now know enough to really sit down and plot the thing out the way I should have in the beginning. It’s something I’m really hoping to be able to get to in 2011. But then again, I love all my ideas and it’s not like they ever stop popping into my head.
6. Write 10 short stories (NOT COMPLETED) — And I’m not apologizing. I realized a little too late that writing short stories is harder for me than writing a novel. I wasted a lot of time trying to write short stories when it’s not the form my brain is best suited for. I’ve grown to love reading short stories and maybe one day I’ll write one I can be proud of, but for now they stress me out.
7. Read 25 books for fun (COMPLETED) — Way earlier than I expected and I’m not going to list them. Just browse through the blog if you’re curious.
8. Read 10 books for Craft (COMPLETED) — How I Write, The First Five Pages, Save the Cat Goes to the Movies, Writing for Emotional Impact, On Writing, Save the Cat, Getting Started As A Free Lance Writer, Creating Short Fiction, Elements of Style, The Writer’s Journey (I’m counting it even though I never technically finished it. I only have the third part left and this thing was LONG and DRY. Plus I’ve been reading lots of Agent and Writer blogs so that totally counts! And yes, I’m counting part three next year).
And now onto 2011!
Most anticipated novels to be released: Uncommon Criminals: A Heist Society Novel by Ally Carter (will update as soon as there is an Amazon page) and City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I’m excited for everything else I have on pre-order, but these two are at the next level of anticipation. If I lived with nerdy friends I would dress up and throw a party. I’m that excited.
Reading challenges I’ll be participating in:
Read Me Baby One More Time, hosted by Midnight Book Girl
Show Me The Free, hosted by The Unread Reader
Check out my post on these challenges here.
And my goals for 2011 are:
Writing – Prose
1. Rewrite my first novel manuscript until it is in good enough shape to query. I want to start querying in 2011!
2. Finish my Nano project.
3. Finish/write another novel manuscript that has been accumulating notes and characters in notebooks. I have too many ideas and I’m dying to write them all, but if I only wrote what I wanted when I wanted I’d have even more half-finished/barely-started manuscripts and screenplays. It’s hard, but I’ve developed a discipline to not get distracted by every shiny new idea.
Writing – Screenplay
4. Finally get Eugene off the storyboard and onto the page.
5. Write a first draft of a yet undecided screenplay (one of several new ideas or a rewrite of something I’ve worked on this year).
6. Rewrite one of the above until it’s ready to query agents. I want to start querying in 2011!
I think these are reasonable writing goals for 2011. It gives me about 2 months for each round of writing/rewriting. This seems to be about what I need, including the reading/relaxing/thinking stage that I enjoy just before starting a new draft. It’s certainly not an easy goal for me, but it is attainable while at the same time challenging. If I want to do Nano this year and actually set myself up for success, then I’m going to have to work ahead this year.
7. Read 10 books on craft–either screenplay or novel. (probable contenders: The Plot Thickens, A Dash of Style, The Forrest For the Trees, Save the Cat Strikes Back, and maybe reread On Writing or The First Five Pages or the original Save the Cat).
8. Read 25 books for fun (same as last year… I’ll probably hit this pretty early, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself to the point where I don’t even want to read).
9. Blog regularly, a minimum of three times a week…. Right now I’m averaging about 4, so I think this is an attainable goal, even when I get really busy with rewrites or first drafts. For now, I’d like to use the following blogging schedule:
Mondays: Topics — Something book or writing related that piques my interest enough for me to explore in a series of themed posts. So far, I’ve done Harry Potter and book trailers. In the future I may do a weekly spotlight on my writers with the most entertaining twitter presence, best web resources for writers, or review some of the games now available for the Kindle.
Wednesdays: Book — My posts are review-like, but I don’t like to call them that, because this space is a way for me to intentionally look at books in terms of craft. What worked for me and why. Usually, whatever I’m focusing on or thinking about in my own writing, because seeing how it works in published pieces is probably the most helpful tool I’ve picked up in 2010.
Fridays: Book — Same as above.
Sundays: Writing — Just like 2010, this will be constantly changing. Some weeks I’ll evaluate a book on writing, some weeks I’ll update you on my projects/goals. I may discuss what I’m learning as a writer or what I’m struggling with. Nothing is out of bounds as long as it can arguably be connected to writing.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are game if I get ahead on reading (which will hopefully happen during the next readathon), or to write about a movie adaptation. Saturdays are there when I want to participate in the Weekly Geeks or other blog challenge.