Writing was a major part of this year for me.
It's a year when I really understood that this wasn't just a simple hobby anymore. I've found opportunities through it. I've made friends and seen places because of it. It's now something that I'm going to do my best to continue because while I'm not expecting miracles here, I know that I have readers somewhere out there enjoying every scene, loving every character and getting inspired with every story. And maybe that can be enough.
This year also brought on a lot of choices and changes for my writing.
Here are five of them:
- Outline. This is usually easier said than done but this has become such a critical part of my writing routine now. I start out with something pretty general in the beginning and as I write chapter after chapter, I streamline it. Towards the end, I'll write down all the scenes that definitely need to be included. This allows me to anticipate how much more will need to be written and when I'll be done. This way, I can tease my readers and build the lead up to the finale.
- Waste no idea. I try to focus on one story but whenever an idea comes in, I take the ten or fifteen minutes I'll need to capture that idea along with whatever scenes or dialogue I come up with. I may let it sit for months or years but some of the stories I've recently come up with are from ideas I'd long ago written down. You just never know which one might turn into something.
- Pre-write and stick to the schedule. With Wattpad's serialized method of posting stories, it's a good idea to have a schedule you can stick to. I get it—writers are creative people—but it's quite different when you have an audience that's trying to follow your story as you write it. I try now not to post a half-cooked story. I'll commit to writing a story that has a pretty completed plot in my head even if it's still quite general. At least I know that it's going to go somewhere. I also try to write a few chapters ahead, that way I'll always have content even when something comes up in the week or if I have to travel. My usual goal is to finish one chapter with each new one I post every week. I owe this to my readers. They're quite understanding but I try not to test their patience. You give them stories they love. They, in turn, support you.
- Write what's necessary. Don't just fill a blank page. I'm notorious for my long stories but in the past year, I've tried to be more conscious about my word count. Sure, you can trim a story later but that can be painful especially when you've already invested time and brain power to write those scenes out. Also, reading other books and looking back on my own stories, I'm starting to see where I could've been simpler and more straightforward. So now, I just write what's necessary to the scene. Sure, I still try to capture what I can of emotions and general details but I try not to go on and on about something. I surprised myself with my current story. I thought, with the timeline, that I'd have way too many chapters but I don't. I picked my battles with which part of the story to tell. It'll serve you and your readers in the long run.
- Take it easy on yourself. I can get something written under pressure and sometimes, it even turns out great. But I'm writing on the side and trying not to burn out. While I have a deadline every week both to finish a chapter and post one (these are often not the same), there are times when I just can't sit down and write anymore. Times when I have to live my life a little. So I walk away and do what I need to do for myself. The last thing I want is to resent writing so whenever I feel like I need a break, I try to listen to myself and take small doses of it here and there. That's better than burning out and needing to take a year off.
I hope these things help out other writers out there.
I look forward to even better writing habits in 2017 but these ones are probably going to stay with me long after this year is over.
*images from Pinterest