Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Thus Ends 2016

I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to manage it, since this is my last day off before the conclusion of the year, but along with this post I do have two others now started for me to publish this week. It should help me get back up to 52 posts by the end of 2016. Not exactly one per week due to two missed ones, but same amount of effort, I think.

I'd call it good.

I'm also going to have to go back to my NaNo strict mindset this week. I need to be able to say "I'm going to go write" and hide away so I can get these posts done. I'm going to go from my Post-NaNo writing recovery hiatus right back to ALL THE WRITING!

So, what am I planning, anyway?

Well, for starters, for a while now I've wanted to recap the books I've read, since I dropped the ball on that back over the summer. My first post will be a fairly lengthy one as I reflect on the sixteen books I've read this year.

When I commented in writing group that I've read sixteen books this year, Keaton seemed shocked. She's the type of person who either reads or listens to an audiobook about once a week; maybe even twice so she gets about 100 books in a year. So, I can understand that to her 16 books annually doesn't sound like much. She may even be as appalled as a lot of professional writers who swear that reading is just as important for an author as writing itself. Still, considering I haven't really read more than two or three books a year - and last year barely managed ONE - since college; a leap to sixteen books is a VAST improvement.

Anyway, I'll talk more about that in that post. My next supplemental post will be my new annual tradition of recapping the year. It's a nice way for me to look back on past years and see my growth. Same for other writers who might feel like they'll never get anywhere with their writing, or my fans who just like to see me improve. Having these yearly recaps turns my progress into a single post proving that I'm evolving as a writer, and that others can as well.

Writing used to be a passionate hobby of mine. That's it. A HOBBY. Something to do when I'm bored, excited, or need to work something out. Something to do when I felt like it, and only when inspiration struck.

Writing may be a calling of mine, but I never treated it as such. Now? Now there's some weight to it. Writing is a priority, sometimes over even cleaning my home, which I'm sure my mother appreciates....

I'm still nowhere near where I need to be to consider myself "serious" about writing. I'm still a year or so away from actually earning money with my writing. But it is definitely more than a "hobby" now. It is a commitment. It is a driving force. It is a life choice. It is as important as exercising, eating healthy, or socializing. It is how I keep well.

I just need to work on focus a bit more. I feel like if I can just laser-focus on a project, and follow it through for once, then I might finally be on the right path.

Between my passion for Jolene, and the fact that my backstory for the never-introduced Kizar doesn't fit Bear's world, I have been thinking a lot about Gyateara again. There hasn't really been much actual advancement in the world build, but I've been picking up a few ideas here and there that I might incorporate. I want to be able to finish building the playground that Jolene and her past can play on. I'd have to come up with a new love interest to replace Rensin, though, so I can keep it original once I transition Jolene from Laerrnesse to Gyateara. But once Gyateara's built, I can have so much fun!

I can redo my original NaNo story, hopefully whittling down the Legend of Zelda, Fable, and InuYasha heavy-handed fanfiction elements until they are either original, or unrecognizable as influences. I could finally run around with Natalie and Connor again. I could then "hop the pond" to the mainland continent for Jolene, and finally put Amara's story to paper. I might even play some more with Elymoxa, in a world where gnome-hate is uncalled for. Sliding down the southern coast, I can get to the desert lands for Kizar.

Each character could have their own mini-series of books, and then combined they could make up the Gyateara Chronicles - or something like that.

Then I could switch gears from high-fantasy to cyberpunk with "Glitches."

But for me to do either, I HAVE to finish world-building. I've been failing at so many of my writing-themed New Years Resolutions the past few years, but I think my main three for this upcoming year will be:
  1. Write a new blog post every week; ACTUALLY hitting 52 weekly posts instead of this catch-up at the end of the year.
  2. Continue reading; the exact challenge I'll talk about in that post.
  3. Finish world building either Gyateara or the Glitches future.
Perhaps I should actually add a fourth resolution. One I tease Ronoxym about frequently:
Obviously, "Lost Loves and Paramours" is my front-runner. I'm going to go back to Jolene's story in January, after I had time to really rest up from NaNo and the holidays. I'm going to aim to finish her story by March at the latest, and then edit over April and May. Come June, I should have a polished second draft that I can post for everyone to FINALLY read. In the meantime, maybe I'll post teaser chapters.

I think that's the trick. I did a lot better as a "plantser" than as a planner or "pantser" for NaNo. I needed a rough outline that I could then work with. I still listened as Jolene told me her tale, and it got a little side-tracked for a chapter or two, but I knew where I needed the story to go, so I could bring it back to center. Having that roadmap helped keep me focused; helped me keep writing; helped me win NaNo finally.

So, maybe 2017 needs to be thought of the same way: a story that I need an outline for, so that when I get sidetracked I know how to get back to center.

I won't plan out my day-to-day or weekly per se, but a monthly breakdown of what I want to accomplish - a visualization of my goals - should help. All the self-help time-management books and articles I read say to do that. Perhaps this will be the year that I listen. Knowing that I had a goal of 50,000 words in 30 days, and how many words I had to write daily - with weekends "free" - and knowing that it only takes up about an hour or two each day to hit that goal; it all helped me focus.

Focus is the main name of the game this upcoming year. I now have the discipline and drive. I'm reading more. I'm writing more. I'm established in my writing group. I have people who will hold me accountable. I now need to learn how to be FOCUSED. True, that means Ron's challenge to write a completely new story every week won't really help with that, but at the same time, maybe it will....

On the one hand, it ruins my focus, because I'm spending each week trying to think of something original. On the other hand, it refreshes my mind because I can take a break from whatever block I'm most likely fixated on. It also helps me learn to finish something, and in a short amount of words to boot.

So, I think I'm going to roll over Ron's challenge, but with some leniencies:
  • Write a flash fiction or vignette of 1000 words or less every week. Bring these to writing group to read as well as post weekly here on the blog.
  • Professionally owned intellectual property is not to be used for fanfiction. In other words, no fanfiction about books, shows, movies, songs, etc. However, if the X-Future boards or Bear's D&D campaigns inspire me to write side-stories, while technically fanfiction, they are fair game. This allows me to expand on my characters and help me better play those games.
  • The stories can be in the same universe, but cannot be straight continuations of each other. No cheating by making the flash or vignette "complete" by writing another one or two in chapter form. Each 1000 words must be a self-contained story. However, if I want to write another vignette or flash about the same character, unrelated to any previous ones, or if I want to write another story within the same world/universe, I'm going to allow it. This way I can use this challenge for the main reason I'm rolling it over into 2017: World Building
See, I figured I can keep myself on track by forcing myself to write a 1000 word mini-story about either Gyateara or Glitches every week; building the world up with these stories. They can be more myths, or social studies of the different cultures, or explanations of the deities, or Slice of Life to get an in-depth look at the world from the perspective of different characters, etc.

I feel like the spirit of Ron's challenge - frequent writing not necessarily related to each other, and with a more succinct writing goal - is still there, but with enough wiggle room that it is still testing and growing my writing without flat out stressing and deterring me when I get a complete writers block. I'm sure Ron will say something if he thinks I need to tighten my belt with this challenge of his....

I'll talk more about my resolutions next week when I post my first blog of the new year, and I have two more blog posts I need to write this week. So I'm just going to say that 2016 as a whole majorly sucked for the entire world, and here's hoping 2017 makes up for it.....

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