Hello friends, and welcome to a special New Year’s Eve edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
Well. 2020, huh?
I’m not gonna harp too long on it. Suffice it to say: I did not meet a single one of my writing goals this year. Not one.
Some of that can be blamed on the pandemic (failing to attend critique group, for example), but most of them were just me giving up. It’d be easy to say “Well, 2020, give yourself a break,” and I am in some ways. But I want to be a professional writer, and that means holding myself to account when I let that goal drink itself stupid and pass out in the back seat of my car.
One thing I did start this year that I’m really proud to have kept up is journaling. It’s been a major boon to my mental health and it has really helped me kind of examine in a semi-external way the particular turns of my mind that leads me down certain paths. Which is an overly verbose way of saying, I think I know why I fail at so many resolutions, year after year.
First, and it so ding dang obvious now that I’ve thought about it, is that I get so amped up for the potential new lifestyle I’m about to embark on that I just get too ambitious. Like last year, I said I wanted to dabble in podcasting. I mean… even just dabbling in something like podcasting means a monumental amount of effort, that even if 2020 hadn’t been a complete trashcan would have totally eaten up spoons I frankly just don’t have. Or even something simple like starting an Instagram account. If I’d given it more than a moment’s consideration I would have realized that I have no use for an Instagram account. The idea of having pictures out there in the ether of my personal space pings my anxiety like nobody’s business.
Last year I listed eight (8) resolutions and failed every single one of them. This year, I’m scaling down. I only have three. They are ambitious in their own ways, but very achievable and much more in my time and mental energy budget. They are:
- Finish the first draft of The Nexus by July 31st
- Review the 22 books currently in my TBR list
- Resume the blogging schedule I outlined in August (with minor alterations)
Simple, really, and yet things I have struggled with in the past: reading and writing on a consistent basis when I don’t have the deadline of NaNo whipping me along. These things are habits that I need to form, not just goals I would like to achieve. So, the real question is: how do I, someone notoriously resistant to change, go about altering my everyday behavior? Because, honestly, simply wanting to hasn’t been enough.
The answer I keep coming back to is accountability. I need the spectre of embarrassment from failing to spur me on. I need a structure to work within and deadlines to meet. And while I can’t ask someone to care about my writing as much as me enough to push me when I won’t push myself, I can publically announce my intentions and imagine for myself a crowd of people who would be let down if I don’t follow through. So here we go. I’m not just going to vaguely say I’m going to meet these goals. I’m going to detail how and when I’m going to do that.
As for drafting the Nexus. I have a total of 6 story paths, one already drafted during November and three more outlined. So I’m giving myself seven months to plot, outline, and write the remaining paths. The path I drafted for NaNo was ostensibly the longest, so it’s not outside the realm of plausibility that I can draft one path a month. Having the first draft completely done will give me time to think through the revisions and outline draft 2 so I can start drafting that in November. Easy peasy.
Note that my second goal for 2021 was to review the 22 books in my TBR. Not necessarily finish. I’m actually giving myself the mental space to DNF some of them. Fortunately, I have a blog series specifically for these kinds of books, so even if I don’t read as much as I’d like… I can still get some content out of it. Further, after giving it some thought, I realized it would really help me stay on target if I actually named the books I plan to read (and review) and in what order. That way, if inspiration fails me or if the depression monster diverts me off track, I have a roadmap to find my way back. So without further ado: Just Another Struggling Writer’s book review schedule!
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
Fate of the Fallen by Kel Kade
The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart
The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab
Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan
The Bone Ships by RJ Barker
Radiance by Grace Draven
We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Jade City by Fonda Lee
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter
Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
Legacy of Ash by Matthew Ward
An Alchemy of Masques and Mirrors by Curtis Craddock
The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso
(Break for NaNoWriMo)
Nocturne by Kat Ross
Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
Yes, before you ask, I’ve never read any of these, despite their fame and popularity, particularly within the genre. I’m also a little bit ahead of the game and pleased to say that I’ll most likely have the first review done as soon as Tuesday as I’m more than halfway through The Obelisk Gate and plan to spend my holiday weekend finishing it up. As I’ve mentioned before, my book reviews tend to get a surprising amount of traffic and I’m looking forward to bringing you all more of them in the coming year.
And speaking of the blog schedule… Look, 52 solid weeks of blogging is a lot. I very much doubt that I’m going to be able to keep up with that kind of production consistently. That said, I’m gonna do my best, but I’m also not gonna beat myself up about it if I don’t manage it. I also am planning to have Short But Sweet Sundays make a comeback. I’m still really enamored with that story and that setting, and it’ll be nice to have a break from the Nexus every once and a while. It won’t be weekly, but the last Sunday of the month please look forward to a little vignette in the Pillar-verse.
See? Simple! She said sarcastically.
In all seriousness, after the trainwreck of 2020 I’m not sweating even these modest goals. Really, on a micro level, if I’m reading and writing every day then it’s a win and that’s all I have to say about that.
So, that’s it from me for this week. I’ll be back on Tuesday for a YMMV review of The Obelisk Gate and then on Thursday to check in and see how that whole writing-every-day thing is going. Until then, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few!