What I Learned as a Writer in 2015 #writerslife #amwriting

In pursuing my ambition to publish great YA novels, here are some things I learned over the past year:

  1. Beyond the thrill of being able to express my passion for writing and books, there are great benefits to blogging, the best of which is getting to know creative, supportive fellow writers and book lovers, many of whom I now consider friends. I see you, Tracy L. Jackson, Beth @ betwixt-these-pages, Kelly Deeny, Elena Johansen, FamilyRules, Wallace CassAnnika Perry,  Pat Sherard, The Glitter Afficianado, Stephanie @ Eclectic ScribblingsMelanie Noell Bernard, Nate Philbrick,  Sabrina Marsi BooksJennifer F. Santucci, Mackenzie BatesStephanie @ yourdaughtersbookshelf Karen @ MyTrain of Thoughts,  Amanda d Bat,  Carolyn @ A Hundred Thousand StoriesErica @ Books the Thing,   the bookwormgirls123.
  2. I am better at editing a first draft on the computer than on a hard copy, even though a lot of advice-givers recommend against it.
  3. A style sheet is helpful, especially for tracking important plot dates.
  4. Literary agents are regular folks and book lovers just like us.
  5. To write first drafts without censoring myself.
  6. To create headers for each scene in Word so I can easily find them later using the navigation screen.
  7. To  keep a “book blurb” Word file for when I feel especially excited about my novel and get ideas on how to pitch it in future query letters.
  8. Short stories are not my preferred medium; what I truly love is writing novels (and I’m sort of learning it’s okay to be better at some things than others.)
  9. Flash fiction is fun…and challenging.
  10. Collecting images for novel inspiration boards on Pinterest is a blast and really does stimulate ideas.
  11. It’s still great to be able to hold a book in my hands, but reading novels on electronic devices won’t kill me.
  12. I want to get more into #bookstagram and #booklr.
  13. Saving the previous draft of a story before making editing changes avoids a lot of lost good writing.
  14. All writers, even the most successful ones, find writing novels to be really hard work.
  15. When I stay away from my novel for too long, I forget I’m actually good at writing it.
  16. Even when I’m afraid to work on my novel, I do have the discipline and faith to always return to it.
  17. Daily writing goals and rewards make me a much more productive writer.
  18. My writing really does improve with practice.
  19. Beta critiquing other people’s novels makes me a better writer.
  20. Google Docs is a really handy tool that allows me to work on manuscripts on my phone, home computer, out-of-town relatives’ computers, and hotel lobby computers. . . but I still always keep multiple back-up copies of my work.
  21. A change purse is a great place to keep a flash drive.
  22. I really am dedicated to publishing YA novels and maybe, just maybe, I am worthy of success.
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55 comments

  1. Glad to be there for you. Now, on the subject of editing on the computer vs hard copy, there are advantages and disadvantages to it. In my opinion, doing it all on the computer tends to save time and office supplies that can be best utilized when printing out final drafts. I guess if you want to feel the paper under your fingers while you edit, then print edit draft after edit draft before you mark them up. Don’t worry, the paper and ink companies will gladly sell you replacements to bolster your flagging supply. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Loved reading this! It’s been great to connect with you and get to know you a little through blogging 😀 I think 2015 taught us a lot of the same lessons. I especially liked this one: “I’ve learned that when I stay away from my novel for too long, I forget I’m actually good at writing it.” Such truth. Keep up the awesome work, and may 2016 be a fantastic year!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Happy New Year, Eve!!! Based on the writing you post on this site, I have no doubt that your YA novels are just as thoughtful and well written. I look forward to seeing your published work in my local bookstore. By the way, I am now intrigued to find out what #bookstagram is.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eve, it has been a delight meeting you and following you and your writing travels. Thank you for the mention. Your comments are so positive and full of truth – hard learnt lessons at times I wonder? I recently learnt the fear of not having multiple copies – always always back up is my motto now. So true what you say about letting the work rest for a bit and coming back to it – scary at first but great when you realise how good it is! As for editing – I have found a mixture of both works best for me. Editing on hard copy, but then whilst making changes seeing many other changes on the computer – odd but seems to work well and a style I’ve developed in the last few months. I wish you the best of luck with your writing in the coming year, may the creative energy remain strong and yes, keep writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your hard copy/computer editing hybrid method makes a lot of sense, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if my editing methods end up varying with each novel, but for now it’s nice to know that, even though the way I tried to edit my last novel didn’t work well at all, the method I’m currently using feels natural and productive. What a relief.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s great when you find a system that works for you. I have an eye disease (which will require cornea transplant in the not too distant future) so the glare off the computers is a big problem for me. It’s also amazing to print out whole chucks at a time and see the physical reality of all that effort. First time, I was overawed! I wrote all that – be it good or not!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Stephanie, collecting images for novel inspiration boards on Pinterest really has been a lot of fun. Alas, I’m shy about posting my boards publicly–at least until my novels are done, but if you’d like to PM me on Twitter with your email address I’ll send you a private invitation to view one.

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  5. Thanks for the shout out, Eve! I feel very confident you are going to realize your dream of publication. I appreciate your considering me a blog friend worth mentioning. It is mutual 🙂 I hope to get back to blogging actively but I have to wait for the writing bug to bite again or else it won’t be fun. I also have to get through some challenges at home which take considerable time and energy. Here’s to a fabulous 2016! Big hug to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve missed you and am I’m soooo happy to hear from you. Your vote of confidence means a lot. Thank you for breaking away from your hiatus and personal challenges to drop me a message. I’m definitely thinking about you and wishing you a great new year.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is an awesome list! I love all these ideas. I may have to put some of them to use with my own writing. 🙂
    Thank you so much for featuring us! My heart is melting. 🙂 Seeing you feature us reminded me to check and see if we’re following you… (I meant to but I couldn’t remember for sure) Only to gasp and realize we weren’t. Do you have a follow button?
    -Amy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Amy! I know you’ve been wanting to get more serious about writing, and if any of these things I’ve learned help you in that endeavor, I’ll be really happy. My follow button is on the upper right-hand side of the screen, so follow me like the yellow brick road, please. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Of course you’re worthy of success! And I really enjoyed this list. I have so much respect for novel writers. I am more of a short story girl myself and even those I rarely write in my free time. I just don’t have the patience to write a full novel. However, I am always fascinated how novels can build so much movement in a story while also put little hidden nuggets that may suggest a major part of the story later down the line and how intricate the storylines can get all the while having one continuous voice that captures your attention throughout the entire book. So you get a big salute for pursuing your writing goals in such an awesome way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazing, you just perfectly stated my favorite things about reading books, which also happen to be what makes them so challenging to write:

      “I am always fascinated how novels can build so much movement in a story while also put little hidden nuggets that may suggest a major part of the story later down the line and how intricate the storylines can get all the while having one continuous voice that captures your attention throughout the entire book.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Always happy to trade advice and support with you, and I think I might have to see about making friends with some of your friends, they seem lovely too!

    I’m with you on the editing better on the screen, too–I’m not a red-ink kind of gal. I use the comment feature on the first draft to mark issues that need addressing, then I fix them in the first rewrite, then I use proofreading apps to help me clean up the text…I won’t begrudge anyone who wants the paper to bleed ink all over, but it’s not the only way to do things!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yay, I’m happy to share my online friends with you, Elena! Yes, please follow their blogs; they have so many writerly and bookish good things to say, and so eloquently. Yep, I’ve been marking up my first draft using the comment feature, too, focusing on big picture edits. I’m almost ready to launch into the big plot puzzle rearrangement and filling in holes in the story.

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  9. Thanks for the mention, Eve! I’ve loved reading your blog, and I’m super excited to read the books you publish in the future. They’re coming!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Totally missed this comment until now. My stories are coming along. Lots of work, but I love it. And yes, I did find time to write during break, so that was really nice!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for the mention – you are too kind! I loved this list, I think we can all look at it and find a few things that we still need to figure out. 🙂 I admit that #11 was a hard one for me to admit… “It’s still great to be able to hold a book in my hands, but reading novels on electronic devices won’t kill me.” I look forward to reading your novel one day – I am sure it will be fantastic.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. #1 What is this about me being kind and supportive? I don’t remember doing such a thing! I’m evil, I tell you! Evil!!!!! I keep telling all you bloggers that I’m evil and yet you continue to call me nice, and sweet, and kind. I must be doing something wrong! Must I show you my villainy?! *has lost evil, fluffy persian cat to stroke… evilly* Ah… that’s my problem, isn’t it?

    #2 I don’t know how people edit on paper, much less have the paper and ink to print it all. Goodness! Having it accessible at all hours of the day on an electronic device is way easier than hauling a paper manuscript around. Crazies. :/

    #4 Literary agents still scare me and I’m awfully nervous about my adventure into their world this year. 0.0 *tries to suppress panic attack*

    #6 You seriously need to get a writing program. Might I recommend Scrivener? If you haven’t heard, IT’S AMAZING! That is all. :p

    #8 Oh man! I suck at short stories. Many a time have I tried such a folly, only to find it to be just that. :p Reasons why I’ve never submitted to short story competitions and what not. Just not my cup of tea. :/

    #9 Ah! Flash Fiction! The complete opposite of a novel and yet ten times easier than a short story. :p Love it! Every Friday! It’s also a great way to test how well I can creep people out in the shortest number of words. Hee hee! *is evil as stated above*

    #10 Pinterest will be the death of me! I have a board dedicated to each of my novel series before I even start plotting/writing the novel. So much world building to do. *sigh* *side glances pinterest boards* NO! *runs away*

    #11 Reading novels on electronic devices actually /will/ kill me. :/ I’ve come to realize that my eyes/brain/everything hurts from sitting at a computer 24/7 (work+reading). Tangible book please in aisle 3!

    #14 Writing a novel is hard? What?! Who would’ve ever thought such a silly thing! It’s supposed to be a walk in the park… in the middle of the night… without streetlights… and someone’s following you… and you forgot your cellphone… and you’re lost. *evil smile returns*

    #19 Oo! This is one I’m looking forward to in 2016! I’ve never done it before (nor shown my work to be people before. That was a scary one), but I’m excited to read others work, support them, see other writing styles, and grow from it myself. ^.^ *Hint hint*

    #20 GOOGLE DOCS! It’s also a fantastic way to share with betareaders/CPs in real time, but I definitely keep all my main, official copies on Scrivener (on my dying laptop… >.>)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Evil” Melanie, you are so right; I’m sure one day I’ll be ready, but so far when I’ve tried Scrivener I get all discombobulated by the myriad of options. Or maybe I downloaded a program similar to Scrivener? I can’t remember because it’s been a while. Is Scrivener only for Mac? Oh, and someone please tell me how I missed that you do Flash Fiction on Fridays on your blog! I just read your December stories and am struck by how beautiful your writing is, with gorgeous imagery and a hint of darkness–sometimes, more than a hint–and I love it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Evil Melanie. I like the ring of that. Hee hee!

        Ah! Scrivener did take me a bit to get used to and, honestly, I don’t touch half the settings. :p I like it because I can use what I want out of it and ignore the rest, but I particularly like it for organizing purposes. Everything’s in one spot. You can easily see what’s happened where and reorganize them and then it compiles very nicely when you’re done.
        (Actually, the manuscript I sent you for my dystopian was written and compiled on Scrivener.)
        And it’s not just for MAC. At least, it better not be, because when my laptop dies I’m not wasting money on a MAC again (too expensive…)

        Haha! My FFF aren’t all that popular. :p And you better be careful with them compliments, Eve. All this praise might just go to my head, and there’s nothing worse than an egotistical villain. :p
        P.s. Glad you enjoy my FFF! ^.^

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Eve, I’m so happy that I sneaked a peek at Twitter before commencing my writing for the evening. How kind of you to have included me in your shout out!

    Your list rocks! It not only informs but it also affirms some of the beliefs that I have. (i.e., 4, 5, 11, 13, 16, 18 – you get the idea!) One day soon I’ll make the big social media push and follow your examples.

    And one day soon I’ll share with you the reason I followed you on Twitter in the first place 😉

    Happy New Year, chère amie! I plan to Instapaper this post so that I may become acquainted with the writing of your other mentioned friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Tracy! So glad you dropped by. Of COURSE I included you in my shout out–you’ve talked me off the hypothetical ledge a couple of times, and for that I am ever grateful. Now, for fear of yet again revealing my ignorance. . . what is Instapaper?

      Like

      1. Eve, Instapaper is one of the original utilities/apps to set articles aside to “read them later”. If you don’t already have another favorite app, go to instapaper dot com, register a free account, then get a free app for your iOS or android device.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m a big fan of #13… Backup before editing. I can’t tell you the number of times I get that grim murder look in my eyes and go to work on my manuscript… And then realize I’ve taken the hatchet to something I’d rather have kept.

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PS I really admire your dedication to writing. I’ve been working on a short story for a while now and I always find myself losing motivation for it and then coming back to it like months later lol..

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello Eve,

    I dropped by to check out your blog since you visited mine and were kind enough to leave a comment. I really like this post. #’s 8 & 9 made me chuckle because I, too, struggle with short stories, but love to write novels, and I thought it was humorous that you love flash fiction, which I haven’t tried yet but do want to, until I read another person’s comment who said the same thing. Now I am really intrigued about flash fiction and will definitely have to give it a try. I will also be visiting Melanie’s blog and checking out her Flash Fiction Fridays.

    I also completely agree with #11. This is a great list.

    I wish you the best in your writing endeavors in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kelly! It’s interesting to read your take on the different things I learned that you can relate to also. What got me interested in writing flash fiction was the 100-word(!) flash fiction contests literary agent Janet Reid occasionally runs on her blogs. She is the queen of dispensing industry advice to writers–if you haven’t checked out her site, I highly recommend it. http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/

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