In the mad rush of writing, reading, and living life, it’s important to pause and reflect because from reflection comes awareness, and from awareness comes new goals. Setting new goals helps me continually improve myself both as a writer and as a human being. It isn’t always easy, especially because there are so many things I could improve upon. Where to start?
I decided to reflect upon why I was able to write twice as many words during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last year than I did this year. This November, I crossed the NaNoWriMo 50k finish line with 1,535 words to spare. Yay, I’m a “winner,” but it’s a far cry from last year’s 112,000 words. What changed? Here are some of the things I did differently during NaNoWriMo last year.
-I wrote every morning.
-I frequently left the house to write. Coffee houses, the public library, and the university library all worked well.
-I had not yet started blogging and tweeting. Surprise, social media sometimes draws my attention away from writing.
-I wasn’t reading nearly as many books. This November I read eight novels while participating in NaNoWrimo. In order to do this, I had to cut out pretty much all TV shows and movies–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
-I was a lot more interested in last year’s novel than the one I wrote during NaNoWriMo this year.
-I wrote with 100% carefree abandon. This year I was a tad bit more careful so the resulting first draft wouldn’t be quite such a traumatic mess.
-I didn’t have other areas of my life crowding out my writing time so much. Oh, dear reader, over the past couple of months I had a major personal thing happening and, boy, did it take me emotionally and physically away from writing, but hey, no excuses, right?
So. . . this year, things changed. Life does that. In reflecting on the differences in productivity between NaNoWriMo past and present, I’ve decided to:
- Make it a priority to reestablish a morning writing routine.
- Be more mindful of the time I spend on social media. I’m SO grateful for the kind and talented writers and readers I’ve connected with through blogging and social media. They have made the pursuit of a writing career so much less lonely. And I’ve learned so much about publishing and writing, as well as great new books to read. I’ve also gotten a good grasp on what makes a good query letter (thanks especially to literary agent Janet Reid of Query Shark). And I have assembled a long list of excellent literary agents with whom I’d like to work, thanks to lots of internet research, agents’ blogs and tweets, and industry insights gleaned from sites like querytracker.net. Those are all good things to be aware of, and to be prepared to execute well when the time comes. But…
To publish books, you must write.
Though I’m not at a place where I feel the need to set limits on my social media time, I do realize that–as a person whose dream, goal, and mission is to publish successful YA books–more of my free time should be spent writing.
If you’ve come up with good ways to create a balance for yourself between social media and writing, I’d love to hear about them.