Writing in 2018

Happy New Year! I hope all of you had a wonderful end of 2017 and welcomed 2018 in a delightful and enjoyable way. There was quite a lot of snow here, and last night there was a full moon, so I wandered through the woods under the stars as the calendar turned over to 2018. In my mind, I can’t think of a better way to enter the new year – but maybe you’re not as enamored with snow and cold weather as I am.

Winter 2018 bundled.jpg

Of course, with a new year comes new year “resolutions.” I like to think more of goals for the year, while also looking back at the previous year and what I accomplished. And, as I took time to reflect, I realized that last year was my best writing year ever. That’s mind-blowing to me, and gets me very excited to build on that and grow more in 2018.

For some background, I wrote my first novel-length story in 2004. It was terrible in many ways, but I was a teenager, and it was my first full story of such length. I want to say this just to bring some perspective to anyone looking to set writing goals for the year – be mindful of how much experience you have, and how long you’ve been writing. I’ve been at this for fourteen years (wow, it’s crazy strange to type that number out), and have been telling stories even longer – since before I could write myself, actually!

That’s all to say that the amount of writing I did in 2017 is not necessarily something for you to compare yourself to. Think of your own experience, and just try to write more and write better every day, month, year, etc. So here are my accomplishments for the past year:

  • Wrote and finished a completely new 95,000 word manuscript in two weeks (I still don’t know how I managed that!)
  • Added another 14,000 words to that manuscript as I started building it out into something different
  • Started two other stories, both of which are currently unfinished, but I’m very excited about: the first stands at 23,350 words, and the second at 30,248.
  • Wrote a short story! I haven’t done that in a very long time, and I’ve never been all that good at it, but I’m quite proud of this one. 1,550 words about siblings and Christmas.
  • And of course, I can’t ignore Greysons of Grimoire. I launched my own original web novel, wrote three chapters every week, and concluded its first massive arc just in time for Christmas! At the end, Greysons’ first arc finished at a staggering (for me, anyway) 138,414 words.
  • In total: I wrote 303,224 new words this year, multiple times more than any other year before

I focus on word counts, because page counts are subject to change based on formatting. But if all of those words were formatted to my usual style, they would amount to 1,150 pages.

If you’re not interested in word counts (or numbers in general), that’s fine. I just do this 1) because I rather enjoy numbers, and 2) because they’re a very strong visual representation of progress and accomplishments.

Also, these numbers tell a story – a story that 2017 was my most prolific year as a writer by a landslide. I’ve never written close to this much in a single year (perhaps the most I’ve written in a single year is 100,000 words, and that’s being generous). And there were many (too many) days where I didn’t write at all! Which tells me very clearly that I can do far better, and that thought gets me very excited.

Quality over quantity is indeed the way to go, but in order to improve, you need to do more of whatever it is you need to improve at. If you want to improve your writing as fast as possible, you need to write more. And learning to write quickly is also a useful skill, as you’ll frequently be working with deadlines. I wish I could find the clip, but there’s a great moment from an anime called Shirobako where an elderly animator speaks to a frustrated young animator new at her job: “In order to draw better, you need to draw more. In order to draw more, you need to draw faster. You can always improve your technique, but you can only develop speed when you’re young.” So to new writers, I say: write a lot! Don’t get as hung up on the quality of your writing, especially in a first draft – you can always edit. Write as much as you can, and you will get better.

Over the Christmas break, I was also introduced to a wonderful movie titled Whisper of the Heart, and was hit with tons of relatability and too many fantastic quotes to mention here. But after a huge 2017, main character Shizuku put it best: “I’m glad I pushed myself. I know myself better now.” I pushed myself hard in 2017, and I know myself as a writer and storyteller so much better now than I ever did before.

Whisper of the Heart pushed myself.PNG

So that’s 2017, but what about next year? Well, Greysons of Grimoire continues! Of course it does, Arc I didn’t get us nearly close enough to the end. Arc II will be more focused (probably), and center more on storytelling and character development than the whirlwind of world-building and exploration that was the first arc. I’ll still be writing three new chapters a week, starting next week, and only taking one or two breaks through the year. So look forward to the Greyson story continuing in a big way!

As for stories aside from Greysons, I’ll be continuing to write more novels. I’ll be finishing the two partial manuscripts I mentioned above, editing some of the ones I have in need of refinement, and writing several new ones: the goal is… well, it’s rather insane, but after writing an entire complete novel in just two weeks in 2017, I feel like I can do much more. So I’m pushing for ten finished rough draft manuscripts this year! I’ll let you know how that goes – if you like more writing updates, I talk more about that on social media than I do on here, where I like to keep the focus on the actual writing (in particular, the web novel and short stories).

I’m also looking forward to reading more in 2018. I’m going to at least try ten different web novels through the year, because I love seeing what other writers can do, and web novels don’t get nearly enough attention. I’m currently reading through The Clockwork Raven by Samuel Chapman. I’m not far, but it’s off to a great start! If a story about a boy and a girl in a strange castle with no memory of their past looking for answers sounds interesting to you, check it out! It’s also entirely complete (unlike, say, Greysons…), so you won’t have to wait at all for the story to finish.

As for novels, I have on my reading list the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, the Earthsea series by Ursula Le Guin, and, digging into the realm of classic literature (and giant novels), books by Fyodor Dostoevsky, starting with The Brothers Karamazov (a gift from my father too many years ago that I really should have read by now). If you have any suggestions in the realm of fantasy, science fiction, or classic literature, let me know! I need to read more, so help me build out a reading list that utterly buries me.

And that’s all about last year and the one ahead! Thank you for reading my works in 2017 – Greysons hasn’t been a hit or anything like that, but there were regular readers every single day, and for something brand new with little name recognition behind it, that’s an accomplishment in my book. And I’m just very thankful for everyone who has read Greysons, and I’m looking forward to giving you a lot more to read in the very near future. Thank you, and I hope you’re looking forward to 2018 as much as I am. Happy reading, and happy writing!