A year ago, like so many people, I found myself locked in my house, working, living, and existing all in the same space. I had a job I could do from home, but without a commute, a gym routine, errands to run and fun things to do on weekends, I had an awful lot of time on my hands.
That’s when I started writing consistently, though and started calling myself an author! I am very thankful for it. Like I usually do, I dove head first hard into it, throwing all my time, money, and resources at the best possible programs, websites, tools, and more. I made mistakes, I had successes, and this past weekend I assessed them to reorient myself moving forward. Here is what I learned.
I focused on the wrong book
My current book, The One-Horned Heretic, started out as a short story last year and I put all of my effort behind keeping it that way while I focused on what I had dubbed “the more important book”; book one of my unnamed grimdark series. It’s the series that I had toiled over for a decade but never started consistently writing. So while I was boxing The One-Horned Heretic into a short story series, I was working hard on this book series, considering The One-Horned Heretic “a throw away first story” that I could just “get out of the way”.
I was very wrong in thinking this way.
It took several months, beta reader feedback, and a friend slapping some sense into me to make me realize that I should respect this story for what it could be. So as of now, it is a 60k word novel and I am giving it the time, emotion, and effort it deserves. It’s currently in it’s second draft and I am doing rewrites and edits before another round of beta-reading this summer.
Did I waste a lot of time this past year beating around the bush with that? Could I have just figured this out sooner and had the book out by now? Maybe. But I learned a big lesson and you learn more from mistakes than successes.
I learned to write whenever
I used to think I had to sit down for long blocks of time to “stay in the zone” while I was writing. I still do this sometimes, like on the weekends I can get a groove going where the hours are flying by. But more importantly I learned that 40 minutes before work, 30 minute sprints every few hours throughout the day, and a spark of inspiration before bed are just as valuable.
This way, I can set a weekly word-count or chapter goal but have flexibility. I also think this will benefit me as a writer in the long run, being able to just sit down and write without a long prep period before hand to get in “the zone”, whatever that even is.
I spent money and time in the wrong places
This weekend I CLEANED. HOUSE. with subscriptions and nonsense that I didn’t need and it felt so refreshing.
Last year I built this website for my writing, which is vital and I’m glad I did it. But did I really need the $200 WordPress Business plan? Absolutely not, it was ludicrous that I thought I did. So I downgraded my website and simplified it to only the essential information.
I also said goodbye to Canva and Later and decided to spend less time making social media posts. I had been creating elaborate graphics every day, following prompts and spending a lot of time engaging with other posts with the intention of building an audience so that “when I publish, I have an audience to promote it to.” This is a good mindset to have, but I dialed it back so I can spend more time writing and less time creating a “future” audience.
I’m glad I took this time to review all that’s happened this past year. As I have said many times before, starting this writing journey, something I have wanted to do my whole life, has been so rewarding. I have learned so much, from fellow writers, seminars, books, practice and trial and error. A year from now I hope to reevaluate once more and see if I learned a thing or two again!