Long time, no see! The year 2022 did not go the way I intended to say the very least. Long story short, I had a long, unintended break from writing and blogging, largely due to a relapse in my ME symptoms that started in February 2022 and lasted until… well, now, to be honest. It’s been a rough year. Added to that, I moved in with my partner, started my medical transition, and my debut novel came out. All in all, a very mixed year!
However, I am finally starting to feel a little more myself. A ton of changes have taken place, both in my writing life and my personal circumstances, so I figured the blog was due a revamp to match – I’ve updated all the pages to reflect what’s going on now, so check them out if you’re interested.
I’m going to aim for monthly roundup posts, starting with this one – a look back at January and setting goals for February to get me back on track – while also taking care of my health and not over-committing to a schedule I’m not ready for yet. Things are still a bit touch-and-go, especially with my cognitive symptoms. Text-to-speech is my saviour while reading and writing is still tough.
Having said that, I am raring to go! I decided to park manuscript number two (fondly named ‘Gay Magical Chronic Illness Novel’) after a round of queries last year. While that didn’t go badly by any means – I got two requests and some excellent feedback – ultimately, that manuscript needs a big structural edit before it’s ready for shopping around. So it’s on the backburner for now.
In the meantime, I am working on a shiny new novel idea that popped into my head out of nowhere in November, during a writing course that I was gifted for my birthday by two excellent friends. The course was really good, the tutor took a lot of time to answer my questions and the worksheets really lit the fire for writing back up for me after a slow few months of recovery (and more than a bit of frustration at my failing health). I’m currently referring to this project as Fae WIP, and I’m a few thousand words into the draft.
I was going to blast through the first draft of Fae WIP for nano month in November, however that was also the month I moved in with my partner so… let’s just say that didn’t quite turn out as planned. However, there are now 3.3k words sitting in a document that weren’t there before, and I have something of a plan (as much as my pantser brain can manage, anyway) and I have a spreadsheet all up and ready to go for tackling the draft in February. Which brings me nicely onto…
Yep, it’s nerd-out time, grab your spreadsheets everyone! I am a fairly recent convert to using excel to track my word count (thanks to one of the aforementioned excellent friends) and now I wouldn’t be without them. 2022 was the first year I tracked every single word I wrote, and as a result I have some good hard data to compare and create a realistic writing goal for 2023 too. So, here we go – number time!
Daily goal for 2022: 1644
Total number of words written in 2022: 633,365
Goal met: Yes!
Now, admittedly most of those words didn’t make it into any final drafts, a lot of them were edits and fun side projects that won’t ever go anywhere. But, considering the nosedive my health was in and all the big life changes that were happening simultaneously, I’m rather proud of myself!
For 2023, I’ve tweaked my goal just slightly to 1667 words per day, with the aim to hit over 50k words every month. Is that ambitious? Absolutely, especially considering I’ve had a bit of a slow start and my January total was *checks notes* a mere 7506. I’m not backing down though! I had several slow months last year and made them up with other, wordier ones, so I’m not too concerned about catching up. Yet.
I may come to regret those words, but as of right now, I’m feeling positive.
So my February goals look like this:
- Write at least 50k in the month
- Get 50k into drafting Fae WIP
- Expand the worldbuilding for Fae WIP and tighten up the plot details
Tighten up the plot as you draft, I hear you sceptics ask? Yes, that’s the best way I know to write. I’m not a planner at heart, I’m a pantser, and while I’ve started to adopt a more structured approach to writing over the last couple of years, I will never be someone who can follow a set plan.
I’ve used the jot, bin, pants method for this one and so far it’s working well, but my method absolutely means details will change as I write the first draft. Characters will come to the foreground, conflicts will rise as I write them, and maybe even mystery keys will appear in a scene before I even know what to do with them. That last one happened while I was drafting The Life-Giver, my first book (available now!) and it worked out great in the end.
And… that’s about it for now! I’ll be back in a month (hopefully) to report back on my goals, whether they’ve been reached or not, and how my draft is going. Everything is progress, even if I have another flare this month and have to spend most of my days in a dark room unable to read and write. Such is life with ME.
Quote of the month: one that a very dear friend has been impressing into my skull over the last few years, and I think it’s a valuable lesson for us all as well as rather neatly summing up my 2022:
Even if you can’t write right now, you’re still a writer.