Reflections, Changes, & a Writing Update

Reflections, Changes, & a Writing Update

Each year, I celebrate three “resets.” Similar to how society treats New Years’ Eve like the end of a chapter, there are three events each year that I use to cleanse, reflect, and evaluate where I want to be in the new year.

  • My birthday – August 31 (actually seven days after my birthday)
  • Samhain – October 31
  • New Years’ Eve – December 31

Because they’re evenly spaced apart, I can use them as deadlines to check in with my progress before committing to the full year ahead.

A Year in Words

A Year in Words

Last year was the first time I actively tracked my word count for an extended period. I found a great tracking spreadsheet in the 20 Books to 50K Facebook group that I used for the year. It was created by one of the group admins and has sections to support up to 12 projects, and areas to set writing goals.

I tracked my novel and blog content production.

It had ups and downs; chronic pain doesn’t care about my writing ambitions, and neither does COVID. There are some areas with nothing recorded because of that. Those empty sections grated on me. It was difficult to keep up motivation and hard to build up momentum again. There are also streaks where I wrote daily and achieved consistent word counts. My longest streak was 19 days. Even though the pendulum swings both ways, I still mentally berated myself for the patches with nothing recorded and hardly acknowledged my consistency.

I hold myself to high standards, and set greater and greater goals, because I know I’m capable of more, and I want to keep urging myself to surpass previous achievements. I know that it’s productivity anxiety that makes me feel like nothing I do is enough. I’m still learning how to combat that negative thinking. Despite completing my first draft, revising my outline, roughing details for the rest of the series, and starting my second draft, I still antagonized myself, and felt like I wasn’t making any progress.

Last year I wrote 73,877 words for my novel.

Deviate Ideas, Word Counts, and the Mounting Pressure of Personal Expectation

Deviate Ideas, Word Counts, and the Mounting Pressure of Personal Expectation

I refuse to let me dissuade myself from finishing this book. No matter how enticing the story ideas I come up with sound.

I’ve started a notebook to keep track of ideas I have for other stories. Brief synapse, type of character, rough plotline… If I don’t write them down I have anxiety that I’m going to forget about them and cannot focus on what I’m actually supposed to be working on. If I do write them down, I want to be detailed so when I have time to revisit the concept, I’ll remember what I was thinking about.

Yesterday I noted, “Fern Gully, but adult horror, and gay. No fairies.”

Notes on Draft 2

Notes on Draft 2

Changing the main character has had little effect on the direction I’m taking the story. In May and June I took time to review and revise my plot. Take a refreshing overall look at my characters, individual storylines, and larger narrative. I started July confidently committed to writing five chapters or 25,000 words for Camp NaNo.

Then I threw all of my revisions, carefully re-constructed outline, and point of view annotations to the side!

After demoting a character from MC to love interest, and determining how to adjust existing chapters to different points of view… Everything I’ve written so far this month has been from the perspective of the former MC.

Side Character Woes

Side Character Woes

I’ve been struggling with writing a difficult scene this week (started this entry June 12…). It involves five characters in a small room:

  • one near death (unconscious and unaware)
  • two leading the situation (antagonist and his minion)
  • two that are being pitted against one another by the instigators (both healers of little notoriety, one of which is a main character in the story)

They are there to heal the near dead person, but doing so will kill one of the healers. They are being forced to do this, and the decision of who dies is up to them.

Encouraged Isolation

Encouraged Isolation

I find it strange when people around me insist that I take time to myself. Read. Write. Nap. Crochet. My husband especially will corral anyone that could interrupt me so I won’t be disturbed. If I’m writing later in the evening, he’ll tell me good night and to stay up as late as I want.

Very curious reactions that I’m not used to.

Pretty much everyone that I shared my writing with joked about or made fun of it, or shared the details out of context, so I stopped showing it to people. A couple years later, in high school, my writing nearly got me expelled. “Violent content” was what got me in trouble, and since I’d written the script for the film group I founded, it was me, or the club.

First Draft!

First Draft!

My plot took on a broader dimension when I finished reviewing all of the characters I wanted to include. My baby, the character idea that was my entire reason for starting this project, is no longer the main. He’s the main side, and the love interest, so I think that’s a fair trade off.

Feedback from a few people suggested that my most prominent side character (who was initially the antagonist) was more interesting, had a more complex backstory, more motivation, and would be a better lead – even though he was not easy to relate to. I resisted this idea for a very long time. I argued with people. I deepened the difficulties that half the characters faced trying to make it work the way that I wanted it to.

And 244 pages later, I had a physical copy printed so I could review, make notes, and finally heed the advice I’d been given.

How Not to Write a Novel


I’ve been working on my book for one year.

It seems a little surreal to think I’ve been writing the same piece for that long, and haven’t become bored in it. I do write a lot, but I don’t finish many pieces. I either lose interest or confidence in the subject matter, and continuing it feels forced and unenjoyable.

When I started doing writing challenges in 2020, my goal had been to make short stories and build up a catalogue of pieces that I could post online to get feedback. To enter contests, and see if I could drum up a small following. I did start three short stories, and finished one. I’ve amassed a huge list of ideas for other short stories that I’ve since neglected in favour of working on my current project.

Then I read Scythe by Neal Shusterman.

Write Here, Write Now


My 90-day novel plan did not pan out… Jeff Goldblum says, “life finds a way.” In my case, life found ways to get in my way. My health and anxiety have been a constant struggle this year, and perhaps committing to a large project like this was too much for me to take on at this time.

But since I treat flashing red lights in my mind like a rave… I signed up for NaNoWriMo and found a group of writers to connect with anyways, and gave it my best despite everything else going on.