As I assembled my list, I kept thinking of writing things I'd learned as well. Some made it on my 34 things list, but I thought sharing here would be more suited my audience.
Here are 11 things I've learned about writing this year:
1. The benefits of logging my writing time
I have done this faithfully since NaNoWriMo last year, and I found that I love it. It gives me the same feeling as when I was a Sonic Carhop and had to punch my time card when I arrived or left for the day. When I jot down my "Time In" I feel like I'm reporting for work.
(I originally shared my work long in the Story Workbook tutorial freebie that's available to Go Teen Writers Notes subscribers.)
2. NaNoWriMo is fun!
Last year is the first time my schedule aligned to let me participate in NaNoWriMo. I'm introverted, and I don't struggle with the discipline required to write a novel, so I was very surprised when I loved the community aspect of NaNo so much. If you're still on the fence about participating this year, I encourage you to give it a shot!
3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
(This book is written for an adult audience, and that's reflected in the language and examples given, so I would only recommend it for GTWers in their late teens who aren't sensitive to that kind of thing. It's in the same vein as Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.)
I didn't think I was going to like this book because I've never felt guilt or shame over being a creative. But I found Big Magic to be an insightful and inspiring read. Early in the book, she offers this encouragement to those who are young writers, and I thought of you all:
If you are a young person...feel free to start sharing your perspective through creativity, even if you're just a kid. If you are young, you see things differently than I do, and I want to know how you see things. We all want to know. When we look at your work (whatever your work may be), we will want to feel your youth--that fresh sense of your recent arrival here. Be generous with us and let us feel it. After all, for many of us it has been so long since we stood where you now stand.
4. Goals. I should make them.
My perspective about goals, particularly my writing goals, changed big time in the last few months. I've already blogged pretty extensively about that, so I won't repeat it here. (See my post Writing Goals And The Clarity That Comes From Having Them if this is of interest to you.)
5. Productivity is my best marketing tool.
This thought was given to me by James Scott Bell in his book Marketing For Writers Who Hate Marketing. I know some of us (me included) are worried about reaching an audience and how to best market and which social media platform is best. Mr. Bell suggests, and I'm inclined to agree with him, that writing great books and writing more of them is the best thing we can do to grow our platform. And that productivity (learning to write increasingly better books increasingly faster) would be the best marketing tool.
6. The Helping Writers Become Authors podcast.
Even though I've known of K.M. Weiland for years, and I've been on her blog multiple times, I didn't realize she had a podcast until last October when I was getting ready for NaNoWriMo. Then I fell into a lovely rabbit hole of resources that she's created for writers. She's helped me to recognize a few things about story that hadn't quite clicked for me yet, including how character arcs work with story structure, and that I could expect more of my first drafts.
7. Deep Work by Cal Newport
If you have a smart phone, you already know that the temptations for being distracted are great. It can feel nearly impossible to not check a notification that's come in. And I've always been a bit of an email addict.
In this book, Mr. Newport talks about knowledge workers (like writers) and how we need time to work for long hours without distraction. Jill talked about the book last May in her blog post on 10 Ways To Increase Productivity, which prompted my ordering it. Because of reading Deep Work, I've rearranged how I spend my writing time, I've learned to identify what's urgent and what's not, and I've worked on my smart phone habits.
I also missed a call from my editor once because I had my phone set to Do Not Disturb. At first I thought, "Oh, I shouldn't have had my phone on DND! Then I wouldn't have missed Jillian's call!" But you know what? We just chatted a little later, and it didn't mess up my writing groove. It's really okay to not be accessible all the time.
8. Procrastination is a disguise that fear wears.
Elizabeth Gilbert said this in her Magic Lessons podcast, and at first I was like, "Not always..." But the more I think about it, and the more I observe myself when I procrastinate, I think it's truer than I originally thought.
9. "Storytelling and writing are actually two different skill sets. Too often when we try to do them both at once in the first draft, they get in each other's way." - K.M. Weiland
YES. Hearing her say this helped something click for me about the drafting process. When I started planning out my scenes before writing them, the quality of my first drafts went up big time.
10. Story Genius by Lisa Cron
This was another writing book I discovered this year. I don't do everything the way she suggests, but I loved the way that she showed how everything needed to build in a logical way. That sometimes we struggle with our stories reading like, "This happens, then this happens, and then this happens." When, really, it should be, "This happens, and so this happens, and so this happens."
11. That I should fill the corners with wonder.
When listening to a Writing Excuses podcast, Dan Wells said something that has stuck with me. He said one of the unique things about the Harry Potter series is that J.K. Rowling, “took the care to fill even the corners with wonder.” Everywhere you look in that world, there’s unique, interesting stuff happening. So I’m trying to look for places where I’ve skimped on details or been lazy with descriptions.
What about you? What's something you've learned recently about writing?