If we were having coffee then the first thing I’d be telling you is that this year has not gone to plan, but then again, no year ever goes to plan and I suppose that’s part of the joy of life.
It’s the end of October and with only two months left in 2016, I’m trying to work out what exactly I have achieved for myself over the course of this year. In all honesty, it’s nowhere near as much as I wanted to, especially when it comes down to my book and my blog.
At the beginning of this year I wanted to revamp Headquarters, but it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have the time to do this without taking time away from my AAT Qualification or my book. So instead I decided to focus on those two things and leave Headquarters for another year.
Then in June I moved house and further delay was added to everything on my to do list as the mania of shifting my life from one property to another took over with all the wonder of solicitors, estate agents and mortgage advisers. My time was spent looking over surveyor’s reports and decoding the cryptic foreign language of contracts. For a few months, there was room for nothing else and the book, my course, and my blog fell by the wayside.Whereas 2015 saw significantly more views and visitors than 2014, it looks like 2016 will only just manage to catch up with the 2015 numbers. Which seems a little strange as I posted over 100 more posts this year compared to last.
All in all, 2016 hasn’t been the year I expected it to be, and moving into 2017 I realised that I won’t be in the position I wanted to be in. I will still have my AAT qualification to complete, Headquarters is still languishing semi-complete, I haven’t had the time for things I wanted on Writing and Works, and there’s that little event called a wedding that I need to plan for 2018. So what am I going to do? I’m going to re-evaluate.
It’s important to set yourself goals with a timeline. They help to propel you forward and give you a finishing line to aim for. But remember, if you suddenly realise that you won’t hit that goal it doesn’t mean the end of the world. You just have to re-evaluate where you are, and how you get to where you want to be.
As I said, Shadow Dawn is not where I wanted it to be by the end of 2016. My motivation has slumped and died with no signs of reviving any time soon. Finishing by the end of the year looked impossible. If I throw myself into blogging every day I could possibly bring the site stats up, but I would burn out and not have time for anything else. No doubt the content would suffer and instead of enjoying writing posts I would stress about them. Along with everything else this dilemma started to send me into a tail spin.
So I took a step back. I asked myself ‘what is the thing I really want to see finished by the end of the year? Why is this not where I want it? What’s holding me up?’
The answer was my novel. The reason it wasn’t where I wanted was because I was still trying to write bits of the story that I didn’t properly understand. I had a beginning and an end but the middle was a sort of mushy mess that didn’t make much sense at all and the ending was more of a wistful hope than a solid finish.
So I closed down the document holding my draft, and I opened a fresh one.
Instead of spooling out another chapter that seemed to be heading towards a cliff of empty, black nothingness, I wrote a synopsis.
Well I say a synopsis. It was my version of one. My 2,000 word, broken, jumpy, question riddled version of one. But it’s done the trick.
Going back to the drawing board can be tough, but remember, without strong foundations the whole house ends up collapsing.
You need foundations, even if they’re made of post-it notes.
I now have a four page document that details my story from beginning to end. It tells me how and when the characters interact, where in the time line they are and how I get from beginning to middle to end.
I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy to write. At times I wanted to smash my forehead into the keyboard and give up entirely. But in the end it was done and I had something that I felt proud of. Something I could use to finish Shadow Dawn before 2016 comes to a close.
Which is why I’m doing exactly what I said I wouldn’t do two weeks ago. I’m going to do NaNoWriMo.
You’ve heard the phrase ‘kill your darlings’? Well completing this draft of Shadow Dawn means rewriting most of it and adding in a huge amount of content. At least 50,000 words worth. So NaNoWriMo seems like a great motivational tool for getting that done as forcing myself to write every night for a month is how I got to the end of the last draft.
I’m not going to put off writing until November as I’ve got the first six chapters under my belt already and I want to get chapter seven done this weekend. This will mean that I start NaNoWriMo with about 20,000 words and I’ll then add another 50,000 words on during the month. Those 20,000 words won’t be included in my word count for NaNoWriMo as that would be cheating and I want to prove to myself that I can win NaNoWriMo if I put my mind to it.
Right, now that I’ve said NaNoWriMo so many times that the word no longer holds any meaning, I’ll finish up with this.
2016 has not been the year I expected. It’s been filled with excitement and it’s been filled with sadness as well. However, I have survived and I have got to the end a better person than I started. Even if I don’t hit any of the goals I’m still aiming for, I know that I at least got half way there.
This blog and my book are two things I feel passionately about. The book because it’s part of that dream I’ve had since I was five, and this blog because I’ve been able to explore other styles and forms of writing while meeting amazing, supportive people who inspire and motivate me.
2017 will be a new year with new challenges, but I will be the one who chose how I face it, and I still have time to change how I feel when this year ends.
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