Monthly Writing Check-In

Back in May, I started a monthly goal writing document which highlighted my writing goals for the rest of the year. Then every month, around the 10th, I did a check in and wrote down what I accomplished related to writing in the last month. This kind of served a few purposes. On the one hand, I was able to push myself to keep going. I had achievable goals I set and wanted to meet them. Some of these goals are:

  1. Write 4-5 days per week
  2. Edit specific short stories I’ve already written
  3. Write new poetry and new fiction
  4. Submit pieces every month

This is sort of a cleaned-up version of what I was actually doing, but I set a lot of goals for myself for the year because I knew that even if I had achieved half of them, a quarter of them, that I would be happy. But what ended up happening kind of surprised me. Each month I’d check in and realize how much progress I made in a single month. Whether it was word count or amount of stories or poems written, I was making more progress writing and editing than I thought. It’s a journey that isn’t going to ever stop. I’m always going to learn more, and there’s always going to be more to learn, but for the first time in my life, it seemed like I was making progress in a lot of areas.

So, this month, I decided to post my monthly writing check in here on my blog. I hope it helps other writers set their own goals and complete their own check ins. You’ll be surprised how much you can do in a month. I usually am a little more laid back when I write this check in for myself. I poke fun of myself a bit, but it’s nice to go back a month later and say, wow, look what I did then, and look what I did now. I’ll be a little more ‘professional’ for this.

So here goes:

  • The biggest progress I made in the past month was working on my novel. I wrote 70 pages. Which is mind-blowing. I wasn’t really keeping track of word count, but I think in November I will be for NaNoWriMo. And because I’ve cut and rewritten so many scenes in November so far, my word count might be higher than my page count. I’m realizing that pansting an entire novel is going to be a struggle. As I wrote about in my last post, pansting leaves so much more editing. My book is a little bit of a mess, but it’s a lovely, beautiful mess that I’ve truly loved writing, and I know I can give it the time and effort it needs to be a more solid piece of fiction.
  • Spent a few days editing a flash fiction piece, titled Beneath the Riverbed. I got feedback from three beta readers on this too that I’m still working on incorporating into the piece. Most likely, I will be starting fresh and seeing where it goes. It’s only 600 words, so I’m either going to expand it to about 1000 or a longer short story. I think both have the potential to be great. I also won’t know until I try.
  • Wrote 3000 words of a new short story and 2000 words of another. This was really important to me last month! I spent so much time this year editing old fiction that I wanted to start something new. Neither story is finished, but I am working on both in between my novel and I’m really enjoying the process.
  • I wrote the first 1000 words of a new book and drafted a very loose outline for the rest of it. I wanted to get the first scene down. It was rolling around in my head. My goal is to really try to plot it next, then rewrite that first scene and start drafting. I’m not a plotter, but this story in particular will NOT work without plotting. There’s a lot of moving parts, so I actually feel like I can plot this one, which is a weird feeling for me.
  • Did a read through/edit of v10 of a short story called Twilight Bazaar. This story I’ve been working on for over 2 years. Editing and nothing but. But I had a MAJOR breakthrough yesterday and am planning on going back to the drawing board this month on it. Basically, starting over. This kind of leads me into my next bullet:
  • Yesterday I had the enormous pleasure of attending a two hour online writing workshop led by Apex Magazine’s Editor in Chief, Jason Sizemore. He talked about how to craft an opening of a short fiction piece, and I found the entire experience amazing. I learned so much and realized this story is still not right. I’m at the point now where it’s been not only edited to death, but it’s not telling the story that’s in my head. The bones are there, but it needs help. After attending this workshop, I realized why. My main character takes far too long to get to the inciting incident. I thought of a way to fix it. I’m not saying it’s going to make it to a perfect draft, but I know the next draft will be better, and I am eager to start it.
  • A poem I had submitted for publication was rejected. I was…very upset about this, but also I’ve learned to take rejections in stride. I’ve tabled it temporarily and plan to go back to it soon. It might need a bit more editing before it’s ready to send out again.
  • I did a ton of beta reading! I count this in my monthly writing check in because I learn SO much from beta reading for other writers. It helps me learn how to better edit my own work, but it also gives me the opportunity to learn how other writers are writing. I love helping out other writers, and I feel like everyone’s style is so different and amazing. It’s such a powerful way to grow as a writer.
  • I started this blog! Writing this blog was something that was really important to me. I really wanted to do this, and I’ve managed to make time for it every week so far. This is a new form of writing for me. It’s exciting. I’m starting to connect with other bloggers, and I’m loving reading about other people’s writing journeys and also all the book reviews!

I can sit here and look at the goals this month I didn’t hit. I didn’t write every day. I didn’t always meet my word count goal. I didn’t write or edit any poetry. I didn’t submit new fiction anywhere.

But the goals I didn’t hit aren’t important because the writing I did accomplish…to me is amazing. I’m proud of myself and excited to see where the next month takes me. It’s easy to lose sight of your overall progress as a writer if you’re shuffling between different stories and not making much progress on any of them. You might be making tons of progress, but in small ways.

If you want to try this, I really do recommend it. Set achievable goals. Set reach goals. Set SUPER reach goals. The goals you know are going to take a ton of hard work to achieve, but it’s important not to forget those. Even if your goals are just to write 3 days a week at first. That’s an amazing goal. And if you manage to meet that for a month, you’re going to be mind-blown at what you accomplished.

Writing should be one of the hardest things you love to do. So let it be hard, finnicky and irritable. But also let it breathe, let it be beautiful and magical. It can be all of those things at once. I really encourage everyone to find what works for you and let the words pour out however they will. When you take a step back to take it all in, I think you’ll be amazed at what happens.

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