Friday, 31 December 2010

What I've Learnt in 2010

It’s been an eventful year for me. In writing, it’s been a very eventful year. I’m one novel away from finishing the Resistance series and I've finished writing my second series Shifters, which currently awaits editing.

Since it’s 2010, I thought I’d share ten things I’ve learnt to do with writing, editing and publishing this year.

1. How to properly structure a manuscript. I’ve learnt the importance of keeping chapters roughly the same length, how to format dialogue and paragraphs, as well as how to include different elements in my plot. It doesn’t sound like much, but compared to my abandoned project from 2008-2009, I’ve learnt a great amount.

2. Outlining is not a restriction. Using outlines does not restrict my creativity. It organises my creativity, meaning I have a more cohesive plot and a better idea of where my novel is going before I sit down to write it. I couldn’t keep writing aimlessly without a sure heading. I don’t ever start anything without some sort of outline. My next novel has been planned so meticulously I would have cried out in horror last year – now, it’s made me even more excited to write it. I have so many scenes and ideas for it; all that’s left is to put it on the page. I can’t wait.

3. Researching and timelines will always help. No matter how much time they might take away from writing, they help make my novel seem real. I can put my own story into context, and I can be sure that my readers will be able to as well. That’s worth the time spent away from my MS.

4. Practice makes perfect. There’s been a lot of trial and error. I’ve had to write a lot of scenes to see that they needed to change. I’ve had to write manuscript upon manuscript to see how my writing needs to develop and to discover the true extent of my characters and their actions. The time I’ve spent writing has all gone towards developing my writing skills. My first drafts aren’t quite as terrible as they were at the beginning of 2010. I will always have editing to do - I know and accept this. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be just a little bit easier the more I learn from my mistakes.

5. Editing is not my enemy. Before the start of this year, I feared editing. It was a horrible point I never wanted to approach. Going into the editing cave was a terrifying experience. But it was only when I couldn’t see the light which had been blinding me outside that I realised editing is a fun experience. It is separate from writing, but it’s still an enjoyable part of the process for me. The backspace button is my friend, and editing is another part of the ride. I plan to enjoy it to the fullest.

6. Writing often wins over sleep. There have been many nights where I’ve had a to make a choice over writing and sleep, and until recently it was hard to remember a time when sleep won. I want to get to the end of the scene or chapter so I can sleep happily. A few tired nights are nothing I can’t handle. In fact, I like watching the hours tick away while I’m writing. Though I'll make sure to listen to my body when I need to sleep, I know how ridiculously fun writing into the midnight hours is won't change next year.

7. I know how to get to where I want to be. I know the process of how to get published. I'm thinking about querying, agents, editors, and the entire process all the time. Obviously, I won’t be ready to experience it this year. Maybe this time next year I won’t be repeating those words.

8. I’m no longer writing just for fun. Writing is still incredibly fun for me. But this isn’t something I'll come back to every once in a while. This is what I want to do. Someday, I want to get to the place where I can write all day and know that in the future it’ll be on the shelves for people to read. Every little bit of progress I make is working towards something now. I’m going to make every part count.

9. Time and money will come into play. I have invested a significant amount of time into my writing. I had to in order to achieve the amount I did this year. I’ve set aside so many hours for writing, editing, plotting and thinking over scenes. I’m becoming even better at managing my time to get all this done. It’s a balancing act, and right now, I’m feeling pretty steady on the tightrope. Money has also come into play in the form of reams of paper to print my MSs, printer ink, ridiculously over-priced folders, and red biros which have an awful habit of running out during my paper edits. Still, you get what you give. Any time or money I spent towards this will be given back some day.

10. How to get more involved with the writing community. I love my blog. I love Twitter. But most of all, I love speaking to all of you. Sharing our experiences, the things we’ve been through, plot ideas and our passion for writing. I’ve found so much support in the writing community which I would have never expected; it’s yet another thing which continues to motivate me. Thank you, all of you reading this right now. You have no idea how much you’ve helped.

I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt this year. I hope you all have a great new year, and I’ll see you on the other side of 2011.


  1. Know what you mean about outlining! I used to think it would make writing boring, but it makes it easier.

    And I haven't been blogging long but I agree about the writing community.

  2. You've learned a lot this year. :)

    Definitely with you and Sonia, the writing community is so good to experience. Hopefully the new year will be just as prosperous as 2010.

    Happy New Year~

  3. Loving this list! Why'd you come to the decision to keep your chapters around the same length?

    I agree with you on eeeeverything. I love outlining, I love researching and making timelines. Even though sometimes my writing isn't up to par with my own standards, I always figure it's helping me in some way :)

    I don't know if I've learned my lesson about editing yet haha I haven't had a completed ms in my hands to completely revise, just chapters and scenes. But I'm scared of that when it does come!

    I wish you the best for 2011, Kiara!

  4. Sonia: That was my thought entirely. I assumed it would take something away from the process, but it doesn't at all - it actually enhances it! I love highlighting my outline when I've completed certain points. It shows my progress, and it's so helpful to be able to work towards the different places in my MS, along with the subplots I might create or add in along the way.

    Devin: It's amazing what you can learn in only a year! I can't believe I'm heading into a new year with all that already gained. It makes me hopeful about how much I'll learn this year. Agreed, and happy new year!

    Jessica: I came up with the decision for a few reasons. For one, it gave me something to work towards when I was writing. It also made sure I kept the action or events in the chapter focused. I don't completely restrict myself with a page count, but I keep it around a certain number. I've got flexibility, but I've got a more cohesive pace. It works for me, so I like to keep the same idea for my projects.

    It always helps me! I would be lost without all of them. The thing I love about writing first drafts is being able to go back on them and edit later. So even if it isn't up to what you want, you can always go back.

    I know what you mean; it's harder to get into the editing mode when you're writing. I have to seperate them into two parts of my process. If I try and properly edit while I'm still writing, things get complicated for me. Every person is different, I guess. Don't be scared - I promise it's better than you think.

    I wish you the best too, Jessica!