Well, hello there friends.
I’m a little late on the NYE posting game, I’ll admit, because it’s very nearly midnight where I live and it’s already 2021 in most of the world, but I’m going to sit here and pretend like this is relevant anyway. It’s relevant to me, so we’re going with it!
I’m working on a post about wrapping up the year and my goals for this coming year (I’ll have that post up tomorrow before I send out my newsletter at 10am — if you’d like a monthly love letter by the way, subscribe here 🙂 ), but I find it helpful to think about my writing separately and to do a sort of wrap up all on its own. So that’s what we’re doing here this evening!
I’ve got a spreadsheet (because I’m a goal-setting, spreadsheet-loving weirdo) where I track all the words that I’ve written in the various projects I’ve worked on over the course of any given year (since 2017, I wasn’t always this unhinged) and, though I don’t religiously update it throughout the year, I do find it helpful to update from time to time just to get a sense of how my year is going. I find the updates incredibly helpful — I feel like I always have this sense that I’m not actually writing that much and that I’m just sitting around doing nothing, and so there’s something about seeing all the numbers there written out that really helps knock me out of whatever funk I’ve managed to work myself into.
This year, too, I found that to be the case (honestly, I was worried it wouldn’t be, so count me a little relieved). And, because I said that I have a spreadsheet, I figured I’d take a cheeky screenshot —
I’ll be honest, part of my reaction to seeing that total number today was not that great — it’s about 100,000 less than I’d written last year, and I definitely had a moment where I wanted to nag myself about that and be like you should have played less Breath of the Wild, ELLE, maybe you would have written more, but I almost immediately pulled myself back (and I’m grateful for both doing that (pulling back) and for all the work I’ve been doing that made it so that I was able to pull back in the first place). I wrote so much this year! And, yes, there were some writing goals I left on the table (looking at you edit all 2019 novels from my goals list from last January) this year, but I showed up at my desk almost every day and I wrote words. I built worlds and characters and stories and I’m proud of the work that I did to bring them all out of my head and into reality.
Or, well, into my Google Drive.
Beyond just the raw numbers, my writing was really, really different this year to years past. Normally, I write a lot more fanfiction that I ended up writing this year (I still have one that I just can’t seem to fucking finish and it’s driving me absolutely round the twist) and I usually get myself through the first draft of, like, four whole novels. I started a few novels this year — they were just little moments, mostly, not serious attempts at a draft — but I really only ended up completing two drafts and a full revision of the travel novel this year.
I’m saying that like it isn’t a lot, but, like… I know that’s a lot. It’s just different to the absolute back breaking pace I normally force on myself.
And, you know, I’ve been thinking that there’s something to that, not forcing myself to write at that speed anymore. I like, in part, the stress that comes with working on a number of new projects in a year (I’m genuinely not okay), but I think that working that swiftly meant that I was allowing myself to avoid the really hard work of digging into my stories and really making them better. Editing is hard and while I love the like… feeling of taking my story apart at the seams and really understanding how it works, honestly, I just love the feeling of getting swept up in a new story more. Of meeting new characters for the first time and just starting to understand what their lives look like.
It’s the excitement of a new story, I think, that really just draws me in.
But this year, I was tired. Worn out. For all the obvious reasons, but, too, from pushing myself through such a rigorous pace for the last few years. I’m glad I took a bit of a step back (though, I know, the numbers maybe don’t look like it, but I swear it was a step back) because I think it helped give me the perspective I needed. And, honestly, to just chill out a little bit. I’m going to be rambling more about goals for 2021 tomorrow, but I’ll just say now that I think I’m going to work in a similar way this year — there are new projects I know I want to work on (like I know I’ll be doing NaNo again), but I want to really focus my year on editing this year. I have so many projects just sitting on the backburner and it’s time that I remembered what I was so excited about when I wrote those projects in 2019 (or, yikes, in 2018).
If you’re a writer, how did your writing go this year? Or if you’re another sort of creative, how did that go for you?
I’m sending you so much love and positivity through the internet — we all need good 2021 vibes, so have a little extra from me x