Friday, December 15, 2017

Writing Exercise #21: Winning in 2017

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes novels. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and an affinity for mentoring teen writers. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. For more about Shan, check out her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest

Next month, many of us will set goals for 2018. We'll use fancy words like 'resolution' to show our friends and family just how serious we are about losing five pounds or finishing a book or taking down the Christmas lights.

In truth, I'm not overly big on resolutions. I set goals, but I'm kind to myself and I let things slide if life happens and things of higher priority need to be addressed. But something I try to do every December is remember.

When the end of the year rolls around, I like to look back and take stock of where I've been and what I've done. The moments that surprised me. The days that went just as they should have. The weeks that, well, didn't. And though I like to think back on every area of my life--I've found these December reminiscing sessions can be particularly helpful where my writing career is concerned.

It's far too easy to reach the end of the year and despair of all you didn't get done. To wish you'd made it farther down the road. To mourn a rejection or a failed project. The negative feelings about all the things that didn't happen this year can overwhelm the truth of what you DID accomplish. And despair is no way to close one season and open another.

So today, for your final writing exercise of 2017, I want you to make a list. Only this one won't be for Santa. It will be for you. To remind you that you did stuff that mattered this year. You grew yourself and your writing. You filled your head with stories that will forever change your voice. You embarked on adventures and are all the wiser for it. You closeted yourself away when necessary, to think, to be, to write.

Whatever it is you've done that has furthered your writing career/hobby/experiment--add it to the list. Every positive moment. Every win. Jot it down. Use the comments section here, okay? So we can all celebrate with you. And then come back throughout the weekend to cheer on your friends. 2017 was a difficult year for many of us. We need one another. Never forget how important your encouragement is to other writers.

Why don't I start? I'll leave my list here for you all. Perhaps it will remind you of some accomplishment you've forgotten.

Finished and edited and polished a manuscript.
Wrote nearly 50 blog posts.
Taught a ten-week mentoring class for jr high and high school students.
Taught my first teen track at a writing conference.
Took my first solo road trip in over a decade.
Met with my agent in person.
Attended five book signings.
Deepened relationships with my local writer friends.
Explored the Lost Coast.
Got better at writing outside my own office.
Grew my Instagram following.
Recorded my first video blogs for Go Teen Writers.
Go Teen Writers was listed as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writers Digest.
Expanded my podcast listening repertoire.
Coordinated a couple Go Teen Writers Instagram challenges.
Had new headshots taken.
Built a new author website.
Learned that the rights to my second book, Broken Wings, sold in Poland.
Upped my book purchasing game--one way I support authors and the industry.
AND, I read more books this year than I did last year--which is saying something because the first quarter of 2017 was murder on my reading life.

 Now, it's your turn! Make a list and check it twice. It'd be a bummer to leave off a win.

REMEMBER! When you participate in our writing exercises you can enter to win an opportunity to ask Jill, Steph and me a question for one of our upcoming writing panels. Once you leave your response to the writing prompt in the comments section, use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Next week, Rafflecopter will select one winner and we'll contact you for your question via email. Happy writing, friends!

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  1. It sounds like you've had quite the productive year. Congrats! I think it's a great idea to focus on the thing you HAVE achieved - it keeps things positive.

    In 2017 I have:
    - copyedited/macroedited my YA contemporarty novel Holding Up the Sky
    - written the 2nd draft of Holding Up the Sky (~100k words)
    - started the 1st draft of Old Blood, the first part of my WIP epic fantasy series
    - wrote 50k words of Old Blood in 3 weeks (when I should have been studying...oops)
    - developed my writer website (which involved learning some basic CSS/HTML)
    - "launched" a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google+
    - started the 3rd draft of Holding Up the Sky
    - learned (or started to) how to navigate the wide world of blogging
    - posted the first chapter of Holding Up the Sky on my website (one of the scarier things!)
    - wrote and submitted my Honours thesis for uni (phew!)
    - reached the 100k word mark in Old Blood
    - released 21 blog posts

    Hope everyone else has had a successful year!

    1. Wow! That's super impressive. Your contemporary YA novel sounds really interesting...must look into it...

    2. Wow! You did a lot of high word counts this year! Great job!

    3. Thanks guys! I must admit, I kinda surprised myself...

  2. In 2017 I:

    -started a blog and published 60-70 posts on it
    -completed a macro-edit of my novel Watched
    -wrote a Snow White retelling for the Rooglewood press contest
    -edited it
    -sent it to both alpha and beta readers (First time for either! Yikes)
    -Realized that goals aren't always possible

    I'm going to set concrete goals that are actually doable for 2018. It's going to be great and I'm super excited!!!!

    1. 60-70 posts?!?!?!?!? You go, girl!! That's amazing. I can't wait to see what you tackle this year!

    2. Yay, Faith! 60 to 70 posts is A LOT!! Good luck with the goals. HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

    3. Wow! 60-70 posts is a huge amount! Great job! I hope the contest goes over well!

    4. Great job! How did you manage to put out so many posts? Did you have a regular publishing schedule?

    5. Way to go, Faith! That's amazing for your first year of blogging! And I love the last item on your list--realizing that goals aren't impossible. <3

  3. Wow! As I look back, it's been quite a year.

    -Did a full content edit on my novel, Porch Swing Girl
    -Started an author FB page
    -Started an author Twitter account
    -Started an author Instagram account
    -Started an author Goodreads account
    -Started an author blog
    -Took a "research trip" (no, really, it was! If you consider eating tons of food and doing lots of shopping/hanging out on the beach every day) to Hawaii
    -Went to my second writers conference (Oregon Christian Writers) and GOT OFFERED A 3-BOOK CONTRACT!!!!!!!
    -Signed said 3-book contract
    -Took author photos
    -Built an author website
    -Started blogging once a week
    -Wrote my second book
    -Booked a 26-ish stop blog tour to promote my debut novel WHICH RELEASES IN JUNE!!!!
    -Made a guest appearance on my first podcast
    -Did copy edits on my first book
    -Stared working with a cover designer
    -Started editing my second book

    WOW. Okay...yeah, that was a lot. And I'm SOOOO excited to see what next year holds! It's all kind of crazy, really. Eek!

    1. Wow, so exciting! Congrats again on publishing (or the upcoming publishing.) You did a lot of awesome stuff this year!

    2. I can't wait for your book to come out! Congrats to you! So exciting!

    3. Awesome work getting a THREE BOOK CONTRACT!!! that's amazing news!!

  4. Looking back on this year, I realize a lot of things changed for me and I'm not always good with change. I like the simple, quiet, boring life. I live out my adventures in my writing and enjoy the ever constant parts of my life. But there is a part of me yearning for some things to change, such as my contentment with where I am. I often find myself not content when I have so much that God has blessed me with. My list may not be extremely long, but the things that happened are major things for me.

    - I graduated high school
    - I got my adult driving permit
    - I can vote now
    - I decided 2018 will be the year I publish
    - I let my alpha reader FINALLY read the most current draft of my book. This is huge because letting someone read my work is hard for me.

    - I entered a short story into a casual contest on a blog. It was mentioned and I let my alpha read it first. This was a bit harder because that story was so vulnerable and I put it on my blog so other people know they aren't alone in the struggle with anxiety.

    - I decided to start a business, but the actual business won't happen until next year. But deciding is still a big step. :)

    - I did a study on every book in the Bible
    -I started a blog and have 87 published posts
    - I started a Goodreads
    - I got spotify at the nudging of an awesome blogging buddy who was totally right about it being awesome and I thank her so much for telling me more about it. (Thanks, Faith/ Florid Sword!) <3

    There's probably much more that I did and learned, but they escape me at this very moment. Thank you, Mrs. Dittemore, for this writing exercise. It has given me a chance to look back and see how far I've come from the beginning of the year as a worried High School senior to a happy high school graduate who enjoys taking the road less traveled. God bless y'all and have a Merry Christmas. <3


    1. Great accomplishments, Ivie! Keep moving towards that goal publishing date! You've got this!

    2. Congrats on finishing school and good luck with the book!

  5. I have...
    > finished writing, edited, and published by debut indie novella (49k)
    > finished writing two other books (127k and 63k)
    > wrote 146 blog posts
    > hosted/co-hosted two blog parties
    > wrote around 187k words
    > read 160 books (and counting!)
    > went on a week-long youth/ministry trip
    > camped with my family and friends for a week
    > met one of my favorite authors in person
    > visited in person with a best friend from 1,000 miles away
    > finished 11th grade and started 12th grade
    > took a week-long adult/semi-advanced ceramics/pottery class
    > grew closer to God <3

    Awesome accomplishments, y'all! :D

    1. Wow, you've been productive this year! Awesome job!

  6. This has been a big year for writing for me!
    -Decided I wanted to write more seriously
    -joined the Go Teen Writers facebook group
    -made writing friends
    -participated in my first word war
    -Participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time
    -Won NaNo
    -Finished my first novel/ also started it
    -Joined with some other writers on a collaborative novel
    -lots of beta reading
    -wrote more essays than I ever have in my life
    Other non-writing things:
    -got accepted into my first choice college
    -applied to college (made a portfolio)
    -went to a national horticulture competition and got 6th place
    -started teaching at a local shop
    -took a class at our community college
    -took ACT
    2017 has been rough in many ways, but I have gotten a lot done!

    1. You have quite an impressive list there! Good job!

    2. Awesome work! You've really worked hard on your writing life!

  7. This year I:

    -went on a mission's trip to Ecuador
    -visited my writer friend 2x
    -attended my 5th OYAN SW
    -attended the Ohio Christian Writers Conference
    -visited Chicago
    -graduated from college!!
    -began classes for a certification in editing
    -started freelance editing and writing
    -finaled in the One Year Adventure Novel Student Contest
    -published 4 guest blog posts
    -published a flash fiction story in Spark
    -pitched Writer's Digest :O
    -read 33 books (aiming for 45--I've got a few days left!)
    -began a Twitter account @literaryportals
    -began an Instagram account @literary_portals
    -began an author FB page @literaryportalsediting
    -discovered audiobooks are amazing things
    -got engaged

    1. Congrats on all those amazing accomplishments! Graduating and getting engaged is so exciting. :D

  8. I love your idea to focus on the good rather than the negative!
    This year I:
    -Started a blog
    -published 32 posts
    -Wrote the 80k first draft of my sci-fi superhero novel
    -identified issues and got to work on the rewrite of my fantasy novel.
    -Wrote a 30k novella
    -Wrote 14 short stories
    -entered two in competitions and was shortlisted once
    -completed NANOWRIMO in two weeks and wrote a 100k dystopian novel in six weeks.
    -read 92 books.
    Whew! That makes me feel super good about myself, when I look at it this way. Thanks for this activity.

  9. This year, I:
    / Wrote two drafts (50k each, a total of 100k) in 21 days.
    / Thanks to those two drafts, I learned exactly where I was going wrong in my writing.
    / Studied writing, like, a lot. I've read so many blog posts and books my head is spinning!
    / Took that knowledge and applied it to my "pet project", which finally has solid plot/characters and is being outlined now.
    / Started a new (more serious) blog,
    / Decided I want to make writing my career.
    / Traveled halfway across the country.
    / Battled through physical/mental issues.
    / Got more active in the writing community.
    / Have been in four choirs.
    / Read 43 books.
    That really forced me to look back on the year! Even though some of it isn't writing-related. :P This was a great idea.

    1. Sounds like big growth in your writing life! That's so awesome you've been digging in and learning all you can. *high five*

  10. I love this idea! Even though my goal this year was to publish a book (it was a very unrealistic goal, looking back),this is what I HAVE accomplished this year:

    -I wrote the first draft of my third novel
    -I won NaNoWriMo
    -I grew my blogging platform
    -I finally sent my WIP to my beta readers, something the perfectionist side of me kept finding excuses not to do
    -I decided to go with self-publishing whenever I'm actually ready to publish
    -And through my writing, I grew closer to God. With every new story, He always teaches me so much about myself and about Him.

    1. Great job, Talia! God has also taught me more about himself this year, though not really through my writing, but through testing my faith in Him. Next year, I plan to reflect on what God has shown me through more Christian themed writing.


  11. My goal WAS to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of the year. That did not happen. But, here are some of the things I HAVE done:

    - Entered three short stories into a contest in Ferbuary (they didn’t win, but whatever)
    - Read one of my entries for that same contest for the next year to my family (they liked it!)
    - Started my blog on June 30 and published 31 (soon to be 32) posts
    - Came up with and brainstormed three (sort of four) ideas for the Rooglewood contest
    - Wrote and edited one of these ideas (it ended up around 15,000 and a half words)
    - Gave the story to my alpha reader (aka my dad) who made suggestions
    - Fully edited my Rooglewood story, which is called Princess of the Seventh Star
    - Sent in the submission form yesterday
    - Wrote through scene 1 of Chapter Eight in my novel (I’m awful)
    - Got a beautiful leather(ish) notebook in November and drew 20 pictures in it (so far)
    - Wrote parts of several radio scripts (most prominently, There and Back in Time)
    - Wrote a full song
    - Determined to start a company called Remaker’s Parallel (once I save enough money) and started work on one of the, er, products
    - Wrote part of a comic book, a couple of “HISHES”, and parts of different novels

    Non-writing things:

    - Had a baby brother!!
    - Discovered GTW/Scattered Scribblings (and Savannah Grace)
    - Voted in the Silmarillion Awards (SO COOL!)
    - Went to Boone NC for vacation
    - Tried pork burgers for the first time (YUM!)
    - Dressed as Briar Rose for Halloween and helped decorate for the 1950s themed Halloween party
    - Rewatched Back to the Future (coolest time travel movie OF ALL TIME)
    - Fell in love with DuckTales and MILO MURPHY’S LAW
    - Watched all the Harry Potter movies
    - Watched Thor: Ragnarok and The Man Who Invented Christmas in the theatre (both awesome, by the way, but I LOOOOOVED TMWIC)
    - Discovered a lot of really cool musicians (especially the Neal Morse Band)
    - Started rereading The Hobbit on my own
    - Read the ENTIRE Ransom Trilogy (aka Space Trilogy) with my parents and brother William
    - Read The Door Before (prequel to 100 Cupboards/Ashtown Burials) IN ONE DAY
    - Discovered Lieutenant Reginald Barclay
    - Had the craziest dream in all of history
    - Realized how very weird I am

    WOW. I did more than I thought. And I probably did even more than that that I’m not thinking of. This was a very interesting exercise. Sorry if that was a long comment. But anyway, MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!

    ~ Gracelyn

    1. Wow, awesome list, Gracelyn! (Love your name, btw.) Ahhhh, you're entering Five Poisoned Apples too? Same here! And I'm excited to see that you were one of the voters for the Silmarillion Awards. Good times. ^_^

  12. Ooh, nice notion! I’ve not done as much. But let’s see. In no particular order, I have...
    - Existed (clearly)
    - Written two full crossover fanfics, and started on the sequels
    - Started my blog (but it was in November, so I’ve only published one post, soon to be two)
    - Started six posts that are not yet finished
    - Joined Pottermore
    - Discovered Weird Al Yankovic
    - Written lots of notes on things I’m going to write, and scattered parts of those things
    - Invented a lovely character named Atlas
    - Discovered Grace Newsom (didn’t she comment on this post?)
    - Sorted a lot of fictional characters into Hogwarts Houses (because Harry Potter and CROSSOVERS)
    - Discovered this website and this post... which brings us up to now
    I couldn’t think of anything else. So okay, I’ve not done as much as I’d have hoped. And most of them aren’t very big or momentous. But I did exist, so it counts! YES! Existence for the win! (I’m weird :P)

    ~ Clara Murphy, Queen of Fandoms

  13. In 2017, I:
    • Finished the first draft of a contemporary I never thought I'd get through.
    • Got more brave about telling people I'm a writer and have written novels.
    • Started writing songs and poems even though I thought I couldn't.
    • Am now at almost 50k in a fantasy first draft, after years of thinking I'd never be able to write fantasy.
    • Actually told people what my books are about instead of dodging the question.
    • Trusted that God would use my writing, whether it's fiction, poetry, songs, or non-fiction.

  14. Oh no! I commented a list, but it didn't show up... maybe I'll rewrite it later, I should go write now...


  15. Let me see... what did I do....

    -Wrote ~200,000 words (was probably more, but I'm too lazy to do the math right now)
    -Wrote every single day except for, what, seven so far...? Which means I also wrote for at least six months straight.
    -Made enormous progress on my epic fantasy novel.
    -Started a new novel and managed not to throw it by the wayside (aka learned how to balance more than one project).
    -Made it halfway through said new novel.
    -Came up with plenty of ideas!
    -Wrote lots of poetry.
    -Read some Alexandre Dumas, which wasn't really writing but showed me how to expand my writing style. Also, Dumas is awesome.
    -Wrote various tidbits of things here and there. All told, I think I've written more this year than in any previous year.

    1. Wow. 200k! That's incredible. Keep up the good work!!

  16. Wow. You guys are all amazing. And I agree... let's be glass half full people!!!!

    This year I:
    -finally got into a good rhythm with homeschooling after moving across the world
    -went to Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany (which was soooo inspirational)
    -became a TAJ (Teen Authors Journal) author. (Go check them out!!!)
    -Finished my first manuscript (85k)
    -completed 5 drafts of my first manuscript
    -wrote my second book (94k) in under 4 months
    -completed the second draft of book 2 today!!!
    -launched my author website a couple of months ago--I haven't blogged much, but 4 posts is better than none;)
    -started instagram and pinterest author accounts
    -wrote several poems/spoken word pieces and added them to my website
    -entered an international art competition and got into the finals
    -had fun (most of the time. Lol.)
    -most of all, grew in my relationship with the LORD. There's something so special about art (be it paint, music, or words) that really draws us closer to Him. One of my favorite quotes is this: "We create because we are created in the image of the creator." My biggest goal in 2018 is to write for His glory, and not my own.

    Merry (early) Christmas, ya'll! And may you write many words over Christmas break.


  17. This year I:
    -Decided that I wanted to pursue my dream of writing.
    -Wrote an entire first draft of my epic fantasy novel, plus much planning for the rest of the series
    -Discovered Go Teen Writers
    -Started writing short stories

  18. Awesome idea!
    So, for 2017, I:
    -Discovered Go Teen Writers
    -Read 88 books
    -Learned oodles and oodles of information on writing (Seriously, the vast majority of what I know now was all learned this year!)
    -Started up a reading log

    I didn't exactly do much from January to July, but starting in August, I ended up doing this:

    -Finally worked up the determination and discipline to write on a regular basis, it was slow and inconsistent at first, but I've written almost every day since late September
    -Started keeping a writing log, which has majorly improved my productivity
    -Found *The* idea, a sci-fi series, the one I will stick with all the way through to the end
    -Written first drafts for four of the six books in my sci-fi series, a combined 252,449 words
    -While the first one came out as a 'skeleton draft' (Half outline, half actual draft, only 34,879 words), and took fifty days of inconsistent writing to finish, I wrote the second one in twenty-two consecutive writing days with a total of 72,556 words!
    -Set my personal best word count in a day: 8282 words
    -Increased my average daily word count from about 300-1,000 on the occasional day I felt like writing, all the way up to 2,000-3,000 words daily
    -I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere, on a project that matters to me, and I actually feel like I can reach my goals

    Wow, I've made more progress than I anticipated. Thanks again for getting me to see how far I've come, I can't wait to see how far I'll go next year!

    Congratulations to everyone, you've all made loads of progress and you've got every reason to be proud! Best of luck to all in 2018!

  19. -Finished my first novel
    -Shared my writing with friends for the first time
    -Attempted to co-write with a different friend (it failed, but I got experience)
    -wrote 50,022 words in 31 days (Camp NaNo, anyone?)
    -found Write The World
    -wrote some historical fiction for the first time
    -found a critique group and thus:
    --met other serious teen writers in my area
    --shared my work with serious writers for the first time
    --read my work out loud for the first time
    --got a lot of great writing advice

    -started another book
    -learned how to plants like someone who actually knows what they're doing
    -used a lot of prompts both here and on WtW
    -attended a writing workshop for the first time


  20. It's so motivating reading about everyone's accomplishments and highlights of the year! I love this idea. And Shannon, the variety on your list is awesome.

    In 2017 I...

    -Added 17k words to a rewrite of an old fantasy novel
    -Turned my 20k Sleeping Beauty novella into an 80k novel and edited it a couple times
    -Went to my first Realm Makers conference, where I proved to myself that I'm serious about writing, pitched said Sleeping Beauty novel to two agents, learned a ton, and met other writers (including Jill Williamson!)
    -Sent that novel out to an amazing group of beta readers
    -Wrote and edited a novella called Mirrors Never Lie for the Rooglewood contest
    -Beta read for a few friends
    -Read 37 books (and counting)
    -Published 54 blog posts
    -Helped host the Silmarillion Awards
    -Re-realized how fulfilling it is to encourage others through the written word
    -Graduated leadership college
    -Started business college

    It's been a good year! Busy and challenging in some ways, but I'm learning how to balance priorities and manage my time better, so that's a plus. I could be disappointed about not reaching all of my goals, but you're right, Shannon--it's all about perspective.

    1. Sounds like you had an awesome year! Good luck with your writing and college!

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