2023 reads in review

In 2023, I read 55 books.

I ask that you forgive my later-in-life obsession with Stephen King. I avoided him in my earlier years for fear of being frightened and only recently discovered the joy of his masterful story-telling.

Of the 55 books, 38 were fiction. 17 were non fiction.

Of the 38 fiction, authors were:

New to me authors 8
Nnedi Okorafor 6
J. R. R. Tolkien 4
Octavia Butler 3
Anne Rice 2
Manga/Graphic Novels 2
Murakami Haruki 1

Of the 38 fiction, books included main characters that were:
Black 17
Autistic 8
Queer 7

Of 38 fiction, genres were:
Horror 14
Science Fiction 10
Fantasy 6
Western (Dark Tower series) 5
Magical Realism 3
Modern Lit 1

Of the 17 non fiction, books were:

self-improvement 9
craft 6
memoir 1

Of the 55 books, 14 were re-reads. 41 were new reads.

Of the 55 books, authors were:
white 40
Black 10
Asian 5

Of the 55 books, authors were:
men 29
women 26

Obvious holes in my reading for this coming year? Need to read works by Black men, Brown people, Latin people, non-binary people.

Happy Reading in 2024!

Endings and Beginnings

In Tarot, the death card can seem pretty scary. But all endings are also beginnings. The end of one day is the beginning of the next. The end of one chapter is the beginning of the next. As we approach the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024, it feels like the perfect time to talk about goals. What were your writing goals this past year, and what will your new writing goals look like moving forward? I often make the mistake of thinking of my goals too broadly, without enough detail to nail them down. I might think to myself: this year I’ll finish my manuscript, get it all cleaned up, and get it published! And then I don’t do that. Why? Because there’s no specificity. Goals famously need to be five things:

It isn’t enough to say “I’ll finish my manuscript.” Instead, try saying, “I’ll write one new chapter every month until every chapter has been drafted.” That specific. And in order to achieve one new chapter every month, what will that require? Maybe “I’ll write one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening every weekday, M-F.” That’s something you can measure. Did I write for one hour this morning? I can answer yes or no. That’s measurable. Maybe two hours a day is too many. Maybe I need to try writing in the morning and the evening to see which works better for me, and pick the one that works better. Or maybe I can only write MWF and on weekends. Whatever I figure out that I can actually accomplish. And of course, there’s a deadline.

Here are some examples of starting points you could use to begin developing your writing-related goals:

1. Outline your book
2. Research for your book
3. Try tools such as Scrivener or Grammarly
4. Overcome writer’s block (writing prompts and other methods)

  1. Make a goal timeline: If I want to write 100 pages, I can make it my goal to write one page every day for 100 days. Break it into bitesize pieces. Anything where you can answer the question, did I meet this goal yes or no. You either wrote a page today or you didn’t. Easy to measure, easy to note.
  2. Try the Pomodoro method

Another modification of the SMART goals uses SMARTER goals, adding “evaluable” and “rewarding.” Example: I will self-publish an anthology of my writing by December 2024. Try:
1. Word Counts
2. Break up a big project into milestones
4. If you’re trying to make money, keep track of how much you’re making
5. If you’re trying to accumulate publications, keep track of how many items you’re getting published
If you’re new to setting writing goals: set one around a daily word-count or time spent writing. Alternatively, set a writing goal based around a deadline.

Here is an example of Marcie the Maven’s breakdown of writing goals SOURCE

Consider different kinds of writing goals:
1. Lifetime Writing Goals. What will you regret if you never accomplish? I have also heard this question asked “What does success look like to you?”
2. This year’s writing goal(s). One goal I’ve heard and liked is “collect 100 rejection letters.” Rejection letters are a fantastic way to celebrate that you are living the life. Rejection is a very normal part of being a writing if you have any desire to publish. Why not celebrate the accumulation of rejection letters!

Another version of this is to send 100 query letters.

Another goal, famously suggested by Ray Bradbury, is to write 1 short story every week for a year. According to Bradbury, no one can write 52 bad short stories in a row.

3. Weekly goals
4. Daily goals

Here’s the worksheet made by this SOURCE, which also recommends:
1. reflect
2. reconnect
3. what will you quit
4. pick 2 (no more than that!)
5. deadline + consequence

Last but not least, check out Pro Writing Aid:

  1. Different Methods for Different Writers
  2. Keep It Visible
  3. Make It Attainable and Sustainable
  4. Have a Recovery Plan
  5. Review, Adjust, Reflect
  6. Bonus Tip: Devotion Over Discipline

Also try:
1. Small things
2. Link it with something you already do
3. Accountability
4. Write it down and track it
5. Quantity leads to Quality (WRITE A LOT)
6. Journal, Share, Celebrate your progress!

Last but not least this one was from a kids writing site, but it actual seems pretty insightful for adults too! SOURCE