The Year of Writing Constantly

At least that’s the way it felt, but that’s a good thing.

About a year ago, I blogged about getting more serious about writing and establishing a writing work schedule that included developing new material, editing/revising WIPs, and submitting stories for publication. Here is the schedule I came up with:

Monday 0800 – 1000: Blog about writing or publish a book review on my blog
1400 – 1700: Edit/revise a novel WIP

Tuesday 0800 – 1100: Edit/revise a short story or identify a publication to submit to
1400 – 1700: Edit/revise a novel WIP

Wednesday 0900 – 1100: Blog about politics
1400 – 1700: Edit/revise a novel WIP

Thursday 0800 – 1100: Edit/revise a short story or identify a publication to submit to
1400 – 1700: Something new—a short story or a novel idea

Friday 0800 – 1000: Blog about writing, publish a book review on my blog, and/or 100-word flash fiction
1300 – 1500: Submissions—the actual act of doing so—or developing a query letter

Saturday and Sunday: Two to three hours of reading and/or writing reviews

The good news is the blogging, editing/revising, and writing original material went very well, as did the reading and reviewing. I had several reviews published, and I read approximately fifty books this year, a record for me.

The bad news is even though I submitted more times than I did the previous year–ten altogether–and I had three short stories published, I didn’t submit as much as I had planned. The rejections made me focus on whether getting short stories published in literary or genre publications was a goal I still wanted to pursue or whether getting a novel or two ready for agent query was what I wanted.

I decided the latter was where I needed to put my energy. I continued to write 100-word flash fiction for Friday Fictioneers, and I turned several of those stories into a manuscript I have submitted to a fiction chapbook contest. I also wrote slightly longer flash fiction for a writer friend’s Rory’s Story Cube Challenge. Those stories became the flash fiction collection recently published entitled Spy Flash. Late in the year, I started participating in the Flash! Friday challenge from the Shenandoah Valley Writers–two of my entries have won the weekly challenge.

I joined a fiction critique group this year and put a novel-length manuscript through the critique process. A War of Deception was an interesting piece to write. It initially started out as a fictional account of uncovering a mole in the FBI, but a subplot rose that I fleshed out more at the suggestion of the critique group members. This is a manuscript I think is in good enough shape to query to agents, and that’s my big New Year’s Writing Resolution. A second manuscript, Self-Inflicted Wounds, is before the critique group now.

I finished the rough draft of a totally new novel-length piece for National Novel Writing Month, which I’ll begin revising in the spring. A major revision to Self-Inflicted Wounds will be on tap for 2013 as well. Friday Fictioneers and Friday! Flash will continue, as will the Rory’s Story Cube Challenge–there could be a Spy Flash 2 in the future! Both the writing and the political blogs will continue, too.

And there’s always that trilogy on domestic terrorism I’ve worked on for the past fifteen years.

I didn’t put this in the writing schedule, but I resolved this year to attend more writing conferences and workshops, and six was the magic number. The Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop was the most challenging but the most rewarding. I’m starting a bit earlier for 2013, with the Roanoke Writers Conference in January.

Overall, the writing work schedule was a success, even if I didn’t adhere to it exactly as I designed it. I think if I hadn’t been flexible about it, I probably wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I did.

So, Happy New Year to all my readers and my writer friends. I’m looking forward to journeying next year with all of you down that unexpected path toward publication.