Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Time to Take Inventory of Your Writing in 2020 By Sondra Kraak

We are a mere two months from the turning of one year to another. In just weeks, it will be Thanksgiving, and then Advent, and then Christmas. That means for us writers, it’s time to take inventory of how the past months of writing have gone. 
I suggest finding a quiet place, having pen and paper ready, and waiting in stillness until the busy has cleared from your mind and heart. A hot drink is always a welcome addition in my reflection times. 

When ready, ask these questions (or have questions of your own ready): 

How have my circumstances played into my writing this year? List out any illnesses, moves, job changes, relationship changes, or unexpected shifts (yes, that’s you, COVID). How did each of these things affect your writing? Did you write more or less because of these things? Did new opportunities to publish or create come from these things? Did other books or articles get pushed to the side? 

What emotions have surrounded my writing life? This past year, I have written about discouragement, jealousy, and loneliness. What about fear, joy, grief, excitement, indecision, anxiety, or peace? Is there one emotion that has defined your writing more than any others? You may find as you look back at what you have written, a certain emotion keeps appearing as a theme. 

Have any emotions steered me off course from my writing vision? If depression, anxiety, fear, or grief has been a part of your 2020, then it’s likely they derailed some of your plans. There’s no shame in that. An honest assessment helps you to plan for next year. If any of those above emotions are keeping you from normal, daily tasks—writing or otherwise—consider seeking counseling. We all need wise ears and gentle advice at various seasons of our lives. 

What other blocks or distractions interfered with my writing? Did you get sucked into watching news? Did your research take you down rabbit holes? Did you suffer from physical illness? Watch too many movies? Scroll social media too much? We all have time-sucks that tempt us and plague us. Be ruthless in identifying what is taking up precious writing time and decide what needs to go. 

Did I celebrate my accomplishments? If not, I suggest you list out the completed projects or the steps you took to grow. Even the little things should be celebrated. 

For instance, I wrote five blog posts for Seriously Write. I published one book. I created five freebies for my newsletter list. If you read books on the writing craft, include those. Did you listen to any writing-related podcasts? Participate in a critique group? 

When you begin to list out all the things you’ve done, you’ll probably be surprised, and it will fuel your excitement for next year. 

What changes do I want to make in my writing life? You might begin by looking at your accomplishments. How do you want that list to look different at the end of 2021? When thinking about changes, make your answers tangible, detailed, and manageable. Not just, “I want to write more.” 

I confess, I’m not a goal-setter. I don’t like them. They add pressure and stress me out. But that’s different than taking inventory of what’s happened in my writing life and praying about what I want to happen in the next year. 

I’m a huge fan of being intentional, both in my personal life and my writing. You might first list out all the far-reaching dreams you have for writing in 2021, but then go back and narrow it into specific things that will realistically fit inside your schedule and circumstances. Should you scale back on writing? Focus on your website? Newsletter list? 

After you ponder these questions, tell a writing buddy. Maybe you’ll do this exercise together with writing friends. “We are better together,” has become a phrase of 2020, and it’s definitely true for us writers. 

I hope that looking back on 2020 is a joyful, encouraging reset for you as you launch into 2021. 

For me, it’s a celebration of God’s faithfulness to me not only in writing (I finished up a 5-book series) but in my personal life (my husband navigated through chemo treatments and is now cancer free). For Christians, good reflection will lead us into worship of the God who gifted us, equips us, and sustains us. 

How do you close out a year of writing and plan for another year?

‘Tis already the season to take inventory of your writing year and evaluate how every aspect of it has gone thus far #amwriting #inventory @SondraKraak @MaryAFelkins

Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. 

She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. 

Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and join her newsletter via her website for a free short story and information about special devotional series. 

Langley Taft is a firm believer in the narrow way. She trained to work alongside her father in their lumber dynasty and married the man of her parents’ choosing. A man who turned around and issued her a humiliating divorce. Left alone to raise her sister’s illegitimate son, she defies her family to do what she knows is right: deliver the baby to his father—even if that man is Wilder Monaghan, the irresponsible heir to a rival lumber company who lives on the other side of the country. And who happens to be the scoundrel she once fancied in her youth. 

A lover of adventure, opportunity, and all things exciting, Wilder isn’t prepared for the surprise appearance of the son he thought was dead, or for the woman who shows up with her life shaded by unjust accusations but determined to help him raise his son. Parenting alongside the stringent Langley might be his most challenging adventure yet. Or his most rewarding, provided he can teach her how to have fun and, in the process, win her affections. But why would a studious, responsible woman like Langley Taft look twice at him, a reprobate trying to find his course back to the narrow way? 

As secrets are revealed, driving a wedge between Wilder and Langley, they both must humble themselves to receive a gift they did not earn, a gift not bought with money or charm: the gift of a second chance.