Social media feeds display a carefully curated view of other people’s lives. It’s easy to become bogged down in the extraordinary achievements of Twitter friends, and feel that you’re floundering. Left behind on the slush pile while others forge ahead with their brilliant literary careers. In view of that feeling, and a few recent rejections that came in quick succession, I decided to pause and reflect on the journey so far and why I started writing in the first place.
I’ve only been writing seriously for a few years now, and most of that time has been spent quietly tapping on the keyboard, creating stories for my own enjoyment without a thought of taking my writing dream further. In the last year, I’ve ramped up engagement with the writing community and seriously embraced the idea of turning a writing hobby into a career. And raised the bar when evaluating my own achievements.
I began writing because I wanted to tell a story. I don’t want to lose that motivation, so it’s time to get some perspective and reflect on how many milestones I’ve reached in the last year.
Twelve Months of Writing Milestones:
- 8-word story on billboards across south-eastern Queensland: In November 2017, I was thrilled when Queensland Writers Centre selected my 8-word story from over 10000 entries for display on billboards. My first foray into micro-fiction.
- Social media engagement: I decided to face my fear of social media and learn how to use Twitter, discovering a wonderful community of writers in the process.
- My first short story prize: To my surprise, I won Highly Commended in the Peter Cowan 600-word story competition this year and garnered some lovely comments from the judge. You can read the story here.
- Pitched my YA novel to agents and publishers, in person at literary speed dating and via email, with useful feedback and ‘encouraging’ rejections.
- ‘Won’ NaNoWriMo for the first time, which gave me a kick-start on my WIP, now at 80 000 words and counting.
- Participated in writing workshops and courses: In the last year, I’ve taken courses in Creative Writing Stage 1 and Short Story Writing at the Australian Writers’ Centre, Flash Fiction at Varuna, and Storytelling Magic with Kate Forsyth at NSW Writers’ Centre. I’ve gained so much from every course and can’t wait to embrace more learning opportunities over the next year.
- Found the courage to submit my short fiction to literary journals and competitions, with occasional hopeful moments (making the long-list for the EJ Brady short story competition this year).
- Decided to use Scrivener: Despite my fear of learning new software, the option of writing in scenes has been a revelation while working on the scaffold of my WIP, written during NaNoWriMo.
- Beta read two novels, and started a writing group: I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a couple of critique partners, beta reading and offering feedback on each other’s manuscripts.
- Read widely: For a voracious reader like me, this is a soft pat on the back. My intention at the beginning of the year was to read a wide variety of work, and I have done that again this year. I’ll put together a top five later in the year.
Not bad when I lay it all out in black and white. Taking stock puts your achievements into perspective. I may not have a story in a prestigious literary journal, or a contract to publish my manuscript, but I’ve achieved a lot in a year and am fired up for whatever may lie ahead.
Have you stopped to take stock of your achievements recently? You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.