January Goals Recap

General goals: 20/36 – WON BY TWO
Creative goals: 6.5/13 – WON WITH NO MARGIN

I barely scraped past the mark this month, but this is also more goals than I’ve ever set before – ten more than my usual average of 26. Because I was on winter break for most of this month, I wanted to be as productive as possible on my creative projects, since I expected to have more time for them. I also started a new job with a wildly unpredictable schedule, so my designated writing time was a lot more scattered. Ironically, I might be more productive during the semester when I know I have an hour each morning to write before classes. I’ve posted the rest of my goals to my studyblr, which is also where I’ll be updating on a day-to-day basis for the new semester! If you’re curious at all about how this fantasy writer is also a chemical engineering student, you can go check that out.

Now the question is, What have I learned from my over ambitious goal-setting in January? Nothing. My February list has 34 goals. Wish me luck!

  1. Get my computer fixed – My computer had the problem of dying almost immedietly every time I took it off the charging cord, so I bought a replacement battery for it and now it only dies after about 3-4 hours. Still not great, wouldn’t work if I were running around campus, but just fine for moving from my card-table desk to the kitchen table for a change of scenery. Hopefully I won’t have to buy a new one for another year!
  2. Edit 15k words of Storge – I returned to re-writing in the last two weeks of the month, finishing 3216 words. This let me finish chapter 3, which was the difficult one I put on hold after my grandfather passed away in December. I’m glad to be past it, and happy with how it turned out in the end. I also spent a lot (a lot) of time doing line-edits, starting from the beginning of the book! Using the free version of ProWritingAid for this, which only lets me do 500 words at a time, and I finished ~4600 words this way.
  3. Beta read for Jana – @siarven‘s Dreams Shadow is fantastic! I really enjoyed reading it and I highly reccomend checking out all of Jana’s work.
  4. Write 5 chapters of Lost and Found Again – I didn’t even touch this story because the muse had other ideas. See below for the other fanfic I did work on!
  5. Fill in holes on brain dump sticky board for Laoche/figure out end of series– We’re getting there! My best friend helped me figure out several plot holes and the overal structure for the trilogy. Now I need to flesh it out into a proper outline, but I have an important starting place now!
  6. Schedule writing time so I have a routine for it – My “on call” job meant that planning out a schedule in advance was impossible, but I have a routine scheduled for February. Still doesn’t count as a check-off though.
  7. Rope my sister into doing photoshoot with books and stuff so I have photos to use for writing IG – She’s been busy with school and this is low priority, but I took my own photos periodically. No check-off for that either.
  8. Schedule all of January’s posts for website and make Canva posts in advance – all 5 of them went up on time! I’m really proud of some of these! Here’s some links so you can go back to any you might have missed: 2020 Year in Review + 2021 plans, How I Develop Characters, Character Voice in The Chronicles of Prydain, Storge’s First Scene, and an Interview with Katie Koontz on her story Groundhog Day and one of her OC’s Bolte
  9. Turn IG into free professional account and post 2 times a week  I don’t understand IG at all but this has been a good WIP of it’s own!
  10. Read 1 HG wells story from book I got over vacation – These aren’t even that long I just got distracted
  11. Read Oathbringer – this is a *really* long book so I didn’t finish it but I made good progress
  12. Read Mort – I’m halfway through! If I bothered to focus on any one book I might have actually marked off one of these goals.
  13. Draw 15 things – I did a lot of character studies this month, trying to figure out the designs for my Laoche cast. This goal is a constant to keep myself working on this skilll whenever it’s not Inktober, similar to how my monthly word count goals keep me writing whenever it’s not NaNoWriMo!

Other things I did that weren’t on the list

Normally if something grabs my attention in the first day or two of the month, I’ll change my list to include time for it later. These two did not fit that category, but I spent enough time on them that I wanted to give them an honorable mention.

  • Four Hours for Bridge Four – I started a new Stormlight Archive fanfic! It’ll be a short work and I’m really excited about this one, since it’s a collection of six one-shots based off the verses a sea shanty I rewrote to be a work song for the Bridge Four characters. I’ve drafted over 4.5k words of this already and hope to finish posting it in February. I reread half of Way of Kings doing “research” for this fic.
  • I also did a read-aloud for my younger siblings of The Book of Three – the first book in The Chronicles of Prydain. It’s a reread for me so it doesn’t count towards any goals, but it was really fun to revisit these characters, do all the voices, (almost lose my voice), and watch their reactions to hearing the story for the first time.

That’s all for today! Are you enjoying these goals updates or would you rather see me do something else? What sort of projects have grabbed your attention and demanded all your time? Tell me about your writing goals in the comments and thanks for reading! 🙂

Goals, and Resolutions, and Updates, oh my!

Happy new year!! While yes, resolution setting is an endlessly talked-about and controversial topic, I – predictably enough – really enjoy this season because of the monthly goals that I keep. In retrospect, it’s gratifying to see how much I was able to accomplish on my personal projects despite the hectic day-to-day responsiblities getting in the way, and the faliures are put into a greater context which puts in perspective what really needed to be prioritized. Since it’s Jan. 1 and the Endless Impossible Year is finally over, this post will not only cover my usual monthly goals recap for December, but it’s also going to -surprise surprise – include my resolutions and plans for 2021.

So without Further Ado, let’s get into the goal recap and resolutions…

This month was especially difficult for my family, and especially busy with finals, Christmas preperations, and a new job on top of the family stuff, so I was surpised to see how much I actually got done in the 1 week before life went crazy, and the few days between the 26th and 31st. Winning a month of goals with only 12 normal days to work? I did what? To be fair, some of these were easy goals and I didn’t add any goals for certain projects and WIPs, but I had a lot of other life and family goals too that I was able to accomplish and so I’m taking it in stride. And this marks three years I’ve been keeping monthly goals, since I started in January of 2018, which is a pretty cool milestone too.

Figure out plan for authors website updates in December and 2021: See below!

Post to blog following schedule: This is only a seperate goal because I didn’t queue posts ahead of time and the middle weeks of this month were insane so actually making all the posts for December on time was a small miracle. I’ll be working ahead for this upcoming year (hopefully).

Find someone to interview for January on website: I didn’t have the chance to do this in December buuuuut, see below if you want to be on the blog!

Finish Words of Radience: This book. This book! Is the first book in a long time that I have actively stayed up until 4am to finish reading.

Do list of questions to start Laoche’s outline: If you’re following my my tumblr you’ll know that I finally got the chance to bust out the sticky note board, old 3 ring binder of composition books, and start braindumping for this series! I have made a lot of progress so far, but I have also found a lot of holes in the original concept (which I made when I was 14 so no surprise there) so there’s more work to be done in the future! It’s like before I had 6 duplo blocks and had put them together into a child’s house or something, and starting this outline was like knocking that off the table altogether and dumping out a whole tote bin of the little legos in it’s place. It’s awesome and fun and an absolute mess and there are no instructions included.

Draw 5 things: I had the chance to draw a few fun characters for the Writeblr Secret Santa and some doodling for my own characters! 5 exactly, and hoping for more next month.

Edit 10k words for Storge (allowed to skip chapter 3): *sigh* so this could have been done. I was partway through and going at a good pace, but then when the family emergency happened, not only did editing schedules get thrown off, but also the next chapter I had to cover hit a little too close to home for me to rewrite with an objective and critical eye. Even with the caveat that I later added about skipping it, I wasn’t able to get back into the story since that chapter is the immediate aftermath of the inciting incident, and just ended up tabling it for the new year. (I should say, my family is alright, it was a couple rough weeks there, but we’re good now.)

My top creative resolutions for 2021:

  • Finish editing Storge! I’m really re-writing it into a 2nd draft, and since the first one took me over 3 years, I don’t have high hopes for this goal, but I’m getting better at time management and I’m a better writer, so *crossed fingers* on this one.
  • Starting beta readers for this would be incredible but I have a feeling that’s a project for next winter break.
  • Finish Outline for Laoche Chronicles: This includes figuring out the plot and themes for the trilogy, backstories, motivations, and arcs for each character, worldbuilding for the world’s science/magic system, and cultures for 3 countries (8 subcultures if I count correctly). This is the most ambitious project I’ve ever tried, and though I didn’t have the skill to manage it when I was 14, I hope I’ll be able to figure it out this go around.
  • Read 24 books: I have a good mix of nonfiction, Sanderson, and a never ending TBR so only time will tell if I can pull this off!
  • Get my act together with this Author Platform buisness. I hope the plan that I have outlined below will be a good start on this, but I know I have a lot of research and learning ahead of me if I ever want to get these stories published, so this will be an adventure! That being said…

Now the exciting update!

I posted this on tumblr earlier in December when I actually figured it out, but not many people saw it there, and it’s relevant to the website itself so here it goes. My process for choosing weekly posts so far has been a mostly last minute array of “uhhhh what can I grab from tumblr today?” with occasional put-together content, but moving forward I have *trumpet sounds* a schedule! New plan, starting this month, is that I’m keeping to my once a week on Fridays update schedule, with each month having a theme and pattern:

  • The 1st week will be my usual monthly goals recap, both as accountability for myself and to check in with you and your progress because I like hearing about what you all are working on.
  • The 2nd week of the month is going to be a post about my writing process. This won’t be a “how to” post, since everyone has their own way of writing that works for them, but rather just sharing another way of developing a different aspect of the story like worldbuilding or characterization. I think it’ll also be a fun “behind the scenes” of what I’m currently working on, and because I have a series in development, a fanfic in drafting, and Storge in editing, all the bases are covered.
  • The 3rd week will be a resource reccomendation, similar to my last post. These will be links of books and that I think really exemplify the theme of the month and a brief analysis on how to learn from them, as well as a chance for you to give me your reccomendations. The last post and the first in this series was more general “how to write” resources, if you want to check that out!
  • The 4th week of the month will be some of my writing that keeps with the theme of the month – probably either a Storge excerpt or introduction to the main trilogy of The Laoche Chronicles. I’m excited for this, because it’ll force me to do drills and learn certain skills I need more practice on, in addition to helping me make progress on my stories and letting you see some actual content from my worlds!
  • Months with 5 Fridays will get special bonus content revolving around the community – hopefully either interviews/collabs with other writers, shoutouts, or something else fun that you pick! I’ll have polls up on my IG account (@ettagraceauthor) for these.

Now that that’s been explained, here are the themes for the next several months that I have figured out so far! If there’s something not here already that you want to see, leave a comment and I’ll add it to a future month. 

  • January: Character Voice/Characterization
  • February: Outlining and Complex Plots
  • March: Worldbuilding
  • April: Editing and Prose
  • May: Research and Adaptations
  • June: Developing Strong Themes
  • July: Poetry
  • August: Short Stories

That’s all I have for today, but I’m excited to see what this year brings. I enjoy interacting with the writing community and want to be better about reaching out to people in the future. I also want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void, and so if I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your reccomendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me on the 5th week in January, you can leave a comment below for both of those, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! Also feel free to tell me some of your accomplishements in 2020 and what you’re excited to be working on in the future. I hope you all have a wonderful start to your new year and a happy 2021 🙂

November Goals Recap

Where did this month go?

My sense of time has been really off lately, probably because this month was one of a lot of changes in my routine. I finished my internship about halfway through the month and moved home, where I had exams for a week before going on a week of vacation with my family. (we did outdoors and socially distanced stuff, like swimming at the beach in 40 degree F weather haha). In any case, making goals was a little odd because I had to account for my normal schedule changing so often. I operate religiously on to-do list and calendars, so big shifts or a lack of routine has a tendency to really mess with my head, and I tried to do a combination of hard goals I’d inevitable have to complete, and easier optional things.

For all of that, I’m glad I got this much done! I won the month by four goals, making 17/26 of them! I’ve got a post on my studyblr detailing the rest of them, but I’m going to discuss my writing/creative progress for the month here in some more detail. I completed 5/8 creative goals which makes that a win as well!

Draw 15 things – I did more, but that meets the goal. You can see the story-relevant ones in the ‘my art’ highlight on my IG (@ettagraceauthor)

Do positivity event with Hannah (@hannahs-creations on tumblr)- I finished my part for the event in time, and the main post will be coming soon. I really enjoyed working with her on this, and I’d enjoy doing more collabs in the future both with her and anyone else who might be interested. If you have an idea, feel free to message me about it!

Get Way of Kings in a different format so I can read it  – I was listening to this from the library but becasue it’s such a long book, my hold kept expiring. I caved and got audible to finish it, but now I’ve binged through halfway of Words of Radience now. I love The Stormlight Archive and can’t reccomend it enough! I also did finish Dracula from last month.

Do one log for AI-Lia Antares – This is my epistolatory sci-fi story, and while I really enjoy working on it, I just couldn’t prioritize it with everything else I was working on this month.

Write/publish one chapter of CxC – This is my Newsies fanfiction, another story that I love that unfortunately slipped through the prioritization cracks. It’s currently on a semi-hiatus until I can come up with a backlog over winter break, which starts in a couple of weeks.

Create one thing for Laoche (worldbuilding, chapter outline, or character bio) I did a few things actually! I can’t double count this though. If you want to check out my progess you can find it in these posts on my tumblr:

Edit 10k words of Storge – This story is very complex, and I’ve decided to rework the middle so that instead of following roughly a three act structure with occasional scenes of the villains in the background, I’m going to follow the different characters on a chapter by chapter rotation. This will hopefully mean that the reader won’t lose track of any of any one player at once, and can see how the actions of one influence the others independently. It’ll also keep the narrative pacing consistent, with a nice ebb and flow of tension between scenes so it’s not just exhausting crisis after crisis. The change made to Lyss’s backstory will also help raise the stakes in some key scenes and I’m really happy with how the story is coming together. I think it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to share it in a more complete form one day. The only downside is that I’ll have to rewrite the middle, and y’all are going to hate me for these cliffhangers.

The 10k words I edited bring me through the first chapter (which might be chopped up because that is a long first chapter. Some of the changes I made include:

  • Scrapping a really awkward and OOC filler conversation between Luca, Chara, Grace, and Acheran when they first meet
  • Adding a new scene introducing the readers to the rest of the Laine family, the kids’ abilities, and the followers of the Artist in a moment of relative peace before the inciting incident throws things on their heads
  • Adding scenery descriptions because I’m starting to learn I have Never Once Described a Thing In My Life.
  • The realization that I’m actually pretty good at descriptions when I bother to do them, but keeping calm scenes moving is a struggle. I’m much better at action/emotion description than just calm slice-of-life which is a problem for my pacing that I’m working on now.
  • Smoothing over general awkardness. Line edits to contend with grammar and delievering snappy sentences will come later but for now it’s slightly less elementary. 

Post 1 thing to website each week – As you may know from my lack of an update, I took a break last week for thanksgiving. I’m currently trying to figure out how I’m going to manage the Christmas/New Years situation in December now, since both holidays fall on a Friday, and scheduling those out in advance.

Now I have a few questions for you! Would you all prefer for me to post on a different day and still make 4 posts for the month or would you prefer a different type of post on those days? What goals have you been working on and what are you proud of doing this month? Is there anything I’ve been working on that you’re curious about? Let me know in the comments, and thank you for reading! 🙂

October Writing Goals Recap

Hello dear reader! If you’ve been around my blog before, you might be familiar with my goal keeping process, so I’m back with another post about this to go over how I did in October! If you’re not familiar with my process, you can read about it here in my September recap, which is the first one I posted on this site. Basically, I write down 20-30 things that need to get done that month, and if I mark off over half of them, that month is a “win”. I’ll only be sharing the reading/writing/creative themed ones here, but if you want to check out the rest of them, you can do so on my studyblr.

September was really hard for me with school kicking into high gear, and I would only burn out worse in October if I didn’t set better goals that could work with my class and work schedule, and I think it pretty much worked! I’m still exhausted and this past week of exams has been really rough (which is to be expected) but I’m proud of how much I did get done, so let’s review, shall we?

  1. Read and review Putrescent Poems by Katie Koontz – I really enjoyed this story and Katie is a good friend of mine and a great writer so I reccomend checking it out! You can read my review here and get the story here.
  2. Make a new writing schedule – I didn’t strictly stick to it, but I started writing for about an hour in the mornings after breakfast and before class started, which is how I was able to mark off the other items on this list!
  3. Make one thing for Laoche – This was originally “outline 1 chapter” but I ended up coming up with a lot of great worldbuilding stuff and last week’s post of drabbles, so I think that counts, since this story is still in the developmental phase.
  4. Draw 15/31 things for Intober – I ended up not following a prompt list, but I did draw 15 things, including the character introductions for Esil and Lyss I posted earlier, and this drawing of Madelyn and Seth I posted on my tumblr
  5. Finish 1 book currently on my reading list – alas, I am renting audiobooks from the online library and they keep timing out on me, so I ended up on a rotation between Pride and Prejudice, Dracula, and Way of Kings, and didn’t finish any of them.
  6. Write 1 log for AI-Lia Antares – It wasn’t a very long one but I did write one. I have a lot of ideas for this story but it takes a lot of time to write it because it’s 75% art project and formatting. If you’re unfamiliar with this story, you can read the WIP Intro Here!
  7. Post 1 thing to my website each week – I did!! Thank you all for reading! I’ve had a great time working on this!
  8. Empy my askbox on tumblr I think I had something like 15 old ones sitting around about, and answering them was a big help in brainstorming for Laoche. I did this over meals or during breaks in studying when I didn’t have enough time to write, but I did have enough time to type up responses on my phone
  9. Write and publish 1 chapter of my fanfic – It only took 2 months for me to finally write finish the half-started chapter so I could mark this off but I did it. We shall see if I can actually continue the story next month.
  10. Edit 1 chapter of Storge – I did like.. the first 3 pages? I’m rewriting the whole thing and this may be the first but I’m sure it will not be the last.

That makes 8/10 creative goals, and 16/22 goals overall which is really good for me, or maybe it’s just because I set easier goals this time. I’m honestly shocked I did that much, though it does explain why I’m tired all the time. I think I’ll be adding “go to bed on time” for next month. If you keep goals too, leave a comment below and tell me some of the accomplishments that you’re proud of this month! Happy writing 🙂

September Goals Recap

A Little Background:

Hello hello! We’re doing something a little different this week. Normally at the end of each month, I share a recap of my monthly goals list on my studyblr, but since I have this website now, I’d like to start sharing some of my writing goals on here too! In 2018, I started keeping a list of 20-30 items that I wanted/needed to accomplish in the span of the next month. These aren’t obligations like “Do my homework” but rather extra things that help me take tangible steps towards my dreams of “Graduating from College” or “Publishing Storge” and include a variety of goals to try and keep me well rounded and healthy. I always add more than I could reasonably accomplish in the period, so I count the month as a “Win” if I mark off more than half of them. This method was borrowed and adapted from Jenna Moreci’s quarterly writing goals, so I highly reccomend checking her out if you want to learn more about the process!

September was a busy month. If you didn’t know, I’m currently a 2nd year chemical engineering student, so I started my fall semester of zoom university. I was also working a summer internship at an international adhesives company, and asked them if they would let me stay on for the school year, since I could do all my homework remotly. They agreed, and I moved to a new division, which included new training, and new projects, so I’ve been working ~18 hours a week there in addition to being a full time student. At this point, you’re probably thinking “Etta! That’s a lot!” and you’d be right! But it didn’t stop me from adding 8 writing goals to my list because I have 0 chill at any time ever, apparently.

So Here’s the Breakdown:

  • Outline 1 chapter of Laoche – I’ll share a re-formatted version of my outlining process post on this blog at some point but this is an exhaustive and very thorough process and so it takes a long time for me to outline my stories, especially as something as exciting as the first chapter to kick of the trilogy so I’m glad I was able to do this!
  • Post character bios to IG alongside my website – I have an author’s Instragram! It’s @ettagraceauthor and you can go follow that for some progress pics and other updates!
  • Outline 3 logs of AI-Lia Antares – I ran out of time to do this unfortunetly, but I’ve got sheets full of notes so I have material to work with for whenever I do have the chance to sit down and do some fun formatting! If you’re unfamiliar with this story, you can read the WIP Intro Here!
  • Make 1 character bio for Laoche – I mostly outlined Madelyn! I’ve still got to flesh out some worldbuilding aspects but the bulk of the outline is done so this gets to be checked
  • Schedule character intro posts for the main 5 characters – You can find the links to all of them on the Storge WIP page of this blog!
  • Publish my Newsies fanfic, Lost and Found (Again) once a week – I think I published one chapter this whole month, ouch. I miss this story and I’m looking foward to going back to it, but unfortunetly, fanfic falls a little lower on my priority list so I didn’t have the time to work on it this month
  • Edit 1 chapter of Storge – I’m honestly kind of bitter I didn’t do this. I’m really excited to share this story with all of you but I can’t do that until it’s edited, and unfortunetly that’s a process that takes a lot more time/energy than organizing pre-existing notes – energy I don’t often have at 1am once I’ve finished my schoolwork. Mabye next month. :/
  • Do one collaborative event – Hey, if you want to hear more about my outlining process and how it’s affected my writing over the years, you can read This Interview with I did with Max Gray! And if you want to learn about developing an author’s platfrom, you can read the interview Max did with me, right here on this blog!

In addition to these goals, I had another 18 personal/professional/life themed goals, and overall I accomplished 16/26 which made the month a win by 3 poitns! Looking back I’m honestly surprised I got as much as I did accomplished with all the other demands on my time, though I probably should have taken more time to rest and sleep because I’m also exhausted. For October I’m planning to include more self-care goals, for sure. Next week’s post is going to talk about burnout and creativity when life gets crazy – a topic that I deeply care about, and while I’m clearly not an expert at keeping a balanced schedule, I hope I’ll have a few interesting insights that you may find useful. 🙂

QOTD: Do you set goals? If so, how do you structure them, and how have you found they help you? What’s something exciting you’ve done this month?

Until next time, Happy Writing!