This article is a little different from my usual fare. Between school and last week’s post, I wanted to talk about the practical side of being a creative writer while studying and working in engineering. Most of us aren’t full-time writers, so I’m hoping some of this applies to other people. At least, I hope it provides an interesting insight into why I’ve made certain choices with this blog. This also serves as an answer to some questions I’ve gotten on Tumblr about this topic, so I hope you enjoy!
How I balance my writing with my career choice:
I started posting my writing online on Tumblr the summer before I started uni. I considered how I wanted to present myself in both aspects of my life. It was my first venture into any social media, so I set up accounts using my real name to connect with professionals from my school. I also didn’t want my engineering professors, admissions councilors, or potential recruiters to google my name, find my “fantasy adventure nonsense,” and get confused. Or worse, dismiss me as being too flighty or inconsistent to succeed in the engineering field. I also wanted to maintain a certain level of privacy. If my writing attracted negative attention, I would have the safety of anonymity.
A year, a manuscript, and a community later, I started this website. Hi! I’m Etta Grace. Welcome!
Hello hello again! I’m here again with a quick WIP update – I’ve been working really hard this month to crunch through as much writing as possible before school starts again in the fall, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turned out! I also wanted to share a new method I discovered to tracking progress, in addition to the monthly goals:
This little chart is something I found while watching through Bernadette Banner videos on Youtube, and something I decided to adapt to my own writing projects. It’s often super intimidating to look at a story and see just how much more there is to complete – I feel like I’ll never finish, and I’m just crawling towards the finish line without a way to physically see a progress bar. NaNoWriMo has nice built in trackers, but for me switching between projects, it doesn’t work too well. This graph let me break down each project into individual scenes, and it was so much more satisfying and motivating for my visual-learner brain to mark them off with pretty colors every couple days.
I’ll be using this again in August for sure, with a few alterations. Now that I’ve learned how many blocks = 10k words, I can make it more reasonable for one month of goals. I’m also going to leave the “other” column open to fill in as I complete fun extras. I noticed that I jumped around my TBR, and then didn’t mark off certain blocks because I read other books, so leaving that flexible will be able to more accurately reflect what I actually do!
Have you ever used one of these grids before? I’m sure there’s a name for it, but I haven’t seen it before. Do you think they would be useful to your own planning? Let me know what you think!
That being said, let’s get into the monthly goals, shall we?
Happy Summer, my friends! This month was a fun change of pace from the relentless toll of schoolwork, and my social calendar filled up fast. Between my busy work schedule, graduation and birthday parties, catch-up lunch dates and a friend’s wedding, I did my best to also catch up on my writing goals, often sneaking words in during road trips. I’ll be going back to campus in the fall, and I don’t want to take in-person learning for-granted after the last year and a half of zoom university. Since I anticipate throwing myself into clubs, research, and studies, I also know I need to make the best of this summer for the sake of my WIPs. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every activity under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3). Since this summer will be my season of writing before setting it aside, I made my creative goals fairly ambitious this month, and I’m pleased with how much progress I’ve made, even though there’s always a nagging voice in the back of my head that I could be doing more.
School’s out! This was my third semester of Zoom University, and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be done with that nonsense. I survived organic chemistry and thermodynamics, finished my business minor, and missed my GPA goal by only 0.02 points, so I’ll take what I can get. Thankfully, I’ll be back on campus for next semester, and I’m half done with my undergrad degree now, so I am looking forward to a quiet summer of work and catching up on my writing! I also can’t believe how much I was able to get done as soon as I wasn’t spending all my free time studying. This month was a win on all counts, and I’ve got big plans for break!
Overall Goals: Won by 6.5 points – 19/24
Creative Goals: Won by 1 point – 4/6
Publish the end of Four Hours for Bridge Four:This is my Stormlight Archives fanfic, now completed! I rewrote the sea shanty “Four Hours” by the Longest Johns into a bridge-crew work song, and wrote one-shots to go along with each stanza from the different members of Bridge Four. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and even more pleased that it’s done and I can add another WIP to the Completed Works bin. It’s on AO3 if you want to check it out!
Edit 10k in Storge:This month, I’ve finished chapters 5, 6, and half of 7, which translates to about 30K words and 60 pages total. I’ve also reworked my plan for the middle to resolve a lot of issues with exposition, pacing, and tying subplots into the main arc. Projected length for the book is 120K words in 26 chapters, which means I’m also about a fourth of the way through the edit. Small progress, but good progress nonetheless! If you’d like to read a more in-depth breakdown of my editing process, you can check out this post.
Write 5K in Runaways: Unfortunately with the way finals worked out in the first two weeks of the month, all my writing got pushed to the end and by focusing on Storge, I just ran out of time to finish this goal. Sometimes that happens when you prioritize, but at least I was able to mark off one of them instead of splitting my time and not marking off either.
Draw 20 things: I had intended to do mermay but between finals, work, and writing, I think I only did ten doodles and most of them were human OCs anyhow. I did a few illustrations for friend’s birthdays, and it was fun to work on new characters!
Catch up on Goodreads reading goal: A brief tangent, but is anyone else annoyed that Goodreads counts “Books” as the only metric of reading rather than pages, or time spent? It takes me a month to get through a Stormlight book and three hours to finish a middle grade fantasy – what gives? Podcasts also count as audiobooks now, apparently, so I was able to retroactively add the first 3 seasons of The Magnus Archives. When most of my reading happens through audio in the car, that’s a really nice feature. Not included in the formal count, but totally included in my personal count, is the novel I beta read for my friend Siarven: Dreams Shadow. It’s one of my favorites this year, and I was honored to interview them about it’s worldbuilding! If you’re curious, you can check out that article here.
Queue Website posts and post to Instagram 2x a week: Done! If you want to catch up, there’s an archive pinned to the top of my homepage 🙂
A short post for this week, since by the time you read this I’ll be on vacation, but hopefully it’s an interesting one! This month, I’ll be covering Tropes and Adaptations, which was a topic recommended by my good friend Katie. If you want to recommend a topic of your own, please feel free to leave a comment! Until then, Happy writing! 🙂
Hello and happy April! I don’t know about all of you but I am Thrilled that spring is finally here (at least where I live), even if it means I’m going a bit stir-crazy during my online classes. This was a busy month for me – though to be fair, I don’t know when it isn’t a busy month. I’m happy I was able to get so much done between my classes and job, but I’m looking forward to the summer when I can make faster progress on all my fun projects.
7/9 Creative Goals
Do basic website “housekeeping”: As I learn more about building an author’s platform, WordPress, and web design, I realized that this blog was a mess. There was no homepage explaining that it is a writing blog, navigation was convoluted and out-of-date, and the blog feed included the whole post which made it a pain to scroll through. I didn’t understand why my traffic stats were so bad when I was putting so much work into my posts, but once I figured out what I was doing wrong I was able to put some temporary fixes in place until I have time to do a proper overhaul (and teach myself HTML and CSS) over the summer. I’m really proud of how this turned out! If you have a minute to spare, click around the site and see how everything looks. I also made a survey so I can see what content is your favorite and how I can make this blog better. If you could fill it out that would be such an incredible help to me!
New updates include:
The menu is organized by topic, and under the “My Writing” page are sub-pages for each of my main WIPs.
The pages for each WIP have been updated to include a synopsis, excerpts if possible, featured posts, and a master list of post links for that topic so you can easily find all the information for that story.
I figured out how to use the special blocks on WordPress so now my featured/related posts sections look pretty
I edited each post to have related post links at the bottom so that you can easily click from post to post without having to navigate back out to the main menu. I also edited them to have “read more” links, so you don’t have to scroll though the whole thing to get to the next post on the main page.
The main landing page for the site is still a chronological blog feed, but there’s a sticky post at the top which includes information about what I post, navigation menus, master-links, featured posts, social media handles, and a search bar
Misc. editing and updating to individual posts and pages to make everything up-to-date
Happy Easter! Thank you for being patient with the delay in my posting schedule from Friday to today. I wanted to observe Good Friday with my family, and didn’t think it was appropriate to post this at the same time, so I waited to publish it until after the holiday. A new post on worldbuilding will be going up on this upcoming Friday too, so that will get me back into the regular schedule.
That being said, I’m happy to show that I did win this month after two relatively unsuccessful months. The spring semester is still in full swing, and with the way my classes coordinate, I have an exam in a different subject nearly every week. In February, I didn’t realize this, and was way too ambitious with how many goals I set. I also tried to multitask, so I made incremental progress but didn’t get anything actually marked off. Keeping that in mind, I was able to change my approach for this month, and I think it worked pretty well!
Taking a quick break from The Count of Monte Cristo to post this, but I’ll be back with Part 3 next week! Do you need to catch up? These are the links for Part One and Part Two of this reading recommendation/plot analysis. This past month started spring semester for me, and I unfortunately over-estimated how much free time I would have, especially with this week being midterms. Yikes. 32 goals is a lot even for break, so I’ll definitely be readjusting for March to be a little more realistic and manageable. My other problem is that I tried to multitask, and since I was splitting my time and attention between multiple goals, I didn’t actually finish and mark of either of them. So no points for partial credit, but it’s a lesson learned for next time!
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!
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 responsibilities getting in the way, and the failures 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…
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!