How to Finish What You Start

This video by Thomas Frank inspired this blog post. I highly recommend checking it out if you have the time! It’s generalized to any creative process, but I want to offer resources and exercises for authors to do to help us finish our WIPs! Many of these are tried-and-true methods for beating writer’s block, so let me know if you’ve tried them before, and how they work for you!

The Problem: Paralysis of Choice

Tell me if you can relate: You sit down for a writing session. Worlds are at your fingertips. You’ve snatched an hour of time for yourself. Crack your knuckles and prepare for the most productive word sprint of your life. Open the document. Open another document. Open another document. Scroll through the last two chapters of three different stories. Hem and haw for fifteen minutes over which one to choose. Consult your writing buddies to decide. Flip a coin. Change your mind because you disagree with fate. Check the clock to set your pomodoro time and… realize that you’ve only got 10 minutes left.

Not you? How about this: You know exactly which WIP you want to write. You fire up the laptop, pull up a blank page, and… now what? Do you write in order? Follow an outline or go swinging into the wilderness of the plot jungle? Should you jump ahead to the scene that’s been festering in your brain for weeks or finish the stalled chapter that only needs two more pages? Which character should narrate? What POV works best for this story? Maybe you should rewrite the entire thing in present tense instead of past. Maybe you need to fine-tune the first chapter. Again.

Solution: Create Self-Imposed Limitations

The problem in both situations is the spectacle of options available to you. To take the best advantage of the time you have and make effective progress on the project, you need some boundaries.

Deadlines/Time Pressure: Writing sprints are great for this, just start small, and challenge yourself to beat your word count each time or compete with friends. I’ve seen them used most often during National Novel Writing Month (which is a deadline itself), but you can use them anytime, and I know several youtubers, such as Kate Cavanaugh and Sarah Sutton who sometimes host virtual writing sprint livestreams. This is also the inspiration behind my Monthly Goals: maybe I don’t write every day but by the end of the month, the words are done. If a plain vanilla timer isn’t good enough for you, I recommend the Forest app/browser extension combo which locks you out of the internet, and Write or Die, which will shock the fear of the reaper into your bones.

Scope: If you find yourself frustrated by tinkering away with the same project for yeeearrs on end, the issue might be that your skills are not yet up to par with your tastes, and you need to go back to the basics. Shelve the epic and get some practice finishing smaller-scope projects. Maybe start a new short story that’s a character study set in your protagonist’s backstory. Write a field guide entry about an element of the world, as if it were an in-universe textbook. Scale down. If you struggle with too many active WIPs, choose one that’s easy to finish and mark it off your list before starting any new ones. The satisfaction of finishing a small project and the brain-refresh of doing something different will also give you more motivation to go work on the big one again.

Tools: This one calls me out specifically. It’s similarly related to the above point about scope. Do you really need 8 POVs, 4 subplots, or 7 books to tell your story? Are 3 outlines and 4 edits really necessary? Can you hand it off to 5 betas, instead of 20? Could you trim down the number of nations or religions or magical schools to simplify the world-building? Sometimes the answer is no – you need to go through due process in order to complete a quality project. Other times, you might overcomplicate things for yourself. Take a step back and decide what’s really necessary.

Restrict Your Ability to Undo: This strategy is to get rid of perfectionism. If you don’t like what you’ve wrote in a session, you might find yourself deleting those words and ending with no more than when you started, even if you’ve been sitting at the keyboard for hours. Perpetual editing cycles are evil traps. This may seem counterintuitive, especially if your typing speed is much faster than your writing, your handwriting is messy, or you struggle with writer’s cramp, but shut the computer. Forcing yourself to crack open one of those fancy notebooks and commit ink to paper will get your brain unstuck and moving forward. Write in pen. Do not cross out. Don’t write on scrap-paper or regular school loose-leaf, in case you’re tempted to rip out the page, crumple it into a ball, and pitch it in the wastebin. You might slow down at first, because you have to stop and seriously think about how exactly you want to word that next sentence for maximum impact, but you’ll be more likely to keep it. Slow but steady forward progress is better than deleted progress.

Peer Pressure: I’m adding this one since it wasn’t originally in the video but I think it’s one of the most effective if, like me, you are a people-pleaser who takes promises very seriously. Promise that you WILL have something done by a certain date, and if you don’t deliver, their disappointment will haunt you to your grave, or you owe them a soda, or something. Starting this blog and my mailing list keeps me accountable because no matter what other nonsense is going on in my life, I know people are expecting weekly posts and quarterly new stories and victorious goals reports every month. Writing sprints are 150% more fun when you can compete with a friend, share your work, and receive immediate validation. If you’re limiting scope, or tools, try submitting your short story to a magazine or anthology, which often have a certain prompt or theme. Participate in something like Inktober or MerMay but instead of drawing, post flash-fiction. Bring your fancy journal and pen to a coffee shop and make sure that you look busy for the passer-bys. That last one might be more weaponized-social-anxiety, but it works for me at least haha.

Thank you for reading! I hope you found this a useful reference. What’s a project that you want to finish soon? If you like my blog and want to support my writing projects, please consider donating to my Ko-Fi. Next week I’ll be sharing a book review of Patricia McLinn’s Survival Kit for Writers who Don’t Write Right. Until then, happy writing!

April Goals 2022

So I don’t know about you, but in my corner of the universe, time is hurtling ahead at a truly breakneck pace. Spring is tentatively here, after several late frosts, and getting my work done is less a task of time management, and more an exercise in staying focused long enough to not get lost outdoors. I’ve had quite the busy month, with course registration, housing selection for next school year, a bunch of STEM outreach events through the college, Easter travels, and backyard mad science experiments with my friends. It’s funny to see the giant gaps in my writer tracker that prove just how sporadic my habits actually are. Never let it be said that you have to write every day to be a productive writer! It’s about finding a rhythm that works around your other obligations.

Won by 2 points – 6/8 Goals

Catch up on Tumblr drafts – I took a fast from social media for Lent to reclaim my time and stop scrolling mindlessly and while I found I didn’t miss Instagram at all, all my writing friends are on Tumblr. Every Sunday when I checked in, I would save all the posts someone had tagged me in to my drafts folder, so I could answer them later. I’ve caught up on all the cool writing and games I missed in the last month and I’m happy to be back in our little community.

Decide how to monetize blog – I want to be clear about this goal: I write and maintain this blog because I love it. I love talking about writing, being active in a community of like-minded folks, and accumulating resources that other people might find helpful. This won’t be going anywhere. I debated for a long time whether or not I should monetize this hobby. My financial situation is relatively stable, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit one of my reasons for pursuing an engineering degree was the salary. I’m not a starving artist (yet).

But I haven’t graduated yet, and as I move forward with the publishing process for Runaways, I realized I need to budget for the self-publishing costs, such as hiring an editor, proofreader, formatter, cover artist, ect. This blog doesn’t cost me a lot of money to maintain, but it is an enormous time investment, and it would be worth it to set up some kind of monetization, however small, sooner rather than later. I don’t like the idea of cluttering up my corner of the internet with ads (though I’ve heard WordPress ads are a joke anyhow), and I don’t have the energy or time to run an exclusive subscription model like Patreon, so I decided the best course of action was a tip-box.

You might have noticed on my last couple posts a link at the bottom to my new Ko-Fi. If you feel so generously inclined, that is now available, and any donations are greatly appreciated. I promise I won’t be annoying or pushy about this beyond the end-post link, but here’s the formal announcement that it is now a thing that does, in fact, exist!

Set up runaways dnd game – In a completely contrived and self-indulgent excuse to have my best friends from home meet my uni friends, I offered to DM a one-shot for all of them. In a completely contrived and self-indulgent excuse to make illustrations for my book and show off my OCs, I set the game in the feywild. I’ve put a bunch of new illustrations on my Gallery page if you’re interested in seeing some of my prep work. This one is my favorite; these are the Semivera Twins, who feature in the most recent story on my mailing list, which you can read when you sign up.

Twin teenaged brothers standing back to back, wearing fighting gear without the helmets. Marco stands in front with an eager expression, holding his sword out. Matteo stands behind, point to ground, looking at a lantern with a worried expression.

Get caught up on reading goal– My reading goal for the year is 50 books, and right now, I’m at 11 (including those which are not counted on Goodreads). This puts me 5 books behind my goal. This summer, I’ll be driving quite a lot for an internship, and I should hopefully be able to put on audiobooks in the lab, so I plan to make up for lost time soon enough.

Website and Instagram schedule – I abstained from posting on Good Friday out of respect for the holy day, but other than that week, I posted every week this month.

Runaways beta check in and timing warning – I will officially start editing this summer! We’re getting closer! I’ve also combined all of my comments into one document and it’s positively plastered in colors.

Edit 25,000 words in Storge for Camp NaNoWriMo – I did 30K! I broke this goal up into two chunks because A) I usually track edits by chapter, not word count, because often editing involves removing words or adding a paragraph of description here or there, rather than rewriting/2nd drafting from scratch, and B) 50,000 words is pretty arbitrary and I have never “won” NaNoWriMo during the school year. This gave me a chance, and that’s 30K more words than I had on April 1st.

50,000 words in Storge for Camp NaNoWriMo – This could have been totally doable if exams hadn’t kicked my butt in the last two weeks. I don’t know what kind of masochist professors want to grade extra midterms less than a week before finals because I certainly don’t want to take them, and yet here we are.

I’ve finished through chapter 9/28. Excluding this upcoming summer for Runaways edits, I’ll have to do roughly 2 chapters a month in order to finish by the time I graduate. Should be doable!

Thanks for reading! What are your favorite spring activities? What are you working on this month? Next week I’ll be back with a writing advice post, but I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void. 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 recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! Happy Writing!

March Goals Recap

Honestly, the fact that I finished this all shocked me, given the slow start to the month. I was super busy with social events, a bunch of exams and group projects, two trips to Philly, two flat tires (unrelated), and spring break, which was spent doing boring adulty stuff like taxes. From the look of this graph, it seems like I have a nicely defined and productive almost-daily writing habit, but the truth is most of this happens in adrenaline-inspired bursts when I should actually be doing my homework. Sorry, not sorry, Mass Transfer, fiction is much more fun.

Won across the board! 7/7 goals

Continue reading

February Goals Recap

Hello everyone, and happy March! I am more than ready for spring, and it’s already nice to feel my energy picking up as the days get longer. I really am just a plant. Seasonal depression sounds fake until the first warm day when you can smell the grass growing and you suddenly feel you can conquer the world. This was a busy month for me, with school hitting full stride, but I’m quite pleased with what I could accomplish so far!

Won by 2 points – 6/9

Do faebruary marker arts – For those who aren’t familiark, #faebruary is a monthly drawing challenge focusing on different fae! Sometimes there are daily prompt lists, or weekly themes. I featured three fae from my middle grade portal fantasy, Runaways, and one illustration of Jayel, who is a character from Faye Fight’s story Flames of Courage! You can see these up on my instagram.

Start Mistborn – Outside of rereading The Terebinth Tree Chronicles for my review and interview with Faye last month, I have not picked up a book since coming back to campus. Part of that is being super busy and no longer having an excuse to listen to audiobooks at work, part of it is laziness from scrolling through social media. However, I am giving up social media for Lent, so hopefully this will change for next month.

Read OOTI for Lila – Same as above. Order of the Ice is the 2nd book in a trilogy by one of my good friends, who you can find @writeblrfantasy on tumblr!

Take a stab at rereading the fanfic while runaways is out with beta readers – Yet again, I ran out of time.

WordPress tags, fix up posts– Would you believe I’ve been procrastinating this for over 4 months and it took 4 hours to finish? Anyhow, check out the tag cloud to see if there’s anything that catches your fancy!

author interview author platform book review changelings character development Character Introduction children's literature classics creative writing editing education epic fantasy fairy tales folklore high fantasy horror indie author indie books magic magic system middle grade fiction Monthly Goals my writing newsletter outlining plotting productivity reading recommendation Runaways science fiction short story siblings Storge story structure storytelling the count of monte cristo The Laoche Chronicles WIP excerpt work life balance worldbuilding Writing Advice writing community writing goals writing resources writing tips

Website and Instagram schedule – I scheduled AHEAD this month – you’ll be getting a Storge excerpt next week that continues to tie into February’s fighting theme.

Play at least one session of each dnd game – For context, I am currently in 5 different dnd games with three different groups of friends which all meet with varying regularity. I love collaborative storytelling, and when we’re not in session, we talk for hours about the dramatic backstories and reveals. I also do a ton of art for my PCs, so I made a new tumblr blog to ramble about those! You can find me @spitebears. That url is a long story haha.

Rewrite chapters 1&2&3 of Storge – I completed chapters 1 and 2 and got distracted from 3 by a new space-set-dragon-riders story called World Wanderers, but I wrote a ton of words in brainstorming that effects Storge, so I’m counting it as a win anyhow!

Check in with remaining Runaways Betas – They’re getting there… One of my new group has finished already, another new beta is making their way through at a steady pace, and my mother and family friend from home are… getting there, haha. However, the story (all two chapters of it) is kid-approved so far by my little siblings, so I’m taking that as a good sign!

That’s all I have for today, so thank you for reading! What are you working on this month? I 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 recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! Happy Writing! 🙂

January Goals Recap

Hello everyone, and happy February! This last month was a super productive one for me, thanks to winter break, and then a week of zoom-class to start the semester. I packed every day full of work to take advantage of my free time and marked off 19/24 general goals! I also prioritized reading this month, since it’s more difficult for me to find uninterrupted time during the school year. During breaks, I work in an IT job, and I never thought I’d be grateful for blue-screening computers, but I finished beta-reading a couple books while waiting on system restores and updates to run haha. My one gripe is that my friends aren’t on Goodreads yet so they don’t “count” towards my public goal – officially, I’ve finished 3/50 for my yearly resolution!

I think I’m going to focus on writing progress in February, before the semester gets too intense. My class schedule this year is really nice, where every day starts at 9:20. If I can get up on time, that gives me roughly an hour of writing time in the mornings. Hopefully that won’t be eaten by writing lab reports lol. Without further ado, here’s my recap for January!

Won by 4 points – 9/10

Finish Order of the Sun – This is a book by a good friend of mine, Lila Mary (@writeblrfantasy on tumblr), and the first in a romance-political-intrigue-fantasy trilogy. I really enjoyed this story, and I’m super excited to read the next two books!

Read + Comment on Dreams Shadow – I read Dreams last year, and helped Siarven as they further developed the story, so I was HONORED to read the latest draft this month. It’s incredible, and I cannot wait until they publish it so I can yell about it with other fans. It has some of the coolest worldbuilding I’ve ever seen, and if you want to hear more about it, you can check out my interview with them here!

Read Youth Sunken for Katie and Review – Youth Sunken is a new horror novel by Katelynn Koontz (@abalonetea on tumblr), and I received a free copy as part of her Patreon. It’s a thrilling story that feels like an episode of the twilight zone, and I highly encourage you all to check it out!

Make a new website schedule for the year – My original plan for the year involved serially posting a chapter of Runaways a month and launching a new pen name, but I realized I was far too busy and burnt out from school and other obligations to dedicate the time I would need to make this happen. I also didn’t want to rush the story and put out sub-par work, so I decided I would stick with my regularly scheduled posting for now, which meant reworking my plans. I’ve got some exciting ideas coming up for extra content, and taking this extra time and energy means that Runaways will be better than ever when it’s ready for release!

IG and WordPress scheduling for January – Starting the year out strong with not missing a week! I’m hoping to do a scaled-back version of #faebruary on Instagram this upcoming month and I’m super excited to share some of my illustrations and concept art with you!

Finish and send out mailing list story – I had the worst writer’s block coming off a weeks-long writing hiatus and trying to manage three different tenses for this, but “Brigid’s Visits” is now available to my newsletter! In case you missed it, you can sign up here and get access to my backlog, including “Matter”, and “Jack of Fables”!

Research and fix wordpress tags – pffff I’ve been promising myself I would do this for months, but when I spend so much time coding for class, the last thing I really want to do is more CompSci stuff in my free time. One of these days I’ll put my Responsible Businesswoman hat on and get my platform act together, but for now I’m just vibing on my tiny corner of the internet.

Finish Storge Read Through – I’m SO PROUD of my new outline guys, you have no idea. It’s huge. I have an excel sheet with 16 columns, and 114 rows to track every aspect of the story, tabs with an “easier to see overview”, character arcs, worldbuilding trackers, and themes/motifs/foreshadowing. This was a huge amount of work, but it’s serving its use as I rewrite! I also completed half of the first chapter! I’m tentatively hoping to finish this rewrite by the end of the year, which means I will need to do 2-3 chapters a month. I’m not holding my breath on this, but I think it is a strong start. There’s a saying that goes “5 minutes of organization is worth 15 minutes of work” and I’m hoping that holds true for this project.

Do 3 marker arts / Watch the Witcher – well, I started the Witcher, so I’m calling that good enough. I’m mainly watching it because ALL of my friends have recommended it, and I love Joey Batey’s music in The Amazing Devil, so Jaskier is the highlight of the show for me. I struggled to get past the nudity and sex scenes, but maybe I’ll pick it up again later. I have done quite a lot of marker art though, so this goal of “Do some fun, creative, low stress things you’ve been meaning to mark off” is done!

Check on Runaways Betas – A few of my lovely readers have finished the draft and left me incredibly kind comments, and a few had to quit for time-constraint reasons, so I threw it at a few more family friends. I’m hoping to have a clear consensus soon – it’s difficult to tell sometimes with a DNF if the problem is the story being boring or just life being crazy, but I’m hopeful they’ll help me turn this story into what it deserves. If you’re interested in joining as a beta reader, please fill out this short form! It contains all the information about the story and logistics.

That’s all I have for today, so thank you for reading! What are you working on this month? I 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 recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! Happy Writing! 🙂

2021 Year in Review, 2022 Resolutions

Hello all! In lieu of my usual monthly goal recap, or pestering people for interviews over the holidays, I wanted to take this 5th Friday of December to do a year in review. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas last week, if you celebrate, and a Happy New Years tonight! Strangely enough, I don’t actually remember last New Years. It’s like I set up my bullet journal for 2020, making jokes with my friends about how if last century was the roaring twenties, this century would have the screaming twenties, then I blinked and here we are. Oops. But there’s proof that the past year did, in fact, exist, so let’s see if I met any of the resolutions that I don’t remember setting for myself.

2021 Resolution Review

Finish editing Storge: I half finished this and hit the 50K mark, but paused because my priorities changed. I’m still very proud of what I’ve done with this story so far, and I think the changes I’m making are for the better, however long and tedious they are to implement.

Starting beta readers for Storge: This did not happen, as the 2nd (and 3rd) draft wasn’t complete, however I did start the beta reading process for a different WIP, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

Finish Outline for Laoche Chronicles: Yet again, I did not completely finish this goal, ambitious as it was, but I overhauled my magic system, developed new backstories for several main characters, and fleshed out my world’s politics. This is an ambitious story that’s constantly evolving as I improve my craft, but I realized I would have to focus on some smaller-scale projects first to solidify my skill-set before tackling this titan.

Read 24 books: I read 34 books this year, counting beta reading Siarven’s Dreams Shadow twice which isn’t included in Goodreads (yet). You can read our interview here if you haven’t yet.

Get my act together with this Author Platform business: Last year at this time, I had next to no organized workflow for maintaining this website, and still needed to find my footing as a blogger, as well as an author and student. Since then, I’ve posted almost every Friday this year, maintained a biweekly posting schedule on my Instagram, launched a mailing list, reached my 1st year anniversary of starting this site, and hit a bunch of follower goals. I’m incredibly proud of my progress and beyond grateful for all of your immense support.

Other Accomplishments

Filled a whole sketchbook: I’m so proud of how far my art has come. Though it still doesn’t come close to the moving pictures in my head, I’m pleased to see the progress towards making my ideas a reality and conveying them to other people.

Outlined, Drafted, Edited (x2) my Middle Grade Fantasy novel, Runaways, recruited beta readers, and sent off the draft, in under 6 months.

Wrote, edited, and published two Stormlight Archive fan-fictions: Four Hours for Bridge Four is an lyric anthology of short stories during the Way of Kings timeline. Three Brothers is a one-shot “deleted scene” from Rhythm of War.

Did a TON of research on publishing and website updates: Undoubtedly, the publishing landscape will change significantly between when I did this research, and when I do start publishing, but it was a valuable learning experience and left me better equipped to approach this site and my future plans. You can find my findings compiled here and here.

Came up with a nifty new pen name: This shall stay a secret for now, as I don’t have the time/energy/money to dedicate to building up an all-new author’s persona and platform, but I will be keeping it in my back pocket for future use.

Participated in Jean’s OC Authtober: For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram: My friend Jean, who I met in the Newsies fanfic space, organized a month long challenge with prompts to help us participants better develop our OCs. She is an incredible writer and a wonderfully kind human being, and I was so happy to learn from her process and fine tune Hannah’s voice as I worked on Runaways. My entries to the challenge are all still available to see on my page and I made a highlight so you can still find them!

Participated in the Inklings Challenge: For those of you who don’t follow the Christian Writeblr community: this was another month long challenge inspired by the real-life writing group called the Inklings, which included literary greats such as Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Chesterton. Participants were sorted into three teams and given prompts for science fiction and fantasy stories based on which author they modeled and some common Christian themes and theology.

I was on Team Lewis, and the prompts for Portal Fantasy and Stewardship fit really well for a short story I wanted to write for the Runaways universe! Around the same time at the beginning of the month, I also put up a poll asking what you wanted to see for my annual Halloween Special – and you chose an in-universe spooky short story, which worked out perfectly! These two ideas combined to create The Replacement, which you can read here! The rest of the Inklings stories can be found on the blog, and I’m slowly working through the backlog of stories. It’s been wonderful to see the creativity, thoughtfulness, and care each and every writer put into their work, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re interested in learning more about Christian culture and creativity, or if you just want to read some really cool stories!

2022 Resolutions

I think the last section goes to show that we can’t always predict what will capture our attention in the scope of a whole year. Priorities can easily change as you realize what you had planned wasn’t working for you, or real world obligations get in the way. This is why I enjoy doing the monthly goals, because it lets me refocus and record my other accomplishments. Keeping this in mind, I know the next year and a half-ish is going to be insanely busy for me. I have an internship and move to a new far-away city this upcoming summer, and three semesters left until I finish my chemical engineering degree and graduate, which means I have to find a Real Job and be a Real Adult. That’s CRAZY. I know my writing may have to take back-burner, so I’m trying to set incremental resolutions for each of my projects, in the hopes that any forward progress will be working towards at least one of them.

  1. Complete beta reading and personal copy-edits for Runaways, then shop for a professional editor and cover artist so I can prepare it for publication.
  2. Read 50 Books – including my writing nonfiction backlog, and some beta reading assignments
  3. Finish my Storge analysis and read-through, complete 2nd draft.
  4. Maintain, and improve my author’s platform by maintaining/modifying this site, sending out four quarterly newsletters to my mailing list, and growing my Instagram presence with reels and better photos.

Wish me luck, my friends! This being said, I 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 recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, 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 accomplishments 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 2022!

November Goals

Is anyone else shocked (SHOCKED I tell you!) that it’s already December? As much as I love autumn smells and colors, I cannot say I love the cold or dark that comes with it. At home I’d at least have the stars and wildlife to keep me company through the winter nights but here in the city it’s dreary and makes me want to curl up in bed with a book and hot chocolate. Alas, that’s not an option with midterms, and the seasonal exhaustion hit me hard. I knew I needed a lighter load this month to recover from the whirlwind that was October and the Thanksgiving travels, and my plans this month reflected that. I completed most of the goals, so I’ll take the small wins where I can get them, and keep the gloom at bay.

Before we get onto the goals, I’m gathering some feedback for how this website should work in the new year! I talk about my thought process in the 2nd to last point if you want to read more, but I’m curious to see what you all think of the site! I’ve got a google form linked here with some general questions and a designated space for you to leave recommendations, so please fill it out if you want to contribute to this blog! Thank you so much! 🙂

Won by 4 points – 9/11

Creative Free Space – Art, Embroidery: Normally I have a goal of “Draw # things” but I wanted to leave my options open for this month, hence the free space option. I drew a bunch of character sketches and started on holiday gifts for my college friends! I got a 12 pack of four-inch embroidery rings and started stitching personalized designs. It’s a nice relaxing thing to do during study sessions. It’s satisfying to see the physical progress, and quickly finish a small project which gives me motivation to do the next one. The designs are also fun, a bunch of them are fandom and dnd themed, and I can see myself improving as I draw up patterns. Who knows? Maybe my next magic system will be string-centric!

Creative “Free Space” – Laoche Development: Another fill in block because I cannot control when or why the inspiration comes for certain projects – I developed more of Madelyn and Seth’s character arcs, as well as elaborating on the mechanics of the magic system! I’m quite pleased with the simple but elegant set of rules I’ve put together.

Make edit spreadsheet for Storge and finish chapter 11: I explained my edit spreadsheet in this post, but I’m quite pleased with the developmental changes I’ve made. I only filled the sheet through chapter 9 because I ran out of time to finish, but there was quite a lot of character development work done. I’m trying very hard not to be intimidated by the scope of this story, and I’m afraid my skills aren’t quite up to par, but this exercise has helped put the work into perspective. The plan is to finish the read through for the end of the book, then keep editing from where I left off, taking into consideration the more detailed notes I’ve made. Then I’ll take a 3rd pass on it to focus on fixing anything that might have slipped through the cracks and do a simple style edit. After I’ve got the content in shape, and the prose in a passable state, I’ll send it off to beta readers to see if it makes any sense, and see what happens from there! It’s slow going, but I’m learning a lot.

Research how WordPress tags work and fix: This was a goal last month I didn’t mark off and carried over to this month, but it just didn’t happen with all the other obligations. It would be an afternoon, or 2-day project, so maybe I’ll finish over winter break. Maybe.

Back up computer: This barely counts as a creative goal but I’m adding it anyhow because it took literally eight hours for my poor laptop to process all of my files from 2016, make copies to an external hard drive, and transfer them to Google drive. Don’t lose your work!

Catch up on Something Worth Winning and Inklings Challenge Stories: If you remember the OCAuthtober challenge I did in October, my wonderful friend Jean put together the prompts! SWW is her incredible story, and she posts about once a week. The Inklings Challenge was another October event, in which Christian writers on Tumblr were sorted into three teams, assigned prompts based on the writing styles of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton, and wrote short stories fitting the Christian philosophy. I had fallen behind on reading both of these, and my goal for this month was to catch up, which I did! You can read Jean’s work here and find an index of all the Inklings stories here.

Finish reading RoW: Binging this 400+K book in less than a week during midterms season was probably not my brightest idea but I have no regrets.

Instagram & website scheduling: Cutting it close this month but I didn’t miss a day!

Finish reading Order Of The Sun: This is a draft my friend Lila gave me, and I’m enjoying the story so far! I’m about halfway through but just ran out of time to finish it this month.

Refine plans for the new year: So, back in September, when there was still daylight and motivation galore, I had lofty plans of finishing two drafts of Runaways, going through the beta reading process, line editing, redesigning my website, branding a new pen name to publish my MG and Catholic fiction, setting up new social media accounts, creating a stack of promotional designs, and releasing the book as a serial novel on this site in the new year. This was a gross underestimation of how much time holiday prep, travelling, midterms, and finals would consume. I realized that if I don’t want to burn myself out, and still create a quality story that I’m happy with publishing, I would have to take my time.

In the new year, I’ll keep posting as usual with the name Etta Grace, and keep working on all these grand schemes in the background. There are so many logistics and uncertainties associated with publishing that I don’t want to mess up. I love writing but this isn’t my full-time job yet, and I need to focus on not failing all my ChemE classes. Perhaps you’ll see the announcements in a couple months, as opposed to next month. In the meantime, thank you for your patience! I hope you’ll enjoy the story when it’s ready to share. If you missed it at the top of the post, here’s the link for my feedback form again.

Collect beta feedback and make Runaways edit plan: Because of the changes mentioned in the last point, this goals had to slightly change, as I’m also giving my beta readers more time to finish the story. I have a file system set up to bring together all my feedback and I’m very thankful for the lovely people taking the time to help me with this. 🙂

Thank you for reading! I hope you all have a wonderful winter and holiday season. Happy writing! 🙂

October Goals Recap

Hello, my friends! I don’t know about you, but this month moved so fast for me. The middle of the semester is always crazy busy, but this year, an unexpected event arose that took a lot more time out of my usual writing schedule than I expected. I’m a part of my school’s Society of Women Engineers chapter, and was selected to go to an in-person conference out of state, which threw me into a fun but hectic two-week frenzy of preparing accommodations, cramming through homework, taking exams early, and catching up on job applications. It was a great experience, and though I feared I’d miss my goals, (and a few of them were too close for comfort), I still managed to win the month!

That being said, I’m feeling the mid-semester burnout, and I’ve been more tired since the weather changed and darkness comes sooner each night. I plan to take it easy this upcoming month, and therefore won’t participate in NaNoWriMo. I love the event, and like many young authors, it’s what first got me into writing novels. The structure of a month-long sprint also inspired these monthly goals lists (along with Jenna Moreci’s quarterly goal lists), so I’ll still be writing, of course, just not going for 50K in a new story. It’s important to know your limits, and take breaks when needed – something I’ve learned the hard way, and still struggle to balance at times. In honor of the event, I’ll be revisiting the very first story I tried to write during the event back in middle school – that’s right, I’m re-outlining the Laoche Chronicles! I know I have other big goals to tackle, like fixing Storge and finishing my fanfic before the end of the year, but this is what my heart is set on, and I’m going to chase the inspiration while it lasts 🙂

But that’s enough of my nostalgia, let’s get into the goal breakdown!

6/8 – won by 2 goals

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Runaways Beta Call and September Goals Recap

Hello my friends, I have a special announcement for you today! I am now recruiting beta readers for Runaways!

If you aren’t familiar with the story, Runaways is a middle grade fantasy novel that focuses on themes of betrayal, forgiveness, and sisterly love. You can read the synopsis and some early excerpts right now on its WIP Page, but I plan to release it serially on this website in the coming year, and I need help to get it ready to share. If you’re interested, please check out This Form – all the relevant info is in the introduction to help inform your decision. I’m super excited to share this story with the world, and I appreciate all the support so much. 🙂

While we’re on the topic of big updates, I also completed most of my goals this month! (?) School is now in full swing and I think I’ve finally adjusted to the balance of school, work, activities and writing. (If you want to hear more about that topic, you can check out this post). I spend most of my limited free time working on my books, so I’ve been a little more absent on social media, and while it’s frustrating that I can’t interact or edit as much as I like, I’m happy I still have these opportunities. So without further ado, what did I get done?

Won by 4 points! 12/14 goals

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Storytelling and STEM

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!

How I balance studies with writing

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