SWAGr January 2016 Check-In

Every month we gather here to discuss what we’ve achieved and commit to making more progress in our creative lives in the coming month. We call it our   Serious Writer’s Accountability Group or SWAGr, for short! (We’re serious, not sombre!)

What people are saying about StoryADayMay 2014

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

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Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Write a story a day in May – everyone!
  • Revise at least 10 short stories – Iraide
  • Write two short stories. – Jami
  • Attend one writers’ conference – Julie
  • Write fable for WordFactory competition – Sonya
  • Re-read the backstory pieces I wrote in May and see if I can use them within my novel – Monique
  • Research the market – Jami
  • Focus on my serial – Maureen

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends. )

A Month Of Writing Prompts 2015
Don’t forget, if you need inspiration for a story you can still get ALL THE PROMPTS from StoryADay May 2015 and support the running of the StoryADay challenge at the same time. Give a little, get a little :) Click here.

21 thoughts on “SWAGr January 2016 Check-In”

  1. Happy New Year everyone.
    My December goals were;
    First draft of novel second chapter. Yes I managed this early December and wrote possibly part of the third chapter, but then realised that the edges were somewhat blurred! So I need to go back and work out the boundaries between my first three chapters.

    Draft at least two short stories for submission to competitions in January 2016, start the year with a bang! Ah, this rather got lost by concentrating on pulling together my next objective.

    There are a couple of mentorship schemes I’ve been looking at which I may submit an application for. I’ve just about finished sorting my application out (a biography and personal statement) with ten days to spare. Need to get it sent off now.

    Finally, I think I will try to formulate a 2016 plan to give me some slightly longer term objectives to work towards. This has happened also part of the mentoring application. Firstly I’m looking at completing a full first draft of the novel. Secondly I want to pull my collection of short stories into an anthology and get it published. Probably self-published, but I need about another three or four stories to complete it. These may well come from competition entries that I submit during the year.

    1. That’s great, Malcolm. I think once we’ve started making writing a priority it’s a really good idea to include long-term goals. This seems like the perfect month to be doing that. I’ve certainly written out a list of ambitious-but-possible goals for 2016, as well as for January!
      Good luck with yours.

  2. Happy New Year!

    For December, I said I would:
    *focus on developing 4-5 short stories to the point of submission: Not quite at the point of submission, but I have one well on its way, a few others that are at the idea stage and one turned into an experimental, online piece (first draft complete, contemplating how it will/may further develop).
    *post to blog every Sunday: I didn’t manage to post on *Sunday* every week, but I did post four times, so I consider that a win.
    *continue with the historical fiction class I’m taking on Coursera (Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction): I’m almost finished week 5 (there are some due dates, but it is self-paced). I’m enjoying this. It is a survey course and it is impossible to read all of the referenced books, but it is very interesting (especially the author talks).

    For January:
    *finish the short stories I am developing and submit to five different contests/journals that have January/early February deadlines. First deadline is January 16th, so that’s a priority!
    *post to my blog every Sunday
    *continue with the historical fiction class

    1. Best of luck with the blogging! Remembering to post regularly has been one of the biggest challenges for me doing it… maybe I should make that one of my goals soon. 😛

    2. Good stuff, Monique. Glad you’re enjoying the course. It does sound fascinating! As someone with a history degree, I can agree that no, you can never read all the referenced books!

      Sounds like you’re making great progress on the short stories. Deadlines are a wonderful thing.

      Good luck!

  3. I don’t think I want to create any more content until I can solidify something I’ve already written. My problem is picking the right unfinished project among the many I have. And then once I do that, I need to have a plan of attack for how to revise it. I’m a professional nonfiction editor, but I seem to struggle with editing my own work. But my singular goal this year is to revise one novel and send it around to publishers, so how do I do this?

    1. Hmm, it might be an idea to have a look at Publishers’ Marketplace (there’s a $25 fee for a month’s membership) and watch the agent deals section to see what they are currently buying. I’m not saying you want to chase a trend, but if there are books currently being bought that are in the same field as a book you’re thinking of revising, it’s a good sign that it might be a burgeoning trend, rather than a tired one. Plus, if you already have a draft, it won’t take you too long to get it out to them.

      It’s definitely easier to get excited about a project when you think there’s a realistic chance of finding an audience for it.

      (You could start by subscribing to the free PublishersLunch newsletter to get a taster of what the paid membership offers).

      When it comes to revising, you could do worse than read Stuart Horwitz’s Book Architecture. It’s a different way of outlining/revising that I find much more productive than all those books about “rising action”, “midpoint”, etc. Here’s an interview with Horowitz to help you decide if you like his approach.

      If you’re more of an engineer, though, you might get some value from Larry Brooks’ books (Story Engineering, StoryFix etc.)

      If you want to get an idea of the amount of work you’re in for (it’s good work, though. Rewarding work) check out this article from Holly Lisle. It seems like a fair plan of attack, to me.

      Have I scared you off yet? 😉

      1. I can’t figure out why I don’t get the notifications I sign up for. Anyhow, Julie, I always love your advice. My problem is that I get too bothered about doing something with my writing. I don’t know what my problem really is. But it’s exhausting. Maybe I’m just overwhelmed? I don’t know. I’ll check out these links though. Thanks!

          1. No, I am getting your weekly emails. I just didn’t get your response to my post here. I had actually come back to check on this page again and saw your reply.

  4. Well, I didn’t work as much on my NaNo novel as I might have liked, but that’s only to be expected with the holiday rush. I read a few more books than I’ve usually been able to recently, + a book on writing I’d been waiting to read for over a year – Wonderbook, which I highly recommend. I’ve got a handful of new ideas for short stories and I wrote the first draft of another one, which isn’t perfect but has made me feel way more optimistic about short stories in general. All in all, a good month.

    This January, I’m going to:
    – Make a plan for the writing year. I’ll probably rewrite it after a month or two, but it might help me get a general idea of where I’m going.
    – write a short story for a collection that’s going to be Kickstarted in February
    – rewrite ‘Sabuyashi Beetle’, the short story I wrote in December
    – keep working on finishing my NaNo novel; try to set a more regular schedule for it

    1. Love this plan, Maureen. It sounds workable and productive.
      Intrigued to hear more about the Kickstarter collection…
      Glad to hear you got some inspiring reading done.
      Best of luck!

  5. December was rough. Even though I avoid most holiday situations, just the change in routine messes with my goals. I didn’t blog the later half of the month and I wrote half as many words as I overall intended.

    January:
    *I’m continuing to get into the habit of blogging at least once a week (Sunday posts) and try for a second on Thursdays. I find the weekly habit is easier if it’s twice a week.
    *15,000 words of general writing such as short stories, essays, parts of my next novel, poems, research notes (this averages to 500 words a day, which I also strive for).
    *Edit my last novel’s rewrite. Maybe 1 hour a week will keep me from getting too annoyed with it.
    *NaJoWriMo (writing in a journal everyday).

    1. Great mix of achievable and ambitious goals here, Leah. I love that you’re scheduling an hour a month to work on revisions. You’ll probably end up doing more because you’ve set a manageable minimum.

      Funny how a once-a-week habit is easier if you actually aim for twice-a-week. Might sound odd to some, but I totally get you!

      Thanks for sharing! See you next month!

  6. Happy New Year! This is my first time checking in and being a part of the group here. My writing goal for the month of January is to start my novel. I hope to have it complete by the end of March. I’ve been planning it for a long time, now it’s time to get it going and out of my head. Along with the novel, I also hope to write a few flash fiction stories to post on my fiction blog.

    1. Welcome!

      Yes! Glad to hear that you’re going to get that story out of your head and into the world. Do you have specific goals to help you stay accountable?

      If you want a copy of my writing log (I aim for 10K words a month, which works out to 323 words a day in a 31-day month) you can download a copy here (If you don’t have/want a Google account, email me at julie at story a day dot org and I’ll send you an .xlsx version).

      I find that a tiny word-goal is much more effective at getting myself started (“I only have to bang out 323 stinkin’ words! C’mon, Self!”). Plus, if I can miss a few days and still make my monthly goal relatively easily. I’m discovering that it’s true: consistently showing up is the thing that creates a body of work.

      Good luck and please come back next month and tell us how you’re getting on!

  7. I did not meet most of my December goals. I’m not sure they were well planned, given everything else that was going on in my life.
    I DID, however, write a ton on my novel AND get one Christmas story formatted and out to my friends and family (and readers’ list). I worked on putting some cross-marketing materials for other titles in the front and back, so feel like I learned a bunch, even if I wasn’t hitting the specific goals I set last month here.

    This month I’ve been doing a lot of planning. My goals are:
    – Write 10,000 words of fiction (mostly on the novel, which is heading towards the climax)
    – Write some non-fiction pitches (including a book proposal) and get them out of the door in the first half of the month.
    – Speak at a local writers’ group.
    – Continue to work on my marketing course I’m taking.
    – Go to a book launch party for StoryADay regular Sarah Cain’s fabulous debut novel, The 8th Circle. (Yay!)
    – Set up an editorial calendar for StoryADay and start planning for the May 2016 challenge!

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