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!)
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!
Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month
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. )
27 thoughts on “SWAGr – Accountability for August 2017”
Managed to stop stressing so much about getting feedback on my project–when the feedback started coming in. Didn’t finish the story arc on my side project but am very close and hope to finish this week.
August is already looking to be crazy, so besides finishing the draft of my side project, I’m going to go easy on myself and plan to experiment with creating a newsletter.
So, my July was pretty successful, writing-wise (even though the summer is flying by — and my 18 year old is leaving for university at the beginning of September!).
My plan for July was to do Camp Nanowrimo (50 scenes from my WIP — some were new scenes, some were editing /revising) and I did it! I also wanted to work on a couple of short stories for submission. I submitted 2 flash fiction pieces to one journal and am working on two science fiction short stories for different SF anthologies.
For August, I want to finish this draft of my WIP. Today, in fact, I am going to go through the remaining scenes (to revise or to add) and work out a plan to get it done. And I want to finish the 2 short stories I’m working on.
Good luck, all!
Awesome! I was just thinking about you and your Camp NaNo commitment, as I read through last month’s comments. Good for you!
I’m so impressed with how much you get done! Keep it up!
Thanks, Julie. Sometimes it feels like I am not getting anywhere very quickly (especially with the novel), so I appreciate your comment 🙂
Let’s see, in July I attended a couple of local write-ins associated with Camp NaNoWriMo. I really enjoyed meeting other local writers, and while my word count wasn’t impressive, I brainstormed several new story ideas. I also read a lot of short stories in July.
In August, I want to commit to studying the style and structure of at least one of the short stories I’ve read and really liked recently. I have the story in mind; I just haven’t gotten around to it. I also want to do more brainstorming sessions (let’s shoot for 5 in August) because it’s always fun to see what I come up with under a little pressure.
Yay, for reading! I had that same thought about analyzing a bunch of short stories. Starting with a goal of one sounds very sensible. I haven’t done that for a long time. Too long.
I’m curious: what do your brainstorming sessions look like? I’m intrigued by the idea of ‘a little pressure’. I know that always helps me, too.
I like brainstorming new story ideas with a list of 5 words and a pen and paper. For each word, I write out evocative phrases or feelings I associate with that word. For example, the word “skeletal” led to “underfed animal, figure in bad lighting”, “jacket” led to “left on the back of a chair, forlorn”, and “parallax” led to “depends on perspective” which made me think of a story told one way, and then told a different way with a different meaning/perspective. “Knit” became “to pass the time, she made something for each of us.” “Glass” led to “shattered”; “tongs” led to “to pick up the sample, medical examination, fragile” and so on.
Once I’ve gone through the five words, sometimes I’ve collected enough elements (images, feelings, or bits about setting or character) that I can start to come up with a shape of a story. Many times I’ve gone to a book called 20 Master Plots for a story shape to start with. The “master plots” include things like revenge, discovery, pursuit, rivalry, escape, etc. If it’s a short story, I typically scribble out three bullet points (although sometimes it ends up being two, or four, or five) i.e. beginning, middle, and end.
“A little pressure” means I set a timer, usually for 10 minutes, but sometimes I go over. This is the brainstorming method I used most often when coming up with ideas for Story A Day. Maybe someone else will find it helpful/interesting.
Well, I didn’t really make any firm commitments in July and guess what? I didn’t make any real progress on anything.
I did, however write some more words on the story I started back in Oct/November and was about to abandon. My critique partners were pushing me for more pages (something! anything!) and that was the project that dragged me back in to writing. So I have a bunch of new pages for that.
I have been reading like a demon, which has been great. And it is helping me get back into the writing swing.
So, for August I will:
– Write 10,000 words of fiction. For realz. (I managed around 7K this past month)
– Keep up with the online novel writing course I’m doing, even though it means starting work on a different novel, while still trying to write pages for the mystery novel my critique group is seeing.
– Write two batches of ‘new pages’ on the mystery novel for critique meetings. Critique my ladies’ work.
– All this in spite of a quick trip back to Scotland to visit family and try to do some touristy stuff with the kids.
– Launch a revision workshop that I should have launched in July. Watch your inboxes!
– Write and podcast about Refilling The Well (something I have been doing!)
– Prepare prompts and welcome docs for StoryADay September (the stripped-down version of StoryADay May)
– Figure out when I’m going to revise/send out the novel that has bounced back from the agents I sent it to.
– Do all the back to school nonsense. Aargh.
It’s a good thing I don’t thrive on routine, isn’t it?
A nice small goal for me this month – Write some kind of something every day, darnit! I haven’t written much at all in aaaaaages.
Oh no, Hope! Sorry to hear you haven’t written much. What do you think is getting in the way?
I find, with a pledge to write every day, I need to have ‘go to’ ideas ready to roll. I think that’s why people find the writing prompts here useful, but it’s a good idea to make a list of things you’d like to write about/styles you’d like to try/forms you’ll give a go, in advance. That way you don’t have to spend any precious creative energy coming up with and idea AND the right words…
Are you planning on writing stories? Blog Posts? Letters? Some combination of all kinds of things?
Let us know how you get on!
And beware the unintended consequence of writing more often: now I get cranky on days when I don’t get any writing time in. My family has learned to fear The Face…
Failed again on my goal to write 1000 words per day. Wrote about 8,000 words of new fiction and another 8,000 words of other stuff—not bad, but still well below my Story A Day levels. I’m finding it hard to set aside time to write when I have to set my own tasks and prioritise my projects without an external deadline looming
This time I decided to tone it down to 500 words of new fiction a day for August, but be more serious about it. I’ll log my word count into Beeminder every single day. I’ll also publicly shame myself by posting an entry on my procrastination diary on Medium for every day I fail to write. Some examples:
https://medium.com/@danbelmontwriter/what-i-did-today-instead-of-writing-1-977ecb795fc8 (day 1)
https://medium.com/@danbelmontwriter/what-i-did-today-instead-of-writing-2-d43e81ba447d (day 2)
I started strong today with 1290 words. This will be fun.
I do so enjoy your Medium posts!
Do you need to write 500 words EVERY day or can you write an average of 500 and call it a success? I find some days I need to plan, more than write…
Thank you for this comment about some days needing more planning than writing. I’ve spent a lot of time bothered by the planning days, afraid I somehow wasn’t making progress because I wasn’t writing pages for people to read.
Oh, I totally understand. It’s taken me a while to realize that I can be doing good background work and it still counts as ‘writing’. In fact the part that we think of as ‘writing’ often can’t happen without the other days.
As long as you’re not just procrastinating and doing busy work, but are really digging into thorny plot issues or character issues, I think you can chalk that up as ‘writing’.
I wouldn’t mind going a bit over 500 some days and a bit under 500 every now and then, as long as I write at least a little bit every day. The days when I don’t write at all usually throw me off.
Yup. Some people find it easier to do something every single day. Others need to binge and pause. If ‘getting started again’ is a problem for you, then push on, every day!
Looking forward to hearing how it goes. Feel free to check back in again on the 15th, for a mid-month reality check.
I may have to come up with some version of this.
Check out Debbie Ohi’s Word Challenge page. She’s got loads of cute graphics you can use to declare your daily word goal (or time goal) and she seems to have incorporated a Facebook Group into the challenge too.
It’s a ‘choose your own challenge’ kind of thing. You make a commitment and declare it publicly, and get a cute badge to use on your website/social media. Also: Debbie is one of the world’s Truly Awesome People, so if you haven’t run across her yet, now’s a good time!
Am currently preparing a novella for a contest. Thought I had it all ready to send, but, wouldn’t you know it, a final reading has shown a number of pages that need redoing, so that’s what I’m doing right now. I know I’ll continue this, and, hopefully, submit it on time, but spaces like yours provide much appreciated encouragement. Thank you.
Woohoo! Glad you’re getting work out, even if it demands reworking right up until the last possible moment.
Happy to hear you’re encouraged by the StoryADay community and site. That’s what I’m aiming for! Thanks.
In July, I got my writing partner’s work back to her. I also submitted the story I intended to submit to StoryFest to two other markets. I’m still waiting to hear back on those. It’s likely to be November before I do.
I also submitted the first flash fiction I wrote in June. It was rejected. I sent it somewhere else a couple days ago.
My character arcs for my novel kept evolving so those aren’t finished yet. I’m now looking at the project from a plot perspective. I think the plot will illuminate the characters and vice versa. So far, I’ve completely outlined three chapters. I must have a complete outline by the end of August, so completing that is my major August goal.
A story for every time and place
Facebook profile: Facebook.com/LisaRutledgeauthor
Glad to hear you’re sending out work…and sending it straight back out when it cleverly rules out the first market as ‘not right for me’.
Regarding outlining: do you find that you need to know the characters much better for novels? I find that I can only make plot points make sense if they’re growing out of something THIS character would/doesn’t want to do…
Good luck with that outline!
Yes, much to my chagrin, I do find that I do need to know characters better for novels. I think this is the primary reason why StoryADay taught me that I find the short story format much more liberating and less terrifying. As a result of this realization, I even experimented for a few weeks with turning my novel concept into a bunch of short stories. It turned out all I was doing in this experiment was trying to cram the same information into a shorter format. The stories were overloaded in didn’t work.
Yet, I hate to plotting novels. I think it’s because in the past I’ve been in such a hurry to get to the writing of the story, that I don’t take the time to get to know the characters, and then the plot points don’t work.
So I did some studying and practice on creating character arcs. This, too, was contrary to my natural inclination because again, I just want to write the story. I made myself do some of the character work anyway (because I’ve learned the hard way that I get into trouble when I try to write entire novels by the seat of my pants).
And then there came a point about a week ago I felt like the characters were saying, “You keep changing us in ways that aren’t consistent with how we act in the story.” So I went back to the scene-by-scene plot method. I started by exploring some possibilities for character arcs, and now I’ve gone back to the plot approach. When I finish outlining, it will be interesting to see what the plot reveals about the character arcs. I go back and forth because character and plot have to go together, obviously. AAAARGH.
A part of me wants to throw something and go back to revising my StoryADay stories, but this longer story just won’t leave me alone.
Confidence that your approach is a valid approach is one of the most daunting aspects of writing a novel, I think.
The only way to really know for sure, is to push on to the end of the first draft, I suspect. And then write another book. Then revise the first one, then write another 😉
It sounds like you see right through your Inner Saboteur, who wants you to work on your short stories as an avoidance tactic. Good for you!
Well, I completely skipped out on writing in July to read instead, which isn’t a loss but does put me in a bit of a bind this month. Aaah!
Rough draft due the 19th– Must be done!!
Bingo line finished– September 30. (I’d like to get one done to get another card for September for Story-a-Day
Oh. That’s all I have to do.
Tell me more about these Bingo lines…
The one I’m doing is for Season of Kink, a fanfiction smut challenge. But I’m really into how they run it.
Five by five Bingo card with a story prompt in each card, except free space (the prompts are often only a couple of words at most). Once you get a standard Bingo, you can either continue with that card for special Bingos (4 corners, double lines, X bingo, etc.) or get another card. It’s only 500 word minimum, so it never gets too overwhelming.
It’s really been helping me get through my need to make everything perfect or super long to get where I want to go. Plus, it’s a great challenge to switch up styles and ideas.