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. )
Don’t forget, if you need inspiration for a story you can still get ALL THE PROMPTS from StoryADay May 2016 and support the running of the StoryADay challenge at the same time. (I’m really proud of last year’s collection!) Give a little, get a little Click here. Now only $2.99
22 thoughts on “SWAGr – Accountability for Feb 2017”
Hi Julie, The techniques described in your Writer’s Digest article, “Short Training for Your Long Game”, caught my attention. Over the past four decades, I worked as a software architect and developer and, in those capacities, wrote hundreds of thousands of lines of source code in more than a dozen computer languages. Now that I’ve retired and have leisure time, I would like to leave overly structured computerese behind me and revisit the beauty, flexibility, and conciseness of the English language so evident in the best short fiction.
I haven’t written fiction since my undergraduate days and, to satisfy myself as well as to see if I have the ability to create readable fiction, I will need to “Finish What You Start” as your article advises and have set the following February goals for myself to begin exploring my wannabe career as a writer.
– Read contemporary fiction including short fiction by Junot Diaz, Lauren Groff, Grace Paley, Gabrielle Zevin, etc.
– Read flash fiction
– Write and complete at least two short stories while attempting to suppress my inner editor’s negative comments
– Start to develop a writing style that satisfies me
This month I’m taking my first steps toward using Scrivener as a primary writing tool. I received the app for Christmas as an incentive to write the novel whose premise I’ve been kicking around for five years. I plan to use it to compile, format and push out my first story collection, as well.
Julie, if you have suggestions for Scrivener training books, I’d appreciate hearing them.
Also, I’m pushing myself to write at least a story a week, this month. But then, that was my goal for 2016 AND 2017, as well. But you have to keep pounding these things home by announcing them the world, right? Accountability!!
Sorry for getting back to you so late, but I HIGHLY recommend learnscrivenerfast.com. It’s video based (which I don’t always love) but this works REALLY well. His vids are short and targeted and explain both how and why you might do a thing in Scrivener.
How are the story-a-week stories coming along?
I had a sinking feeling as I checked what I had said I would do for January but to my surprise, I actually did it. Print copies of Druid arrived a few days ago, the box set has been live for about two weeks (I am so in love with Vellum) and the first few pages of Swan are written. This month I need to get the full first draft down for Swan. It’s a novella so I’m only shooting for about 20,000 words. I also have a lot of newsletter building promo happening this month – one of my big goals for this year is to double my mailing list – so I need to make sure I don’t get too distracted with that. I want to create a couple of promo graphics in Canva (new learning curve!) and start the hunt for a cover for the next novel.
Congrats on the great reception for the new box set and novel.
I’ve got a similar mailing list goal. We should compare notes. It’s hard NOT to get distracted by that.
Hi Julie, well done on achieving your goals. I always like reading what you have done or are doing, which provides inspiration. I love the photo of your SWAGr progress sheet. Seeing a filled out version makes it seem much more effective. I looked at the template last month, but that was about it.
Last month I was looking to draft at least one chapter a month of my novel. January has been a difficult month for me and although I started the next chapter I didn’t get far, approximately 1,000 words. I managed to revise one of my earlier short stories and submitted it to a performance group for their Valentines event. However, I received an email this morning and it was not one of the chosen stories. Oh well, one step nearer my 101 rejections.
On a more positive note I’ve started two more free online courses; a re-run of the genealogy course I did last year and a film making course which I’m looking at in relation to scriptwriting. Although these reduce writing time, continued learning and development is a good thing.
Going forward for this month, I want to finish last month’s novel chapter and maybe start the next one. Also I have one or two short story ideas that I want to progress leading to a competition entry in a couple of months time.
Thanks for the feedback, Malcolm. I’ve got my Feb worksheet filled in already and my “what else is happening this month” box is pretty full, so we’ll see how I get on. Just have to focus, I guess.
Sorry about the story rejection, but I’m sure the revision was worth the time, anyway.
Good luck with your chapter and short stories
So! I wasn’t around in January much for a good reason; I have a… rather difficult home life, and have been struggling for a while attempting to get out, but being unable to. In January things got bad enough I reached out to friends for help, and one of them was able to. So I and my sister are moving across a couple states at the end of this month to live with the friend! It’s a bit terrifying, but I’m guessing everything will be a bit easier when I’m not in this place anymore.
On top of… everything relating to that (lots of research, prepping, sorting through belongings, navigating very difficult conversations)
-I managed to finish and submit ‘featherweight’ to Apex. It got promptly rejected, so I submitted it to Liminal Stories, where it was rejected again. Slightly discouraging but also good, as I’m shooting for 50 rejections this year (I’ve heard the method helps, and it seems to be, a little). So that’s 2/50 already. This month I’m going to sub it to Strange Horizons, and possibly Shimmer if it’s rejected by SH within the month.
– I wrote most of another short story, ‘The Mortmain’. This month I’ll attempt to finish it and send it out somewhere as well; it’s always better to have a couple stories in the air at once.
– Also this month I’m going to practice using Duotrope to find markets and track submissions; I finally caved in and got a subscription and it’s looking to be very useful.
– and in non-writing news, this week is going to be packed with stuff pertaining to the move. Lots of practice packing and so on.
Wow, that’s a lot going on. I hope the move is a step in the direction you need to be traveling. I’ve done some big scary moves, myself. If I have any advice, it’s to trust yourself and try not to have regrets 😉
Good for you, for having some writing goals as well, to keep you focused on other things, too. Good luck with those submissions. I’ve been rejected by some of those markets myself.
I started a blog called 101Rejections a few years ago. I never set a time limit, but I’ve stepped up my Rejection Efforts in the past year and am up to 26 now. It’s a pitifully low number, really. It adds a little sick humor to the process when I can tally up another milestone closer to my 101! (I got the idea from “Go For No!”, a book mainly for sales people.)
Good luck with everything. Looking forward to hearing how things are going in March.
Thanks for the well-wishes, Julie and Kylie! It’s been a pretty difficult time and there’s rough days yet to come, but I ought to be in a much better place come March. 🙂
I’m probably going to start recording my rejections on my blog as well so I can keep track of how long they took, where pieces have been, etc. I started shooting for a specific number because I saw another author using it, but for the life of me I can’t remember who it was. And I’m trying to step up how often I send stuff out too – I was doing really well about sending stuff out Feb-August of last year, but I’ve had very few things going since then (got distracted by my anthology contribution and got blocked on writing short stories). It’s good to know some other people are recording them too. 🙂
Good luck with the move.
Hi. Last month I said I was going to write a story a day but for some reason slacked off . I think this was mostly because my schedule changed along with the kids events as well. I did get an acceptance into a nice anthology called The Sanitarium. This month I’m doing a story a week and indie publish.
…also it might be because a story a day is REALLY TOUGH, even with the peer pressure and threat-of-humiliation of making it public during May!
Congrats on the acceptance and good luck with your Feb goals!
So, for January, I said that I would:
*complete both short stories that are currently in process: I completed & submitted one in the middle of the month and have another (although not the one I meant in my goals!) that I am submitting today; I decided I would to the #12for12Stories, so that is encouraging me on these.
*work on this novel further: yes and no. I did more, but at this point there is a lot of thinking needed and I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked.
*2-3 blog posts on my blog: I wrote 2 on the tv and film I’ve been watching lately.
And moving on for February:
*a short story to finish by mid-month (it’s 1/2 done)
*edit the story I submitted in January (the editor of the anthology got back to me & is maybe interested with some changes)
*submit to one other source with a story I already have
*more on the novel: I have to figure out a plan on what I’m going to do next
*screenplay course: I’m starting this near the end of the month & need to figure out what I’m going to work on. (My work-in-progress is a political thriller that has been far overtaken by actual events, so….)
*2-3 blog posts on my blog
So that’s a lot and probably more than I can finish. We’ll see.
As always, thank you, Julie, for doing this!
Yay! Well done on the progress and congrats on the potential anthology contribution (that’s probably top priority then, right?)
Have you ever tried the Snowflake method for outlining a novel? Not that you have to be an outliner, but it really helped me with the process of ‘thinking through’ what came next. Also: Stuart Horwitz’s books and Dave Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines all had exercises in them that helped me break through massive blocks on novels (mostly by making me write copious notes and focused background material, that, in turn, made me realize what was important and what needed to happen next. Just ‘thinking’ never works for me because my brain is too…ooo shiny!)
The screenwriting course sounds interesting. I imagine that’ll feature heavily in your March SWAGr to do list 😉
And thanks for the thanks. It helps me, too, but it’s nice to know I’m not yawping into the void with these posts 🙂
I’ll go first!
Last month promised to
* Write blog posts on ‘practice’ here at StoryaDay – DONE, big long, juicy helpful posts plus podcasts.
* Make a decision about the mystery series I wanted to write – DONE (postponed for now)
* Write one short story >1200 words(#12For12stories) – DONE (so happy!)
* Explore the Scrivener Training I bought (learnscrivenerfast.com) – DONE! (it’s good)
* Outreach for StoryADay – Not so much…
I also used the new form I created to keep track of my SWAGr goals. Did you?
But I also some writing done on the next novel, and created an online extra to go along with the article I have in Writer’s Digest this month. I also spent a lot of time working on improving my health, which was on my non-SWAGr goals and that went well.
* Outreach for StoryADay (looking for guest blogging opportunities)
* Write one short story >1200 words for #12For12Stories
* Blog and podcast about Persistence (here at StADa)
* Work 3 days a week on background for the next novel
* Outline the 2017 Month of Writing Prompts ebook (& start writing)
I’m going to keep it to that for now, because that represents quite a lot of hours already. Enough to keep me focused but not so much that I set myself up for failure. Also, I have a couple of Life Events happening in February that are going to suck up time (including an appearance at the AWP Conference in Washington DC. Anyone else going?). It’s good to bear that in mind…
The 12for12 idea sounds interesting! Probably more manageable for me than StoryADay usually is. 😛 If I finish ‘Mortmain’ this month I might try do 12for12 this year, since that’d put me on track.
And as always, the amount you’ve done per month is impressive!
Thanks! I like the #12for12 because it’s an ongoing reminder all year. And it allows for creating something of quality.
I’m thinking that StoryADay May might turn up some ideas and drafts that will ‘feed’ the rest of the year. Here’s hoping!
How are you finding Scrivener? It seems to be love it or hate it kind of program. It’s a pretty big learning curve but I could never go back to writing in Word.
I love it. I didn’t love it until I used it for a non-fiction project and came to understand the value of having all the different files.
Then I wrote an novel in it, using a new file for each scene. It was such a GIFT when it came to tweaking and moving things around while editing. No more scrolling for a huge Word file, that hangs and hangs…and crashes.
Not to mention the Snapshot feature. Oh my!
The LearnScrivenerFast lessons have taught me a whole bunch of new things. Basically whenever I think “Can Scrivener do XYZ” the answer is almost always ‘yes’ and the training usually has a quick ‘how to’ video showing me exactly how to do it. [I need to find out if he has an affiliate program, if I’m going to be such a raving fan 😉 ]