Like any other form of artistic expression, writing is a craft we learn by doing. It is a journey of learning and growing. It is a pendulum that swings between awe at the thing we have created and certainty that we don’t know what we are doing at all. Before setting new goals for the next leg of my journey, I wanted to take a moment to review the ways I improved as a writer in 2020. You know, before I’m sure I don’t know what I’m doing again.
Words On Demand
One way I improved as a writer in 2020 can be measured in word count. I wrote nearly a quarter of a million words this past year, far more than I’ve ever produced before. And I still have a week left to nudge that number a little higher. From serialized fiction to short stories to my ongoing novel project that I began during NaNoWriMo, I wrote nearly 5,000 words a week during 2020. Some weeks of 2020, I did not write at all, which means my weekly output on active writing weeks was much higher. And this was done while working a full-time job 40-50 hours a week.
I also took my hatred of writing sprints by the horns during NaNoWriMo. Everyone writes differently. I’ll never be one of those writers who is comfortable just putting down as many words as I can as quickly as I can, then cleaning up later. And I still cannot grind out words like others can. However, I did learn to use writing sprints as uninterrupted blocks of writing time and that helped my word production quite a bit.
Mistress of Plotting
Another way I improved as a writer in 2020 shows up in my ability to plot complicated stories from beginning to end, both on my own and in a collaborative environment. I discovered that I have a talent for interweaving story elements and setting a good storytelling pace. I still don’t plot as much as others, but have managed to convince a few die-hard pantsers that a little plotting really does help editing on the backside.
In Graphic Detail
It’s not a writing skill, per se, but I improved as a writer in 2020 by putting my graphic design and layout skills to good use to promote my stories and projects. I rediscovered my abilities in crafting logos, creating bylines, and developing marketing slogans. Every author has to be able to do more than just write their books, and for indie authors, that goes double. Reminding myself that I have all the talent I need to both write my stories and promote them was a huge confidence boost. It was also a relief knowing I can do things myself and keep my overhead low.
Last But Not Least
While those are the main ways I improved as a writer in 2020, I also:
- Learned what kind of environment is best suited to my writing
- Became a much more proficient editor of my work
- Had several opportunities to beta-read for fellow writers
- Discovered both a love of and talent for voicing and reading my own work
- Took more chances querying my writing and entering competitions
- Invested in software and equipment for both writing and podcasting
- Learned how to format my books and other writing for ePUB in the future
- Became more of an expert in maintaining my author website
2020 was a difficult year. Nonetheless, I am pleased with the ways I grew in my craft. On to 2021!
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