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The Definition of Winning

NaNoWriMo 2016

On this day last year, I was winning NaNoWriMo and finished all 50k words.

Not stopping there, I kept going to continue writing the 108k words that would later become the bones of the Falling Small Duet.


What Happened Next

I spent the next four months working through False Start with critique partners and beta readers until I was sure that story was worth the publication.

Then I sat on it. And sat on it some more.

Lack of funds, lack of motivation… call it what you will, but nothing got done between April and July. It wasn’t until I gave myself the birthday gift of professional editing for False Start in August that I started working again.

In the following months, I worked on my website, learning to build it myself from the ground up. I settled into my presence on social media. I started a newsletter and created a following. I spent lots of time ruminating over the edits of False Start and finally settled on a proofreader in mid-October. It was time to let False Start go and get on with the rest of my career.


NaNoWriMo 2017

But now a new year of NaNo was upon me, and I felt the itch to start writing again. But I also had a deadline approaching to get Pivot Line ready.

So I dove off into the multi-tasking deep end.

But in that last few days of October, before NaNo officially began, lightning struck.

My mind was half stuck in editing mode for Pivot Line, when Stranger Things was released. And while binge-watching that awesome TV show, a genius idea hit me. Something that gripped me and I knew I had to write it. I had to write it now. Penalty Kill is scheduled to release in July 2018. So I had time, and now I had a genius story idea, dying to break free.


The Definition of Winning

At the literal last hour, I decided that I would write this new story, Snapshot, and—I was going to give it away for free. I wanted to write something that I could give to all the wonderful people that have supported me in the time it took me to get my head straight and my shit together.

While I sit here today, looking at my word count that is just over 40k, not quite the win that I had last year on this day—it’s not too far behind. But even better is looking at the fact that last year, I wrote.

I only wrote.

I spent all day from waking to exhaustion, in front of my computer hammering out the story in my head. And while this year, not much has changed about that routine. I still work from waking to exhaustion.

Everything has changed.

Because in the same amount of time that I wrote 50k words last year, this year I:

  • processed a proofread of False Start
  • submitted Pivot Line to beta readers
  • self-edited Pivot Line
  • sent Pivot Line off to my editor
  • updated my website
  • designed a temp book cover for Snapshot
  • created the final cover for three books (with the help of my cover designer for two, but still)
  • created teasers for Snapshot
  • did a half decent job at social media presence
  • released a newsletter
  • outlined everything for the new novella on day one
  • read 6 books and counting
  • wrote this blog post
  • made time for my kids and fur babies every day



What I Learned

I think that we all have those thoughts. The ones that say that when we aren’t writing, we aren’t honing our craft—we aren’t productive. There is this fear that we will lose our creativity, our edge—our story.

But that’s not the truth.

I think the reason writing came more natural to me this year, was that in the last year, my head had been hammered with grammar rules. Repeatedly. I’ve learned from mistakes. I made lots of mistakes. And through the struggles came important lessons. Lessons I needed to learn to get where I am today.

I learned so much it has allowed me to be similarly productive with my writing this year, but also able to spread my focus to complete other tasks too.


Moral of the Story

So, while last year on this day I was celebrating a win for writing 50k words, this year I’m celebrating that I finally learned how to balance it all and keep my writing productive.

In the next few days, I’ll hit that 50k, but this time the win will be that much sweeter.

If you’re struggling to get the words out, or if you’re struggling to get other things done with the words coming out, just know that there is hope.

You will learn. You will grow.

Just don’t give up, because next year—you will get better. And that goes for everything, not just writing. If you’re reading this and you have a different dream. Anything you want to do, you can do it—you can be it. All it takes is perseverance and practice. I know most of us already get that, but isn’t it nice to be reminded again from time to time?

What’s your growth story? Have you noticed a change from where you were at last year on your dreams?


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