2016 Wrap-up

This year, I self-identified as a writer.  Writing is what I do.  “Writer” is how I introduce myself.  It started small.

The devil is in the details.

Reflections

This year, I self-identified as a writer.  Writing is what I do.  “Writer” is how I introduce myself.  It started small. I chose the variant of my name that I will put on book covers and business cards, bought a domain name, rented some server space and started this blog.  Within a few months, I had duplicated most of my personal social media presence with professional versions using the name M. C. Frye.  A few months later I had ventured into social media avenues where I’d never ventured under my personal name.

But there is more to it than the statistics about where I am active as a writer on social media.   The activity has spawned and nurtured meaningful acquaintanceships and friendships with other writers, both published and unpublished.  I’m learning both practical and philosophical lessons about the craft and the business from people I would never have met without taking those first steps of calling myself a writer.

And the effort has been successful in terms of building a nascent author platform and support network, but it was and is missing one critical ingredient:  a published work.  In a nutshell, that’s how the year went.

The devil is in the details.

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ― Margaret Atwood
“A word after a word after a word is power.”
― Margaret Atwood
How did I do in 2016?

I started the year with a work in progress, The Gideon Effect.

I ended the year with a partially beta-read work in progress, a completely new WIP thanks to NaNoWriMo, a website, a WordPress blog, a Facebook page, a twitter handle, a Google+ and Google blogger presence, and accounts on Goodreads, Tumblr, Pinterest, Scriggler, and Instagram.

I have no idea what I should be doing with some of these elements of an author platform, but with others, I’ve made some progress.

I didn’t end the year with my goal of a published novel accomplished. All the platform work was supposed to be supplemental and supportive of that goal.  My new WIP was an effort to break out of the stale grind that 2016 had become, a stale grind that was of my own construction.  I don’t regret spending a month on something completely different, but I do regret not completing a publication-ready final draft this year.

What did I learn?
  • I need to focus my platform/social media efforts.  Every new account is a new time sink.
  • I need to approach writing with near-NaNo levels of discipline and effort all year long.
  • Above all, I need to spend the majority of my writing time on my WIPs.  Put another way, I need to align my efforts with my objectives.  I need to plant myself in front of my laptop, open Scrivener, and put words on the page.

jacklondon

What are my plans for 2017?
  • Restart the beta reader process for The Gideon Effect (TGE).
  • Commission and approve a book cover for TGE.
  • Learn everything I need to know in order to publish TGE on multiple platforms.
  • Publish TGE.
  • Finish the first draft of my NaNoWriMo work in progress (Dark Straits).
  • Streamline my author platform building and maintenance efforts.  My goal is to spend less than five hours a week.  Three hours would be great.
  • Attend two or three book festivals and Science Fiction/Fantasy conferences this summer.
  • Be less ambitious and more productive with this blog and with social media.

2017 will be the year I publish my first novel.  I expect a wild ride, but I’m better prepared for success this year.

How did your 2016 go?  What are your plans for 2017?

 

19 thoughts on “2016 Wrap-up”

  1. My 2016 was a disaster, for all kinds of reasons. For 2017, I plan on expanding from primarily blogging into other ways of connecting. I’m looking at YouTube and podcasting, among other things. I’m going to keep working on my revision, and eventually start sending the queries out again.
    Oh, and I’m going to put put some more power behind my short-stories, and finding them good homes.

  2. I was literally just working on my 2017 plan when I saw this post. Your plan sounds well-conceived and quite doable! Best of luck with it.

    2016 was the year I rose from the ashes of a 2-year writing slump. I challenged myself to do something I’d never done: write and publish an 8-novella series by October. I started off only able to write 250 words per WEEK, but I kept going…and I succeeded by the skin of my teeth. Part way through, I began diving into education on marketing.

    2017 will be about putting that education to use as I expand into a new pen name: building a mailing list, creating some fun reader incentives, and writing more books.

  3. I met with an entertainment/career consultant and she advised me to pick a few forms of social media and be really active on them rather than try to split myself between every possible platform. I took her advice and it really freed up my time to be more effective in the places I stuck with.

    This year was my first NaNoWriMo too and that’s been amazing. I’m really looking forward to next year!

    Congratulations on all your progress.

  4. You must be in my head. This was EXACTLY how I spent 2016. I was more focused on my platform than finishing my novel. What I can say though, is that I am glad I did some of this author platform stuff first. I am a firm believer that you have to “Act As If” when embarking on new endeavors. When I launch my book early next year I know I will need all those things in place to make it happen and I don’t want to spending a bunch of time playing catch up. So for me, I consider 2016 my learning curve year. 2017 is all about the novel.

    Keep writing!
    Nia

  5. I’ve enjoyed observing your journey this past year. It feels like we kind of set out at about the same time. Just look at how much we’ve learned. I like the goals you’ve set for yourself, and I feel that they’re achievable. I don’t care for social media, much. I agree with the comment below about only using two or three platforms. I might look into swapping out one of mine. I recently landed my first paid freelance project as part of a mentoring program. I’m the mentee, and I’m excited but scared. If I move into freelancing, I won’t be able to blog as much. Maybe that’s OK. Sometimes, we have to move forward without knowing all the answers. I guess they’ll reveal themselves along the way. Everything that we do now lays the groundwork for future projects.I hope no one feels that this year was truly a disaster. I’m wishing all of us success – whatever that means to each of us!

    1. The freelance project sounds exciting! I’d love to hear more about your mentee arrangement and what you want to gain from it. I hope you can find a way to balance your blog with other projects. You’ve done so much to build it over the last year, and I know it means a lot to you.

      1. Thanks! I do need to monetize my writing, though. And I haven’t been as comfortable with some of the monetizing methods suggested for bloggers. I have some ideas that I am comfortable with, but they’ll take time. My hope is to intersperse freelance projects with my blog. Some of my writing ideas are more suited to freelancing, anyway. We shall see. Otherwise, I’ll need to restart my craft business and sell my goods on my website. That’s partly why I chose my current theme. I don’t need to pay for additional coding to add a store with a cart. All of the items would fit into my environmental emphasis. I hope it’s OK to say all of this here! If not, I can contact you elsewhere. I would enjoy sharing ideas with a weekly or monthly writing group.

  6. It’s fine to talk here!

    Are you looking for a group of freelancers? Are you looking for an online group or something local to your area?

    I’m hoping to find or create a writing community that melds the types of activities and discussions that help me stay focused and excited about my writing (and since I’m not sure exactly what those activities and discussions would look like, I’m floundering a bit! It shouldn’t be some fine line between groups so matter-of-fact that it’s uninteresting to so chatty that it’s distracting. It seems like there is a lot of room between those extremes for useful, supportive communities to thrive.

    1. What you described sounds like what I’m looking for. It wouldn’t even need to be a group specifically for freelancers as I’m not sure exactly where I’m headed. I think flexibility would be a core value of this group. I also imagine, maybe a different a group of people, that could include artists and others in the self-employed arena – even those pursuing self-employment. I think it could be helpful to bat ideas around with other people. I would love a local group, but I don’t drive around in the Bay Area much, so I’m completely cool with an online group for now. I’m rambling because I haven’t had my second cup of coffee, yet. 🙂

  7. 2016 was also the year I finally identified myself as a writer. I always struggled when people would ask me what I did. Having been a mostly stay at home mom for 15 years was usually met with a look of “oh, so you don’t do anything.” I’ve known since I was 9 that writing was what I wanted to do. I just took me too many years to actually believe in myself enough to declare it to the rest of the world. So I’ve gotten more serious about writing every day, participated in a short story contest, joined a writing group and shared chapters every week for critique.

    I’m starting off 2017 judging a writing contest and setting a goal of finishing the first draft and editing the novel I’ve been working on for three years now. I’m working on building a social media presence, but some days it seems too overwhelming to keep up with it all. Little steps, but always moving forward.

    1. Congrats for taking so many steps toward your goals this year! It sounds like you have a strong plan for next year.

      Is your writing group a local or online thing? I’m still searching for an online group that is goals-oriented. A chapter review per week sounds daunting depending on the size of the group and the size of the chapters, but it also sounds like it would be a good incentive to keep moving forward.

  8. Hi MC,

    Congrats on your awesome 2016.

    I fell in love with writing this past year. I always had fun writing but this year – last few months specifically – I did so with love. Quantum leap for me in regards to how many posts and guest posts I wrote recently, compared to before because I built my day around what I loved doing so I made my day all about writing. Also noted how writing – and blogging – is an energy game, first and foremost. Once that fun, loving energy gets a flowing…..look out!

    Ryan

    1. Thanks, Ryan! I enjoyed your article about story telling (and the illustrative stories you told!). When I first thought about my goals this year, they had a strong quantitative aroma to them. After finishing NaNoWriMo, I was able to see that some of my problems this year were partially attributable to being quantitative in my goals.

      Starting this month, I keep refocusing on the qualitative aspects of what I do – having fun and writing with joy in creativity. Measurable results are a siren song, though. It’s a lot easier to point to what you do when word count matters.

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