2021: The Writing Year That Was

Cue the obligatory look back on the writing year that’s been… 

2021 was no better than 2020 in terms of a certain contagious virus that was still doing the rounds… Yet, for all the disruption we still had to endure I managed to achieved a few of the goals I set for myself. Not all of them, but some of them…

The Website:

I updated the site with pages for the two books I managed to write and did some small bits of housekeeping. Yay! But getting my head around updating the order of the various menus, and getting things in the order I wanted them in, was more than a little frustrating at times…

The Blog:

Continued to be an occasional “hello there!” rather than a regular, or even semi-regular update. Time spent blogging about writing is time you’re not spending writing. I’ve found that the best approach to take is to not feel pressured into writing something for the sake of it. Say nothing until you actually have something you want to say!

My Books:

The Valentine Trap was joined by The Ghost In The Mirror and The Diamond Of Tomorrow. Work has started on the fourth book, The Serpent Strategy, which should be out early 2022. Once that fourth book is out, that’s when I need to bite the bullet and finally try and do some proper promotion and get those sales moving.

The Next Prime Minister got the update it needed and I’m continuing to add to it for the next edition whenever something politically relevant occurs, with a view to putting out a “fully revised and updated” edition in time for the next UK General Election. Whenever that might be…

The Dalek Fan Film Invasion! aka Fan Film Book 2 was finished and published, completing the story of how I made my Dr Who Fan Film. I was a little disappointed that it turned out to be a thinner book than its predecessor. That surprised me as I thought I would have had more to say but there’s no point in padding things out and I’m glad I finished that story. [And 2022 will be the tenth anniversary of me having the idea…]

A Fan Film Adventure In Space And Time! was meant to get an audiobook according to my plans for 2021 back in 2020. That never happened and given how much of my time is going to be taken up with The Paradox Club, I doubt it ever will….

Promotion, Advertising & Marketing:

Didn’t do any. Again. Spent nearly all my time either writing or attending online webinars and summits on writing. Still not a priority until Book Four has come out but I did sign up for another Mark Dawson – his famous Ads For Authors course. So when the time comes I’ll be ready!

YouTube:

Although becoming a BookTuber was part of my plans for 2020, it didn’t happen. And it didn’t happen again in 2021. It might happen in 2022. Who knows. Or not. Let’s wait and see how things go for Book Four first…

So what did I learn in 2021?

Writing A Novel: Well, the first thing has to be that writing two novels in a year wasn’t a chore at all and was, on the whole, a very enjoyable process. I actually wrote about two and a half, as the fourth book was started before the year was over.

The big takeaway for me was just how much of both books I ended up Improvising.

When it comes to writing, you’re either a Plotter or an Improviser. Since I consider myself to be primarily a Plotter, I was surprised at just how much of both books ended up being improvised. There was a lot of material that ended up in both books that wasn’t there in my outline when I started.

Self-Editing: Working on the text of your novel is hard work, but even more hard work is the revision you need to do after The Final Draft is done. As with the first book, Book Two and Book Three had multiple typing errors in them, despite my best efforts and multiple passes to try and spot them. That’s the unavoidable price you have to pay when you can’t afford to pay an editor to find them for you. Something to continue to work on and get better at. It will also save me having to buy so many Author Copies with each successive set of fixes!

Plotting, Planning & Getting Organised: I didn’t attend nearly as many writing webinars this year as last, due to being busy actually writing instead of listening to people talking about writing. But I did manage to get a few in:

Amazon Optimization with Geoff Affleck was a really informative webinar that I actually attended more than once, thanks to multiple invites from my email list, which I’m still working on cutting down! One of my first tasks for 2022 will be to actually implement the changes Geoff suggests instead of simply making a note of them and then never getting around to doing them!

Plottr: Spent some time getting to grips with the software and its many updates. A useful resource to help outline both individual books and the overall Series. But the big thing this year was…

Scrivener 3: At last we finally got the update us PC users have been waiting for, putting us on a par with our Mac-using counterparts. Hooray!

Ads For Authors: As mentioned above, I signed up for this in a canny piece of forward planning so I’m ready come the day I have money to spend on promoting my books.

Audiobooks Made Easy with Derek Doepker is another investment I made in myself as 2022 is the year I’m going to record the audiobooks of books One through Four before I start work on Book Five.

Story Coach: Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction with Daniel Schwabauer continued to be a fun and useful resource and I like Dan’s teaching style. 

Writing Excuses: As if attending webinars about writing wasn’t enough, I also had a look at the various writing podcasts out there. After a few false starts I settled on this one as my regular go-to and if you don’t already listen to it, check it out. It’s at its best when Brandon Sanderson is on it.

NEXT: 2022, More Writing Adventures In Storytelling, including Book Four!

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