Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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December 26, 2022

A Writerly End-of-the-Year Checklist for 2022

by Kris Maze

Most writers struggle to find enough time to get all their projects accomplished. Adding other author related tasks can eat away at precious writing time, regardless of your writing style or organization skills level. Whether your plotlines must be prefect before you begin a story or you’re a seat-of-your-pants pantser, all writers can benefit from taking a solid moment to reflect on their past year. 

2022 brought us more changes to the writing industry, but it hasn’t changed the need for storytelling. Storytelling and crafting good tales to tell will always be at the heart of why we write, but the passion for writing can fizzle out without reflection and iteration. 

Invest in your writing by figuring out what went well in your writing this year and consider these suggestions to plan for a successful 2023.

Writing Craft – Educate Yourself

I attended a writing conference years ago and heard a keynote speech by Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. The audience of aspiring authors wanted to know his secret for success. During a Q and A session they asked for his biggest recommendation.  He replied, in a word, craft.  Know your craft. Learn your craft. Be the best writer you can be. Wise words.

I took an immersion class this summer with an NYT historical romance writer, and asked her this same question. “What should a writer do to improve and find success?” She told me that she spent five years going to every class and seminar she could, then read and applied everything possible on craft and the good mechanics of writing. 

She invested and poured herself into learning and it has enabled her current work with a large publisher. Last time I heard, she was researching for a novel set in Paris. 

Ah, now that’s a writer’s life I could envision for myself. Where would your writing life take you?  How can you invest in your writing skills?

  • Take a class – we offer posts by many wonderful teachers here at WITS. Try a class by one of our writer-teachers.
  • Find a regional or local writing organization
  • Join a critique group online or genre specific Facebook group
  • Find a reading club at your local library
  • Attend open mic nights and read your best poetry attempts
  • Audit a class at a community college
  • Try a writing coach
  • Learn more about editing and craft through books and webinars

Improving one's writing craft is a lifelong journey of growth. As we sharpen the tools of the trade, we become better writers that readers appreciate. Try finding a writing class and see how you improve this year.

Writing Time – Get the Words on the Page

There are many ways to stay true to the muse and most of them involve keeping a writing schedule.  Here are some popular ways to keep you building a mighty writing habit.

  • Pomodoro method & timers
  • Accountability partners
  • Keep a paper or digital calendar
  • Set a writing routine but mix it up if you need to.
  • Set a writing goal based on something you usually don’t measure. Daily word count, minutes writing, times you sit at your writing desk to write. See which one helps you be a more productive writer.
  • Stuck in your writing routine? Try a new location. Or put up a new inspiration in your writing space to focus on.

Which of these methods have you used last year? How did those impact your writing? Which would you change or add to your routine in 2023?

Getting words on the page is fundamental to building a writing career. See where your writing routine can take you next year.

Writing Process – Examine Your Writing Systems

Writing a book and getting it into the world is typically a slow, but reward process. A process filled with potholes and squeaky wheels, some may say, but somehow a book must go from concept to story and finally to a finished product. And that process is often messy.

If you haven’t examined how to take a story through the stages of writing, this may help you save time.  Here are some things to think about may help you design a writing process that suits your needs better.

  • How many steps do you have in your writing process?
  • What was the most difficult part of writing for you last year?
  • What did you excel at last year?
  • Which steps can you get extra help for? Should you hire out help for some steps? 
  • Where do you submit your finished work?
  • Where do you intend to submit work next year?
  • How did that go this last year?
  • What are you proud of?
  • What changes would you make?

If you want a better writerly year in 2023, consider examining your writing from an overarching view. Taking a look at your system as a big picture can identify places where your writing process is frustrating or inefficient. Taking time to address any concerns you find could alleviate stressors and allow you to focus on your writing more.

Examine your writing process at the end of this year and reflect on how you can make it a smoother, more enjoyable experience.

Writing Business – The Authorpreneur in You

How do you organize the tools you use for your writing? What are you paying for? What value do you get from these services and products?

Consider keeping a spreadsheet or digital list with links for all the tools you may use in a given writing year.  Keep track of what you pay for and don’t.  This can save you time if you include your writing expenses in taxes. It can also help you keep track of when expenses occur and planning for those yearly or monthly costs.

Seeing your bottom line can be discouraging, or it can feed your writing career decisions.  Knowledge is power, the old after-school-special-commercials used to say, let it inform your decisions this year.

While keeping track of all the tools and their costs can be tedious, it provides writers with valuable information. This can remind you to use the tools you have to make your writing process easier. It can also help you identify what products you actually use versus those that aren't as practical for your writing style.

Take a deep dive into the products help make your writing process work.

Writing Satisfaction – A Quality Writing Life is a Wonderful Thing

Ultimately, we write because we can’t contain the stories within us. Writers are built to share words with the world and when we don’t we are miserable. It’s a true mark of a writer. More than books finished, books sold, amount of followers, or NYT status.  Pay attention to how satisfied you are with your writing and it will continue to be a positive outlet in your life.

Reflect on your writing life last year. What did you appreciate about being a writer? What would you prefer to not repeat again? Start fresh in 2023 with a new outlook if needed, but don’t forget to celebrate the work you did finish.

  • Which stories did you complete?
  • What new writing habits did you begin?
  • What goals did you accomplish? 
  • Which new goals will you set?
  • What new craft did you apply in your work?
  • How did you use new technology (if any) this year?
  • Which publications or awards did you obtain?
  • What writing conferences or classes did you attend?
  • What new writing connections did you make?
  • Who are new writing companions that you met this year?

Writing without personal connection becomes a chore, in my opinion. Without an end goal writing becomes a vague travelogue of my thoughts. Writing without care to craft becomes a drudgery of bad sentences.

Simply put, a writing life without reflection can be less rewarding for you and me. Iterating parts of your writing process can alleviate some stress and allow you to focus more on the creative side of writing. Consider joining me in the spirit of my annual writerly overview and celebrate your successes from 2022.

Every day is a new start, a wise fellow writer shared with me, and it has made a difference. When I get upset or uncertain in my writing, I remind myself to get up and do it all over again the next day. And that makes me smile on the inside. Because I can get up and write again. And that’s truly a joy. 

Here’s to capturing your writer joy in 2023, my writing friends! Cheers!

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About Kris

Kris Maze is an author, writing coach, and teacher. She has worked in education for many years and writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and the award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host. You can find her horror stories and young adult writing at her website. Keep up with future projects and events by subscribing to her newsletter.

A recovering grammarian and hopeless wanderer, Kris enjoys reading, playing violin and piano, and spending time outdoors.

And occasionally, she dabbles in drawings.

10 comments on “A Writerly End-of-the-Year Checklist for 2022”

  1. Excellent list, Kris. I started using the Pomodoro system and an accountability partner in 2022. Both of those are helping me focus and accomplish more so I'll continue using them going forward. I love your writing satisfaction questions, so I'll start incorporating them in my annual review. Thank you and Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Lynette,

      The Pomodoro method is definitely one of my go-tos to stay focused.

      I'm glad you find the reflection questions handy.

      All the best towards a happy, productive 2022!

  2. Hi Kris!
    I like having accountability partners. They keep me going.

    I don't set a timer, but do short sets of writing, like 30 minutes to an hour at the most, and then clear my head before returning to write more. This worked well for me when I wrote for NaNoWriMo, and I've continued it.

    Fantastic suggestions. Thanks for these.

    1. Hi Ellen,
      I also write in short bursts... scene by scene.
      And accountability partners are key for me too.
      Thanks for the comments. 🙂

  3. What a beautiful reminder, Kris. This year has been one of changes for me... changes I'm still processing through, but ones that leave me with great joy when I get time to sit down and dive into the writing I love.

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