As I’m planning my new writing goals, I thought I’d go back and reflect upon my original writing goal, which was to write a really good mystery novel – something I could be proud to say I authored. Something my friends could read and say they enjoyed, a real page-turner.
While I’ve now written a mystery novel, and I’m proud of that achievement, I’m not sure I can say it’s a really good mystery novel yet. There’s more work to do. The plan for 2020 will be how we are going to get there.
I’ve got four main things I’m keeping in mind:
- Feedback. This year, I received positive feedback on my manuscript from a professional agent. Mere weeks later I received negative feedback on the exact same piece of writing from a different professional – an editor. While I could have chosen to ruminate on the negative feedback, repeatedly visualising the way the editor sat in front of me and kept turning over the pages of my manuscript as though it were soiled toilet paper (okay, maybe I did ruminate too much), I instead sought advice from a third professional, another editor. I wrote a blog post about my experience. It was the best thing that happened to my writing all year and it’s this advice that I will be taking on board to make my manuscript the really good mystery that I set out to write at the start of this journey.
- Time management. I’m not good at it. To be fair, I’ve got a child and he’s just started walking but also to be fair, there’s only one of him. Plenty of writers have several walking children and still manage to churn out bestselling fiction. So instead of spending my free time searching for things I’ve misplaced, marvelling at the magical unicorn qualities of mummy bloggers on Instagram, or fretting about the amount of cat hair on the furniture, I need to use my tiny pieces of free time to focus on writing.
- Writing colleagues. The online writing community has been a wonderful support from the moment I commenced my writing journey. One of the best things that happened in 2019 was finally meeting some of these jolly good folks in person – my very first online writing pal Natalie Hennekam and my simile friend Sarah Fiddelaers. I also met some lovely writers at a writers retreat and again at a conference (hi Inda!), was honoured to be invited to attend a lady writers lunch, and was asked to join a writing group. I hope to continue meeting with fellow writers in the new year. Who wants to meet me? When’s the next cool hang? Are they called cool hangs?
- Continuous learning. I’m ending 2019 by going back to basics. Husband bought me two books (at the recommendation of writer pal Kali Napier) – James N. Frey’s How to Write a Damn Good Thriller and How to Write a Damn Good Mystery. Aptly titled novels to help me achieve my goal of writing a really good mystery novel! Frey recommends doing several exercises before you start writing your novel, which I didn’t do at the time because I was too cool and just wanted to start writing the book. But now, as I’m doing rewrites, I’ve decided it’s never uncool to keep learning – so why not give these exercises a go? Hopefully I’ll be spending the rest of the summer character journalling to get into the psyche of my murderer. Happy times.
So that’s how I will be going into 2020 – keeping in mind professional advice, managing my time, making meaningful connections with like-minded writers and going back to basics by doing more writing exercises. I’m also going to do a copywriting course because I think that’d be really neat. Happy New Year!