Morgan’s 2018 Retrospective

2018 was a year unlike any other. Some parts were stressful, some parts were lazy, and some parts? Some parts were productive.

As with 2017, I may not have ended my year with a signed agent, but I didn’t just sit around.

I queried 9 agents, attended 2 writing conventions (including my 1st time as a panelist!), wrote my fourth novel, several short stories, 31 poems, and revised my first novel twice, including that R&R from 2017 (that turned into a rejection).

Between Balticon and WorldFantasyCon, I hit 21 panels, (plus the one I was on), attended 3 different writing groups, joined 3 groups (although not all the same ones), hit a local writer’s workshop, and even picked up the mic at a poetry jam night.

This year, I did a lot more interacting in person, versus all the virtual interaction I’ve done in the past, but I love comparing numbers, so let’s look at them.

orange and green pen on graphing notepad
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My Writing Goals Last Year

I made sure to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound) goals.

2018 Goals

  1. Query novel #1 at least 3 times every other week until I get an agent
    • unless I’m revising it
    • Let’s hear it for caveats. The only way this possibly qualified.
  2. Move forward with my picture book
    • Nope!
  3. revise at least one of my shelved rough drafts
    • Nope!
  4. Write something NEW during NaNoWriMo
    • half credit if I rewrite something old
    • WIN
  5. Keep blogging and decide if vlogging is worth it
    • WIN
  6. Try to use  social media better
    • more one-liners on tumbler
    • more consistent posts on twitter
    • instagram at least 1x a week
    • WIN
  7. Read an average of 2 books a month,
    • rank them on GoodReads
    • Bonus Points – review them!
    • WIN

And give myself a pass if I get nothing done in March (likely moving) or December (recovering from NaNo + holiday/family obligations).

The move was longer than expected, but December was as predicted. Things outside this list I achieved though?

  • Joining Write By The Rails and The Broad Universe
  • Reading my poem (written about my nerves waiting for query feedback) at a poetry night
  • Being on my 1st panel
  • Writing a poem a day for October
  • Writing 1 short story for querying and tossing 3 short snippets up on Reddit

Person holding a blue ballpoint pen writing.
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Blogging!

Top Lifetime Post

My sleeper hit from 2016 had 1,145 views before this year, was published in a book of writing essays here, and now it’s up to 1,945! Beating viewings this year alone of my next most popular post by a factor of FOUR!

This year, I started 2 new features on my blog, and participated in a blog hop. None of these items proved very popular, but I hope their following will grow and plan to keep doing them. My features are, of course, my Query Corner — where I rewrite queries with authors preparing to enter the query trenches, and my Author Spotlight — to help promote friends works. I’m no longer hustling for entries, but will share them when I have content for them. (If you’d like to participate, please contact me at morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com)

My Top 10 Posts of 2018

My Top 5 YouTube Videos! of 2018

My Top 3 Posts of 2017


My Top 3 Posts of 2016


My Top 3 Posts of 2015


Social Media Stats

I like stats and tracking progress, so here are my numbers for 2018. I tried to be both engaged and engaging, while still invested in upping my content creation in all mediums.

Followers

First off, I worked on getting more followers for my Youtube channel and Instagram. I was sporadic in my Pinterest and Reddit usage. Having hit the Twitter follow limit, I can only add people as people add me.

Between all my social media accounts, I added 2,721 followers, about 300 shy of last year’s additions. As always, Twitter was the bulk of the adds, but percentage-wise, my Youtube channel was 1st, with 73% growth, Instagram and Tumblr followers more than doubled, and even WordPress was up around 43%.

Content

This year I maintained my streak of blogging at least once a week and kept up with the vlogging. My Goodreads stats are books added to my library, the last 2 years are the books I’ve read. (My FB page wouldn’t give my year stats and stopped letting my scroll in mid-2016, so, those stats are incomplete, but I can compare to last year.)

Based on my plans from last year, I averaged posting to Instagram twice a week, so doubled my goal. And I did start using Pinterest, even if it was horribly inconsistent.


Account Break Down

  • WordPress – I started this blog in April of 2015.
    • Here are my stats as compared to last year are as follows… I have to admit, I’m liking the improved engagement!
    • 8,759(+981) views
    • 5658(+447) visitors
    • 107 posts
    • 1406 (+494) likes
    • 587 (+377) comments

  •  Twitter MorganHzlwood – I joined in March of 2016.
    • I could be more engaged. I should try at least once a week to go through and read a couple of my lists back a few days. Mostly, I just post and respond to my notifications. It’s a good way to avoid the drama that it can be prone to.
  •  Tumblr MorganHazelwood – I joined in June of 2016
    • With the new regulations, I’m not sure if Tumblr will still be kicking this time next year, but I’m still trying to stay active with the writeblr community. And I’ve gotten better at reblogging content and using their queue feature. I’d be pretty solid on use if I queued up stuff for 20 minutes once a week.
  •  Instagram MorganHazelwood – I joined in 2015.
    • Confession: I was about 50 followers shy of 1k last week, but there was a BookBlogger and Writer community group follow event that I joined. And I *think* I saw a prototype for making groups or lists on here, which would be awesome for clearing some of the clutter.
  •   Pinterest MorganHazelwoo – I joined in 2015.
    • I’ve stepped up my usage, but only sporadically. I should keep up with this a bit more. Definitely should make a mood board for my MG novel.
  •  Facebook PagesMorganHazelwoodPage – I joined in 2015.
    • FB often shows my posts to fewer than 10% of my followers. It’s annoying, but I’m not paying. I’ll just keep reposting on my personal page as well.
  •  Facebook MorganSHazelwood – I joined in 2013.
    • Most of my new followers were new members of the PitchWars support groups and people I met in person at actual events.
  •  Google+Morgan S Hazelwood – I joined in 2013
    • Stats!  37 (+9) likes and 2 comments. I counted. This is supposed to die this year, though.
  •  GoodReads Morgan Hazelwood – I joined in January 2016
    • I read 26 books this year, beating my target of 2 books a month!
    • I rated all of them and reviewed 3 of them.
  • Reddit – Morgan Hazelwood  – I joined in January of 2017.
    • I actually started using reddit this year, and now my karma is 406!
    • I had 19 posts, 3 of them were short stories, and 1 was that poem I read for the open mic night.

In Conclusion

I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped.

Some of that was external. People who are reading your work out of the kindness of their hearts and working around their own schedules aren’t necessarily going to adhere to your schedule. My paying job got very busy for the second half of the year, really ramping up in the 4th quarter.

Some of the issues were the consequences of decisions.

  • I bought a house in April and moved in May.
  • I’m still running 2 Facebook PitchWars support groups and administering another SFF writer’s group. That takes time, energy, and spoons.
  • I decided to do my best to keep up with at least 5 different types of social media.
  • I really like 9 hours of sleep a night, even if 7 is more standard.
  • I still have scheduled social time with friends Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. Add in my blog post writing and uploading Wednesday nights and full weekend social schedule…

One could argue that I’ve been de-prioritizing my writing over my networking this year, but… honestly? I’m a bit burnt out and I’m going to be gentle on myself.

However…

I DID do a lot of writing, more revising on my first novel than anticipated, grew my vlog, critiqued novels for friends and family, and read an average of more than 2 novels/novella’s a month.

I may have fallen short, but you know what Les Brown says about that?

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How well did you do on your goals?

Had you given up on them in January, did you rock the BLEEP out of them, or did you do okay but think you might do better with concrete, SMART goals?

After Writing A Novel — The Hangover

December 1st, 12:00am, a strange thing happened to writers across the globe. The deadline passed. If we’d finished our 50,000 words — or whatever modified goal we’d set for ourselves, we celebrated. If we hadn’t? Well, we beat ourselves up and tried to make excuses.

But now what?

Without this project and deadline beating down our necks, some of us are feeling… lost. Cast adrift. And just maybe a little hung over.

Here’s my list of:

Morgan’s Top 5 Things To Do AFTER NaNoWriMo

Note: These items work just as well for any writer who’s been pushing hard to finish a novel or meet a deadline.

Feet sticking out at the foot of a bed. Clearly sleeping.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

5. Catch up on sleep

I don’t know about you, but between long hours at my day job, holiday travel, and NaNoWriMo, my sleep was getting the short shift.

It’s all fun and games when you can imagine your characters and their worlds, but when you start seeing them, maybe it’s time to lay off the caffeine and rest up.

An abandoned building, full of trash

Photo by Francesco Paggiaro on Pexels.com

4. Catch up on chores

For those of you like me, you likely let a few things slide while chasing that nebulous deadline–Like laundry (luckily, I found my stash of sweaters and shifted my wardrobe over, that helped stretch the month), cleaning your kitchen, and vacuuming.

Hopefully, you took my tips before diving into that novel-writing exercise and had enough things cleaned and prepped that your cleanliness slip didn’t take you down too many notches.

Where is my vacuum, again?

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Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

3. Tackle your to-read pile!

Did you spend months preparing for your novel? Then, the mad sprint to get it written? With all the focus on your own words, you might have felt guilty taking time away to read. But! Now that your novel is resting, waiting for edits or beta readers (like bread before baking) you have some time to just breath.

Now is the time to explore the other worlds. If you need to feel industrious, remember that reading widely is recommended for all writers. And comps should be recent — in the last two-to-three years. So really, reading in your genre is um… research!

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Photo by Jaroslav Nymburský on Pexels.com

2. Indulge in your OTHER hobbies

Whether it’s catching up on the TV shows you’ve missed, video games, the gym, Pokemon, or crafting, writing probably isn’t your only interest. Now is a great time to remember those other things you love, and take the time to indulge in them. Focusing on your writing, to the exclusion of everything else, can limit  your creativity. Most of us need time away from the keyboard to replenish our writing drive and avoid (or recover from) burn out.

black cat holding persons arm

Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com

1. Finish the story at a more leisurely pace.

Yes, some people finish a story or a draft in 30 days, in the hoped for 50,000 words (or more if you’re better at sprinting than I am). But many of us still have words to write, plot lines to wrap up.

Now? Without the deadline rushing down on us, that doesn’t mean we should stop with our stories! It means we can catch up on chores and sleep, and squeak out the rest of the story while it’s still fresh in our heads.


Have you recently finished a novel? (Or at least NaNoWriMo)?

What’s YOUR next act?

6 Tips to Recharge Your Creative Energies

There are times in every writer’s life when they need to step back and refill their creative juices.

Most of us can only write and create, filling all our possible writing time with words, for so long. It doesn’t matter if the words flowed freely from brain to paper, or if each word written was hard won, recharging is a thing that everyone can use from time to time.

And don’t get me started on the doldrums of editing when you’ve done three rounds and you feel like you’ll never finish…

But recharging can look different for different people. So, I thought long and hard–or you know, at least 15 seconds–about how I spend my downtime and asked a few of my writing friends exactly what they do to recharge. Here are six of our answers:
  1. Ben L says: “I write poetry, because it exercises my writing but in such a different way that it recharges me. Especially form poetry with lots of rhyming and rules, because then I can feel the freedom when I go back to prose. (This can just be limericks if you don’t feel confident in sonnets or villanelles, but haiku doesn’t help much, at least for me.)
  2. According to Patrick H., what he needs is something completely different. “I get entirely away from my creative process, usually via computer games. That’s when my characters tell me they’re tired and they need to stop working through drama.” But he adds a caveat to that advice, to be careful what sort of games you’re playing. “I had to stop playing Civ 3 because it was getting in the way of writing, though for a different reason. (Apparently, six-hour gaming sessions on high difficulty levels are tiring?)
  3. Kimberly B shares, “I find strolling through a bookstore or library helps invigorate me. It’s also really helpful to have other creative outlets that I have no pressure to be good at. Dancing used to be that for me, before we started performing.
  4. Marti P? She says, “I like to search around on Pinterest, read good books in my genre & watch good movies.”
  5. Anup M likes to “treadmill or take a nap or simply keep it away for a day or two.
  6. And me? Well, I like to binge watch Netflicks, read a few books in my massive to-read pile, and try to remember what the gym looks like.

How do you recharge?

P.S. If one eye looks off, I’m recovering from pink eye right now. But! I did manage to rough draft that new opening scene. Waiting on feedback now!