A Year in Review

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A year in review is an opportunity for authors to look back at their writing life for the past year. Reviews can help you plan next steps for the new year. It is important to focus on what you were able to do rather than the rejections, less than shining critiques or contracts not offered. 

What writing have you accomplished this year? 

The first question for an author’s is to write down all of the things that you have accomplished this year. As an author you are writing most days, in your list you should include writing exercises, short stories, online challenges, projects you have started and anything that you have written or learned to advance your writing skills. 

  1. StoryStorm Challenge – The challenge is to create 30 story ideas in 30 days. 
  2. Teach Write Academy – supportive group of teachers who are writers. We write for an hour and a half multiple times a week. 
  3. Miriam Laundry Believe Live
  4. Morning pages
  5. 12×12 Challenge – completed the challenge by writing 12 picture book drafts in 12 months, edited and revised those stories. 
  6. The Complete Picture Book Submission System
  7. Freelance picture book writing – 3 published in 2023
  8. Webinars – 12 webinars SEL, Pitches, Hooks, Holiday Marketing, Podcasts, Agents, Submissions and more.
  9. Picture Book Summit with Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
  10. Website updates
  11. Weekly blog posts 
  12. World Read Aloud Day – Read Gertie Saves the Day to children via Zoom
  13. Women in Publishing Summit – Tickets are on sale now
  14. Wild Life Prairie Park – Virtual Reading of Gertie Saves the Day
  15. Updated Reader’s Guide for Gertie Saves the Day and Two Wins for Wiley 
  16. PB Rising Stars – Mentor program
  17. Joined writing organizations – Long Island Authors, SCBWI, Long Island Author Group
  18. Story Time – Meet & Greet at Tiny Raccoon Books
  19. Library Author Events/ Author Visits
  20. Picture Book Submissions to 6 agents

What were your writing goals for the past year?

As part of an author’s year in review you may want to visit the goals you set at the beginning of the year. I do not necessarily set goals for the new year. I prefer to have one word guide me throughout the year. My one word for 2023 was Action and it guided me through the entire year. When I look at the above list, it confirms that this year I took Action. Taking part in activities that were outside of my comfort zone allowed me to try new things. I was not successful at everything: I did not sell many books at the events, I was not selected for the Mentor program and I do not have an agent yet. The word Yet is the key to accomplishing anything. I just keep trying.

What have you learned from this writing year?

I have learned to read more picture books and use them as mentor texts. I learned to create more well developed characters, balance dialogue and action. How did I learn these things? A book, Writing Picture Books, which Is a wonderful book about writing picture books. Excellent advice and guidance for picture book writers.

Learning is essential for us to reach our publication goals. Learn by instruction, learn by reading and learn by doing. I am discovering gaps along my writing journey. I am always looking forward to learning new skills to help me become a better writer.

If I am going to write a story about a specific topic I need to read the other books that have been published on that topic. I try to find a unique voice or angle for my story. My critique partners tell me that I am relying on the illustrations too heavily. I need a strong page turning first page. This advice has helped me with the revision process. Each revision has made my stories stronger. 

Did you invest in your writing this year? 

I can say, unequivocally, that I have invested in my writing with workshops, webinars and reading all sorts of books and materials about writing and being an author. I am a life long learner and there is so much to learn about writing, editing, revising and publishing. 

The most obvious investment is writing time. I write every morning. It is part of my morning routine. Since I love writing that’s not a difficult investment for me to make. I have the support of my family, friends and fellow authors from my writing groups. Deadlines are also a help for me to get my writing completed. 

This investment check can help you see where you might need to invest next year. There are always new things to learn and new opportunities to learn. Trust me, I have already signed up for several opportunities in the new year. You might want to consider what is the best way for you to learn? I like to learn from books and webinars. The fact that a webinar can be accessed after the live event allows me to go back and take written notes. That’s what works for me. Whether you invest more writing time or invest money to improve your writing skills, value those investments because will move your writing forward. 

Time to celebrate 

Now it is time to take a look at your list and celebrate. You may not have signed a book contract or had your book published, but all writing counts. You cannot be a writer without writing. It is time to celebrate all of your successes. Having a book published does not make us writers, we are writers well before our first manuscript is accepted for publication. Publication makes us professional writers and while this is the ultimate goal for many writers. Be sure to include any writing that you have completed. It counts because you are a writer. Celebrate all of your successes whether they are big or small. 

Thoughts …

The final step is take the information you have gathered from your review and decide what will your next writing year look like? This review will give you perspective on planning your next steps as an author. In writing this post, I have been able to celebrate my successes and think about my next steps. I will be sharing these with you in my next post, which will be after the new year. I will be taking the next few weeks off to celebrate the holidays with family and friends and take some time to plan my writing goals for 2024. 

My wish for you is to have the happiest of holidays and healthy New Year. Here’s to a wonderful 2024!

With gratitude …

I am glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying. 

I am now booking author visits for this school year. If you are a classroom teacher, teacher assistant, Parent Teacher Association President, or After school Director I can work with you to create a visit that will meet the needs of your students. Please contact me to book your visit. 

Have you checked out my website. There are surprises everywhere. Click on the balloons and see where they take you. Can you find two writing videos? Freebies? A chocolate chip recipe? There’s even a special freebie to anyone who subscribes to my monthly newsletter. I have a number of FREE resources for childrenparents and teachers that librarians and homeschooling families can download and use. 

A Call to Action … 

Hello! Have you subscribed to my monthly newsletter? You will receive book recommendations, freebies, craft ideas and exclusive giveaways. Please share the subscribe link with parents, teachers and librarians. 

If you have any questions or you would like to share your thoughts about this post, please leave your comments below. Thank you!

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