So I’m a little late to the party (what else is new?), but here I am with a bookish and writerly recap of January! This year, I plan to write a little something at the end of each month about everything I’ve been reading and writing.
What I’ve written
You guys… As of the 23rd of January, I have been WRITING. ACTUAL WORDS. FOR MY BOOK.
That’s right. I finally bit the bullet, decided it was time to stop plotting and planning and world-building and worrying, and started writing again.
I haven’t been hitting it too hard – mostly just trying my hardest to write something every day, even if it’s only a few hundred words. So far I’ve done about 5,250 words, which isn’t a great deal, but it’s been nice to start easing myself back into the story.
What really helped me get back into things was revising my plot outline. Last February, in preparation for getting back into writing (this never actually happened, but that’s another story), I plotted out an outline to guide me through the rest of the book. But after mulling over the story in the back of my mind for nearly a year after that, I realised some changes needed to be made.
So I sat down with pen and paper and completely redid my outline. And I mean completely – as in, from the very beginning of the book. The majority of plot points remained the same, but I changed some things around and added stuff here and there, so overall, it’s a fairly different outline to the one I had last year.
Image via Unsplash
I’m much happier with the outline as it looks now, but redoing the whole thing meant one very important thing: I’d essentially be starting from the beginning again when I did get back into writing.
But you know what? I’ve actually enjoyed doing that. Using Scrivener’s handy split-screen mode, I’ve begun writing a brand-new draft from scratch, copying in bits and pieces from the corresponding chapters in my old draft that I like and want to keep. (Those bits and pieces are fairly few and far between.)
I’ve only written a chapter and a half so far, but I’m really enjoying it. I still find myself plagued with doubts and fears, but at those times, I try to remind myself of two things:
- Every writer feels like this at one stage or another.
- This is a first draft and it’s allowed to be completely, totally and utterly crap. The most important thing is that it actually gets written.
Anyway, apart from my book, I’ve also written an article for Writer’s Edit about how to work with beta readers, so if that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, check it out.
Image via PicJumbo
What I’ve read
At the moment, my Goodreads challenge is telling me I’m one book behind schedule… SHUT UP, GOODREADS, I KNOW, ALRIGHT?
I was a bit up and down with reading through January – I powered through most of the books listed below, but had a few big gaps of not reading anything at all in between.
I think there’s a way to remedy that, though. This year I want to swap my bad habit of mindless social media scrolling for a new habit: picking up a book at ANY spare moment I have. I’ve done pretty badly at that so far, but hopefully throughout February I’ll be a little more mindful of how I spend my time (and get lots more reading done in the process).
Anyway, here’s a quick round-up of everything I read in January…
- Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
I really, really enjoyed this. Nate bought it for me for Christmas and wrapped it up Blind Date with a Book-style (cute, I know). Foolishly, I’d actually held off reading it because I’d seen a few Goodreads reviews that slammed the style of writing, and while I do admit the prose goes a little overboard at times, I still loved the book. The world and the characters were great and the story really sucked me in. Looking forward to the sequel Godsgrave later this year!
- Everywhere I Look by Helen Garner
God, Helen Garner is wonderful, isn’t she? I first read her last year in my attempt to read more non-fiction, and I just fell in love with the way she writes. This collection of writings spans the majority of her lengthy career, and it was super inspiring. I often found myself smiling or marvelling aloud at some especially sharp observation or magical turn of phrase.
- Bad Behaviour by Rebecca Starford
This was a really interesting memoir about life at a boarding school in the Australian bush. It dealt with some really tricky issues, like bullying and the complicated nature of young female friendship; parts of it hit uncomfortably close to home. I found the way it was written to be really immersive – alternating between the narrator in the present, and a novel-like retelling of her experiences in the past.
- A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Oh, be still, my beating heart. I can’t tell you how much I love this series. I absolutely devoured An Ember in the Ashes late last year, and this sequel was no different – I smashed through it in a few luxurious sittings. Elias, Laia and Helene are some of my favourite characters from recent reads, and I adore the world and the story Sabaa Tahir has created here. Super pleased to learn that there are two more books to come!
- Heart of Mist by Helen Scheuerer
This month I was lucky enough to be a beta reader once more for the wonderful Helen and her wonderful debut fantasy book. I read an early incarnation of Heart of Mist last year, and since then Helen’s worked SO hard to undertake a big structural edit and incorporate feedback. I won’t say too much here, but I LOVED this book even more in this second read, and I can’t wait to continue the journey throughout the whole Oremere Chronicles series! Fantasy fans, definitely stay tuned for the release of Heart of Mist later this year.
Actual image of me trying to deal with my TBR list right now. Just kidding, image via Unsplash.
That’s all my reading and writing news for now. Hopefully my next recap will be on time, and will feature many more words written and books read!