January 4, 2015

Writing WINS and WANTS

Every year, resolutions are made, held on to for some time, and then either broken or forgotten. Annually, I tend to have the same MORE or LESS resolutions:  MORE reading, LESS television, MORE fitness, LESS unhealthy food. MORE patience, LESS cursing. These new goals work towards the beginning of the year but eventually dissipate away as life takes over. 

This year, I was motivated to forget resolutions and instead focus on successes I have had, I could inundate you all with details about my adventures as a father, a hike coordinator for kids, and a Special Olympics coach, but I will save those for my other posts. Today, I want to focus on my WINS and WANTS as a writer.

Those of you who know me personally may know I really started getting into writing when I found out I would be a father. Like we all do, I have zany stories from my childhood. People always tell em they like my stories about my childhood mishaps, my unique family, and my overall wackiness, so it made sense to document these and share these with the next generation. So, I started this blog. Because I am kind of anal and OCD sometimes, I decided that my official entries all had to be exactly 200 words. it would be my writing gimmick. :) I even sorted them according to stories about my childhood and early adulthood, my classroom, and my fatherhood. I even throw randoms in there (like this one), which don't adhere to my self-imposed 200-word limit.  Crazy, right??? I wrote about 250 or so of these stories while waiting for the baby and have slowed down considerably since then, but instead have taken my writing adventures in a  new direction. Picture books.

My picture books idea come from my own life but also from my classroom. I love to create stories to teach lessons to my students (both 4th grade and kindergarten). I also saw some of the books that were being  published and thought, "Hey, I could do this!"  So.,. I am trying to do just that. I have joined the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators, am part of a  great critique group, joined a plethora of Facebook groups, write on my blog almost daily, and try to add revisions and new stories to my ever-growing list of picture book ideas when not chasing my baby girl.

Being a sports nut, I love numbers. Just checking the fancy chart I created using Microsoft Word at the start of 2014 to keep track of my writing progress, I have 93 ideas yet to be written down as a manuscript, 23 that have, 7 others that have been officially critiqued by my group or through a writing conference and then revised, and one lonely story that I have submitted. 

To help my writing dream become a reality I see some things from  past year and things from my future year that will help me:  my writing WINS and WANTS.

MY WINS from 2014:  

  • ​Completed a picture book idea challenge in November knows as PiBoIdMo and made some new friends in the process
  • Attended the SCBWI-Wisconsin conference in October, met some amazing authors and got very comforting feedback on one of my stories
  • Grew as a writer and critiquer with the help of my amazing critique group
  • Read numerous picture books in my classroom and nightly before putting my daughter down for the night
  • Added numerous ideas and began many drafts of ideas that I have fallen in love with. (Now, hopefully an agent/publisher will feel the same way)
  • Increased my focus and committed more time to just writing and not worrying about getting it perfect right away.  Just get to down and go from there!
  • Officially submitted my first ever book proposal, a curious fiction/non-fiction picture book hybrid I am quite proud of . . .still waiting to hear back (fingers crossed)
  • Ended 2014 with a huge amount of writing ideas and drafts ready to be written, revised, and submitted.

My WANTS for 2015:

  • ​Repeat my WINS from 2014 :)
  • ​Continuing to grow my social network of other aspiring and published writers
  • Adding to my blog daily and increasing its visibility and reach
  • Committing time each day to some writing, whether it be new writing, revising, editing, or critiquing
  • Complete a picture book writing challenge known as 12x12
  • Write queries, develop pitches, and submit. . .because you can't win the fight unless you get in the ring!

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