What I've Learned This Year (So Far) About Writing

Monday, May 30, 2022

We're almost to the mid-way point on 2022 (can you believe it?) and I figured it's time to do a 
reflection post. This time of year is great for resetting goals and reflecting on how things have gone so far. I feel like I've taken major strides in writing so far. I've worked more with editors this year than I have in previous years and have gotten more income from my writing than in other years too. While I haven't had my fiction published, submitting continues to be part of my journey and I'm hoping to end the year with an acceptance.

So with all of this in mind, here are a few things I've learned that maybe can help you:

  • Your story isn't for everyone.
I recently started submitting a story of mine that has strong Christian elements. It's probably the first story with this in the overarching theme, and someone recently asked me, "Do you plan on submitting to Christian literary mags? Have you thought of that?" Well, to be honest, I hadn't at the time. I always have those first round of lit mags that I send to, in hopes one day, they will accept my work. Then I go down the line of researching and submitting it to the next batch.

With this in mind though, considering that kind of short story isn't for everyone, I scouted out lit mags catering to that niche audience that loves those kinds of stories. It's a reminder to me that knowing your audience is key to your writing success.

  • It's okay to take a pause.
I recently had an opportunity to accept a writing job but felt the need to take a pause. I told the person I wasn't sure if I could take on other projects at the moment. I have a bad habit of seeing a window of free time as an opportunity to pile on more work (instead of seeing it for what it is: a window of free time).

I've taken pauses in other ways too. For example, my blogs and social media are definitely on the back burner these days. As a result, I feel better. I can't say I don't pop in occasionally but my activity is more passive than active these days.

  • All editors and people who critique your work are unique.
And sometimes that uniqueness is a challenge. I find some editors like a million exclamation points when asking for clarity, some critiquers have no need to share something positive they liked, and others have a gift for being helpful without hurtful. It's all a balance. What I've tried to keep in mind is that I hope to learn something from someone's feedback and edits in some way. When I'm at the revision stage of something and asking for edits, feedback, or critiques, I'm not walking into it assuming I'm totally right. I remember it's a learning process and I want to learn (not be told I'm right).

  • Grammar software is a must.
I LOVE grammar and proofreading software. I am currently using the free version of Grammarly. I've also used the paid version and the paid version of ProWritingAid. Both are unbelievably helpful with writing. I highly recommend either one of them. They've helped me catch many of my own mistakes.

  • Keep going.
I've had several stories this year come under the revision knife again. It's always a challenge that leaves me wondering if I just need to let the story go. But I figure, why not keep trying? Keeping up with writing is a marathon. It's definitely a long-haul journey that requires stamina to keep going.

What have you learned this year so far?


Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Nicole! I agree with your first point about a story not being for everyone. I think I told you one of my stories was rejected quite a few times and I'd given up on it. Then it was accepted by a prestigious publication without revisions! So you never know who will appreciate your writing. I learned you have to believe in your own work and keep submitting.

I also learned that I need to be involved in a writing workshop, or I won't write. I know that's terrible and I should be able to stay motivated by myself, but I find a group provides me with the accountability I need.

Your pause tip is something I need to practice. I pile more on top of myself when I get stressed as a distraction, but then I'm doubly stressed. Lol. I've learned that my personal key to de-stressing is hanging out with girlfriends. Laughter is the best gift, and old friends remind me of who I am.

I also discovered an appreciation for the art of revision this year. I've never enjoyed revision, but I learned it's the key to great writing and way more fun than starting from a blank page.

And yes, keep going! I also suggest that instead of endlessly revising a story, aim for a less competitive market. New journals have a higher acceptance rate, and sometimes a publishing win is just what's needed to keep going.

Nicole Pyles said...


That is so inspiring about the story that was rejected so many times! I'm hoping that's the case for me too.

I'm the same way about motiviation. I like checking in with others otherwise I just don't write the same way anymore!

That's awesome you have gotten into revision! It feels like a big marathon doing revision work. Cause you won't see how far you've come until enough time has passed.

And I DEFINITELY need to focus more on smaller mags.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Definitely keep going. It can be so hard to do this but fortunately our writing friends can give us the encouragement we need.

Renee Roberson said...

I've learned that sometimes you have to give yourself grace. I think you've been super productive with your writing given that you also write as your day job! That makes it even harder to get the creative juices flowing.

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