I believe that when you really want something, you work tirelessly to get it. Even if you have to mainline caffeine and suffer from zombie eyes to do so.
While editing one of my novels earlier this year, I realised that I got tripped up by grammar. I only know the very basics of English grammar – it’s my second language after all. And usually I know, feel, what’s right. But if I want to be taken seriously as a writer, I need to have more than a feeling about grammar.
So I took an online course through SA Writers College.
The Grammar course was aimed at second language users. There is another for first language users, but my ears started ringing when I saw the course details. No, doing something that would actually benefit me and not discourage me was the better route.
It took me five months to work through it – and I never got below 90% for an assignment (and even that little blip in an otherwise average of 95% taught me something valuable about punctuation – especially about that dratted semi-colon). I took it seriously. I took the time to learn the rules and to apply them in my writing.
Whenever I had questions, my tutor – author Alex Smith – promptly responded and explained until I understood.
It’s a great feeling to know what I’m doing instead of stumbling around in the dark with a flickering candle.
I’ll probably do a whole post on proper language-use at one point – for editing purposes, of course 😉
Unfortunately we all know that just being an amazing writer isn’t enough to get published and sell books.
So I also did a Social Media course with Frances Caballo.
I wrote about this a couple of months ago after completing the course – and I told you why you should be on Pinterest.
I also told you about my experience with figuring out Google+ and why you should bother doing so.
But having awesome Pinterest , Google+, Twitter and Wattpad profiles isn’t enough. Not even linking them to your blog and posting interesting articles is enough if no-one is following, reading, retweeting or commenting on all your hard work.
“The future depends on the present not the past.” – Unknown
That’s where blog-and-social-media-hops come in.
In April, I did the A-Z Challenge – blogging every day wasn’t a joke. In July I did the Cherished Blogfest – opening up about something important to me that holds a lot of memories caused a lot of tears. In September I joined the Insecure Writers Support Group – the first Wednesday of the month is dedicated to writing a post and reading (and commenting) on the blogs of others in the group. And for December, I signed up for the Nano Blog and Social Media Hop Raimey Gallant had organised.
Though doing blog hops can be a little exhausting (alright, very exhausting), meeting new people and making friends: totally worth it.
As for my writing, after WOES closed its web-doors in February I was a little shell-shocked. I’d put all of my online-writing-eggs in one basket.
I know that’s a hard lesson everyone has to learn.
Thankfully I stood up, dusted myself off and charged ahead.
I joined Writing.com (though I have to admit that I haven’t really joined their community – I’m using the free version and it’s rather limited), I joined Wattpad (it’s an amazing community of fantasy writers I’ve met through Fantasy Community’s writing competitions and I’ve learned so much about my own writing) and I joined INK (a new Afrikaans writing platform that was born from the ashes of WOES) where I also won Fiction Writer of the Year.
And I’ve also started to compete in Flash Fiction competitions.
Despite a few setbacks this year, I think I’ve accomplished a lot.
The December question from the IWSG was about my five-year-plan for my writing.
“A SMART goal would need to satisfy the following components. It should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound.” – Unknown
Knowing where I’m going – and looking at all the amazing things I’ve accomplished this year – I think the future of my writing career is quite bright.
How have you improved your writing this year? Have you written it all down? It’s amazing to see your accomplishments – especially the ones you’ve forgotten about or didn’t even recognise for what it is – written down. Try it. What’s your five-year-plan?