This is not a post where I list my goals for the new year.

Hi again everyone! My first time taking a blog break and I missed y’all. Glad to be back. Okay, onto bloggy things.

I don’t list goals for the year until my crit partners force me into a corner and threaten to sabotage my coffee maker. Instead, here’s a list of what I’ve learned in 2010.

  1. Someone needs to invent a calorie/nutra sweet free snack for writers.
  2. Structure cannot be ignored. Understanding the three acts can make or break a manuscript.
  3. Digging deep and revising for structure is harder than it sounds.
  4. Snappy dialogue can carry a novel, even if other areas aren’t perfect.
  5. Some scenes can be combined for increased conflict.
  6. Start a scene at the last possible moment and end it as soon as possible.
  7. Don’t go with my first idea but keep pushing for the best idea.
  8. I actually do like writing to music.
  9. Any artist goes through almost psychotic phases of discouragement through unexplained confidence – and none of it is reliable.
  10. Writers are the best group of people out there.
  11. Scrivener is the best thing eva.
  12. E-readers are not as scary as I thought they were a year ago. I love mine.
  13. Warm chocolate chip cookies are the best (okay, I already knew that).
  14. I am thankful for manuscripts that didn’t make it.
  15. I wish I could create something like Silly Bands to support my writing.
  16. It’s important to be myself when blogging and writing.
  17. Exposing emotion that readers can relate to is top priority.
  18. It’s not telling that kills a story – it’s bad telling.

I know there’s more. And each of these statements could be a whole blog post. Name one area you understand better now than you did last year! Better yet, blog about it so I can learn too!

33 Responses to This is not a post where I list my goals for the new year.

  1. Rachael Harrie January 3, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Hey Laura, I loved reading about all the things you learned. Can’t wait to try Scrivener when it comes out for Windows!

    “Exposing emotion that readers can relate to is top priority” – That’s so true I think. I’d love to see your blog post about this one 🙂


  2. Steve Griffin January 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Hey Laura –

    Great list and I agree with all of them except #13…not a big fan of chocolate. I know, heresy, right? 🙁

    Anyways, for me 2010 was really about learning how to pace myself. I put in a lot of work in organizing and drafting a novel, but I burned out. I think most of it was because I tried to march ahead before I understood certain things. It lead to a lot of frustration that could have been avoided had I slowed down and just thought about things a bit better and, like you mentioned in #7, didn’t go with the first idea.

    So, the biggest lesson for me is that “writing takes time.” It is the craft for someone who has mastered the art of patience.

    Good luck with your writing in the new year. 🙂

  3. Tina Lee January 3, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    This all pretty wise! Happy new year!

    • Laura January 3, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Rachel – I’m still learning all the ins and outs of Scrivener, but I love having my outline and my notes right there on the side to click on whenever I need them – instead of notebooks lying around everywhere.

      Steven – It is easy to rush through. I try and really take my time with an idea to see where it could possibly go. Good luck this year!

      Tina – Thanks! HNY to you too!

  4. Kelly Polark January 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Excellent list of learning. I especially like the exposing emotion part. And I am wishing I have some chocolate chip cookies in the house. But it’s better I don’t as I’ve had my fair share of holiday goodies over the last two weeks.
    Have a great 2011~

  5. Stina Lindenblatt January 3, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    I’m a lot smarter when it comes to expressing emotion in my writing than I was a year ago. 😀

    Love the list, Laura.

  6. anne gallagher January 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    1-2-3-9-15 ~ Can I get an AMEN!!!!

  7. Nelsa January 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Laura: I LOVE your lists. Happy New Year!

  8. Laura January 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Kelly – There will be no choc chip cookies in this house for a while!

    Stina – Yes, I’ve come to learn that emotion is so crucial. Actually, every aspect of writing is. 🙂

    Anne – Yes, obv. some points were closer to my heart than others.

    Nelsa – Thanks! 🙂

  9. Jen Daiker January 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    There are always more things we can write down but I think your list is very well thought out!!

  10. Lydia K January 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Awesome list, especially about the structure of writing and being thankful for the MSs that didn’t make it!

  11. Laura January 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Jen – Always more to write down, but those were the ones that topped the list!

    Lydia – Yes, those shelved manuscripts not only taught me a lot, but wouldn’t have made good debut novels. 🙂

  12. Angela Felsted January 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I like the one about chocolate chip cookies. Although, I’d add cocoa to the list too. What is it about chocolate milk that it tastes so much better warmed up?

  13. Creepy Query Girl January 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    awe, what a great post! I’d say I learned about what pacing really means this year. I learned how to write from first person present perspective (something I’ve never done before). I also learned that even though I get that ‘this is it!’ feeling while writing a first draft, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the manuscript to get me in the door. I learned to be realistic but remain hopeful and determined.

  14. Kris January 3, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Love you Laura!

    I’m guessing we’ll be backing you into that corner tonight…I need someone to hold my hand to accomplish my goals…

    Most of which are writing, and blogging, as much as my friend Laura. 🙂

  15. Sherrie Petersen January 3, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    You always manage to crack me up! Love the title, love the post, and when you come up with the solutions to #1 and #15, I’ll be buying them to support your writing habit 🙂

  16. Patti January 3, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    Frankly I don’t know how people can listen to music while they write and a sugar free snack would definitely sell big. If you could create it then you would solve number 1 & 15 at the same time.

  17. Laurel January 3, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I’m so with you on #3, having done so over the past year myself! I hope I learned from that rewrite how to structure better.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2011!

  18. Laura January 3, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Angela – chocolate chip cookies truly are my favorite, but one I won’t be baking any time soon.

    Katie – I’ve learned those lessons too – the hard way. But they are good lessons to learn.

    Kris – Um, yeah, see you in the corner, I mean, um, chat. 🙂

    Sherrie – I’ll be working on some new stupid toy that will take off like crazy. The newest one seems to be Pillow Pets, which I hadn’t heard of until a week ago.

    Patti – I swear I could never listen to music while writing either until my most recent wip. For some reason, I can’t write without it. #writerneurosis

    Laurel – I’ve learned a lot about structure this year. And I will continue too in 2011 too!

  19. Laura Best January 3, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    I really like your list, Laura, particularly no.7. That’s one I’m in the process of really understanding.Happy New Year!

  20. Karen Strong January 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Happy New Year Laura! 🙂 I’m slowing coming out of blog hibernation too.

    You’ve got a great list here. Love your #2 and I feel ya on #12 — I was the last person to think I would fall in love with an e-reader.

  21. Anna January 3, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Structure! I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough in terms of story structure. I’m hoping that will make 2011 a little less frustrating when it comes to revising! 🙂

    • Laura January 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

      Anna – My plan is to continue working on structure and really applying it to revisions this year! Hope it goes well for you!

      Karen – Yes! But with any electronics it’s great as long as it’s working!

      Laura – Thanks! Happy New Year to you too!

  22. Terry Lynn Johnson January 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    I’m still learning these. Great list!

  23. Marisa January 4, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    Excellent list of things learned!! I hope to have a list like this… someday. Right now, I’m still learning pretty much all of those 😀

    Happy New Year to you, Laura!!

    • Laura January 4, 2011 at 2:03 am #

      Marisa and Terry – I don’t think it matters what stage you’re at – there’s always something to learn!

  24. Susan R. Mills January 4, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    Great list! I’ve learned a lot of the same things.

  25. Kristen Torres-Toro January 4, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    I love #9!

  26. Dawn Simon January 4, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    Regarding #12, I got an e-reader for Christmas and I’m thrilled! And warm chocolate chip cookies…mmmm.

    Happy New Year!

  27. angela January 4, 2011 at 5:25 pm #

    Great list. One thing I learned in 2010 was that I can’t dwell on the past and need to continually move forward. Letting go of somethings, like a much-loved MS can be hard, but when it’s time to plunge ahead, you have to take the leap.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  28. Emy Shin January 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    I really like your list, and especially agree with #7. My best ideas are always ones that I’ve dug deeper into.

  29. Susan Kaye Quinn January 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    LOVE this list. I think I’ll just come back here for blog ideas for the next month – I think I’ve either experienced or nearly-so every one of these! I’m especially fond of #2, having just finished reading Robert McKee’s Story. Have you read it? Awesome. 🙂

  30. shelley January 5, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    Oh….dear….number 9…..very true!

    This is such a good post.

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