Blood, Sweat & Fears with the Aunties of Agony
Tabatha Wood & J.A. Sullivan
Dear Aunties of Agony,
It’s the start of a new year and I’ve been considering my writing goals for 2020. I already have a long list of things I want to do. I did this last year as well, but looking back, I realise that I hardly ticked off anything on my list. How can I make sure this new year is different?
Eager to Succeed
The new year is definitely a great time to reassess what you want to achieve with a lot of things, especially your writing, but it’s important to remember this essential mantra: Progress not perfection. When you start a new piece of work, make sure you finish it, even if finished does not always mean complete.
Finish every piece of work you start, then let it go and allow other people to read it. Read it again with fresh eyes and new thoughts. A mediocre story now might become something truly marvellous a little way down the road. Remember, you can’t edit an empty page, and no one knocks it out of the park in the first draft.
Keep your goals attainable and realistic. This doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself, but if you write a list you know you have some chance of completing, you are more likely to complete it. The focus should be to keep moving and improving, and your list of goals will inspire you to do that, not make you feel guilty. Every word you write is progress.
When you create your list of goals, be as specific as possible and construct a roadmap with all the steps along the way. For example, say one of your goals for 2020 is to write a new novel. That’s fantastic! But what’s needed to make sure that item is completed by December 31st? Let’s break this goal down into steps.
To have a polished novel you’ll need a completed first draft, rewrites and edits, possibly time to research subjects, maybe days of plotting before you even start your first draft, and perhaps weeks working with critique partners and/or beta readers. Every writer’s process is different, so focus on writing a list of steps that apply to you, organise these tasks into an order that align with your workflow, and then estimate the amount of time you’ll need to finish each step. Lastly, assign a specific end date to every task, so you’ll know what you need to accomplish on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Now you have a plan and a clear path to reaching your goal.
Keep in mind that life happens, and you may not tick off every item exactly when you planned, but don’t be discouraged. Goals and roadmaps are designed to guide you, push you forward and help you stay focused, but they’re not a pass/fail. Remember our mantra: Progress not perfection. Above all, have fun on the journey, celebrate the steps forward, and enjoy ticking off every item on your list.
Wishing you great success,
The Aunties of Agony
The Aunties of Agony are Tabatha Wood and J. A. Sullivan. Our monthly column is a place to ask questions and get advice on all things related to writing. If you need help, please leave your enquiry in the comment section, or ask us on twitter (@merinutang and @ScaryJASullivan), and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. If you’d like to remain anonymous, just let us know when you get in touch.
Together let’s keep the scares on the page and quash the fears that are keeping you from gaining readers.
J. A. Sullivan is a horror writer and paranormal enthusiast, based in Brantford, ON, Canada. Attracted to everything non-horror folks consider strange, she’s spent years as a paranormal investigator, has an insatiable appetite for serial killer information, and would live inside a library if she could.
Her latest short story can be found in Don’t Open the Door: A Horror Anthology (out July 26, 2019), and other spooky tales can be found on her blog. She’s currently writing more short stories, a novel, and reading as many dark works as she can find.
You can follow J. A. on Twitter @ScaryJASullivan
Check out her blog https://writingscaredblog.wordpress.com
Find her on Instagram www.instagram.com/j.a_sullivan
Tabatha Wood lives in New Zealand and writes weird, dark fiction and uplifting poetry. Despite her obsession with the strange and unusual, she considers herself mostly harmless, although she does take great delight in shocking people with her stories every chance she can get.
A former English teacher and library manager, Tabatha’s first published books were non-fiction guides aimed at people working in education. She now teaches from home while writing in her spare time.
She released her debut collection, “Dark Winds Over Wellington: Chilling Tales of the Weird & the Strange” in March 2019. Since then she has had stories published in the charity anthology “Tricksters Treats 3, Seven Deadly Sins” and in “Guilty Pleasures and Other Dark Delights”. She also has two stories in the upcoming December issues of horror/dark fiction magazines, Midnight Echo #14 and Breach #12.
Tabatha is the lead editor in a team of twelve for the “Black Dogs, Black Tales” anthology. The collection aims to raise money and awareness for the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and will be published by ’Things In The Well Press’ in 2020.