If you asked me two years ago if I was a writer, I would have said no. I had ideas for stories back then and even tried writing one, but none of them were fully committed to. But halfway through 2020, the seed of an idea bloomed, and today, I wouldn’t call myself anything else but a writer (except for maybe author, fingers crossed!). At the start of a new year, I find myself reflecting on 2021 and its lessons about writing and my relationship towards it. Here are seven things 2021 taught me about writing.
1. Slow Writing Doesn’t Mean Failure.
It took me a while to realize that writing slowly does not mean I am failing at it. It’s easy to compare myself to other writers, especially when word counts are on display, but now I believe that every writer works at their own pace. I wouldn't call myself a slow writer, but there are months when I’m busier than others and don’t get many words written. I’ve learned to accept this and realized that making time for myself, allowing myself to prioritize my own studies and mental health, is better for my writing in the long run.
2. Procrastination Isn’t Helping.
I’m including this on the list purely to remind myself to ditch this habit in 2022, or at least try. It’s okay to take time for yourself, but be mindful when scrolling turns into a thing to do instead of a break.
3. Words Add Up.
They really do. Showing up to the screen (or notebook) and writing again and again is the only thing that will finish a book. Consistency and commitment are invaluable to the writing process, and in 2022 I’m attempting to be more proactive about showing up to the page.
4. It’s Okay to Move On.
I left 2021 with three projects, two of which were brand new. Inevitably, the one I started in April fell to the wayside in favor of the one I started in November. Everyone likes shiny, new ideas, but I felt myself drifting away from the April project. I’m realizing that leaving projects on the back burner for a while is part of being a writer. I’ve only got so much creative bandwidth, and rotating projects is the easiest way for me to handle them. Some part of me wonders if I’ll ever return to the April project, and I’ve accepted that maybe I won’t. Whether my break from it is temporary or indefinite, I’m glad I worked on it.
5. Stagger Projects.
Remember that creative bandwidth I mentioned? If you’re like me and have a lot of projects in the works, I’ve found that the best way to make progress is to stick with one for a while until a natural break happens. A break could be after the first draft is completed, during holiday break, or when you feel mentally over it. For example, while one of my projects is being read by beta readers (which is really exciting!), I’m writing a first draft of another story. I expect I’ll switch again once my story is finished being read by beta readers.
6. Talk It Out.
Having someone to rant your plot to is just the best. This could be a close friend, family member, or someone you know on Instagram (there are writing communities on many social platforms). Talking through your plot can convince you of your own ideas and make you aware of the flaws. The listener will ask questions and point out things that don’t make sense, and this is so helpful because sometimes I can’t see where the plot holes are. If you’re feeling stuck, talk it out.
7. Pray to the Lofi Gods.
In 2021 I really got into using lofi beats to write to. Lofi is a type of music that has a slow, relaxing beat without lyrics, often with soft electronic beats. A very popular stream (and the OG) is “lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to” from the Lofi Girl channel on YouTube. Listening to lofi has been shown to increase focus and attention and for me, it fills the blank space in my brain that would normally get distracted. I’m listening to lofi beats while writing this sentence. And this one. I wouldn’t have written half the words I did in 2021 without lofi music, so if you haven’t tried it, 10/10 would recommend.
Above all, 2021 has taught me that I can really do this! That I can be a writer and a student. That I can do what I love and what I have to do. That writing is a part of me. I’m not giving up writing any time soon, and I hope you don’t either. Let’s enter 2022 with less procrastination and more writing!
is a writer based in North Carolina. She attends writing classes of all kinds at UNC Chapel Hill and has a particular fondness for sharp imagery. In her free time, she drafts her own novels.
MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR: