Writing My Way Through 2022

By Shelley Widhalm

In 2020, I was pretty much done with writing, overwhelmed with trying to keep my freelance writing and editing business afloat and supplementing it with a gig grocery store job. 

Despite my sort of giving up, I still went to conferences and belonged to writing groups like Northern Colorado Writers (see https://northerncoloradowriters.com).

But in 2021, I realized by “quitting” writing, I was quitting myself and my dream to be a traditionally published author with at least one book made into a movie. So in 2022 after procrastinating for a few months, I returned to my goal of being an author by actually writing novels—I’d written my sixth and last novel in 2016, followed by a couple of novellas and dozens of short stories, “stopping” writing on the large scale.

To make my return, I combined my daily journaling and poetry writing with my large- and small-scale writing projects into a structure, turning the hobby into a job and a passion.

A Year of Writing

I have a few accomplishments for 2022, including writing a daily poem for the Poem-A-Day Challenge. I started the challenge in September 2014 and have continued since, skipping two weeks in late 2020 when I underwent a major surgery. I got behind a few times, then filled in the blanks, as many as two weeks’ worth (see https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/poetry-prompts/april-pad-challenge).

I wrote in my daily journal, something I’ve kept up since second grade. I still have all my diaries and journals—I started typing them in 2014, so they’re easier to read (and reference if I want to look up facts or memories).

I wrote two short stories, one in January and one in September. I submitted both to contests.

I wrote a novel in four months, starting May 1 and finishing Aug. 28. I clocked in 170 hours and wrote 160,142 words, which is way, way too long. I edited the novel, round 1, in about half my writing time, working on it Sept. 1 to Oct. 24. I cut it to 140,713 words, but I have more work to do to get it down to at most 90,000 words. 

A Year of Working

I clocked in my writing on a timesheet, indicating how many hours I wrote and approximate number of words per session. For editing, I indicated number of hours and number of pages edited.

On average, I wrote eight to 14 hours a month from January to April, then jumped to 79 hours in May, 65 hours in June, 23 hours in July, and 45 hours in August (this includes my work on poetry). I then moved on to editing, putting in 33 hours in September and __ hours in October. As a note (but not an excuse!), during the summer months, I did get busy with a vacation and a couple of short trips.

I aimed to write every day, but in July before a trip to the 123rd Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention (see https://vfw.org/convention), I didn’t write for two weeks, because the week before the trip, I got slammed with freelance work, then I was on vacation. After the trip, I wrote one to seven days a week. I also wrote one to five hours a day, making sure to break up my longer sessions with breaks.

Avoiding Procrastination

As I mentioned before, I put off writing for years, then I put off the novel for a few months after getting the initial idea late last year. Though writing gives me joy and is my passion, I let everything else take priority. 

Now when I get freelance work and planned a writing session, I treat my writing like it’s a work assignment already scheduled in my day. I don’t put it in last place, like I used to where I had to do everything else first. I work on my novel, either writing or editing, whenever I can, aiming for an hour a day, but accepting when I can’t. I just miss it when it’s more than a couple of days.

Achieving Milestones

I’ve had a few milestones in 2022 with my top being writing a novel in four months. Yah me!

I improved my writing efficiencies as a freelance writer and editor, even becoming comfortable with my one tech writing assignment for GRAPHICS PRO magazine. I came up with a process of quickly identifying the lead or hook and organizing how to write the story, structuring it so that it flows from one topic to the next, all while doing this in my head or with a few notes.

I attended the 2023 Writing Heights Writers Conference this spring and met with two agents. I got requests from both, but did not get actual interest, since it wasn’t a fit. I plan to attend the conference next year and try again, plus participate in all the wonderful workshops on writing, editing, marketing, and publishing advice (see https://northerncoloradowriters.com/page/conference).

I achieved interest in my novel possibly to be made into a movie from the work of my fiancé, who connected with those working in the financial and moviemaking industries. My novel, actually a memoir, is high-literary Fifty Shades (see https://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Shades-Grey-Book-Trilogy/dp/0345803485) with elements similar to the Da Vinci Code (see https://www.amazon.com/s?k=da+vinci+code&i=stripbooks&crid=1KAZSGWVDAU7E&sprefix=da+vinci+code%2Cstripbooks%2C142&ref=nb_sb_noss_1), told in an experimental framework of storytelling. 

I consider 2023 to be a success, especially since I learned that doubting or putting your passions aside isn’t the smartest thing to do for the heart. I need to do what I love, being creative, writing, and editing, and to do it with staying, not quitting, power!

Shelley Widhalm is a freelance writer and editor and founder of Shell’s Ink Services in Loveland, Colo. She provides copy editing and developmental editing, as well as consultations on writing and editing. She has more than 20 years of experience in communications and holds a Master of Arts degree in English from Colorado State University. She can be reached at shellsinkservices.com or swidhalm@shellsinkservices.com. For more writing and editing tips, follow her blog at shellsinkservices.com/blog.

Published by Writing Heights Writing Bug

A blog by writers for everyone interested in books, reading, writing, and just about everything in between.

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