Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Year in Review’

Happy Writing New Year (with a few reflections)

In Loving Writing, New Year's Resolutions, Writing, Year in Review on December 31, 2017 at 6:00 pm


Zoey the Cute Dachshund unwraps her presents on Christmas Day, leaving bits of ribbon and paper. Her unwrapping antics are like reviewing a year of trails, tribulations and presents!

Wrapping up a year is a time for reflection, and starting a new one is a time for resolutions.

My reflections will be in two parts: practical and then personal. As for resolutions, I’ll wait for January’s first blog in 2018.

The Practical

This year, I made the commitment to blog every week, though at times it’s felt like a chore. With 52 spots to fill, how do writers keep coming up with ideas to write about writing and editing that are interesting, informative and insightful? I developed an editorial calendar and a topic for the month, using my writers’ magazines, conversations with writers and brainstorming sessions for idea generation.

I made the commitment to write a poem a day, starting in August—I mostly kept on track with that, slipping here and there and then poem cramming, writing five to eight at once to fill in the blanks.

I also made the commitment to write short stories, edit my novels and get published. My ROI was a few stories, partial editing that still is on my task list and stuff in the drawer—or in the laptop files.

I also (another also!) learned a lot by writing about writing and all of the components of the process.

The Personal

This is where I could go deep about my awful, wonderful, tiring, I-wonder-if-I-can-do-it 2017 year. I didn’t plan to get laid off from a newspaper writing position in November 2016—of course not!—nor did I plan to start a writing and editing business, Shell’s Ink Services. Freelancing and writing and editing for clients is something I did on occasion and wanted to do professionally but in one of those bucket list kind of ways. It was for later and to not take too seriously, because it seemed scary and a big unknown.

But then I found myself building a website, teaching myself along the way and crying out of frustration and not knowing what I was doing. I filed the paperwork for my business in mid-January, created marketing materials over the next couple of months and started freelancing for a couple of newspapers. I also looked for a job.

My friend, an entrepreneur who does tech support, said I should launch my website—I said, “It needs to be perfect and I’m not ready!”—but I did it (in February). He suggested I send a press release to the local newspaper—“I’m not ready, again!”—but I did it (in March).

I started going to the Loveland Business Development Center, getting advice on starting and building a business (in April). I went to Loveland Startup Week (also in April) geared toward entrepreneurs, feeling scared and out of place.

At the Bottom to the Top

That’s when I started the name calling. About and against me: Insecure Entrepreneur, Shy Entrepreneur, Scared Entrepreneur.

What am I doing?

I wanted a guidebook, a textbook and directions step-by-step of how to do this. I wanted 9-to-5. I wanted Linus’s security blanket. I wanted my puppy.

I got questions. I got lost. I felt alone. Scared. Unsure of what to do or what’s next. I’ve heard that entrepreneurs feel scared and alone, so I wasn’t “alone” technically. I called my mother—lots. I cried—lots. I wondered what I was doing.

And then I got sick of feeling like a “loser” when I was trying to win. I decided to be happy and tell myself that “Yes, I can,” and took my little writing and editing engine and pushed it up the hill. I Facebooked a friend five days before Christmas, who is Grinch-y at Christmastime and loves to post negative crap online: “I am happy even when things suck because I have me.”

I posted on my wall a few days earlier: “I feel gratitude that I got thrown to the wind and found my wings. I finally see this!”

Every time I get discouraged, I imagine big wings on my body and the image reminds me of that post. Thinking about myself with fluffs of feathers is a way to get rid of any negative thoughts, because it’s a funny image that takes the mind to the power of wings that lift.

At the end of 2017, I can say I’m more confident, less scared (but still so, because I don’t have my 9-to-5 to count on) and more in the moment. I can’t think about the big future and the crappy layoff and the other crap of life. I have to think about what brought me to this point in the first place: I love writing. I can’t live without writing. Writing is my joy.

Happy New Year and Joy to Writing, Reading and Editing!


Writing 52: A Year in Review

In 52 Writing Topics, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on December 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

Writing the last sentence of my novel in early December is similar to concluding a year of blogging – there’s a sense of letting go that isn’t easy and simple.

Finishing the rough draft of “The Fire Painter,” which I started in January, is only the first step. And so is picking up a blog. I will have to edit, and I will have to come up with a new idea for 2013’s blog.

I already miss the surprises from my characters and plotting and the fact that I have a huge project in my life. And I will miss researching about different writing topics and ideas for my 2012 blog, “52: A Year of Writing Basics, Beliefs and Beauty.”

Though my blog didn’t leave much of a mark on the blogosphere, I think I’m the one who benefitted the most from my goal to write about 52 different writing elements, types of writing and tools for writers.

I explored what’s involved in structuring plot, developing character, coming up with original themes, developing intriguing settings and using imagery, metaphors and similes.

By writing about each of these and other elements, I expanded my understanding of all that is involved in the writing craft. Explaining something to someone else is the best way to review and see things slightly differently than before; teaching is a form of learning.

I am debating what to write in 2013, something I believe I need to continue doing to maintain my “platform.” Platform is what authors and aspiring authors develop through their websites, blogging, twitter feeds, book tours and other ways they make themselves present to the audiences they already have or want to grow.

A few ideas have come to mind for my 2013 blog, such as:

  • 52 writing prompts that I also will respond to, using them in my own writing.
  • The secrets of a writer’s life and what is involved in writing and editing a novel (but this is kind of like 52 writing topics in 52 weeks).
  • The secrets of a journalist’s life who writes at night (except I’d probably get in trouble by my bosses).
  • Bad girl writer tells all (except I don’t do anything bad, except drink caffeine, and that’s not very exciting).
  • Writing about whatever comes to mind 52 times.
  • Trying 52 things I haven’t done before and writing about them (except this one has been done before).

Hum, what do you think?