Writing Progress Report

February Edition


Hey folks, it’s me. So I have nearly 350 followers here on Medium (wow, thank you??) — and most of you hit the follow button after reading one of my feminist essays/“thinkpieces” about rape culture, Hillary Clinton, etc. — or maybe you followed after that time when I over-intellectualized Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” brand in a weird lyric essay and for some reason a lot of people read it.

Don’t worry, there will be more hard-hitting cultural commentary in the future (lol) but this isn’t that!

You’re very welcome to read this progress report, but I’m not exactly posting it for my readers — I’m posting this to appeal to my own latent shame and get myself to be more productive during my semester off. It’s the last day of February, and I’m planning to start doing these on the last day of every month.

You see, I’m having trouble holding myself accountable for my writing goals, so I’m going to start writing monthly progress reports and making them public. Hopefully it doesn’t clog up your feed. It’s only once a month. Anyway, let’s get down to it.

I’ll be giving myself grades based on a C-average system.


February Progress Report

#1: Quantity

In January, I read Stephen King’s memoir On Writing and decided that I would commit to writing 1,000 words a day, according to his advice. That happened on some days. I’ve dropped off a bit at the end of the month, though it has helped that my online writing class started and now I have Wednesday deadlines for short fiction pieces (the class is conducted through GrubStreet, a Boston-based writing community).

I’ve written two “complete” flash-fiction pieces, revised a few others, and made decent starts on three or four projects, including a nonfiction lyric essay that might shape up into a long-term project of short, interconnected memoir-essays. If I had to guess, I’d say I average about 400-500 words per day of “new” material, especially if you factor in the days when I didn’t write at all. (gasp!)

Grade: C

In March, I really want to recommit to this 1,000 words per day goal, and even when I don’t meet that goal, I want to strictly write every day, no matter what.

#2: Trying new things

I’m actually in the middle of working on a real book review (!!) so that’s something new. I pitched it to a Medium literary publication and now it’s (probably) happening. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far, so hopefully that will work out — obviously if it does work out, you’ll see it here! I’ve been having a lot of fun exploring the nuances of the genre, if you can call it a genre.

The lyric essay genre is also still relatively “new” to me, and that’s going well too. I revised an essay about south-up maps and heteronormativity, and now it’s forthcoming at daCunha! Not sure when it’s going up, but still pretty exciting.

My most recent piece in C(G), “All the Little Blues,” is also a sort of “new thing” in that it involved divulging more personal information than I normally would on the internet. I know everyone is doing it, but usually my Medium work is more like **cultural commentary** that doesn’t involve talking much about my personal experiences.

Though my first love will always be fiction, I’ve started telling people that I’m a “fiction and nonfiction” writer, which is sort of an adjustment.

Grade: B

I think I did well on the front of “trying new things” (speaking of which, I also started learning Spanish!) —I’m hoping to devote even more time to experimental writing in March: hybrid forms, prose poetry, etc.

#3: Reading

If any of you are following my book blog on Instagram, you know that it’s been a bit of a slow month on the reading front. I get so distracted by the news and the other junk on my Facebook & Twitter feeds — it’s bad. I finished up On Writing and then reread Bluets, and read a really good book of poetry called Blackacre. I also reread the book that I’m reviewing.

Currently I’m partway through three different things, which I know isn’t ideal, but that’s what happens: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (this is my audiobook for the gym right now), Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I just love her so much) and the short story collection Thus Were Their Faces by Silvina Ocampo (who was a recommendation from my Lit Arts advisor at Brown). I’ve also had some short reading assignments for that class.

Grade: D

This is embarrassing, but if I spent all my “scrolling” time on actual reading, I probably could have read twice as much.

I’m going to try to be a responsible adult and spend the last hour before bed screen-free, reading instead. Maybe it’ll help me sleep better too. (That’s incredibly ambitious for someone with such a lack of discipline, but I’ve got to aim high, right?)

Goal #4: Writing on Medium

I really enjoy reading and writing on Medium, and would love to continue expanding my readership, but I don’t want to let it suck up too much of my time. I’ve only published two things on Medium this month: there was “All the Little Blues,” which I’ve already discussed, which just got featured in the Humans homepage. Earlier last week I had a more successful-ish piece called “The Other Problems With La La Land” (published before the Oscars) which was featured on the Entertainment homepage.

Speaking of which, it looks like something’s gone wrong with all the embedded photos?? That’s weird, I think it might be a Medium glitch…

Anyway it got shared through some people on Facebook, so it has a lot more reads than recommends, but that’s fine. I received a lot of really positive feedback on this one, which felt great. (I even got my first shout-out in Brown’s anonymous “admirers” Facebook page, haha.) Everyone needs a bit of healthy ego-stroking now and then. It also got picked up by a British Arts & Culture website called The 405, so that’s cool.

Grade: S

I’ve graded this one the Satisfactory/No Credit scale from Brown (which, for the record, is only used SOMETIMES, yes we do have real grades) — because I didn’t really have a substantial goal for writing on Medium. Yes, I like that I’ve gained some more followers and gotten my voice “out there” (and who knows, maybe I helped sway the Academy to pick Moonlight for Best Picture? haha) — but honestly I don’t feel too strongly about it.

I don’t generally post my fiction here because when I think I have something good, I submit it to literary magazines. I know that might sound cocky, but somehow I don’t like the idea of posting a short story on the internet when I know I might want to revise and/or publish it “for real” someday (granted, some publications don’t care, but a lot of them do) and I think I’m not alone in that, especially among other young writers here.

Summary of February Grades:

C, B, D, S

Summary of Goals for March:

  1. Write 1,000 words per day.
  2. Read every day (and spend less time on “passive reading” activities like Facebook and Twitter).
  3. Polish more completed stories and essays so I can send them out into the Real World to be considered for publication. Continue to explore the magical world of writing book reviews.
  4. Writing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and I know that there are also various lifestyle changes (I cringe at the phrase “life hack”) that would help me achieve more. I won’t go into detail, but I do hope to modify my sleep & exercise routines to be more conducive to my writing.
  5. I’m considering applying to volunteer as a writing tutor through this Boston nonprofit I found online! I still have to do some more research, but it seems like it could be a really productive way to *apply myself* and *be useful* in my community.

That’s the update! If you read all of this, wow. Much love ❤ Advice/feedback is always welcome.

-AH

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