Building a fiction writing practice

camera typewriterOnce again, I used Susannah Conway’s “Unraveling the Year Ahead” to set goals for the upcoming year. Of note, I really like Susannah’s in depth analysis of the year gone by and the high level goal setting for the coming year, but this year, I’ve also incorporated Ally Piper’s workbook Big Vision 2015 – Set Your Direction to manage my goals month to month.

My focus word of 2015 is


I want to practice many things. I want to build a running practice and a yoga practice. I want to practice making healthy food choices. I also want to formalize my fiction writing practice.

I tend to focus on efficiency and that does not necessarily lead to the best fiction writing. It’s a rare few writers who can bang out a best seller on the first draft.  Good fiction writing takes construction and destruction, writing and rewriting and most importantly experimentation.  As much as I know I NEED to noodle and play with words, I tend to focus on the end result.  The proverbial “Get ‘er done.” I suspect this comes from more than twenty five years working as a communications professional. Being able to bang out effective prose is great for my client work, but I’m not there with my fiction yet. It’s time to set a path to GET THERE with my fiction.  This year, I want to formally begin building a fiction writing practice. I want to invest the time to write stuff that might not ever see the light of day, but that will strengthen and tone my skills.

My supporting words are also all verbs exercise, polish, improve, and perfect. I want to get better and devote the time to the craft of fiction.

  • I want to exercise my fiction writing muscles.
  • I want to polish the my romantic fiction work-in-progress.
  • I want to improve my fictional characterizations.
  • I want to perfect my craft of fiction.

So, we’re almost six weeks into the year, how am I doing? *blush* Despite starting off with great guns, I’m not doing as well as I would like. There’s a combination of things challenging me (an average of one snow day and one two-hour delay a week ain’t helping THAT’S fo’ sho’). The bottom line is me. I’m letting other things get in the way. I’m aware of it and I’ve devised a plan. We have a vacation planned for the end of the month. I’m giving myself until the second week in March to wrap up these sniggly projects and sweep away these annoying bad habits (why, why WHY do I let everything else come first when I KNOW, everything goes far more smoothly when I write fiction regularly?) and then I’m directing my attention to my writing practice.

In the past, my fiction writing has had to fit around my life, this year, I’d like to begin the transition towards my life fitting around my fiction writing (as much as is realistically possible for a work from home mother of two).  That will definitely not happen overnight, but the long term goal is to have a self sustaining fiction writing practice in place by the time my youngest heads off to college. This year is the kick off of formally building my writing fiction writing practice.

Did you pick a word this year? Share yours in the comments.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors.  Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writers of America and is currently at work on her first novel.

20 thoughts on “Building a fiction writing practice

  1. Hi.You are a wonderful writer.But (general) it is a centres of excellence requirements here in the Western World.And the more perfect you wil be the more impossible it becomes – also for writers.Women is not a machine but of flesh and blood.To be dilligent is not the same as being perfect.Yes we live in a complicated world.
    – But you are a great writer!

    • Thank you. I’m of the age, that I realize perfection is unattainable, but that instead striving for improvement and continuing to learn is the way to go.

  2. Great post. I join you in your goal of focusing on your fiction writing above all the distractions in life. For me, it has been a combination of health, family and non-fiction writing that distracts from writing fiction. Mostly, however, it’s the marketing efforts, the blasted, frustrating, maddening need to continue marketing that distracts from fiction writing. This year, I’m determined to do the fiction writing first and the marketing second. May we both achieve our fiction writing goals!

  3. I am in exactly the same place with my fiction. I have let life get in the way and try to squeeze it in when I can, even though it is ultimately what I want to do full time. I am the only one truly stopping me as I have a very supportive family. I currently work as a freelance writer for marketing companies, and my finished fiction novel sits there daring me to work in editing time after I finish my weekly “paid writing” work. I have two children, teens, and that can be a full-time job in itself. However, your blog inspires me to stop putting EVERYTHING else first and work my fiction into my daily schedule. It deserves the attention even if my husband, house, teens, dogs, and cats all need some too.

    • I am with you there too! Although my family is not very supportive at all, and my two biggest cheerleaders are my kids, but having two kids under six years old tends to drain me at the end of the day. But I’m like you need to find time for me to do it in the day, instead of trying to squeeze it in. Good luck!

  4. Right there with you. I too am trying to get to the point where I write every day. It is difficult to do this when everything else seems and is important, but having the ability of getting thoughts out on paper, or screen, helps ME in more ways than I can express. It’s not a switch that can be turned on or off when it comes to making this practice happen, but a process in GETTING THERE so I can take time for myself and my writing. Hang in there. Change takes time and effort, and being stubborn with ourselves to make what we desire happen.

  5. Oh distractions! I feel your pain. Every time I sit down to write or edit, someone needs something. It’s the universal “word block” from the kids. I’m focusing on polishing, polishing, polishing. Thought I was a good writer until I read the novel draft I wrote. I laughed. Great post!

  6. Wonderful post. I allowed my teaching career and, well, life to interfere with my writing efforts. I’m re-defining myself and my goals so my advice is easily given–make your writing come first. Not the running, the family, other stuff. I realize that you must and need to spend time with family, but all the other things you mention should take a back seat. You’re a wonderful writer and I look forward to following your blog, which is challenging me on so many levels.

  7. I can so relate with you! I would like to be able to tune everything out and write for a period of time everyday but find this a challenge. I’m also writing more regardless of whether I’ll ever use it….it’s my writing practice. I love the word practice, it’s what one needs to do in anything; yoga, music, writing, meditating. Here’s to our practice! Thanks for the post.

  8. Yes! Thank you. It’s difficult isn’t it, especially now with “Writing” forms being in transition – but that is the point of experimentation – to play with words and form the way painters manipulate color.

  9. I’d have two words for the New Year, No Fear. Ive been writing for a while now but I’d seldom share it with others and only occasionally would I let a select few read what I write out of the fear that my writing was never good enough. Good enough for what? Even I can’t pinpoint that specific reason I was holding back from. I tried starting a food blog a year ago (which Im still trying to recover and give new life to) but it started to feel more like a chore and not the stress reliever that writing was always for me. So here I am armed with the words No Fear with a new blog directed more towards the creative side of my writing. I wish you the best of luck with your fiction writing!

  10. Thanks for sharing your story. It could be mine, with your ‘practice’ goals being so similar to my own. This year though my word is ‘relationships’. Over the last few years of commuting, family commitments and trying to find the time to create; writing & illustration/art I realised I was losing touch with the ones I loved, and when life starts to crumble, who do you turn to? So this year, a new career, no commute, which gives me more time to create & I’m closer to those I want to spend time. Happiness means different things to different people, but for me although I need down time to create, I need to be part of something more…and I’m going to do this by building ‘relationships’.

  11. You’ve written this blog at just the right time to give me the inspirational kick up the ass I needed to get back into my writing practice. My New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside. I need to regroup, plan a new strategy and get back on the horse! And thanks for reminding me that we are only 6 weeks into the new year. All is not lost…there is still time to get a lot done!

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  14. I have just started writing my first fiction novel and i am already finding the work, family and writing balance difficult. Thank you for sharing. I do believe in perfection as i think perfection depends on how high you set your own standards. For me, i just can’t wait to see my mind come to life on paper. Its exciting!

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