What I've Learned from 2017

6:00 AM

Another year, come and gone. Crazy, isn't it? You're probably getting tired of all the end of year recaps, but you're going to get another one here. This is sort of my Fourth Quarter Recap post as well, so we'll see how this goes :P 

Last year, I did a post on 16 things I learned in 2016. Since I was born at the end of 1999, I get the cool opportunity to reflect on my seventeenth year of life in 2017. 

What did I learn this year?

Here are 17 things for you.

#1: Letting go of your story is very important.

Both for your story's success, and your own mental health, letting go of your story on an emotional level is very important. We get so invested, so involved, so wrapped up and connected to our stories. And that's not a bad thing, but when you hit writer's block, or when you can't figure out this one character, or when you get harsh comments from a beta ... your feelings and emotions will plummet. You won't want to work on the book anymore because you'll feel like it's trash, and since your book is trash, obviously that means you are too, right?

You are a beautiful person, and writing takes time and growth. Each story you write will shape you more, and you will find yourself getting better and better and better ...

So let go of your story, friends. Just because it's a part of you doesn't mean it defines you.

#2: Tell the truth to yourself.

There are going to be things you struggle with and face in life, but only by identifying those problems and dealing with them are things going to get better. It's so easy and tempting to ignore problems. I am a pro at that. But the longer you ignore something, the more time it has to sit and simmer in your heart and mind, until it's almost so large, you can't face it at all.

Be honest with others, but also be honest with yourself.

#3: Don't be afraid to look for answers. 

If you have problems, try to find solutions for them! Google it, even if it's far fetched and likely won't get a pinpointed response. Telling the truth to yourself about a given problem is the first step. Finding answers and taking action to help yourself overcome it is the next.

#4: Bookstagramming is fun!

I got a bookstagram this year, and I've really enjoyed it! I haven't posted as often as I would like to, but that's because I've been a naughty reader and been very ... slow on reading. I've read 38 books so far, and I'm aiming for 40 before the year ends.

#5: Hard work pays off.

Looking back on this year from a writing standpoint, I'm actually fairly satisfied? I worked really hard to get draft 2 of The Thief's Conspiracy done, and after almost a year of work, I finished in February. And after reading through that draft, I realized it wasn't as much of a wreck as I had feared. Edits had been very successful. Granted, it still needs a ton of work, but it's better. And it wouldn't have gotten better if I hadn't stuck it out and worked.

#6: Tea puns are The Actual Bes-tea-est Things Ever. 

I'm not going to explain this one. Except for some sly smirking towards the Tricky Seven.

#7: TOP's No Phun Intended album is amazing.

If you haven't listened to any of those songs, go listen now. Forget this post. Listen to Just Like Yesterday. IT IS BEAUTIFUL AND WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

#8: Twitter is fun!

I got a Twitter guys. After ages and ages of my writer frens telling me I needed one (because for some reason that's where it's at for all the authors?) I finally caved and got an account. So you should go get one too! It's great! Much sass! All the snark!

#9: Flying by yourself is not as scary as you might think.

I flew for the first time this year. I actually flew twice. The first time was with my cousin to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the Minneapolis Young Writer's Workshop. And the second time was to Arizona to visit my best friend. I was completely on my own the second time, which was a little stressful but completely chill.

When you're doing something new, it's important to take a deep breath and remember that this may be new for you, but a lot of people have done it before and if they can do it, you can too.

#10: Planning is not as confining as going into everything with no clue what you're doing. 

*coughs* That one's a mouth full. And a rather recent realization. Recently I've found it to be true, both in writing and in life, that planning is a very useful tool for effectiveness. It helps organize your thoughts and actions, and helps you to be productive. I even wrote a post on it!

#11: Good things don't last forever. 

This has been a very hard and sad lesson to learn. About a month ago, it was announced that the Minneapolis Young Writers Workshop, a gathering of writers that I have attended for the last two years, had been cancelled and would never again be held in the future. 

That workshop was such a light to my life. It changed me and my writing in so many ways and provided me with amazing opportunities. I wouldn't be the same person I am today without it, and I have so many amazing memories and things to be thankful for.

And I'll never have that again. I'll have amazing opportunities in the future, I'm sure. But I'll never again attend that workshop. It breaks my heart, but it's a part of life. Things end. Chances are given, and opportunities are taken away. 

Be thankful for what you have and the experiences you are blessed with. 

#12: Dream big.

I've made some big decisions this year (on which I will ellaborate more with point 17). And that's a good thing. You'll get disappointed that way, yes. But you'll also soar. Take advantage of the opportunities you've been given. As Oscar Wilde put it, "To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." 

Dream big!

#13: Your writing can teach you lessons about the craft, and about yourself. 

There is a motto in my middle grade WIP, The Dream Walkers. My two boys say it often to themselves. 

Be bold, daring, brave.

Back when I was in the middle of editing draft two, I began praying and meditating on these words. And slowly, over a period of several months, God began to show me exactly what each of those words really meant, for my story, and for me in my life. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. 

Examine your writing and your themes and look for ways it can teach you more about yourself, and help you to live to the fullest. 

#14: Write for fun.

For July's Camp Nano, I wrote a book I had no intention of editing, much less trying to get published someday. I wrote it as an "experiment", but also, I wrote it purely for the joy of writing. 

And it is one of my favorite books I've ever written. 

I didn't have plans to edit it, but given how much I love it, I've been reconsidering. That book was written with no stress and no future intentions, and even though it might have felt like a waste of time at first, it wasn't. It was so worth it.

So remember to spend time doing what you love, simply because you love it.

#15: Embrace change.

I've gone through some big changes this year, one big one actually being here on the blog. I underwent an extreme makeover. It was scary at first, but once I finally finalized everything, I was so satisfied. I'm in love with my blog design, and am so thankful I ignored the voice saying, "Just leave it how it is. It'll be safer that way.

Change is a part of life. As my youth minister is fond of saying, "Nothing in life is constant except for God and change." So embrace it.

#16: Embrace newness. 

I did a lot of new things this year. I flew in an airplane. I took my first online college class. I got a job. And through all that newness, there was no small amount of anxiety. But if you look past that fear, you'll see the beauty of life and what the days before you promise. Newness and change go hand in hand, and though they bring with them fear, they're truly gifts from God. 

#17: Doing what scares you is empowering and worth it. 

STORY TIME! On my flight back from Arizona, I sat down next to Sara Ella. I knew who she was but I was terrified to talk to her. And I almost didn't! I almost let the opportunity pass me by, but I toughed up and said hi. She was amazing and wonderful and lovely, and I am so thankful to have talked to her! If I hadn't, a lot of things would not have been put into motion.

Like me attending the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in 2018. That's right. After a month of prayer and heart searching and consideration, I've made the decision to save up and attend this conference, as it will be held near me this coming year. I am so excited and thrilled, and I can't wait to see what I learn through this experience!

Well, that's it for me. Tell me, what have you learned in 2017?


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  1. Aw, Hannah, I LOVE this list! It's so beautiful and everything on it is so, so true. #1 and #14 really hit me hard. I got in a writing slump in August until NaNo because I had to stopping writing my dream novel--I loved it to death but was so tired of it. Finding joy in writing and even just in life is SO important.

    Beautiful post <3 I hope you have a wonderful New Years!

    1. Aw, thanks! <3 And that is quite the difficult decision--having to stop your dream novel because you're too close to it. I'm glad you were able to move on though! *hugs*

  2. It's awesome that you got to write simply for the fun of it. I kinda did that this year as well.

    This year, during November, I learned to simply write words down. That it doesn't matter how messy a first draft is.

    I also learned that languages won't learn themselves. The reason I haven't been progressing much in Spanish is because I haven't actually been studying much :(

    I also learned that the Goodreads Reading Challenge can really help me to read more!

    1. Aw, that's nice! Did you do it for nano or just on the side completely? And yes, November tends to be a good month for teaching that lesson :) And yesyesyes to that last one!

  3. Sounds like this year of 2017 was a really successful year! I've learned so much this year as well. Embracing change has also been a huge one that I'm learning to accept because I've realized that I cannot be stuck in the same season of life anymore.

    1. Yes, that one's such a hard lesson. I'm still trying to learn it, honestly!


    1. Admit it: you apprec-tea-ate me *angelic grin*

  5. Awww I love this list! <3 <3 <3 It sounds like you learned some really, really important things this year, and I'm so glad. Have a wonderful 2018!

  6. Lovely post, thanks for sharing everything you learned. I started enjoying flying by myself, it's a cool experience.


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