2011 has been a busy year. I applied for and secured a place on a Creative writing MA and am now at the end of the first term of the first of three years. Since March I’ve been a regular contributor to Write Anything, a wonderful writing site staffed by a host of talented people. Unfortunately my MA commitments, amongst other things, have meant I am no longer able to be a regular voice on the site, though I hope to return for a guest slot or two.

In January, Ether books published five of my short stories on the Ether app; including my prize-winning story Half-mown Lawn.

Over the year I published these fictions online: Third Party, Fire & Theft @ Neon, Medushair @ The Red Asylum; Catchin’ Out @ Monkeybicycle’s One Sentence Stories; Things I No Longer Wish To Possess @ Staccato; Heaven in 00 Scale @ The Pygmy Giant; The Leaving of What’s Left @ Metazen.

I published my first piece of creative non-fiction: A Father’s Arms @ Spilling Ink

I also had two stories accepted  for print magazines:

Dirty Bristow Issue Two, available to buy here, featured my short story ‘The John School.’

The View From Here Issue 35, available to buy here. featured my short story ‘Connecting.’

The biggest thing 2011 taught me about writing was the importance of perserverance. I’ve had a number of stories rejected this year, from both online journals and print mags, but I stuck to it and either found the story a home with another, better fit, or redrafted the story and found it a home once it was improved. I was particularly pleased to land stories over on NeonStaccato and Spilling Ink Review as these were two places I’d had my eye on for a while. And my virtual sticky notes are full of places I plan to try next.

The other thing I focused on this year was redrafting. Over the first six months of the year I wrote six short stories and placed them in my first draft folder for tackling later. I left each story for at least a month, sometimes as many as eight, coming back to them with fresh eyes. This was massively helpful as it provided an experience as close to reading someone else’s work as you can get when reading your own. So far I am redrafting story three, but each one has been much improved because of the increased distance I had coming back to the stories after a longer time than I would have previously left. It pays to be patient.

The key addition to my writing process this year has been the step of recording a draft to listen back to like an audiobook. This was something Nik Perring advised way back which I really used this year. It has helped improve my last two pieces of short fiction no end; those little errors and breaks in rhythm just can’t hide when a piece is read aloud. I went so far as to buy a decent microphone to record with, to get a better quality playback of my reading and even started to dislike the sound of my own voice a little less.

Looking to 2012, I already have two short stories set to appear in the early part of the year, and will hopefully be able to share some truly great news with you soon, just waiting on the final nod from an editor before I start babbling like a fool about it.

Here’s hoping your writing year was a good one. What was your key achievement of the year? What was the most important addition to your writing process this year? Did this year’s writing teach you any crucial lessons?