My writing goals for 2018 and the
future of #yearofwriting

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Well, it’s a new year so HAPPY NEW YEAR and all of that!

I’m starting off 2018 in a pretty exciting way, to be honest, by spending most of the beginning of the year by celebrating my new marriage to the love of my life and the most supportive partner I could ask for. After getting married a few days ago, Adam and I are off on a honeymoon cruise to Cuba tomorrow… But, in the meantime, I am taking some time today to think about how 2017 went and my plans for 2018.

All in all, 2017 went really well. Although 2016 was a rocky year for most of the nation but a very happy year for me, 2017 is my first full year of being a full-time freelance writer and editor and I had some hefty writing goals for myself. Towards the end of the year, after I accomplished most of them, I revised my writing goals and set about accomplishing them.

As you can see by my final #yearofwriting report for December, I did! I even did the math on how much I wrote (277,899 words), how much I made ($62,381) and how much I pitched (92 sent out and 16 accepted for a 17% acceptance rate). So, all in all, my #yearofwriting went well… But now what?

Well, I thought long and hard about this during the last month of 2017, but I’ve come up with some new writing goals for 2018. Here they are:

1. Write regularly for Latinx publications: At the end of 2017, I had started to write a lot for HipLatina and really enjoying everything that I was doing there (from the newsy posts every day to the personal essays to the well-researched pieces). I also am continuing my work with MamásLatinas and seeking out new opportunities to write in this space. Although I will continue to freelance for other publications, too, this is going to be my major focus for my writing in 2018.

2. Save all freelance income for L.A.: One of the BIG things that my (new) husband Adam and I want to do in the long run is move to Los Angeles. We’re not yet sure when that will happen but another goal for me this year is to FIRST pay off all of our current credit card bills (with my freelance income) and then put all of that same money towards saving money for the move. Even though I’m not sure when I will officially be a West Coaster, I’m excited to start taking real steps to making it happen someday.

3. Get an agent and sell my memoir: Last year, my goal was to finish writing my book proposal. And I did it! I still have to do some editing on the thing, and get a professional editor to take a look too, but after that… I am going to be going out to agents hard. Basically, this means that I think Moscow Chica: How Growing Up In Russia And Cuba Made Me An American is soon going to be ready to see the light of day—and so I am making this a huge focus too. Get ready for 2018, cause my memoir is coming!

To be honest, I actually decided on most of these goals a few weeks ago. As the year was ending and I was reflecting on everything that is going on, I knew just what I wanted to make happen in 2018. As Adam and I talked about our marriage and what we wanted our mutual goals to be, I knew that I wanted some of that reflected in my writing goals for 2018 too (such as the L.A. savings). And, most importantly, I wanted my goals to reflect a certain kind of focus that they didn’t have the previous year.

Having just three writing goals for 2018, I think, will make some things a lot easier for me. I know that if I begin to go off of any of these goals, it will be easy to spot. I know that if I start to look at other forms of income that, say, aren’t Latinx publications, I need to make sure that they’re not taking attention away from my main focus. And I know that I need to put some serious time into doing whatever needs to be done for my baby, my memoir Moscow Chica, and to make sure that I keep my promise to myself about getting the thing edited and in tip-top shape to send to agents.

As for the #yearofwriting… Well, I want to continue documenting my progress in my freelance career, so you can expect to see more of that here. Although they won’t be quite as extensive as they were in 2017, I will still be tracking what I wrote every month and how I am doing on my writing goals. There’s a lot more to say here but for now, let me end it with: 2018, here I come!

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December Writer’s Life: How much I made & wrote in 2017 during the #yearofwriting

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Well, here we are. It’s the end of my #yearofwriting and I have some hefty writing goals to live up to. I’ll get into more of that later in this post, but first I just wanted to talk about December. What happened in December?

Well, for one, it was a VERY busy month for me personally. Not only did I have plenty of socializing and family things to do (what with the holidays and all) but I also got married at the end of the month. Yes, that’s right, I did a big thing and ended my year as a married lady. But enough about that because, really, you’re here to read about my writing, right?

So here’s the deal: December was pretty much a wash for me, work-wise. I didn’t really pitch (except follow-up with a couple of editors) but I did write a ton of stories that were previously assigned. The one new story that I wrote was actually for Glamour, which is one of my absolute favorite magazines. THAT was a huge win. I also started a new blog on Medium called Married Feminist and wrote my first post the day before my wedding. Hooray! Otherwise, here’s what I wrote this month.

What was published: 

HipLatina, specifically: 

The month definitely went very well for me, honestly. Although I didn’t have a huge variety in where my pieces were published, the pieces that I did write and see published were very, very exciting. Other than loving my Glamour piece, I am also particularly proud of my story on 2018 health trends, writing about Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Rosa coming out as bisexual, what it’s like to date an introvert when you’re an extrovert, and why it’s really not cool when people try to label me a “half-Latina”. Plus, I finally go to write about my Copenhagen trip!

All in all, I am increasingly proud of the work that I am doing for my regular publications, primarily HipLatina and MamásLatinas, and plan to continue to do more for and with them in 2018. And, above all, as I was hoping for last month, I hit my financial goals once more AND also a pretty sweet word count.

How much I wrote: 27,828 words

How much I made: $2000

I’m really curious to see what my “how much I wrote” and “how much I made” totals are for Q4 and for the year but, all in all, November and December went really, really well for me. It’s been really fun keeping track of these numbers to see how successful I have been.

If I were honest with myself (and with you), then I would say that this hasn’t been easy. Keeping track of everything I wrote and how much money I made was kind of exhausting, but really fun too. I was nervous a lot of the time and didn’t have solid financial goals for each month until the end, but it still feels like a HUGE accomplishment to have tracked the entirety of my 2017 to see how everything went down. And YAY for making my financial goals in December!

Pitches sent out in December: 0
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 0
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 2
Pitch rejections: 0
Pitch non-replies: 1
Pitch acceptances: 1

Okay so pitch-wise, I didn’t do much in the month of December. What can I say? It was a busy month and… also, I didn’t really plan on pitching. I was busy just keeping up and doing everything that I needed to do for work while simultaneously putting the finishing touches on wedding planning and doing holiday stuff and I don’t even know what else.

I think it’s absolutely okay, though, that pitches were just not on my priority list this month. The good thing I did is that I followed up on some of my pitches and got an acceptance from Glamour for doing that. Woo!

And now, for the big math…

Quarter 4 totals: 

How much I wrote: 78,045 words
How much I made: $5,325
Pitches sent out: 10
Pitch acceptances: 1

I have to say: Quarter 4 went really well! Not a whole lot of pitches or acceptances (as predicted) but my word count was high and the money I made was pretty sweet. I think the biggest thing I learned is that I *can* do it. It takes a lot of hard work and determination, a lot of days of being stressed and overwhelmed and needing to practice self-care, a lot of naps and sleeping in because I need the mental break, and a lot of freaking out to my wonderful (new) husband Adam (who is thankfully always there to listen to my rants, no matter how often or how lengthy they get).

But ultimately, it was a big year of learning and I am glad for every step that I took to get here. My original writing goals for 2017 were difficult, but I accomplished almost all of them. And the ones I didn’t accomplish was mostly due to me changing my mind or deciding to take my career in another direction, and that’s okay too. So how did I do over the year, overall? Well, let me take a DEEP BREATH and tell you:

Year-end totals: 

How much I wrote: 277,889 words
How much I made (freelance writing): $19,451
How much I made (freelance editing): $42,930
How much I made (total freelance): $62,381
Pitches sent out:
 92
Pitch acceptances: 16

WHOA.

Just… whoa. Looking back on the year, I honestly cannot believe that I wrote almost 300k words. Do you know how much that is? That’s, like, three to four books. I basically could have written three or four full-length books in the year, and it’s absolutely insane to think of it that way.

As a journalist, I have honestly never thought about tracking my words in this way. I know that I have written a lot in years past, especially in my time as a staff writer for MamásLatinas, but this felt ASTOUNDING to me. I mean, truly astounding in that I could have never imagined that I would write this much in a single year. Doing this—truly doing it—during my first full year as a full-time freelance writer and editor, I’m so very proud for how much I was able to accomplish.

Beyond the word count, though, is looking at my finances.

My goals for this year was to save for my taxes (which I did!) and to publish in 17 different publications (which I also did!). I also wanted to launch a newsletter (which I didn’t) and finish my memoir book proposal (which I did, though I am still editing it). When I revised my writing goals for 2017, I added earning $2k a month in freelance income and also publishing five travel articles before the year’s end. Here are those articles:

All in all, I think I did pretty well. My income this year is pretty much in line with what I was making in my last year as a full-time staff editor, which was a big (secret) goal for me this year too, so I’m very glad for that. And, beyond that, I also had a 17% pitch acceptance rate—and that’s pretty awesome, too.

There’s a lot more I will be reflecting on in the coming weeks and likely months and even years, but all in all I would say that my #yearofwriting was a HUGE success. When I started this, I really wanted to know exactly how much I was writing and how much money I was making. It was all in an effort to improve my writing and grow my career, and boy did I!

For now, I will close out 2017 and say this: If I can do it… Start cold pitching for the first time in my life, give up a good career in NYC to freelance, work on a memoir while also working, get part-time and regular writing gigs, and earn a real living… All while having a personal life and taking plenty of time for self-care, not working evenings or weekends, enjoying my life AND my work… Then you can too, baby.

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Why do we still tell women that their lives begin when they get married? [Married Feminist]

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“Tomorrow my life begins.”

I can’t even tell you how many times I have heard this phrase uttered on the various wedding blogs, websites, and groups that I have been a part of ever since getting engaged earlier this year.

Although, as a society, we are getting married later and later, the notion that a woman’s life truly begins the day that she puts that ring on her finger remains. There are a lot of reasons for this that I don’t particularly want to get into at the moment (the patriarchy, obviously, being one of them) but let me say this: Tomorrow I am getting married. But despite tying the knot with the man that I unironically call “the love of my life” and being VERY excited about spending the rest of my days with him, I don’t think all that much is going to change. And I certainly do not think that my life will begin after we say “I do.”

Here’s why: I am currently 31 years old and just a few months shy of my 32nd year on this glorious planet. I am a pretty confident, independent woman who has failed a lot and succeeded a lot. But most of all, I learned a lot about myself throughout my lifetime. Although I have definitely learned plenty of things about myself since meeting my partner (and, sometimes, with his help and/or unwavering support), there was also a whole lot of growing and learning and being me that I did before we met.

Don’t get me wrong. I definitely am a very different person today than I was when I walked into the coffee shop where we had our first date, but I’m also not THAT different. I am still pretty loud. I still love to wear red lipstick. I still write for a living. And I am still attracted to women. (That’s right, being in a committed relationship with a man didn’t change my bisexuality.)

However, I am definitely calmer, practice more self-care, and can recognize when my anxiety is about to get the best of me — all things I learned thanks to Adam. Oh, and I eat a lot better, too.

So why is that I don’t think my life will begin on December 28, 2017, the day of our wedding?

Well, to be honest, it’s mainly because I have had a pretty good life up until this point. Despite some of my utter downs in the past (alcoholism, work failures, etc.), I am generally pretty satisfied with where I was when I met my soon-to-be husband and I am even more satisfied with where our life together has led since then. To say that my life begins on the day that I got married is to discount all of the hard work I have put into my life so far, including growing graduating from a great college, growing my career, developing great friendships, and taking care of my 11-year-old grumpy old man cat.

How can I just say all of that doesn’t count?

I can’t is the answer, honestly. And it would be the same for him, too. I don’t expect Adam to all of a sudden wake up tomorrow and tell me that his life has suddenly begun because we are now legally bound by a piece of paper that allows us to do things like buy a house together and get some tax breaks. But of course, society never says this phrase to the man.

Although I’ve had many male friends (both gay and straight) get married in the past several years, not a single one of them has ever said or implied that his life will begin when he is married. Why is that? Why do we consider that a man’s accomplishments before his marriage — his career, his friendships, his various successes and failures — don’t get a clean slate? Why do we still devalue what a woman has done before marriage — the same successes and failures in career and friendships and life in generall — and tell her that she isn’t complete and her life hasn’t truly begun until she is legally wed?

Well, I’m not here for that shit. So, in an ironic twist of fate, I have decided to start this blog on the day before my life supposedly “begins”. I want to do this because I want to showcase that a woman’s life isn’t worthy simply because she is married. However, I do believe that marriage can be a beautiful and important part of one’s life (hence why I am entering into the whole thing) so I won’t be discounting that either.

I will use this space to talk about these things: Marriage and feminism. Because I think they are important topics and important parts of our lives. At least my life, anyway.

Before meeting Adam, I was a fairly independent woman and I plan to remain that way. Of course, being married will also mean that I depend on another human being for some things (just as he will depend on me for other things). It might sometimes get a little bit complicated and it might sometimes go much smoother than I think. And other times, I will use this blog to talk about the overall experience of being a woman in today’s world.

If we’ve learned nothing else from #MeToo these last couple of months, it’s that sexism is alive and well. And I’ll want to talk about that too. Along with stuff happening in my life, stuff happening in my marriage, thoughts and wonderings on marriage/life/love in general, and a lot more. And if all goes well, maybe this will even be a podcast someday.

For now, though, I want to challenge the thinking that a woman’s life is only deemed worthy after someone else has put a ring on her finger. Although I am supremely excited for the next chapter of my life, it’s just that: Another chapter. Okay, so maybe it’s more like the start of a new Act — likely one that will alter the rest of the course of my life. But those other chapters and Acts happened, too, and they deserve to be recognized because they made me into the person I am today (and the person that Adam fell in love with).

So here’s to celebrating a new Act… while remembering and honoring the ones that came before. Happy wedding day to me.

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Image via Petr Ovralov/Unsplash

November Writer’s Life: Finally hit my financial goals! [#yearofwriting]

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Last month, I wrote about a serious lack of motivation after a very crazy and busy September (due to Hurricane Irma and a 2-week vacation). I had recently updated my writing goals for 2017 and was hoping that November would go much better… And guess what, it did!

One of my BIG goals for the end of the year was to finish my memoir book proposal, which I did with one month to spare! That’s right, the Moscow Chica: How Growing Up in Russia and Cuba Made Me an American book proposal has been written and is now safely in the hands of some trusted editor friends. It feels absolutely incredible to have gotten this far with the book, even though I know there is still a ways to go. Right now, my big goal is to get the proposal back from friends and edit it again, before I can get it ready to actually seek agents and a publisher. So stay tuned!

What was published: 

HipLatina, specifically: 

The other big goal I had for the end of 2017 was to make $2,000 in freelance income a month. Although I didn’t quite get there in October (which I figured I wouldn’t due to the previously mentioned motivation issues), I was pleasantly surprised that I just made it in November. I honestly had no idea I was so close! So to see me back to my earning potential felt GREAT.

How much I wrote: 32,603 words

How much I made: $2025

In terms of my writing, I not only made my financial goals but I also wrote quite a bit. Most of that was for work, of course, but I also spent time working on the memoir. In fact, for my memoir, I wrote 10,341 words. That’s basically 1/3 of my writing productivity for the month of November and that feels SO good. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I can’t even begin to describe how good it feels to get this far on something I have been dreaming about for over six years.

Pitches sent out in November: 6
Pitch rejections: 2
Pitch non-replies: 4
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

Follow-ups with previous pitches: 3
Pitch rejections: 3

When it came time for pitches for November, I didn’t get very far. But then again, I didn’t really intend to. I basically took a “meh, if I have something really good” approach. Since I was confident that I would fulfill my financial goals just on my current regular work at HipLatina and  MamásLatinas , I only pitched when I *really* wanted to. It’s a strategy that served me well, in term of the time I spent, but I didn’t actually get any acceptances (yet) so I may changed my thinking for the last month of the year.

All in all, I think this has been a great month. I am truly excited to see what the last month of the year will bring. Having my writing goals for the year, along with writing these blog posts, has really taken my career to the next level. That’s not the only thing that’s done it, of course, but I  feel like I am slowly figuring out more and more about my work style, preferences, talents, etc. There’s a long road to go (I hope!) but, well… so far, so good!

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October Writer’s Life: Back at work but where’s the motivation? [#yearofwriting]

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Well, we’re officially in the last quarter of my #yearofwriting and I do believe I am doing pretty well… But not as well as maybe I thought I would be by this point in time? Let’s see.

After last month turned out to be a kind of disaster for my writing, in between Hurricane Irma derailing things and then a planned two-week vacation (which I am VERY grateful for), there just wasn’t much time to do anything during the month of September. My hope, however, was that I would do much better in the month of October since I was back to work full-time and no longer had Romper to worry about since I gave that gig up back in August. October, however, proved to be a bit trickier than I expected.

What was published: 

As you can see by the above, all I really published in October were stories from my two regular contributor gigs at MamásLatinas and HipLatina. However, I am definitely NOT sorry for this nor much surprised by it.

For one, getting back into the swing of things proved to be a bit more difficult than I imagined — but that’s okay, it happens. For second, I actually ended up having three weekends in a row where I traveled for one reason or another and this derailed some of my freelance and pitching plans. This, too, happens.

Yet I was actually able to accomplish quite a bit and, very happily, took on more work for HipLatina. I’m really enjoying writing for that site and am thrilled to be working more with such a great team. So how did I do?

How much I wrote: 17,614 words

How much I made: $1300

From May until August, I was working with Romper and writing a LOT. I was also earning a pretty decent regular freelance writing paycheck, so I was very curious to see how this month would compare to what I was making with them. My estimate (and please do forgive my math) is that I was averaging 32,778 words and $2,181 during my time with Romper.

As expected, my word count and my earnings went down but definitely not as much as I thought. Although my actual word count fell by about half, my earnings didn’t do quite as badly. For comparison, during my pre-Romper days, my average word count was 16,495 and monthly earnings were $1325. So, actually, I more-or-less came back to where I was at beforehand.

But the truth of the matter is that I simply haven’t been pitching or freelancing much outside of my “regular” gigs, so I do expect that to pick up once I am able to adjust to my new schedule and take on some more one-off pieces here and there. We shall see!

Pitches sent out in October: 4*
Pitch rejections: 1
Pitch non-replies: 3
Pitch acceptances: 0
Pitch reply with question: 0

*This was another case where, for one of my pitches, I sent a particular editor 8 separate ideas.

I didn’t pitch as much in October as I was hoping to do, but I still did okay. Considering that a few weeks of the month were almost cut in half for me, this is a pretty good average. The truth of the matter is that pitching can get really hard for me because, first and foremost, I have to do my Brit+Co editorial work and take care of my regular contributor gigs.

And you know what? I like this system. The more I have regular editing and writing coming in, the calmer I feel. Considering that I made about the same amount of money and wrote about the same amount earlier in the year, when I was pitching like a madwoman, is giving me hope that this new system is actually better. I’ve definitely had some more time to focus on personal projects on the side (like my memoir, Moscow Chica) and that has been an awesome change since the start of my #yearofwriting. Finally!

Back at the beginning of the year, one of my big goals was to get published in 17 different publications but I already accomplished that. In fact, I posted a big list of my accomplishment and then revised my 2017 writing goals. I feel pretty good about the direction I am heading, and I am sure that I can accomplish quite a bit more in the last couple of months of the year.

For now, let’s see what happens.

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