• Your Best 2021 Writing Experience

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 23 comments


    Discussion question: What was your best 2021 writing experience? That one particular day when every word was the right word? That time the walls came down and you wrote your way through a problem that had been nagging at you for months or years? Or when your writing and the environment in which you wrote combined to form a memorable experience? Let us hear about it in the comments.



    After taking a look back at our 2021 reading experiences, this week let’s get to the good stuff.

    I want to hear about your best 2021 writing experience. Not necessarily the best thing you wrote (although if that’s what you want to talk about, go for it!), but your most memorable writing moment or writing session: An obstacle overcome; an achievement gained or a goal hit; that time you wrote on a beach in Mexico or while perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

    When you think about your writing life in 2021, what sticks out?

    I didn’t get as much writing done as I wanted to last year. Hopefully you don’t feel the same. (About yourself, I mean; about me, I hope you agree. Because I need a kick in the ass.) Still, I had some memorable experiences. I recall the day I learned that writing out of sequence may work well for me; the day I published this fun post about Northern Exposure and process vs. product on Writers Helping Writers.

    But my best 2021 writing experience was probably the day I wrote furiously, and terribly, to hit a random and totally optional deadline.

    One April morning I stumbled across a short story contest judged by one of my favorite writers, Stuart Dybek. The rules allowed two submissions for the price of one, with each story capped at 1,000 words.

    The deadline? Five p.m. of the day I discovered the contest.

    Immediately I thought of a particular story I liked that, even when I wrote it, reminded me of (a pale imitation of) Dybek. It was ~1,250 words, though, so I’d have to do some shaping.

    And write a second story. Because nothing else I had was close to being contest-worthy, and whenever I consider the idea of passing up a two-for-one deal, I can hear the sound of my dad spinning in his grave.

    So I shoveled the dust off my little blue notebook, grabbed my favorite mechanical pencil and my favorite backup mechanical pencil, and walked over to a nearby park. And by “park” I mean this little square where a string of benches surround a defunct running track about a tenth of a mile long.

    Only two other benches were occupied. At one, an old man snoozed while his German shepherd secured the perimeter. At the other, a woman shot heroin. Meanwhile, I frantically scribbled a whole bunch of nonsense in a patch of sun that felt great after the long winter. It had been years since I last wrote on deadline, even a weird self-imposed/optional one, and I’d forgotten how invigorating it can be, like cramming all night for an exam.

    When I finished an incredibly absurd and awful draft, I rushed home, transcribed it, quickly edited the existing story, and submitted ’em both.

    And that was my best 2021 writing experience.

    Now it’s your turn! What was your best 2021 writing experience? Tell me about it in the comments below.


    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you reach your creative potential. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres. Browse our book coachingmanuscript consultation, and publication assistance services, and sign up for your free writing consultation today.

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    WriteByNight writing coach and co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.



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    Lydia tyburski

    My best writing experience has been actually getting some recognition for my blog and mental health posts that I have been writing for some time.

    Lydia tyburski

    sure my blog is called little thinks and its on WordPress
    I mostly post artwork I made.


    Discussion question: What was your best 2021 writing experience? That one particular day when every word was the right word? That time the walls came down and you wrote your way through a problem that had been nagging at you for months or years? Or when your writing and the environment in which you wrote combined to form a memorable experience?  I did write a lot in 2021. I put about thirty thousand words into my next novel, and about as much into book reviews and blog posts. And then, a lot of my writing year was spent in story… Read more »


    Yes, in my little study. It’s where my “writing energy” has settled.

    Charity Marie

    I actually have a couple but the first one is writing the first draft of my novella Cherry Blossom Tree in 3 weeks of an adrenaline-fuel writing rush last February. It was such a beautiful experience! It was followed by drafting my next children’s book the next month. Unfortunately, both books need heavy editing because of flaws in my outlining process (i.e. I wasn’t going deeply enough in my outline) but still, I drafted two books start to finish in two months! I also worked on a few other short pieces and had a publication acceptance that should be included… Read more »

    Charity Marie

    I try not to set any goals I can’t achieve. I set some new ones even after I wrote this!

    Deborah Staunton

    My best writing-related experience in 2021 was signing a publishing contract for my first book! I’ve been working on this book and sending it out for many years. I never gave up or stopped believing that it was meant to be out there and that it would eventually land in front of the right set of eyes with the right heart. And it finally did! Dreams do come true! I also received my second Pushcart nomination in 2021 so all around it was a good year for my writing.

    Deborah Staunton

    Thanks David!
    All my best,

    Michael T Cibenko

    Discussion question: What was your best 2021 writing experience? Getting my first novel published! If you’re interested in Japanese history and culture, check out Masaru on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Google Play.

    David Lemke

    Just getting anything written last year felt big after the long empty stretch. Finished first draft of fantasy novella, “Vermin” and about 10,000 words added to sci-fi novel, “Cult of Devay”. I don’t recall any amazing writing days; don’t think I broke 800 words in a day.

    David Lemke

    Been doing a lot of reading in the last month and very little writing. Two of the books I read were “Mastery” and “You Are Not Your Brain” were mentioned in an article, books that geniuses read,
    so I paused writing to read them. “Mastery” is very good but the other expects you to do something exercises etc. Not done with it yet.

    Elissa Malcohn

    It’s a tie between two technology-based experiences. One was free-writing in my tablet, using the Inkredible app, while spending several hours in a same-day surgery waiting room. Wireless earbuds cancelled out omnipresent TV noise. During breaks between writing sessions I created digital art by manipulating a shot I’d taken of my surroundings. It added up to a transcendent mini-environment until I could see my partner in the recovery room. The second was playing with yWriter, which I’m using for my current WIP. It allows for a completely nonlinear format, while keeping track of just about every story element one can imagine. Honorable mention: Finding my… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    No daily project this year; I’m focusing on the WIP, which is like a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. The acknowledgment really came as a pleasant surprise.

    Barbara Mealer

    My best writing experience was when I was playing around and ended up writing a fantasy/sci-fi book that seemed to flow out. Now I’m in the throes of editing it. I didn’t like parts of is so I changed them all around and added a character and threw one out early in the book. It’s been fund and enjoyable. I’m not giving up until the book is ready for an editor.

    Barbara Mealer

    I don’t remember the specific moment (I’m lucky I remember what I ate 10 min ago) but I do remember that I had just started the editing process and it was like, this is a fun book, but….I’m not enjoying it a lot more. My first revision that I’m actually enjoying doing> Started the rewrite Feb. 7th. so I guess I could say at 5:30 am on 2/7/2022 when I could see how the story great could be from what it was.

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