• A Midsummer Night’s Writing Goals Check-In

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 17 comments
    Jul
    15

    TL;DR version: Now that we’re halfway through the year, it’s time to check in once again with our 2017 writing goals. Are you halfway, or more, toward your goal? Are you struggling, and if so, how can we help? Let us know in the comments below. And if you want to make a new goal, complete the following sentence: “In what’s left of 2017, I will________”

     

    OK, so we’re not quite to midsummer, and we’re a few weeks past Midsummer, but last week I realized that we’re about halfway through 2017. Because I’m a math genius. And being the caring, thoughtful, all-around swell math genius that I am, I began to wonder how your 2017 writing goals are going.

    Maybe you told us about them in January, when you completed the sentence that began “In 2017 I will________”

    And/or perhaps you updated them in April, the last time we checked in with you.

    Well now here it is July (gulp) and we’re just over halfway through the year (gulp), and so I think this is the perfect time to see where we stand.

     

    Call-Outs!

    Barbara M., back in January you wrote, “I will publish two novels in 2017 and complete the drafts for two more.” We haven’t heard from you in a while, so I imagine that means you’re plugging away at your books. If so, yay!

    “I would like by the end of 2017 or start of 2018 to find a publisher.” John L., how is this shaping up? How’s that fourth revision coming along?

    Marcia D., you wrote, “In 2017, I will continue to see the word ‘revise’ not as a bad thing but helping me on my journey.” I know that journey is going well, Marcia. I hope you’ve banished all negative feelings about the word “revise.”

    “In 2017, I will write my first book and read 50 books,” is what you wrote, Sharon M., “and make time for exercise. After all that sitting, I’m definitely going to need the exercise.” This was one of my favorite 2017 goals. How is it going, Sharon?

    Cecilia, you wrote, “In 2017 I will start my coaching journey and see what happens!” And then you wrote, “I have never been so energized!” Have you been able to sustain that energy, Cecilia? We sure hope so!

     

    Mi Mi Mi Mi Mi

    My goal for 2017 was to restart, and then finish a draft of, my novel before year’s end.

    How am I doing on that goal? Well, terribly. I got three chapters in and then put it back under the rock it crawled out from… under. Back under the rock from under which it crawled. Out from… under.

    But here’s the good news: I’m about 20,000 words into a new project, nonfiction, something that is wayyyyy better already than my novel, and something I’m excited about and — dare I say? — passionate about.

    I’ve been writing nearly every morning, and I recently shared the first 5,000 words with my writing group.

    Inevitably there will come a backlash when suddenly I’m filled with self-doubt and/or will grow bored and/or disillusioned with the whole thing. But I think I’ve built enough momentum to fight through that.

     

    Update Your Goal(s)?

    In other words, just because I won’t achieve the writing goal I set in January doesn’t mean I’m failing as a writer in 2017. I’m just having a different kind of success than I’d envisioned.

    So here in July, I’m updating my writing goal:

    In what’s left of 2017 I will continue to work on this new project I’m into; and if I finish a draft by year’s end, cool, and if I don’t, also cool, so long as I keep putting in an honest effort.

    Maybe you want to update your own goal(s)?

    If so, finish this sentence in the comments below:

    “In what’s left of 2017 I will __________”

    (Bonus points if you include happy birthday wishes for my sister Sarah.)

     

    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is copy editor and fiction editor at the Texas Observer and writes about literature for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2016 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coaching, private instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

     

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    17 Comments to “A Midsummer Night’s Writing Goals Check-In”

    • I’m in the same boat: meant to finish my nonfiction
      history book (England’s colonisation of India) but
      instead am working on a fiction novel set in same.

      May attend still to both. But for the moment I’m tickled
      to work on fiction, and I don’t mind that my “goal”
      is going off unachieved.

      • Glad to have you in the boat, Mel. Let’s hope we don’t start taking on water.

        Are you fictionalizing historical figures you were writing about in the nonfiction version?! Because that’s a super interesting tactic, if so.

    • I started the year realizing I needed to completely redo my novel-in-progress of many years. It simply did not work as a story. So being older and wiser, I relaunched the effort and what I’ve redone is much better (by my own evaluation and that of my writing group). My goal now is to have a complete draft by 12/10/2017 ready to discuss with WBN.

      • Hey Ray. Good to hear you’re spinning something new out of a stalled project. But now I’m rabidly curious to know what comes out of a novel-in-progress that doesn’t work as a story. What is it now?! Are you doing a reverse Mel from the above comment?

        (And why December 10 specifically?)

        • Dec 10 is a calculated date–my best answer to “when will I finish this?” What it is now, or rather, what it is becoming, is a story that works. Not a reverse Mel (best of luck to him) but another step forward in learning how to tell a story.

    • My short answer is yes – I am on track to complete my 2017 goal.

      Analyzing MY writing process, that’s never a short answer. As it is with life – great writing is perpetually an unfinished product. We are all in various stages of OUR process. Writing is an extension of our own unique humanity. We can touch hearts, provide life lessons, entertain and inspire to a call for action.

      We write for a variety of reasons.

      My father passed away July 14, 2013. I’ve never been the same. I am in a much better place than just two years ago.

      After he died I started to think more about what happens after we die. I am Jewish but not a religious Jew. I am more of an historical and cultural Jew.

      I started my novel with one question. Does god have a God? and added, what happens in the fight between ultimate evil and ultimate righteousness – and EVIL is winning.

      I started to develop my characters. I knew which trials and tribulations I wanted them to go through. This is a science fiction novel but I also knew which political slant I wanted to integrate. Knowing your vision and executing your vision are two different animals. Just as improving ones craft from sloppy writing to good, to great – takes time.

      Editing also takes many forms. Editing as in improving the quality of ones literary prose. And editing as in removing specific prose…

      My editing process has a history of being atypical. Each time I edited – I am adding. From my first draft to my second draft I deleted about 180 pages and added about another 200.

      Well here I am on my 4th draft my goal was to remove at least 100 pages from my 179,000+ word novel. I haven’t yet edited the full document, but I am getting close and so far my editing process has left me with a novel in excess of 183,000 words.

      During my writing process I’ve discovered what I can and cannot do. Just as I am incapable of hacking away one my limbs – I am going to need David’s help to critique my manuscript…in other words I’ll need him to hack away. I trust his judgement.

      After editing about 2/3 of my novel I realized I want my ending to set up my second book. I’ll be changing the happy ending to a more open ending – and to find out what happens you’ll need to read the book #2. I know my second book will not be over 300 pages and more political than science fiction.

      I’ve experience Anti-Semitism in the work place and know the back story well – historically speaking. The characters I’ve creating in book #1 will help bring that longest of hatreds to an end.

      That’s the great part about writing. See problems. Analyze how to fix them and actually make that happen.

      I am going to have a lot of fun working on my second book.

      Manuscript critiquing. Final editing. Finding the right publisher. Submitting being rejected many times. Submitting and accepted. That will take a lot of time. More time before my book is in print. How long will that take? Months? Years? Who knows???

      While all of that is happening, I am very passionate about my new project and work on that while I wait for the good news.

      Maybe it will take my second book to be published before an interest in my first book. Who knows?

      What I do know is that I am passionate about writing.

      And when I retire, I will have a lot of extra time to write all the time.

      So much for my short post

      • Thanks for stopping by, John. I know you’re busy, even in summer, plugging away at the book and trimming it. (I’ve decided “trimming” will be our fun euphemism for expanding.)

        I appreciate the willingness you always display to consider the possibility that publishing your first book will take a lot of time, and maybe a lot of rejection, and that your readership may not even discover you until Book 2. Too many writers with trilogies (or more) in mind give up if the readership for Book 1 doesn’t meet their expectations.

        “Knowing your vision and executing your vision are two different animals.” That’s going on my tombstone.

        • You know what Mel Blanc inscribed on his tombstone? You know the dude who voiced Bugs and Porky da Pig…

          That’s all folks!

          Book #2 will be a fiddty fiddty proposition…one side of the political spectrum will be enraged and the other side will say cool it’s about time. Unlike many, who just want to be liked – attacking my political belief system on some issues just fuels my desire to show how wrong some people are and gives me a big belly laugh. And because you’ve seen my youtube Toastmaster presentation – big belly laugh is indeed significant.

          Because of the time traveling aspect of my story there is at least a trilogy – perhaps more.

          Before I started writing I wasn’t sure I could write well. Now I know I can. The next step will be to step up good to great…jury is still out on that. But at least I’ll have fun trying to get there

          This is actually a good time in my life. I’ve moved from thinking, thinking, and more thinking…do actually doing. And that feels great..

          Including putting in motion a Toastmaster club designed to combat Anti-semitism I’ll be working with the pro-Israel group StandWithUS…

          Mixing it up politically – I just can’t help myself. All three of my passions are coming together. Education, Communication – verbally and written form, and activism.

          • I can say that I don’t know many writers who’ve had so much fun working on a novel. I suspect that your enthusiasm will carry you through Book 2, Book 3, and books 4 through…?

            And I hope it’s contagious!

            • I appreciate that David. Perhaps I am not as jaded, because I haven’t been writing that long. Many have been writing articles and novels for decades — or a decade. I started this Novel writing adventure just a few years ago. Everything is very fresh and new.

              Even though many can look at their successes many rejections can temper that. I haven’t been rejected yet.

              I am not a politician. I don’t have political power over millions. Or influence billions.

              I don’t control a union – though I am a Chapter Chair at my local school. I don’t exert great power as a CEO.

              I have natural public speaking skills but that does not energize my mornings.

              What I can do in this overly Politically Correct world is punch through the BS and provide some clarity. Offer solutions – which I hope other men and women with real power might implement – and with a specialized Science Fiction twist – modify reality.

              My power, and the only true power in my possession – Writing.

              As long as the human condition remains so terribly problematic – I will never run out of words to address that.

              I’ve had fun creating my characters and creating the unique world they inhabit.

              And to be honest the editing over these years have in fact dampened some of my enthusiasm. I feel now, about my second book they way I felt years ago when I completed my first chapter.

              Actually my initial process was atypical. I wrote my first three chapters and was getting bored. I didn’t want to slog through – I wanted to jump ahead and start writing more about the characters and their struggles – but according to my outline that was many chapters ahead of where I was at the moment in my book.

              I could have stopped three years ago and if I had…I would not be where I am now. I chose to find what was for me the most exciting part of my book – I skipped ahead to the middle and wrote a lot of chapters very quickly – then with my motivation reinvigorated I tackled the less interesting chapters. I would eventually rearrange many chapters between my first and second draft and alter my characters significantly.

              It is also great to connect with WBN to know I am not alone. The few times I mentioned or showed a few pages to friends and family, they gave me far from positive feedback. I felt very alone in what I was creating. I like my vision. I like what I was creating. But it seemed as if I was the only one.

              And work shopping some of my pages was not working at all. The feedback was either vague or making suggestions which showed they didn’t get my vision either.

              Once I found the voice of my book, I found how to present the material – and that was a big break through. It is why between draft two and three so many more pages were created.

              Perhaps my enthusiasm comes from the fact that I will be retiring soon – after 32+ years. And I am stuck with what the shell am I going to do with the rest of my life. At 59 years young I am faced with what do I want to do when I grow up?

              I’ve got good genes, and I don’t mean Levis…My dad lived 1,100 months…that’s 91 years and 8 months. I also had a cousin and she lived to be 107. What is remarkable about that is the y ear was 1965 – which means she was alive before Abraham Lincoln became president. She was still sharp and had only one leg.

              Writers encouraging other writers – that’s the name of the game. That is something I was missing out on before I found your organization.

    • My goal was to be published for the first time in something that is in print and not just online. I have two stories and a book review in waiting at various print magazines like Indiana and Iowa reviews, Gettysburg, Zzzyva and others. I’ll consider it a win if someone accepts one of those things, even if publication isn’t until 2018. If you know any editors at those places and want to lean on them for me, I won’t say no, wink wink.

      Happy birthday sister Sara!

      MJB

      • Hi Meryl,

        I like this goal. Being published online is no small thing, but I remember feeling a thrill when I was first in print that I didn’t feel when first published online. (Pleiades, a book review. Did you try them?)

        And I agree, an acceptance in 2017, regardless of pub date, should make you feel like you achieved your goal. So, best of luck! And keep us posted.

    • I’ve completed the first draft of the 2017 goal I posted last December/January. It’s about 10,000 words, and I’m debating whether/how to continue it as a novel or novella. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t know what genre I’m writing in and need professional help. (Literally, professional help. May contact WBN soon.) Your emails and blogs, David, have helped keep my focus on writing. I need to develop a swoop mentality and step up my production. Remaining goal for 2017? Finish the project I’ve started and begin work on a 2nd one, for which I have notes and some text already.

      • Hi Teresa,

        Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. I’m so glad our posts and emails are helping to keep writing top of mind. But remember, nothing can make you write if you don’t want to write; so don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back now and again.

        So you have 10,000 words of a self-contained story, and you’re wondering if you should stop there and shop it as a novella or try to expand it to novel length?

    • David, this post gave me hope. You see, I am having the same problem that you seem to be conquering. I knew the draft I was working on was not projecting what I wanted from it. Yet, I am hooked on the story it tells, so I am trying to start it anew. The word, ‘struggle’ does not really explain the anguish I am facing right now.

      • Hi Glynis,

        It’s good to hear from you! I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with this project, but so long as you’re hooked on the story, something is sure to come out of it.

        Maybe if this current new attempt doesn’t take off in the direction you want it to, you could consider working on something else for a while and let this story just kind of simmer in the background. Because your subconscious will work on it, and work through it, and look for solutions. We talked a few months ago about hiatuses, and how they can sometimes be helpful. Not every hiatus needs to take place between full drafts. Call it an idea hiatus. See what happens.

        But hopefully this new start will go well and you won’t even need to back-burner it. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.

    • We all need goals. Without them what’s the point in getting up in the morning? In fact having them makes all the difference if we are having difficulty, either by way of depression, hog or boar-dumb…

      In what is left of 2017 I will???

      Get my current pre WBN draft as good as I can get it on my own. Set up a discussion with David for the full Manuscript Consultation – and trimming further – not related to writing – spend more time in the Gym for healthy trimming purposes. And for me, a goal more problematic than completing 184,000 word novel – dropping 20-35 pounds.

      While David works on my manuscript…I outline my second novel

      And though it has nothing to do with writing, it is one of my goals, which I am very passionate about. Starting a new Toastmaster club with people who share my political views. And though I am 59 that club will be filled with energetic bright people in their 20s and 30s. Which will certainly keep me young.

      After all the manuscript trimmings are completed before Thanksgiving…talk to David about the publishing process.

      And while I wait for the rejection letters and one Yea letter..

      Complete two or three chapters of book #2

      Of all the above goals. Guess which one is going to be the most difficult to attain?

      Fat reduction!

      Finding the time to write and be a Toastmaster is no longer problematic.

      Finding a publisher is out of my hands.

      It’s important to have goals. When I don’t, I feel lost. And need to fill the void with a new goal. Thankfully two of the above goals will carry on the rest of my life, but to have a longer healthier life I need to kick in gear that third one – exercise and eating less pasta.

      And though it is late. I didn’t see that part of your blog David. Shout out to your sister. Happy Birthday Sarah. Did she have her birthday on July 15? If yes, that is one day after Bastille Day – the start of the French Revolution July 14, 1789.

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