• 2020: Your Writing Life, Your Goals, and Your Best Passage

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in ABCs of Writing     Comments 24 comments

    Discussion questions: How has this wild year of politics, pandemic, and protest altered your writing and reading life? What have been your biggest challenges? Your biggest successes? With two months left in the year, are you on pace to achieve your 2020 literary goals? Let’s talk about it in the comments. And while you’re there, care to share with us the best passage you’ve written in 2020?


    Election Day is Tuesday, and whichever side you’re on (right, left, center, outside), it’s a fraught time.

    COVID-19 spirals out of control, and whichever side you’re on (pandemic or hoax), it’s a fraught time.

    The holidays approach, and whichever side you’re on (they’re awesome!; they’re awful!), it’s a fraught time.

    How has this wild year of politics, pandemic, and protest altered your writing and reading life? What have been your biggest challenges, and what have been your biggest successes?


    December 31 is around the corner, which means you’ll either reach your 2020 literary goals, you won’t reach your 2020 literary goals, or you didn’t make any 2020 literary goals.

    Or you might’ve reached your literary goals if 2020 hadn’t been what it’s been.

    (If you set some goals on our site, you can refresh your memory here, and check out your July update here.)

    With two months left in the year, are you on pace to achieve your 2020 literary goals?

    If so, good job, and keep it up!

    If not, what’s getting in the way, and how are you going to get over, around, or through your obstacles?


    Back in June, many of you shared the best passage you’ve written in 2020. In the four months since then, have you written an even better one?!?! If so, share it below.


    It’s been a weird year. It may get weirder.

    We hope you’re doing well, and we hope you’re living the writing life you want to live.


    david blogWriteByNight 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.

    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 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Gary Breaux

    It’s been a breakout year for my writing. My blog at 1MoreWorld.com has exceeded my expectations in every way. I would like to gratuitously thank David for being my writing coach, especially when my blog was first getting started. The passage I share below was part of what I’d sent to David to get some help with. In his feedback he said it was the best thing I’d written up to that point. But what was most helpful is the way he explained why he thought this was true. The whole exchange gave me the confidence I needed to trust… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    This has been a year of learning for me. My goal was to learn how to edit a book so it would be the best it could be. After multiple classes and a lot of work. I’m actually getting it together. My other goal was to have an office to use for my writing. I’m working on that. I’ve gotten my She Shed and it should be wired within the next week. Once that is done, I’m doing the insulation, interior walls, floors and setting up my little wood stove, desk, book cases, etc. I’m hoping to have everything done… Read more »

    Susan Arakawa

    My goal for this year was to complete the first draft of my script, “Arrow.” I’m on pace to do this – working on the last 25 pages. My coach, Nick Jarvis, has been really helpful and encouraging, walking with me step-by-step from inception to (almost!) completion. The script is set in the 1860’s, about a young Chinese martial artist who comes to America to look for his uncle in New York, and the adventures that happen to him along the way. One “adventure” is working for the transcontinental railroad – which is the scene I’ve chosen below. The hard… Read more »

    Sid Kemp

    I’d like to start by sharing my best published piece of the year, a short story called “The Grief of Elrond: (https://archiveofourown.org/works/21000254) It’s very short and recommended for readers of Tolkien fanfic with a literary or spiritual direction. Yes, it’s from October 2019, but I start my year plan in the fall of each year and give myself until the Winter Solstice to finish. So it’s in. It represents one of my big goals of 2020, which is to finish works and publish them, with a focus on publishing fanfic. My other goals are strange, which suits me. I focused… Read more »

    Sid Kemp

    Oops! 4 typos, in reverse order: I wouldnt be here writing without Justine. Two errors in paragaph 4: “no ego barriers” with an “r.” Missing end parentheses at “Thanks, Joan.)” Missing end parentheses after “Elrond” in paragraph 1.

    (I guess the year is still open-ended for me …

    Sid Kemp

    2020 is almost certainly opening our eyes to what we face in the coming millennium.

    Sid Kemp

    Hi David: You’re more than welcome to ask, and I’m happy to answer. But two small items first: On this blog, is there a way I can edit a post to fix my own typos? Rather scarily, I have five novels that my creative soul has called me to write. Then again, Tolkien had way more than that, finished only one, and brought a great gift to the world. Longevity is called for. Reincarnation is too painful, as it requires another childhood. So, what discoveries am I making, and what skills am I developing, to work on “very refined details… Read more »

    Sid Kemp

    My biggest challenge in rewriting is knowing if it is any good. I used to get a feeling “this works” on finishing or rereading a draft (or not get it). Now, I don’t, and I don’t yet have confidence when these complex things are done. One thought for you: When adding scenic detail, consider: Why does it matter to each character? Why do I want it to matter to the reader? Why does it matter to me? By mattering I mean having something of emotional significance to character, reader, or author. Things that matter are the difference between feeling alive… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I continue to be on pace, writing daily installments to 366. Early in January I already knew it would have an apocalyptic feel, so it has been resonating with 2020 throughout the year. I often can’t tell whether real-world events inspire certain developments or just dovetail into them.   Before the New Year, this experiment had already guaranteed that my writing in 2020 would be different from anything that had come before. As I wrote in my journal on July 31, “For some weeks now, especially as I read other works of fiction, I perceive 366 as a bare bones structure. I love the… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I’ve got four POV characters. You’ve “met” half of them. :-)

    Well, if it’s a choice between writing and fighting to save our civilization, I figure choosing the latter will help enable the former, so it’s a no-brainer. Meanwhile, I’ve been phone banking — which, along with the writing, helps keep me sane.


    I see 2020 as a watershed year for humanity, not in a good way. Even so, I managed to complete a manuscript for my novel. That was my biggest success, certainly, though I’m still working on it. I hung with my writers’ group through the lock-down. We’re still here and meeting in-person, so that’s something. My best passage is a recent writing, speaking of an optimism I seldom feel, but I think it’s a constant in life, despite the evil that humans do: “Thinning snow over fields within dark stretches of trees breathe their mystery as a sweet fragrance to… Read more »

    Hans De Léo

    Well, at least my reading is on pace. The rest of my literary goals are suffering. When COVID hit, my plans for visiting a nearby sci-fi con this year were put on hold along with the plans I had to form an LLC to support direct sales. Writing also took a hit, and this one I’m not sure why. Working from home I thought I’d get my commute time back. I did, but it seemed that I just couldn’t sit down and write because of many other things that had to be done. Or maybe I just lost focus. At… Read more »

    Hans De Léo

    The revisions are going well (I think). I’ve been able to make some significant progress recently. I’ve set a goal to have this round of revisions done by the end of the year.

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